If you were unaware that the annual White House Correspondents Dinner has come and gone, you are not alone. Compared to last year — when the absence of President Trump and the tasteless and humorless pillaring of the President and White House staffers made headlines for days afterward – the 2019 event was barely noticed beyond the Beltway.
This is not only as it should be, but what the Dinner had been for decades before it was taken over by Hollywood.
During my time in D.C., I had the pleasure of attending the Dinner. That was back in the late-1960s and early 1970s. It was an important political and social even for the Washington political and press communities – but it received very little reporting in the rest of the country.
While much was made of President Trump’s declining his invitation to participate, it was never a “must attend” for presidents. Some attended sometimes, but not all that often. In fact, most presidents were AWOL when it came to the dinner – although not because of the friction that has marked the relationship between Trump and the major news media.
Previous dinners were more of a private social event to allow members of the press corps and the politicians they cover to mingle in a friendly setting. There was always a bit of a comedic roast, but not with the Partisan viciousness that has arisen since the Trump election. Mostly it was good-spirited pokes at the pomposity of the press and the politicians – what is better known as self-effacing humor.
The event changed dramatically during President Obama’s administrations. He brought a glitzy Hollywood glamour not seen in Washington since President Kennedy’s days of Camelot. In fact, it is arguable that it was Hollywood that helped destroy the purpose and the reputation of the Dinner – two things the White House Correspondents Association hoped to correct this year.
Rather than make the event a platform for the biased and nasty comedy of Michelle Wolfe — last year’s featured celebrity – the Dinner sponsors chose historian and author Ron Chernow – author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the inspiration for the popular Broadway production.
It was a move that would assure minimal humorous content. Chernow promised to deliver a few knee-slappers but proved that humor is an art form in which historians are relatively unskilled. The best he could elicit from the audience was an occasional round of polite chuckles.
The association took away what Hollywood had brought to the event – the iconic red carpet. Oh yeah, there was still a red runway, but it was not lined by cameras, entertainment reporters and gawkers. If there were those exaggerated poses in front of a multi-labeled advertising backdrop, not may photos of the posers to be seen in the next morning news reports – largely because there was very little reporting on the event … period.
The Association was smart in toning down the event. He had become weaponized by a biased media to attack their political adversaries – specifically President Trump, Vice President Pence, the White House Staff, the Cabinet, congressional Republicans, conservative Supreme Court Justices, FOX News, conservative icons and millions of Americans who do not share the media’s political perspective.
One can only hope that the White House press corps – and the media outlets they represent – and follow the lead of the White House Correspondents’ Association and restore a bit of unbiased civility and integrity to the profession in general.
So, there ‘tis.
Attorney General William Barr is supposed to testify before Congress twice this week, however, one of those appearances is apparently in jeopardy. Based on current negotiations over his appearance, Barr will likely be a “no-show” at a long-awaited hearing on Thursday before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee, a source on the committee told Fox News on Sunday.
The emerging spat comes after Barr has endured withering attacks from congressional Democrats, who have outright accused him of sacrificing his integrity to appease President Trump. It was Barr who spearheaded the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report in recent weeks, and he has largely become a punching bag for progressives frustrated that Mueller’s probe found no evidence to back up claims that the Trump team colluded with Russians.
Fox News has learned that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., wants to have Judiciary Committee staff — rather than members of Congress — question Barr on his handling of Mueller’s report. But DOJ officials say members should conduct the inquiry.
“The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress; therefore Congress does the questioning,” a DOJ official told Fox News.
Not a Done Deal
Discussions about Thursday’s hearing are ongoing, so it is not yet definitive that Barr will not appear as scheduled. Barr is also scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. There have been no objections for Barr to appear before the GOP-led Senate committee, where Barr is expected to face “normal” rounds of member questioning – and not the partisan attacks he would be subject to in Thursday’s testimony before the House Committee.
Justice officials also told the committee that they are opposed to the panel’s plan to go into a closed session if members want to discuss redacted portions of Mueller’s report, a Democratic senior committee aide told The Associated Press.
