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Gov. Scott visits Orlando School

Governor Rick Scott held his 'Let’s Get to Work Day' Friday, serving breakfast and lunch to the children of Audubon Park Elementary School in Baldwin Park.

Taking directions from Marsha Herrin, director of the school's food service, Governor Scott helped prepare chief salads, wild-rice, and mandarin chicken for lunch.

Students and faculty said they were happy that the Governor made an appearance at their school.

"I think it’s really cool that (like) he’s here and he’s serving us lunch. I like that he is supporting Florida and how he’s doing all the things for our school," stated 2nd grader Olivia Ireton.

The Governor mingled with the children, parents, and faculty. "What I like about doing these things, let’s get to work day, you get to talk to people about their jobs and I always ask them is there anything the state could be doing better. I’m doing let’s get to work days to try to make sure as Governor I get out and talk to people about their issues," Scott said.

Washing dishes and preparing food allowed Scott to reflect back to his middle school days when he worked in the cafeteria to earn free meals.

Criticized for turning his back on public education, Governor Scott says that he supports educating kids. 

"I love schools. I think of my job as I’ve got three jobs. One, make sure kids have the chance to get a great education.  Two, make sure people have a chance to get a job and three, make sure we keep cost of living as low as possible in the state."

After helping with lunch, Governor Scott and First lady Ann made visits to classrooms.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A 5-year-old boy who suffered serious head injuries, as well as broken arms and legs, when a stranger flung him from a third floor balcony at the Mall of America earlier this month shows no sign of brain swelling or permanent damage, the family’s pastor said during an Easter Sunday sermon.  Landen Hoffman was shopping with his mother and friends around 10:15 a.m. April 12 when Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking the boy up and hurling him over a railing to the first floor nearly 40 feet below. Aranda tried to run, but police, with help from witnesses, found him on a light rail train at the mall and took him into custody. >> Related story: Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing Aranda, who is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder, is being held in the Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond. Pastor Mac Hammond of Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park told his congregation Sunday that he and his wife, Lynne, visited with the family earlier in the week. Landen, his parents and his grandparents are longtime members of the church.  Hammond said he and his wife went to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to have communion with the family and to anoint Landen with oil.  “They asked us to come right before he was to have a five-hour MRI session to determine the full extent of the damage that his body suffered,” Hammond said during the sermon, a portion of which was posted on the church’s Facebook page. “It was a miracle he wasn’t killed.” Hammond said Landen’s grandfather called him later the afternoon of the test to tell him the MRI “was a testimony in itself.” As congregants began to cheer, Hammond told them to let him finish before they gave the Lord a “shout-out.” “There was zero evidence of brain damage,” Hammond said. “Not just brain damage, there wasn’t even any swelling in the brain. No spinal cord injury. No nerve damage. No internal injuries that were life-threatening.” Hammond said Landen did suffer small amounts of internal bleeding and broke many bones. Doctors had to work on the boy’s nose and cheekbones the day after the attack, the pastor said.  “The doctors were amazed at how everything just kind of fell back in place,” Hammond said. “One of his attending physicians said this: ‘This is truly a miracle.’ This is him speaking: ‘This is truly a miracle. It’s like he fell off a bicycle instead of off the third floor of the mall.’”  Landen, who is described on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay his medical bills as the “sweetest, kindest 5-year-old you will ever meet,” had gone to the mall with his mom to meet up with a friend and that boy’s mother for a play date. It was there that the group encountered Aranda, who Hennepin County court records indicate had gone to the mall looking for someone to kill. According to a criminal complaint, Aranda told authorities he initially went to the mall April 11 looking for an adult to kill, but it “didn’t work out.” He went back the next day. “He said he planned to kill an adult because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead,” the document reads.  Aranda told investigators he chose to kill out of frustration over years of rejection from the opposite sex.  “Defendant indicated he had been coming to the mall for several years and had made efforts to talk to women in the mall, but had been rejected,” the complaint says. “The rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.” Surveillance camera footage from the mall shows Aranda walking on the third floor of the mall and looking over the balcony several times before approaching Landen and his mother.  Landen’s mother told detectives she saw Aranda approach and stand very close to her and her son. She asked if he needed them to move.  “Without warning, defendant picked up the victim and threw him off the third floor balcony in front of (Landen’s mother) and several other witnesses, including children,” the complaint states.  Read the criminal complaint against Emmanuel Aranda below. Witnesses told the Minneapolis Star Tribune they heard screaming after the boy went over the railing. “Oh my God! Pray for my son!” Landen’s mother begged, witnesses told the newspaper.  An update on Landen’s GoFundMe page, which is nearing its $1 million goal, called him his family’s “miracle child.” “New test results have been positive, though he remains in intensive care with a long road ahead,” the page reads. “Our faith in God, and our Savior Jesus, is strong and we are gaining more reason for optimism day by day. We continue our request for privacy as we focus on Landen and thank you for respecting our wishes. Just know that we all feel your overwhelming love, prayers and support. He is answering our prayers and they ARE working.”  The page describes Landen as full of energy and life. “His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets,” the page says.  He enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister, the page reads.
