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Newsletter: Today: ‘One of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’

New Zealand’s police commissioner and eyewitnesses discuss the deadly mass shootings at multiple mosques Friday in Christchurch.

A terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand is the deadliest mass shooting incident in the nation’s history.

TOP STORIES

For the record:
12:00 AM, Mar. 28, 2019 An item about Roger Stone referred to the longtime political advisor to President Trump as a “self-described” dirty trickster. Stone has not used those words to describe himself, but has acknowledged that it’s a widely used label that “I’m stuck with.”

‘One of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’

Authorities say a gunman carrying military-style weapons opened fire on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 49 people on Friday, a day many Muslims gather for prayers. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-migrant manifesto, and the gunman appears to have posted video of part of the attack on social media. Officials say three men and one woman were taken into custody and that police defused a number of improvised explosive devices found on vehicles as well. “It is clear that this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Here is the latest.

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A Vote and, Soon, a Veto

President Trump is vowing to use the first veto of his term after a dozen Senate Republicans joined Democrats and independents to vote against Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. Thursday’s vote marked an embarrassing defeat for Trump in Congress, but it’s unlikely lawmakers will have the support to override a presidential veto. Still, don’t expect military funding to be diverted toward building a wall just yet. Assuming Congress does not muster the votes, the dispute is probably headed next to the courts — a process that could tie things up for years.

More Politics

-- A senior North Korean official says leader Kim Jong Un will soon make a decision on whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain the country’s moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests.

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-- The House voted overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion to urge the Justice Department to publicly release the entirety of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, once completed. The count was 420 in favor and four voting “present.”

-- Self-described Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone will stand trial Nov. 5 on charges stemming from the Russia investigation.

-- Beto O’Rourke has entered the presidential race. He’s among the least credentialed, least experienced candidates in a crowded Democratic pack but also among those generating the most buzz. Trump’s reaction? “Well, I think he’s got a lot of hand movement.”

-- House Democrats have accused Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of having lied to Congress about his role in a Trump administration effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Mistruth and Consequences

This week’s indictments in what’s being called the biggest college admissions fraud scheme in U.S. history were only the beginning, as the scandal’s effects continue to ripple through Southern California and beyond. At some of the area’s most elite prep schools, resignations and more questions have followed. At USC and UCLA, administrators say they are reviewing student admission decisions. At Stanford, two students have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against eight colleges. And at East Los Angeles College, where students sell sliced corn to raise money for a program that helps students transfer to four-year universities, some could only shake their heads. Columnist Steve Lopez thinks the scandal reflects the misguided values parents can give their children, while Robin Abcarian has this question: “How could you gaslight your kids like this?”

Reforms at the Racetrack, but Are They Enough?

Princess Lili B, a 3-year-old filly, became the 22nd horse to die at Santa Anita since Dec. 26 after breaking both front legs at the end of a half-mile workout on Thursday. She was euthanized. A few hours later, the track’s owners banned the use of all race-day medication — a decision that is thought to be unprecedented in North American racing — and restricted whip use. Officials are planning to resume racing March 22 after suspending it last week. But former Times sports editor Bill Dwyre argues that they should close the track for the rest of the meeting.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Sham Hock, a.k.a. Pig O’ My Heart, was a 12-foot-by-20-foot inflatable pig that appeared in Ventura’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. But it did not lead a charmed life. As a 1998 Times article reported, “ ‘We’re finally going to shred it up,’ said parade chairman and City Councilman Brian Brennan. Although the inflatable swine has evolved into the unofficial mascot of the Main Street parade over the last decade, ‘The reality is, it’s a racial slur,’ Brennan said.” And yet somehow, despite this and a series of other unfortunate events, Sham Hock lived on until 2017, when it blew apart. The pig would be replaced by Sham Hock 2, who will be in Saturday’s parade.

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March 14, 1998: The giant green pig float Sham Hock makes its way past the San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura during the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- An American Civil Liberties Union report found three of Orange County’s emergency homeless shelters riddled with problems, including alleged abuse, neglect of residents with disabilities and mental illnesses, and filthy conditions.

-- The state is officially drought-free for the first time since 2011, according to a map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

-- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s death penalty moratorium is eliciting a range of reactions from the families of murder victims.

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-- In this podcast, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer discusses his aggressive plans to get rid of development restrictions aimed at helping to solve the housing crisis.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Restaurant reviews: At Los Balcones in Studio City, modern mestizo Peruvian cooking is a party, while at Joy in Highland Park, the name says it all.

-- Does that pineapple pull-apart hack actually work? At first we thought it didn’t, but here’s proof it does.

-- On a weekend escape to Orange County’s canyon country, it’s all about the animals.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- This is “Us”: Jordan Peele wants Americans to “face their demons” in his new home-invasion horror film.

-- The HBO documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” presents a portrait of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scandal that critic Justin Chang finds an “exercise in coolly measured outrage.”

-- Netflix has canceled its “One Day at a Time” reboot after three seasons. The move prompted immediate calls from fans to save it.

NATION-WORLD

-- The Southern Poverty Law Center announced that is has fired its famed co-founder, Morris Dees, for unspecified misconduct.

-- Lawyers representing the family of an American citizen from San Diego detained in Iran say the Navy veteran has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and for disclosing private information by posting a photo on Instagram of a woman he was visiting.

-- Tijuana was the most violent city in the world in 2018, according to a new report by a Mexican nonprofit group that ranked cities based on their homicide rates. It also found that five out of six of the world’s most violent municipalities were in Mexico.

-- British lawmakers facing a March 29 Brexit deadline have voted to seek a delay in the nation’s breakaway from the European Union.

BUSINESS

-- Pilots say that, at a November meeting with Boeing executives, they fumed about being left in the dark on new software for the 737 Max 8.

-- Rep. Maxine Waters has called for the firing of Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Tim Sloan after the bank reported his pay increased last year by nearly $1 million, despite continued consumer scandals.

-- Glendale-based Revry bills itself as the first global LGBTQ streaming service and has grown rapidly since its founding in 2015. It has even bigger plans ahead.

SPORTS

-- Emails from 2017 show that the Lakers explored leaving Staples Center for a return to the Forum in Inglewood. The team says that vision won’t be realized, and they are believed to be discussing an extension to their Staples Center lease that runs through the 2024-25 season.

-- Meet Greg Massialas, the patriarch of America’s first family of fencing. His target: gold.

OPINION

-- It’s time to let teenagers seek immunizations and protect themselves from their anti-vaxx parents.

-- We know a lack of sleep is dangerous. We don’t let pilots or sailors work without rest. So why are we still debating 28-hour shifts for first-year doctors?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- “Our American Stories” is positioned as a right-of-center alternative to NPR, but it stays away from Trump. (Daily Beast)

-- At a reindeer camp in Norway, the focus is on preserving indigenous culture. (Atlas Obscura)

-- Why would someone pay $1.69 million for a copy of the Mona Lisa? (The Art Newspaper)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Please don’t pick the poppies. The hills of Lake Elsinore are alive with the sight of wildflowers. In the social media era, they are also filled with throngs of visitors, who are trooping to the fields of Riverside County and elsewhere as Southern California revels in a super bloom. (Here’s where to find them.) But in their haste to snap a selfie, some poppy-peepers are trampling the flowers — or snapping them up. “Look at those people. They’re stepping all over the poppies,” said one patrol officer. “The people are nice — except when they’re fighting about poppies.”

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