“Attorney General Barr wasn’t asked to testify before the committee—he offered,” a spokesperson for House Judiciary Committee Republicans told Fox News. “He provided the Mueller report voluntarily. He invited Democrat leaders to view the less redacted report in person. Yet the only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less redacted report, is to have staff pinch hit when a cabinet-level official appears before us.”
The Republican spokesperson added, “What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations—as Democrat leadership reminds us daily—don’t constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee.”
It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness. But committees can generally make their own rules, and other panels have made similar exceptions. In a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, for example, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee hired an outside prosecutor to question a witness who had accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
Barr Vs the Democrats
This conflict between Barr and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, comes as tensions have escalated sharply between House Democrats and the Trump administration over full access to Mueller’s report and government witnesses who have defied congressional subpoenas to testify. Democrats have been eagerly anticipating the hearing with Barr as they try to build on Mueller’s findings with their own investigations into the president.
According to Fox News, House Democrats have subpoenaed the Justice Department for the unredacted version of the Mueller report and underlying material gathered from the investigation. In response, the Justice Department has said they will make the full report, minus grand jury material (which legally must be withheld), available to a limited group of members — an offer that Democrats have so far refused. The dispute could eventually end up in court.
Nadler has also invited Mueller to testify, and subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn. McGahn was a vital witness for Mueller in the report, which recounted the president’s outrage over the Mueller investigation and his efforts to curtail it. The White House has asserted it will fight the McGahn subpoena.
Crooner Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but a lot of local folks are leaving something a lot less romantic – poop. No, not talking about dog doo doo, but human excrement being left on the streets and byways of the California city.
Once known for its iconic cable cars, the trendy Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the city by the sea has become famous – make that infamous – for the tons of human poop that litter the public fairways from Fort Point on the north to Vistacion Valley on the south – and from Mission Bay on the east to Golden Gate Park on the west coast. In other words, the entire city.
According to the official human excrement report and map – yes, they even have a map of poop sightings – in the past decade or so, there have been official reports of 118,000 dumps on the commons. Averaging somewhere between half pound and a full pound each, San Franciscans have dropped trou in public enough to have deposited between 118 and 236 TONS of fecal waste. And unofficially, officials believe that map records only a fraction of all the public piles.
The map above indicates the specific locations of those 118,000 dumps. You can not only find the map, but the specific addresses where each turd turned-up thanks to the folks at Open the Books. (click on the pinpointed map to get the list if you desire. But why you would, is beyond me.)
Of course, this does not consider the tens of thousands of druggie needles that are disposed of on the commons of San Francisco. That is a blight for another time.
But this is only the frosting on the cake. Okay, that may not be the best choice of words, but the point is that San Francisco has had a reputation for being a dirty city for decades. Not only has that been a frequent report for tourists, but my wife and I saw it first hand during a visit to the city more than 30 years ago. There was litter everywhere. It is the reason we never found a reason to go back. Actually, we avoided reasons.
San Francisco is a city with one of the highest homeless populations. It is reasonable to assume that the poop and liter problem are at least partially due to that fact. That has not helped encourage tourism. Most people have two reactions to the kind of homelessness you see all over San Francisco – pity and anxiety. As much as our compassionate side is sad to see disheveled people sleeping on benches or in the nooks and crannies of buildings, we also have a natural fear. These are, after all, desperate people.
I know the social welfare agencies promote photos of the homeless as a sad mother holding a couple sad looking kids in their fundraising material. In reality, if you travel through places where the homeless gather it is 90 percent scary looking men and an occasional woman. The odds of seeing that depicted woman and those cute kids is nearly the same as winning the California lottery.
One reason that San Francisco may not be able to deal with the poop, the liter and the homelessness is the lack of resources. Yes, that Golden City by the Bay is running short of the gold. San Francisco is broke – something that had been hidden by the folks in city hall for years. In 2014, the pension liability was officially reported as zero. One year later, after new accounting procedures were imposed, the pension liability rose to … ready?
… $1.8 billion dollars in 2015 – and experts report that figure is still too low.
