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March 21, 2019

NEW ZEALAND - GUN CONTROL

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The New Zealand government is asking all owners of assault weapons or now-banned attachments to report them to the government in the next two days before turning them in.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced that the government was immediately banning sales of what New Zealand calls military style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines like the weapons used in last Friday’s attacks on two Christchurch mosques.

She says the cabinet is also working on a gun buyback program to be announced later. Ardern says there will be “tightly regulated” exemptions for some owners such as hunters and farmers.

WOMAN HELD WITHOUT SEEING JUDGE GETS SETTLEMENT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi jury is awarding $250,000 in damages to a woman jailed 96 days without seeing a judge.

The verdict, including $200,000 in damages against Choctaw County Sheriff Cloyd Halford and $50,000 against the county, was handed down Tuesday after a two-day trial in federal court in Aberdeen.

Jessica Jauch was jailed in 2012 on a drug indictment and eventually cleared after video didn’t show her committing any crime.

The case highlighted Mississippi’s struggles with holding people before trial without access to a lawyer or bail.

The jury only determined how much Jauch was owed, after a judge earlier found the county and Halford liable.

OFFICER - RACIST IMAGE

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana police officer who was suspended without pay after sharing a racist image on Facebook in 2017 has since become police chief of his small town. And he says he’s developing social media policies that would result in termination for officers who make similar mistakes.

Wayne Welsh was assistant chief in Estherwood when he shared a depiction of a white woman pushing a little girl’s face into bath water, supposedly as punishment for having a crush on a black child. In an interview with Nola.com/The Times-Picayune Welsh says he’s sorry the image caused people to think Estherwood is racist.

He insists he’s not racist, and won’t concede the image was racist, calling it “a joke.”

Welsh became Estherwood’s police chief last spring, a promotion lamented by civil rights groups.

CATHOLIC PRIEST ACCUSED OF GROPING WOMAN DURING LAST RITES

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge after he was accused of groping a woman in home hospice care while giving her last rites.

The Rev. Gerold Langsch, of Austin, was arrested and charged with assault by contact stemming from the October encounter. The 75-year-old priest is free on $15,000 bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined up to $4,000.

Police contend in the arrest affidavit that the woman was in hospice care for complications from diabetes when Lansch went to her home to administer the sacrament of anointing the sick, a sacrament of absolution. The woman, who is still alive, reported that he fondled her breast and tried to grope her inside her adult diaper but failed.

VETERAN SENTENCED IN CAR BOMBING BLAMED ON PTSD

NEW YORK (AP) — A man who joined the Marines two days after the Sept. 11 attacks has been sentenced to a decade in prison after blaming post-traumatic stress disorder for car bombing his neighbor after a parking dispute.

Despite a fireball and an explosion powerful enough to buckle the car’s doors, the victim miraculously escaped injury when the bomb was detonated as he drove down a Bronx street in 2016.

U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer said yesterday that he would have made Richard Laugel (loh-GEHL’) spend twice as long in prison if not for his military heroism.

The judge cited a letter from Laugel’s former platoon commander saying Laugel had provided security during the initial invasion of Iraq for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who led a Marine division at the time.

HURRICANE NAMES RETIRED

MIAMI (AP) — The names of two hurricanes that caused widespread devastation from Florida to Virginia last year have been retired.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Florence and Michael will be replaced with Francine and Milton. The new names will first appear during the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.

Names are retired when hurricanes are so destructive that recycling them would be insensitive. Eighty-eight names have been dropped from the list for the Atlantic and Caribbean since storms were first named in 1953.

According to a NOAA statement, Florence caused at least 51 deaths in September amid record flooding across the Carolinas and Virginia. Michael made landfall in October with 155-mph winds. The hurricane was blamed for at least 45 deaths from Florida’s Panhandle through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.