Los Angeles on Friday approved safety standards that will require earthquake retrofits at thousands of apartment buildings and establish the nation's toughest rules for structurally weak concrete buildings. The rules will apply to 13,500 wood-frame buildings with so-called soft first-stories, which often consist of thin pillars supporting upper floors in an area where tenants park, and 1,500 so-called brittle concrete buildings, which lack the ability to waver or bend in a temblor, the mayor's office said. Many soft first-story buildings are rent-stabilized, which prompted concerns that any damage to the residences would wipe out Los Angeles' already limited affordable-housing stock.
President Barack Obama, in a ritual that has become both familiar and frustrating to him, traveled to Oregon on Friday to console families of the victims of a community college shooting that once again sparked a push for U.S. gun reform. The president, a Democrat who tried but failed to tighten firearms laws after previous mass shootings, arrived in a community where support for gun rights remains strong despite the deaths of 10 people, including the gunman, in the deadliest massacre on U.S. soil in two years. Obama met privately for about an hour with the families at a local high school.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law the state's first comprehensive regulations of medical marijuana, two decades after legalization fueled a wild west of disparate local rules, a gray market in cultivation and concerns about the ease of obtaining the drug. The package of three laws, viewed by some as a possible framework for the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana in the most populous U.S. state, would establish a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation and regulate such activities as cultivation and dispensary licensing. The bills, which take effect in 2018, "establish a long-overdue comprehensive regulatory framework for the production, transportation and sale of medical marijuana," Brown, a Democrat, said in a signing statement on Friday.
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - About four miles from the world's largest Christopher Columbus parade in midtown Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of Native Americans and their supporters will hold a sunrise prayer circle to honor ancestors who were slain or driven from their land. The Redhawk Native American Arts Council's powwow is both a celebration of Native American culture and an unmistakable counterpoint to the parade, which many detractors say honors a man who symbolizes centuries of oppression of aboriginal people by Europeans. Organizers hope to call attention to issues of social and economic injustice that have dogged Native Americans since Christopher Columbus led his path-finding expedition to the "New World" in 1492.
U.S. officials will take over direct safety supervision of Washington's troubled subway system under a plan announced by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday. Foxx transferred safety oversight of Washington's Metrorail, the second-busiest U.S. subway system, to the Federal Transit Administration.