If the taxpayers of San Francisco were to pay off the city debt in one payment, they would each have to cough up more than $16,000.
If there is any discernable reason that San Francisco is in the condition it is – suffering the modern debilities of America’s urban centers (and one seemingly unique to the city by the bay — the most obvious commonality is long term Democrat governance. The economic and social decline we see in San Francisco has spread to the entire state of California – much like the Democrat politics of Chicago is now bringing down the entire state of Illinois.
One can only wonder how our other great cities would compare is view through a poop map.
So. There ‘tis.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden has now officially entered the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for the presidency, but without a key endorsement.
After weeks of speculation and anticipation, Biden announced his run for president in an online video. But one thing conspicuously absent from his announcement was an endorsement from the man at the top of his former ticket.
After his announcement, Biden was asked why President Obama, isn’t publicly backing him.
“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” Biden told Fox News on Thursday outside an Amtrak station in Delaware, adding that “whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”
But Obama’s people did, however, release a statement praising Biden, but it did fall short of an explicit endorsement of the former VP by his ex-boss of eight years.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement Thursday morning. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”
President Obama Remaining on the Sidelines
According to Obama’s team, the 44th President intends to remain on the sidelines of the quest for the Democratic nomination – at least for the time being.
Sources close to the Obamas have told Fox News that the former president has made clear that he doesn’t plan on endorsing early in the primary process—if at all.
“President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” a source close to Obama told Fox News. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process – preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”
However, many, such as this reporter, see the non-endorsement as a rejection of Biden by the former president. RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that “Obama has “chosen *not* to endorse his right-hand man.”
However, former communications director for the Democratic National Committee and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign Mo Elleithee said he doesn’t view the decision as a snub, saying it is appropriate for Obama to remain on the sidelines.
“I think it’s pretty clear that President Obama wants to play a neutral role in the primary process, and there are a number of candidates in this field that he has a relationship with,” Elleithee, a Fox News contributor and executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, told Fox News. “I think he wants to focus more on helping set the table for a successful election for the party, rather than necessarily helping to pick the candidate.”
Elleithee said that Obama has praised a number of candidates in the race, but said “he hasn’t put out a statement like he did for Biden today for anyone else.”
Despite a lack of an Obama endorsement, Biden was met with support quickly after his official announcement. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn. and Chris Coons, D-Del., were among the first to officially get behind his campaign.
As for President Trump, he reacted to Biden’s announcement with a classic Trump tweet, “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign,” Trump tweeted, repeating a nickname he’s tagged Biden with and questioning his intelligence and political aptitude.
In his tweet, Trump also tossed an insult at the rest of the 19 Democrats in the primary contest to be the party’s nominee, saying Biden would be dealing with “people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas.”
A number of members of the White House press corps have called for Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to be removed. Last year, I penned a commentary suggesting that it was then time to replace her. It is now well past the time.
To be perfectly clear, my opinion has nothing to do with the highly politicized reasons given by some of the most disreputable members of the White House scribblers. For them, Sanders is just another person surrounding Trump who should be demonized by the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement within the Fourth Estate.
When it comes to anyone not buying into their pernicious and persistent anti-Trump narrative, the media weapon of choice is character assassination. That is why their contempt and hatred goes beyond Trump and members of his administration to the more than 100 million Americans who they derogatorily refer to as “Trump’s base.”
While they see evil in the work of Sanders, I do not. I think she is a very good person doing a very difficult job – made more difficult by many members of a press corps with all the characteristics of a pack of political jackals.
My reason for replacing Sanders is much more compassionate of the person – but unimpressed with the job she has been doing for quite a long time. I do believe she is doing the best she can, but she is not suited for that role.
It has long been my impression that she is on the defensive too often – and not good even at that. She does not take command of the podium, but rather pushes back occasionally by engaging in what can only be described as bickering. She has a so’s-your-old-man level of engagement that does not put her above the fray. In the defensive mode, she is not persuasive – looking more like a fighter on the ropes.