  • The deadline passed Tuesday afternoon for the Internal Revenue Service to hand over six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee. >> Read more trending news The returns were originally requested earlier this month by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., one of four people authorized to request usually private income tax returns under a little-known IRS code. Neal had set a final deadline for the documents for 5 p.m. Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin now says a final decision will be given to Congress by May 6. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: IRS to give final decision on Trump tax returns by May 6 Officials earlier this month asked for more time to review Neal’s request, with Treasury Department Secretary Steve Mnuchin emphasizing in a letter to the chairman that the tax code he cited to get Trump’s returns was not meant to be used “for political reasons,” including “for purposes of embarrassing or attacking political figures of another party.” Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code says the Treasury Department secretary “shall furnish … any return or return information” requested by a handful of lawmakers, including Neal. The information could then be shared with the House Ways and Means Committee “only when sitting in closed executive session” unless Trump allows for further disclosure, according to the Internal Revenue Code. >> Trump’s tax returns: What is 6103 and how will it be used to get Trump’s returns?  In a letter sent April 13 to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Neal rejected the Treasury Department’s opposition to the release, pointing to the clear wording of section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code. “It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information,” Neal wrote. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Feds ignore deadline from Democrats on Trump tax returns He added that “concerns about what the Committee may do wit the tax returns and return information are baseless.” “This request falls squarely within the Committee’s oversight authority,” Neal said. “The IRS, Treasury, and Justice must assume that the Committee Members, like all government officials, will act properly in the conduct of their official duties.” >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: IRS, Treasury sidestep answer on call for Trump tax returns  If authorities fail to turn over the documents, Democrats warned a legal battle is likely to follow. “If the IRS does not comply with the request, it is likely that Chairman Neal will subpoena the returns,” House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., told Reuters. “If they do not comply with that (subpoena), a legal battle will begin to defend the right of oversight in Congress.” Mnuchin previously told Congress that authorities “will comply with the law” in regard to releasing Trump’s tax returns.  >> Trump downplays House Democrat's request for tax returns, says he's under audit In his original request for Trump’s tax returns, Neal also asked officials to specify whether any of them had been “under any type of examination or audit” and “the issue(s) under examination.” Trump has repeatedly declined to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit. “I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit,” Trump told reporters April 10.
