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Today: New Zealand Swiftly Bans Military-Style Weapons

Today: New Zealand Swiftly Bans Military-Style Weapons
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces that New Zealand is banning assault weapons and launching a buyback program to encourage people who own such firearms to surrender them. (Marty Mellville / AFP/Getty Images)

Less than a week after deadly attacks on two mosques, New Zealand is banning assault weapons.

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New Zealand Swiftly Bans Military-Style Weapons

Just six days after attacks on two mosques that left 50 people dead, New Zealand’s prime minister has announced a ban on military-style semiautomatics and assault rifles. The country will also initiate a buyback program to encourage owners of such weapons to turn them in. The swift action stands in stark contrast to the slow pace of making gun legislation in the United States. Though firearms are part of the culture in both countries, New Zealand’s constitution does not guarantee the right to own a gun. The move comes the day after the first victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks — a 16-year-old boy and his father — were buried.

U.S. Politics

-- Trump flew to Ohio to claim credit for keeping a government tank plant open, but distracted from his economic message with his harshest, lengthiest attack yet on Sen. John McCain, seven months after his death.

-- The Pentagon’s inspector general has formally opened an investigation into a watchdog group’s allegations that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has used his office to promote his former employer, Boeing.

-- The Border Patrol has released 250 migrants in McAllen, Texas, and expects to free hundreds more in coming days because there is no room to hold them.

-- Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appears close to turning in his final report after a historic investigation that initially sought to determine if President Trump or his advisors had illegal dealings with Russia during the 2016 campaign, but ultimately expanded far beyond that. Here are the findings so far.

USC Looks to Restore Its Tattered Trojan Pride

Over the last two years, the University of Southern California has been hit by a series of scandals, including drug use by the former dean of its medical school, sexual assault allegations against a former campus gynecologist, and the unfolding college admissions scandal. Now USC is hoping to turn the page with the hiring of Carol L. Folt, who will be the first female president in the university’s 139-year history. Folt recently left the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after she had a Confederate monument removed from campus. Her new job will require similarly bold action, and columnist Steve Lopez has some ideas on how she can restore that Trojan pride.

A Hot Spot for Fundraising, but …

With its second-floor patio overlooking the L.A. Live entertainment complex, the Luxe City Center Hotel has been a favored spot for local politicians to hold fundraisers. Yet some of those politicians showed no record of paying the hotel for months or years, a Times review has found. After The Times inquired about the lack of payments, politicians who took part in those events said they were paying the bill or planned to do so.

A Newspaper, a Community and Dear Old Dad

The newspaper Nguoi Viet Daily News began more than 40 years ago and became the largest Vietnamese-language publication in the United States. As the paper grew up, so did the Orange County enclave of Little Saigon — and L.A. Times reporter Anh Do, whose father founded and nurtured Nguoi Viet until he died. In today’s Column One feature, Do tells the very personal story of a newspaper and the community it chronicled and helped create.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

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On this date in 1976, The Times reported on the construction of the Castaic Hydroelectric Power Plant in northwest L.A. County: “Soaring superstructures of concrete and steel are transforming the barren shoreline of Castaic Lake forebay into a futuristic setting as crews speed construction of the Castaic Hydroelectric Power Plant toward 1978 completion.” Today, the Castaic Power Plant has seven generators.

March 1976: A worker walks through a water pipe during construction of the Castaic Hydroelectric Power Plant.
March 1976: A worker walks through a water pipe during construction of the Castaic Hydroelectric Power Plant. (Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- State lawmakers have unveiled a far-reaching package to stem the housing affordability crisis, and they all come from Bay Area politicians. Will those work for the rest of California?

-- The mother of 9-year-old Trinity Love Jones, whose body was found in a duffel bag along a trail in Hacienda Heights this month, has been charged with murder in connection with her daughter’s slaying.

-- Bernie Sanders’ first appearance in California as a 2020 presidential candidate was not at a mega-rally, but at a speech before sun-baked picketers in front of UCLA’s medical center.

-- The future is looking bleak for some Southern California mountain lions, so conservationists may try to capture them in one part of the Santa Anas and truck them across the 15 Freeway so that they can breed.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Hollywood is bracing for big changes as Walt Disney Co. starts the arduous process of bringing major portions of 21st Century Fox into its fold.

-- On Friday, Netflix premieres its Mötley Crüe biopic “The Dirt.” Critic Lorraine Ali calls it “astoundingly tone deaf” and “as vapid and misogynistic as the band members and the book they wrote with author Neil Strauss.”

-- Some of Britain's top architects are warning of the dangers of leaving the European Union. Beyond the loss of business, they say, Brexit will hurt the exchange of ideas and hinder creativity. Prime Minister Theresa May has now asked European leaders to postpone the U.K.’s departure until June 30.

-- Our spring arts preview is here: It’s your guide to this season’s plays, musicals, exhibits, events and more.

NATION-WORLD

-- The Supreme Court justices sound ready to overturn a Mississippi murder conviction because of racial bias in selecting jurors.

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got an election season boost when Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo arrived with a handshake, lavish praise and a photo op.

-- Authorities say a bus driver in northern Italy abducted 51 children and their chaperones, threatening them during a 40-minute ordeal before setting the vehicle on fire when he was stopped by a police blockade.

-- Since seizing power in a 2014 coup, Thailand’s army has repeatedly pledged to restore democracy. But many Thais see the vote, being held Sunday after numerous delays, as likely to extend military rule.

BUSINESS

-- Federal Reserve officials have poured some chilly water on Trump’s assertion that the U.S. economy is red-hot: They downgraded their estimate for U.S. economic growth this year to just 2.1% amid a slowdown here and abroad, while signaling there will be no more interest rate hikes until 2020.

-- European regulators have slapped Google with a roughly $1.7-billion fine on charges that its advertising practices violated antitrust laws.

SPORTS

-- What is the future of horse racing after a rash of deaths at Santa Anita? Our expert panel weighs in.

-- On the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, USC sports writer Brady McCollough and enterprise reporter Nathan Fenno delve into the college admissions scandal.

OPINION

-- Attention, Rep. Devin Nunes: Don’t have a cow.

-- Prediabetes is an alarming diagnosis. But is it a disease?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Donna Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, explains why she’ll work for Fox News as a contributor. (New Yorker)

-- This Buffalo neighborhood is known as “Fruit Belt.” On Google maps and elsewhere online, it’s labeled as “Medical Park.” How does something like that happen? (One Zero)

-- In these rugs, Afghan women weave themes of modern warfare into an ancient tradition. (Artsy)

ONLY IN L.A.

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a giant meteor!? None of the above. Instead, a fireball that streaked over downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night was a film shoot, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. “This is Tinseltown after all,” the LAPD said on Twitter. Don’t believe them? See for yourself. The truth is out there.

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