She may respond, but often does not sell her points effectively – and too often walks into traps set by the more antagonistic members of the White House press corps. She also lacks a sense of humor – even mocking humor. She has no flair for the put-down that is essential in verbal combat. It is the old issue of not what you say, but how you phrase it.
She would do well to learn from President Reagan, who could use both humor and anger with devastating effect. Reagan at the podium was a joy to watch and hear. Sanders elicits more of a wincing pain.
Oddly, the person who seems to have the best attributes for the role of presidential press secretary is Anthony Scaramucci, who survived in the job as White House Communications Director for a mere 10 days because of in-house political intrigue – not his innate communications ability. He still appears regularly on various cable news shows – and remains one of the more articulate and effective defenders and representatives of President Trump and administration policies.
The only reason not to replace Sanders immediately is the fact that it would be interpreted as a chest-pounding victory of the members of the Resistance Movement within the press corps. But it should happen as we get into the headwinds of the 2020 presidential campaign.
So, there ‘tis.
Just last week, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security let loose about 12,500 illegal immigrants and border crosses into the interior of the U.S., according to federal data.
According to ‘catch and release’ data that was acquired by Breitbart, the DHS released somewhere around 12,500 illegal immigrants into the interior of the country in a timespan of just nine days between April 9th and April 17th. That amounts to the release of over 1,300 illegal immigrants into the country each and every day.
The process of catch and release generally requires federal immigration officials to transport illegal border crossers into neighboring border cities and drop them off with nothing more than a promise that they will show up to their immigration hearings which are sometimes years later. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that once released into the country, the vast majority of these illegal immigrants and border crossers are never deported.
In the week before last, alone, almost 6,000 illegal immigrants and border crossers were released into the El Paso, Texas, region, while nearly 3,500 more were released in the San Antonio, Texas, area.
Regions along the US-Mexico border have been absolutely inundated and overwhelmed in recent months thanks to the catch and release policy executed by the DHS. So much so, that last week the Mayor of Yuma, Arizona, Douglas Nicholls, was forced to declare an emergency due to the lack of public resources required to properly deal with the release of thousands of migrants into the city.
A whopping 146,000 illegal immigrants and border crossers have been released into the interior of the country since December 21st, 2018 alone. If current illegal immigration trends continue at their current pace, the country is set to allow between one and one and a half million illegal immigrants this year.
In the case that the Trump administration continues to mass-release illegal immigrants and border crossers into the country at the rate it’s releasing them now, there could be nearly half a million of them released by the year’s end.
At its present rate, illegal immigration levels are projected to eclipse those during every single year of the Bush administration and return the country to what was seen during the Clinton era crisis.
As the 2020 Democratic hopefuls race to see who can give away more “free stuff” to their gullible base of millennial voters, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) just proposed a new $640 billion student college debt relief program that would also eliminate college tuition for all two and four-year public colleges.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate unveiled the ambitious policy proposal as she attempts to distinguish herself from the large and progressive Democrat field. Warren released the proposal ahead of a series of youth-oriented CNN town halls the other night with 2020 presidential candidates held at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
“It’s a problem for all of us,” Warren said, noting that student college debt has reached more than $1.5 trillion and affects more than 40 million Americans. “It’s reducing homeownership rates. It’s leading fewer people to start businesses. It’s forcing students to drop out of school before getting a degree.”
“Pocahontas” Pandering to Young Voters
Warren’s proposal was an obvious pander to the young voters ahead of the Town Hall, but it was also a major a slap in the face to those who have already struggled to pay off their student loans without government assistance. Not to mention it would be absurdly costly, but the Democrats, particularly Warren, Sanders and their progressive ilk, have yet to realize that “free” is never really free!
But, the proposal, while fiscally untenable, makes perfect pollical sense for Warren’s attempt to break out and grab the millennial vote. Most of her fellow candidates have been using the “Free College For All” rallying cry, but millennial’s, who make a huge percentage of the current democratic base, do not much care about “free college.” They themselves are already recent grads, and they are way too young to have college bound kids. But what they do have is a mountain of student loan debt, so promising to cancel all of their debt would have a huge impact on their finances.
