Tuesday morning news: April 23, 2019

Death toll rises from Sri Lanka church attacks » The death toll from coordinated Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka has now risen to at least 290, including at least four Americans. About 500 others were wounded in the attack on two Catholic churches and one evangelical church.

And police on Monday found three bombs in a van parked at another church. Those bombs detonated when they tried to defuse them.

AUDIO: [Sound of bomb]

No injuries reported in that incident.  

The country’s health minister Rajitha Senaratne revealed Monday that the U.S. and India warned the Sri Lankan government to expect an attack.

SENARATNE: International intelligence agencies had informed on the 4th of April that such an incident will take place in this country. 

Many are now questioning whether the government did all it could to prevent the bombings.

Officials in Sri Lanka have arrested 26 people some of them with connections to a small radical Islamist group.

But Senaratne says he doesn’t believe that group is capable of pulling off an attack on this scale by itself.

SENARATNE: We are now investigating about international support for them. 

Investigators said the attack was sophisticated and likely had backing from terror experts perhaps even al Qaeda or ISIS.  

Sri Lanka’s president invoked emergency powers on Monday, giving the military sweeping authority to arrest suspects. The government also blocked access to Facebook and other social networks in the wake of the attack.

Trump sues to block financial subpoena » President Trump and his business organization sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings on Monday. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler reports.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: The lawsuit seeks to block a congressional subpoena for the president’s financial records. Trump’s lawyers argue the subpoena does not have a “legitimate legislative purpose.” They say Democrats are abusing and weaponizing their power for political purposes.

Last week, the committee subpoenaed Mazars USA. That’s a financial accounting firm that’s worked with the president and the Trump Organization for years. The subpoena asked for 10 years of financial documents and other materials related to Trump and his businesses.

President Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement on Monday, “We will not allow presidential harassment to go unanswered.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

U.S. to crack down on Iran oil exports » The Trump administration has announced that beginning next month the U.S. will sanction all countries that import oil from Iran.

POMPEO: Today I am announcing that we will no longer grant any exemptions. We are going to zero. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged to ensure an adequate supply of oil on the market. He added that the U.S. is now a significant producer as well.

POMPEO: The goal remains simple, to deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilize the Middle East for four decades, and incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country. 

The U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports last year after pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. But the Trump administration granted 180-day waivers to Iran’s main buyers: China, Greece, Italy, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

Italy, Greece, and Taiwan halted imports in 2019. Other countries, including China and India, lobbied for extended waivers.

Supreme Court to take up LGBT cases » The Supreme Court has agreed to hear several cases, at least one of which could have an impact on future conflicts between religious liberty and LGBT rights. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The high court will consider three discrimination lawsuits from people who claimed they were fired because of their sexual orientation.

One case involves former funeral home worker Anthony Stephens—a biological male who began identifying as a woman. Business owner Thomas Rost said he could not in good conscience permit Stephens to dress and present himself as a woman to grieving clients. And his convictions about God-designed manhood and womanhood prevented him from paying a clothing stipend to help facilitate Stephens’ transition.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the funeral home violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. But the law does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity. The Supreme Court will consider whether it applies.

This will be the first time the high court has heard such cases since the retirement Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the 2015 same-sex marriage decision.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Herman Cain withdraws from Fed consideration » President Trump said Monday that Herman Cain is out of the picture for a seat on the Federal Reserve board.

Numerous senators, including Republicans, had voiced concerns that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO might not be “politically independent.” Faced with bipartisan opposition, Cain withdrew his name from consideration.

Cain dropped out of the 2012 presidential race amid allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity.

The president announced last month that he plans to nominate another political ally, Stephen Moore, to the Fed. Moore is a longtime political pundit, who served as an economic adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) Sri Lankan air force officers and clergy stand outside St. Anthony’s Shrine, a day after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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