Wednesday morning news: April 24, 2019


Death toll rises from Sri Lanka attacks as ISIS claims responsibility » The sound of mourners filled St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka Tuesday as they prepared for a mass burial of victims from Sunday’s terror attack. The death toll now stands at 321, including 45 children.  

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe honored the victims.

WICKREMESINGHE: I must offer my condolences to all those who were killed—especially those not of Sri Lankan origin.

Four Americans were among the visitors to Sri Lanka killed in the bombings.

ISIS on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing images that purported to show the attackers. The prime minister said Sri Lankan investigators are working with other international agencies to determine whether ISIS was in fact behind the bombings.

Wickremesinghe also warned that several suspects armed with explosives are still at large. Police and the Sri Lankan military are working to track them down.


President Trump calls for visa overstay crackdown » President Trump is moving to crack down on some countries whose citizens overstay their visas in the U.S. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has details.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: The president sent a memo to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Monday. He asked them for recommendations on how to deal with countries with visa overstay rates of 10 percent or more.

The memo floats several possibilities, including an admission bonds plan. It would require people to pay a fee to enter the U.S. that would be refundable when they leave. Other measures could include shortening the duration of visas or even barring visitors from offending countries entirely.

Countries with overstay rates of 10 percent or more in the past have included Chad, Eritrea, Liberia, and Nigeria. More than 600,000 foreigners overstayed their visas in 2017.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.


China lashes out over Iran sanctions » Beijing on Tuesday lashed out at the United States over its plans to impose sanctions on all countries that buy oil from Iran.

The U.S. previously granted temporary waivers to China and other countries to continue buying Iranian oil. But the Trump administration said as of next month, no more waivers.

China’s foreign ministry said the U.S. has no right to unilaterally impose the sanctions and warned the move will destabilize energy markets.

China is one of Iran’s biggest oil markets and was a strong backer of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump scrapped last year.


President Trump accepts Queen Elizabeth II invitation » Buckingham Palace announced Tuesday that President Trump will pay a three-day state visit to Britain as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones reports.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The palace said the president and first lady, Melania, have accepted an invitation from the queen and will visit June 3rd through the 5th.

Though many American presidents have visited the monarch, only two — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — were honored with a state visit. Such visits typically feature ceremonial greetings, a horse-drawn carriage ride, and a banquet with the queen at Buckingham Palace.

Britain extended the invitation nearly two years ago. But the trip has been deferred amid Britain’s Brexit crisis and over concerns about the president’s reception in the UK.

Thousands of protesters turned out to greet President Trump when he visited the UK countryside last summer. More protests are expected this time as well.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.


US expands probe into airbag failures » Federal officials are expanding an investigation into malfunctioning air bags, a problem blamed for as many as eight deaths.

Regulators in the U.S. are now looking at air bags installed in more than 12-million vehicles from six manufacturers: Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Fiat Chrysler. They’re inspecting vehicles from 2010 through 2019 model years.

The air bag control units in question are made by ZF-TRW. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says electrical signals created by a crash can cause those control units to fail.


Report warns Medicare, Social Security could soon be insolvent » As talk of government-run healthcare modeled after Medicare gains steam on the presidential campaign trail…

SANDERS: The best way to go forward in my view is with a Medicare for all, single-payer program.

A new report warns that without changes, Medicare and Social Security will soon be insolvent.

The government overseers of Medicare and Social Security said Monday that Medicare is on track for insolvency within the next seven years. And Social Security will run dry within the next 16 years.

But ahead of next year’s election, President Trump has declared benefit cuts to those programs off limits. Many Democratic White House contenders say they want to expand Medicare benefits.

Monday’s report by three Cabinet heads and Social Security’s acting commissioner urges lawmakers to—quote—“take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls.”

The two programs combined account for almost half the nation’s federal spending. And costs are only continuing to rise.


(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) Clergymen carry coffins for burial during a funeral service for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, April 23, 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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