Right now, more than a third of millennials have student loan debt, and studies have shown that the debt is leading them to delay major life decisions including purchasing a house, saving for retirement, and even getting married and having kids.
Who’s Going to Pay For It?
What Warren is proposing is to offer debt cancellation of up to $50,000 to more than 42 million people, or 95% of those with debt. She says that will completely wipe out debt for 75% of borrowers with student loans.
The question, as always, for the Progressives and their proposals is, “who’s going to pay for it?” And the answer, as usual, is “the wealthy.”
Warren has proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” that would annually tax wealth above $50 million at an extra two percent with an additional one percent tax on wealth over $1 billion. She says this will pay for her tuition and debt relief plan. Not only is such a tax wildly unpopular, she has gone to this well before, and thinks this same tax will also pay for her “free” childcare proposal.
But aside from the cost, her plan would be tremendously unfair to those who have been struggling for years to pay off their student loans, or went to second choice schools, or cut their living expenses to the bare bones, to be responsible, and pay their debts.
Furthermore, even if she should by some stretch of the imagination, get the nomination and win the White House, a “wealth tax” never adds up to what those who propose such things think they will, and inevitably, such “free programs” wind up with an increased tax burden on the very people they are supposed to help – the middle class.
The latest mantra from the political gurus of the radical left is that the release of the long-anticipated report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just the beginning of the efforts by the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement. With the intentions to delve into the matter of criminal collusion and obstruction of justice – and any number of other fishing-expedition investigations currently being teed up by Democrats.
Sadly for the institution of American journalism, the anti-Trump news media is embracing this latest partisan-driven narrative as if it is factual news – just as they so eagerly and as speciously embraced and advanced the false narrative of criminal collusion and obstruction of justice throughout the 23-month Mueller investigation.
The liberal partisans in the Fourth Estate are using what is left of their tattered reputations and declining credibility (according to polls about which they do not report) to double down on the same bogus narrative they dishonestly proffered for more than two years.
Despite the Mueller conclusions that there was no improper (illegal) coordination between President Trump and Russian operatives and insufficient evidence to establish obstruction, the crazed left is continuing to claim that Trump DID criminally collude and most certainly committed the crime of obstruction.
Keep in mind that these are the same folks who promised to – but did not – wait for the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, and promised to – but did not – accept Mueller’s findings.
They opine that any ordinary person would most certainly have been indicted on any one of the points Mueller cited in his Report. If that is true – and we have no reason to believe that it is – God helps save the common person from the scary power of professional prosecutors.
The Resistance Movement media inconsistently argues (nothing new there) that the only reason Mueller did not bring prosecutorial charges against Trump is that it is “a very high bar.” Really? The general view has long been that thanks to the grand jury system, a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich.
New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, the diminutive radical left socialist chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is promising to hold hearings on every aspect of Trump’s political, business and personal life for the next two years. He has already started the process of issuing subpoenas with machine-gun rapidity. Not since emperors presided over the games in the Roman Coliseum has a political figure promised a greater public spectacle for the sole purposes of political gain and self-aggrandizement.
To pick up on President Lincoln’s language, the left-leaning media came very close to fooling all the people some of the time with their prolonged false narratives against Trump and Russia. They continue to fool some of the people all of the time – the so-called Resistance Movement folks and maybe themselves. But thanks to Mueller, they cannot continue to fool all the people all the time. But … that is exactly what they think they can do by re-investigating the same issues – plus whatever else they can conjure up.
The lust for impeachment courses through the veins of the Democratic Party despite the efforts of saner and more pragmatic leaders – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – to derail the notion because it is likely to backfire. So far that has not stopped the clamor for impeachment and most certainly has not dissuaded people like Nadler from wanting to produce the most prominent political circus since … the Clinton impeachment fiasco.
Democrats obsessed with impeachment may discover that the only “beginning” to be noted at this time is the beginning of the end of their political support among the American people.
So, there ‘tis.
Hundreds of Hondurans have gathered in the city of San Pedro Sula with plans to make their way north toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigration authorities in Guatemala have warned that around 1,1000 migrants on buses were headed toward the two countries common border.