  • Police investigators searching for a 5-year-old boy missing from his Illinois home since Thursday are focusing their attention on that home after K-9 units were unable to detect the boy’s scent anywhere but there, authorities said.  Andrew “A.J.” Thomas Freund Jr. was reported missing from his Crystal Lake home Thursday morning. His parents told investigators they last saw him around 9:30 p.m. the night before. “After waking up this morning and being unable to locate him in the home, Andrew’s parents contacted police and reported him missing,” a news release from the Crystal Lake Police Department said.  >> Read more trending news Andrew, who is about 3 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 70 pounds, has short blond hair. He was last seen wearing a blue Mario sweatshirt and black sweatpants, his father, Andrew Freund Sr., said in a 911 call released Tuesday by authorities. Crystal Lake police investigators have not issued an Amber Alert for the boy because they cannot prove he was abducted, officials said last week.  CNN reported Andrew has not always lived with his parents and that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been part of the boy’s life since his birth. DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch told the news network that Andrew became a ward of the state as a newborn following allegations of neglect by his mother, JoAnn Cunningham. Andrew was in someone else’s care for about two years before being returned to his parents. CNN reported that DCFS was called twice in 2018 based on allegations of neglect and abuse, but both incidents were determined to be unfounded claims.  A neighbor, Janelle Butler, told ABC7 in Chicago that residents in Andrew’s neighborhood have been concerned about his and his younger brother’s welfare -- and have let police know it -- over the past year. “We’ve seen the kids being taken away and are always shocked that they have been returned,” Butler told the news station.   Cunningham was in court Tuesday in McHenry County to determine if her younger son, Parker, would remain with her or be placed in protective custody, ABC7 reported.  Police officials released audio of the 911 call Freund made following several open records requests by local media.  “We have a missing child,” Freund tells the dispatcher in the call. “We woke up this morning and he wasn’t … we have a missing child.” The dispatcher can be heard typing as he asks Freund details about his son’s appearance, such as his race and what he was wearing when he vanished. Freund tells him that he and his wife last saw the boy the night before when he went to bed.  Listen to the 911 call below, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. The dispatcher asks if the father has any idea to where his son might have wandered. “No,” Freund responds. “We’ve canvassed the neighborhood, I went to the local park, the local gas station down here where we sometimes take him to buy treats. I spoke with the assistant principal over there at the school where the park is, and they haven’t seen him or any other child. I have no idea where he would be.” He tells the dispatcher that he went to a doctor’s appointment that morning and, when he returned between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., he checked on Andrew. The boy was gone, he says.  The dispatcher asks about pets in the house and if they are missing as well.  “Nope,” Freund says.  As police officers arrive outside, Freund tells the dispatcher that he and his wife found no doors or windows open that morning.  Crystal Lake police officials said FBI agents specializing in missing children cases were on the scene of Andrew’s disappearance by Thursday afternoon. Over the first 24 hours after the boy was reported missing, multiple search and rescue K-9 units, which are trained to find people, were also deployed.  “The canine teams only picked up Andrew’s scent within the residence, indicating that Andrew had not walked away on foot,” police officials said.  The department also activated an Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) mutual aid request. A total of 15 agencies responded, bringing with them four drones. About 373 acres of ground were covered in a foot search and about 497 acres were covered from the air by the drones, authorities said. They found no sign of Andrew.  Sonar teams spent about four hours combing the waters of Crystal Lake, which is just blocks from the boy’s home on Dole Avenue. They used cameras to search underneath all docks and piers along the shore and sonar equipment to search the lake itself.  Again, no sign of Andrew was found, police officials said.  As of Friday afternoon, authorities said they did not believe there was a threat to the community. “Information obtained currently has police focusing on the residence,” they said in a news release. “This morning police investigators are continuing to actively investigate this case and continue to review all tips or leads sent to the police department. At this time, if the public is looking to assist, we are asking that you search your property and that you report anything suspicious to the Crystal Lake Police Department.” Detectives continued to work the case over the weekend. By Monday, police officials said Cunningham had stopped cooperating with police in her son’s disappearance. “On Saturday afternoon, Andrew Freund, the boy’s father, did speak with police detectives,” Monday’s news release said. “Investigators are continuing to review evidence, leads and tips as they become available. “There has been no arrest in this case at this time.” Police have not publicly labeled either parent a suspect.  