The migrants composing the newly formed caravan have told reporters that President Donald Trump’s threat to seal the United States southern border wouldn’t hinder their efforts to make it to the U.S. Many say that they are unable to support their families in Honduras, so they decided to join the caravan, hoping to have more opportunities in the U.S.
According to the Associated Press, a woman by the name of Nohemy Reyes who waited at the bus stop with one of her five kids, said that her country’s economic situation was causing her to head north.
“The economic situation is very difficult,” she told AP reporters. But if she finds that the border is closed upon her arrival at the U.S.’s southern border, she said that she would return to Honduras.
Another migrant in the caravan told a reporter from CNN: “I’m not afraid. When you set yourself a goal and you trust in God then you do everything to get there and in my case, my goal is to get to the US.”
According to Mexico’s immigration authority, the National Migration Institute, a group of 350 Central American migrants from another caravan of 2,500 strong – this time from Guatemala – forced their way into Mexico on Friday. A spokesman from the National Migration Institute stated, “With an aggressive attitude, the migrants broke the padlock on the border gate and entered the country.” The group clashed violently with local police in Metapa de Dominguez – a town in southern Mexico – after crossing the border from Guatemala.
More than once, President Trump has warned migrants attempting to reach the southern border of the United States from Central America and Mexico to stop forming caravans. Trump has even ordered the suspension of all U.S. foreign aid to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala – the states from which the vast majority of migrants in caravans are originating from.
But neither of these actions have helped to stem the unrelenting tide of migrants.
Meanwhile, United States border facilities and immigration services are swamped with Central American and Mexican migrants. Officials have described the migrant crisis as being close to reaching a breaking point.
This week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that more than 103,000 migrants were apprehended or deemed ‘inadmissible’ in the month of March – up nearly 77,000 from February.
With the newest caravans from Honduras and Guatemala already on their way, the U.S. can only expect the numbers to increase and the strain on the immigration system to worsen.
In the wake of the very suspicious fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, there have been several confirmed acts of terror against Christian churches on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.
The work of Islamic jihadists, the country’s health minister said the heinous attacks, which killed at least 290 and injured more than 500, were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a local militant group named National Thowheek Jaamath. Experts cited by The New York Times said the group promotes an Islamic terrorist ideology. Police said 13 suspects in connection with the bombings have been arrested.
“These attacks appear to be quite different and look as if they came right out of the ISIS, Al Qaeda, global militant jihadist playbook, as these are attacks fomenting religious hatred by attacking multiple churches on a high religious holiday,” Anne Speckhard, the director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, told the Times.
All of the bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but authorities suspect foreign links, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said at a news conference.
Officials Had Advance Warning of Terror Attacks on Christian Worshipers
Six nearly simultaneous blasts took place in the morning at the shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo, as well as at two churches outside Colombo. Two more blasts occurred a few hours later outside Colombo — one at a guesthouse, the other near an overpass.
A government forensic crime investigator said an analysis of the attacker’s body parts indicated they were suicide bombers. He said a single bomber carried out most of the attacks, with two at Colombo’s Shangri-La Hotel.
Officials on Monday said that Sri Lankan police investigating the bombings are examining reports that intelligence agencies had warnings of possible attacks. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the international agencies warned of the attacks several times starting April 4.
Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando tweeted, “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.” He added that his father had heard of a possible attack and had warned him not to enter popular churches.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said the attacks could have been thwarted. “We placed our hands on our heads when we came to know that these deaths could have been avoided. Why was this not prevented?” he said.
The U.S. State Department confirmed “several” Americans died in the attacks and on Sunday issued a revised travel warning to Sri Lanka, saying terror groups continue to plot and may possibly carry out new attacks in hotels and churches.
The alert said possible targets include tourist locations and transportation hubs, noting the terrorists “may attack with little or no warning.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defense forces” to take action against those responsible.
According to the Associated Press, Sri Lankan authorities on Monday lifted a curfew that had been imposed, but kept up a social media block so as to curtail the spread of false information and ease tension in the country of more than 22 million people.