Searchers spent Monday and into Tuesday searching Lippold Park, which is a couple of miles from Andrew’s home. Police officials said Tuesday morning that the Illinois State Police was slated to fly a plane over the area to help guide searchers on the ground. Sonar teams will also begin focusing on several ponds and smaller bodies of water, they said.  Detectives were also seeking surveillance video from citizens -- beginning three days before Andrew was reported missing.  “This would include video from home surveillance devices like the Ring Home Security System,” the latest news release said. “This request is for any video from Monday April 15, 2019, at 7 a.m. through April 18th, 2019 at 9 a.m. Any member of the community who may have video that could help investigators are asked to please email those videos or images to jmattson@crystallake.org.” Cunningham’s attorney, George Kililis, said during a brief news conference outside her home Friday that his client, who stood silently at his side, is not involved in her son’s disappearance. According to ABC7, Kililis said Cunningham was fully cooperative with detectives until she began to sense that she was a suspect in the case.  The lawyer said he advised her at that time to exercise her right to remain silent, ABC7 reported.  Kililis issued a written statement Tuesday in which he said Cunningham is “devastated” by Crystal Lake police officials’ statement calling her uncooperative. He said she was physically with investigators for more than eight hours the day Andrew was reported missing and spoke with multiple agents, both local and federal.  “While law enforcement was conducting a missing child investigation, Ms. Cunningham was eager to participate,” Kililis wrote, according to ABC7. “When it became clear law enforcement was not conducting a missing child investigation, was not issuing an Amber Alert, had stopped searching for A.J. and considered her a suspect, we did advise her to stop all communications with law enforcement and she did so at our request. This is just us as her attorneys doing our job, not evidence of her wrongdoing, and is not itself suspicious in any way.” Freund spoke directly to his son via the news cameras Friday.  “A.J., please come home,” Freund said. “We love you very much. You’re not in any trouble, we’re just worried to death. Please, please come home.” He asked the public to reach out to police with any information on his son’s whereabouts.  “We’re just extremely worried,” he said. “If anybody knows anything about where Andrew Jr. is, please, please contact the Crystal Lake Police Department. Let’s get him home.” Anyone with information related to the case can contact the Crystal Lake Police Department at 815-356-3620. Anyone with a cellphone can send an anonymous tip to the department by texting the word CLPDTIP along with the tip information to 847411 (TIP411). 
  • This upcoming Saturday, April 27th, Seminole County Animal Rescue will hold their annual “Paws & Claws” community pet event. The event will be held in the parking lot of the Criminal Justice Center on Eslinger Way in Sanford. Both dogs and cops will be available for adoption. Seminole County Animal Services will also have rabies vaccines and microchips available. All Seminole County residents will get their rabies vaccinations free with the purchase of your county pet license. Out of county pets will get that vaccine for $5 and microchips for $10. The Big Red Bus for One Blood will also be on scene taking blood donations.
  • Nine explosions hit multiple churches, hotels and other locations in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 300 people and injuring hundreds more, according to The Associated Press and other media outlets. >> Read more trending news  The victims included at least four Americans, State Department officials said Monday. Here are the latest updates:  Update 1 p.m. EDT April 23: Sunday’s bombings claimed the lives of 45 children, officials with the United Nation’s Children’s Fund said Tuesday in a statement. “Many children have lost one or both parents, and countless children have witnessed shocking and senseless violence,” UNICEF officials said. More than 320 people were killed and 500 injured in the bombings. Update 7:11 a.m. EDT April 23: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, the Guardian and the Washington Post are reporting. The group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility. Update 5:55 a.m. EDT April 23: Sri Lankan officials said the death toll from Sunday’s bombings has risen to 321, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The news came as Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attacks were “carried out in retaliation” for the deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand last month, according to The Associated Press. So far, at least 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, authorities said. Meanwhile, the country observed a day of mourning, including a three-minute moment of silence Tuesday morning. Mass burials also were held in Negombo, the Guardian reported. Officials have declared a state of emergency in Sri Lanka, giving military officials “enhanced war-time powers,” the AP reported. Authorities also are facing criticism amid reports that a top police official sent a letter April 11 to four security agencies warning that terror group National Towheed Jamaar was planning suicide bombings at churches, the AP reported. Update 9:45 p.m. EDT April 22: Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, issued a statement in response to the bombings.  “Today as a nation we mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives this past Easter Sunday. I would like to thank the military and police forces, the medical personnel and all those who have worked bravely and tirelessly without concern for their own safety, to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. It is imperative  that we remain unified as Sri Lankans in the face of this unspeakable tragedy.” A three-minute moment of silence for the victims of the explosions will be held at 8:30 a.m. local time, according to BBC reporter Azzam Ameen. Update 8 p.m. EDT April 22: The two Australians who officials said had been killed in the explosions have been identified by a family member. Sudesh Kolonne told Australian Broadcasting Corp. his wife, Manik Suriaaratchi, and their 1-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed in an attack in Negombo, which is north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. Kolonne said he was outside when the explosion happened. “I heard a huge noise and I jumped into the church and I saw that my wife and my daughter were on the floor,” he said. “I just saw my daughter on the floor and I tried to lift her up, (but) she was already dead. And (then) exactly the same… next my wife is there.” Kolonne said he and his family moved from Melbourne to Sri Lanka in 2014 when his wife started a consultancy business.  “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “We used to go to that church every Sunday. We never expected this.” Update 4:50 p.m. EDT April 22: A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed to The AP that the agency is providing assistance with the investigation into the bombings. She would not provide specifics. Update 3:50 p.m. EDT April 22: In an email to parents, officials at Sidwell Friends, a private school in the Washington-area, confirmed one of their students was killed in Sunday’s bombings, The Washington Post reported. School officials identified the student as Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, a fifth-grade boy who had been on leave in Sri Lanka for the last year, according to the Post. “Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year,” school officials said in the letter. “We are beyond sorry not to get the opportunity to welcome Kieran to the Middle School.” State Department officials said earlier Monday that at least four Americans were among the nearly 300 people killed in Sunday’s attacks. Officials with the English education management company Pearson confirmed that one of the company’s Denver-based employees had also been killed in the bombings. Update 3 p.m. EDT April 22: Officials with the U.S. State Department confirmed Monday that at least four Americans were among the nearly 300 people killed in Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka. The department said that in addition to those killed, several others were seriously injured. Officials gave no details about the identities of the victims, citing privacy concerns. Earlier Monday, officials with the English education management company Pearson confirmed that one of the company’s Denver-based employees had been killed in the bombings. Pearson CEO John Fallon said Dieter Kowalski died shortly after arriving at his hotel in Sri Lanka for a business trip. Update 2:10 p.m. EDT April 22: President Donald Trump said he spoke Monday to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after a series of bomb attacks in the country. In a tweet, Trump said he told Wickremesinghe “the United States stands by him and his country in the fight against terrorism.” “(I) also expressed condolences on behalf of myself and the People of the United States,” Trump wrote. Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed the government would provide “all possible assistance” to help in the investigation. Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 22: Sri Lankan President Maithrpala Sirisena declared April 23 a national day of mourning in a statement obtained Monday by The Associated Press. In the statement, Sirisena said he planned to meet with foreign diplomats to seek international assistance. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Monday that the U.S. would provide “all possible assistance” to help in the investigation. Officials said nearly 40 foreign tourists from 11 countries were killed in Sunday’s attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.  Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 22: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday mourned the victims of Sunday’s bomb attacks in Sri Lanka and promised the government would provide “all possible assistance” to Americans and Sri Lankans alike. Related: Sri Lanka attacks: Who are the National Thowheed Jamath? “We urge that any evil-doers be brought to justice expeditiously and America is prepared to support that,” he Pompeo said. “We also stand with the millions of Sri Lankas who support the freedom of their fellow citizens to worship as they please.” Pompeo confirmed that Americans were among those killed in Sunday’s attack, though he didn’t specify the number of American victims. “It’s heartbreaking that a country which has strived so hard for peace in recent years has been targeted by these terrorists,” he said. Related: Sri Lanka attack: Danish billionaire loses three of his four children in bombings Update 9:50 am. EDT April 22: A Denver man has been identified as one of the nearly 300 people killed Sunday in bombings in Sri Lanka, his employer confirmed Monday. Dieter Kowalski worked as senior leader of the operation technical services team for Pearson, an education management company. Though the company is based in England, Kowalski worked in Pearson’s Denver office, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.  “Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was,” Pearson CEO John Fallon said in a statement shared with company employees and posted Monday on LinkedIn. “They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out. Dieter, they tell me, was never happier than cheer-leading for our customers and our company and inspiring people in the best way he knew how – by helping them to fix things and doing it with joy, happiness and grace.” Fallon said Kowalski died shortly after arriving at his hotel Sunday for a business trip. Update 7:55 a.m. EDT April 22: Three children of Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns Bestseller clothing, were killed in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. The 46-year-old Danish billionaire, who is also the largest shareholder in ASOS, and his family were on vacation in Sri Lanka, the AP reported. Authorities said 39 foreigners were among the 290 people killed in Sunday’s attacks.  Meanwhile, a vehicle parked near St. Anthony’s Shrine, one of the churches that was bombed Sunday, exploded Monday as police tried to defuse three bombs inside, according to the AP. At least 87 bomb detonators have been found in Colombo, officials said. Police have detained at least 24 suspects in connection with Sunday’s bombings. Update 5:15 a.m. EDT April 22:  Government officials said the National Thowheed, a Sri Lankan militant group, was responsible for Sunday’s deadly attacks, the Guardian is reporting. However, a government spokesman said an “international network” helped the attackers. Seven suicide bombers caused six of the nine explosions Sunday, a forensic analyst told The Associated Press. Authorities also said a second Chinese citizen and two Australian citizens were among those killed in Sunday’s attacks. So far, the dead include citizens of the United States, India, Britain, China, Australia, Japan and Portugal, the AP reported. Meanwhile, a Sri Lanka military official said crews defused a homemade pipe bomb discovered late Sunday on a road to the airport outside Colombo, the AP reported. Update 12:10 a.m. EDT April 22: The death toll in the bombings has increased to 290 and more than 500 people have been wounded, according to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara. Among those killed are five Indians, who were identified in tweets from India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, The AP reported. China and Portugal also said they lost citizens, and the U.S. said “several” Americans were also killed in the bombings. The AP reported Sri Lankan officials said they would examine reports that intelligence failed to heed or detect warnings of a possible suicide attack.  “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence,” Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet, according to The AP. “Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”  Update 9:50 p.m. EDT April 21: Japan has confirmed at least one citizen death and four injuries from the bombings. The country has issued a safety warning to Japanese people in the country, telling them to avoid mosques, churches and public places like clubs, malls and government offices, The AP reported. Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka and sent his condolences to victims of the explosions. He also said Japan was committed to “combating terrorism.” Update 5:40 p.m. EDT April 21: The Associated Press reported that, according to internet censorship monitoring group NetBlocks, social media has been blocked across the country after the attacks. Most services, including YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have been temporarily blacked out to curb false information spread, according to Sri Lankan officials. According to NetBlocks, such blackouts are usually ineffective. Related: Sri Lanka explosions: Sri Lanka shuts down social media in wake of Easter attacks “We are aware of the government’s statement regarding the temporary blocking of social media platforms,” Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said in a statement to The AP. “People rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones and we are committed to maintaining our services and helping the community and the country during this tragic time.” Update 3:28 p.m. EDT April 21: Police have 13 suspects in custody, impounded a vehicle they believed was used by suspects and located a safe house used by the attackers.  Related: Photos: Easter Sunday blasts at Sri Lanka churches, hotels kill dozens No one has claimed responsibility for what Sri Lankan officials have described as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. Update 9:28 a.m. EDT April 21: Police have so far arrested three people in connection to the blasts, The Guardian reported. A motive for the bombings is still unclear, investigators said.  Update 8:46 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 207 people were killed and 450 hurt in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. Officials said eight blasts targeted three churches, three hotels, a guesthouse and an area near a Dematagoda overpass, the AP reported. Authorities reportedly have arrested seven people in connection with the incidents. Update 8:07 a.m. EDT April 21: Sri Lankan officials say at least 190 people, including at least 27 foreigners and two police officers, were killed in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the eight explosions, which rocked at least three churches and three hotels, as well as a guesthouse, officials said. Update 7:35 a.m. EDT April 21: President Donald Trump tweeted condolences to the Sri Lankan people Sunday morning. “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka,” Trump tweeted. “We stand ready to help!” Update 7:19 a.m. EDT April 21: Hours after explosions at Sri Lankan churches and hotels left dozens dead and hundreds more injured, Pope Francis prayed for the victims during his annual Easter message at the Vatican. Related: Sri Lanka explosions: Pope denounces attacks during Easter blessing “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community (of Sri Lanka), wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, according to Vatican News. He later added: “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished, and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.” Every year after leading Easter Mass, the pope delivers an “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, which addresses global issues and conflicts. Update 5:32 a.m. EDT April 21: Two more blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. A seventh explosion hit a hotel in Dehiwala, and an eighth blast was reported in the capital, Agence France-Presse is reporting. Update 4:20 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 156 people were killed in blasts at three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, Agence France-Presse is reporting. The dead include 35 foreigners, officials said. Update 3:34 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 137 people were killed in blasts at three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, Agence France-Presse is reporting. The dead include 45 people in Colombo, 67 in Negombo and 25 in Batticaloa, officials said. At least nine of the people killed were foreigners, the news agency reported. More than 500 people were hurt in the explosions, according to The Associated Press. Original report:  Explosions hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing dozens of people and injuring nearly 300 more, news outlets are reporting. According to The Associated Press, blasts occurred Sunday morning at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and a church in Batticaloa. Explosions also rocked the Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels in Colombo, the BBC reported. The Agence France-Presse news agency said 52 people died in the blasts. At least 283 people were taken to the hospital, the AP reported. Suicide bombers may have caused at least two of the church blasts, a security official told the AP.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • For the second time this month, the Trump Administration and the Internal Revenue Service did not comply with a deadline set by Democrats in Congress to turn over seven years of President Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin now says a final decision will be given to Congress by May 6, ignoring a Tuesday 5 pm deadline set by Democrats in Congress. 'Due to the serious constitutional questions raised by this request and the serious consequences that a resolution of those questions could have for taxpayer privacy,' Mnuchin wrote, as he added that he expects to give Congress 'a final decision by May 6, after receiving the Justice Department's legal conclusions.' It was the second time that the Treasury Secretary had asked for more time from Democrats, as Mnuchin again labeled the request for President Trump's tax returns 'unprecedented.' The ten page letter certainly gave off the feeling that Mnuchin was in no mood to ship the President's tax returns to Democrats in the House, as the Secretary directly questioned whether lawmakers should have the power to see Mr. Trump's tax returns. 'Congress's investigative power is not unlimited,' Mnuchin wrote in a section he titled, 'Constitutional Limits.' 'Article I grants Congress no express power to investigate.' Well before the 5 pm EDT deadline, White House officials had made clear that the President would not force the IRS to comply with the request from Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. 'The President is pretty clear - once he's out of audit, he'll think about doing it,' said White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley during an appearance on Fox News, as Gidley denounced the Democratic push for Mr. Trump's tax returns as 'ridiculous tactics.' 'Everyone knows he's a very successful billionaire,' Gidley added. Earlier this month, Secretary Mnuchin said more time was needed to evaluate the request, without specifically rejecting the demand for the President's tax information under Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code. Democrats argued there was no issue about what should be done. 'They do not have a choice,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who said the language under §6103(f) is clear.  'The President is not above the law, and the law is clear that once requested his returns must be furnished,' Beyer said. But the contention by the President and White House officials that Mr. Trump cannot release his tax returns until an audit is completed was knocked down multiple times by the IRS Commissioner in recent testimony before Congress. At this point, it seems the only route for this dispute is in the courts over the following section on the tax code: 'Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure,' §6103(f) states.