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Sri Lanka attacks: Church bomber ‘touched young girl’s head’ before deadly blast – World News



A man has recounted how a bomber touched his grandaughter’s head shortly before detonating an explosive that killed dozens at a church in Sri Lanka .

Dilip Fernando arrived at St Sebastian’s Church in Sri Lanka’s Negombo on Easter Sunday – but it was so crowded he went elsewhere for mass.

The decision probably saved his life.

Shortly after he left, a massive bomb ripped through the church, killing worshippers that observed the Christian holiday.

Dozens died there on a day of carnage across Sri Lanka that saw at least 290 people killed in eight blasts.

On Monday morning, Fernando returned to the church in the seaside town of Negombo to see the damage at the site where he and his family narrowly escaped death.

Security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo

Pictures from inside the church show the scale of the damage caused inside the building


“I usually come to services here,” the 66-year-old retiree told AFP, as around three dozen security personnel stood outside the church.

“Yesterday me and my wife arrived at 7:30 am but it was so crowded there was no place for me. I didn’t want to stand so I left and went to another church.”

But seven of Fernando’s extended family including in-laws and his two granddaughters decided to stay, sitting outside because the church was so crowded.

And it was there that they saw a man they believe was the suicide bomber behind the deadly explosion.

“At the end of the mass they saw one young man go into the church in with a heavy bag,” Fernando said.

“He touched my granddaughter’s head on the way past. It was the bomber.”

Officials inspect the inside of St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo

A major investigation has been launched to find the culprits


The family wondered why he was entering the church with mass nearly over, Fernando said, adding that the man had looked to be around 30 and “very young and innocent”, according to his relatives.

“He was not excited or afraid,” he said. “He was so calm.”

Shortly after the man entered the church, there was a massive blast.

He said: “They heard it and quickly ran away, they were so afraid. They called me immediately to ask if I was inside the church, but by then I was in a different church.”

He said no one in his family had been killed or injured, but that the community had been devastated by the attack.

“I’m so lucky because normally I would go to this church. We are relieved, we were so lucky but we’re really sad for the whole village,” he said.

“There are going to be huge funerals in this village soon.”

The aftermath an explosion at the St Sebastian’s church in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Blood stains are seen on a statue of Jesus Christ at St Sebastian’s Church


But he added that Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic community, a minority that makes up just six percent of the population, would not be intimidated.

“If the church was open this morning then I would have gone inside,” he said. “We are not afraid. We won’t let terrorists win, no way.

“Revenge is useless. It’s the responsibility of the government to control this, not us.”

He criticised the government, which has acknowledged that there was information warning of attacks before Sunday’s blasts.

“An attack like this should have been avoided,” he said.

Around the church, Negombo appeared to be waking up as normal, after the lifting of an overnight nationwide curfew at 6:00am (0030 GMT).

A steady stream of people were walking or moving on streets on bicycles and motorbikes or in tuk-tuks.

Outside the church, Fernando and other bystanders look at the damage to the church, which had been renovated just a month earlier.

“It was looking so beautiful. We were so happy,” he said.

“The priest was awarded for the job he had done. But now this has happened, it’s terrible.”

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U.K. and E.U. Agree on Brexit Draft Deal, but Hurdles Remain




BRUSSELS — Britain and the European Union agreed on the draft text of a Brexit deal on Thursday, an 11th-hour breakthrough in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s effort to settle his country’s anguished, yearslong debate over Brexit and pave the way for its departure from the bloc.

The deal, details of which were published shortly after the announcement, must still clear several hurdles, including approval from Europe’s leaders and, most crucially, passage in the British Parliament, where an agreement reached by Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, in Brussels suffered three thunderous defeats in Parliament.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, seen as vital to the passage of the agreement in Parliament, said it did not support the deal. And the opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called on members of Parliament to reject it.

Mr. Johnson announced the agreement on Twitter, saying that the parties had reached a “great new deal that takes back control” and that Parliament would now be clear to vote on the agreement on Saturday.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president, confirmed that a deal had been struck and noted that a revised arrangement on Northern Ireland had been reached.

He wrote on Twitter: “Where there is a will, there is a #deal — we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK.”

Britain’s frantic efforts to negotiate a Brexit agreement with the European Union had appeared to hit a last-minute snag after the D.U.P. said in a statement on Thursday morning that it could not support the deal “as things stand.

The statement, hours before Mr. Johnson was to present the deal to European leaders at a summit meeting in Brussels, suggested that domestic politics once again threatened to torpedo the complex negotiations.

It was unclear whether the deal had been altered before the agreement with European leaders was reached. It was also unclear whether the Northern Irish party simply wanted to make a show of holding out for its position before ultimately acquiescing — or whether Mr. Johnson faced a serious rebellion from the skeptics in his ranks.

Mr. Johnson may have an advantage over his predecessor in securing parliamentary approval for the deal, because he has assiduously cultivated the most skeptical elements of his party.

For days, Mr. Johnson had worked frantically to bridge a gap over the thorny question of how to treat Northern Ireland in a post-Brexit Europe — a fiendishly complex issue that helped torpedo Mrs. May’s agreement and could still fracture Mr. Johnson’s Conservative-led coalition in Parliament.

People briefed on the talks said Mr. Johnson had given significant ground on the structure of a customs unions that would allow Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, to continue to trade seamlessly with Ireland and other members of the European Union.

It was a dramatic culmination to down-to-the-wire talks that began on Tuesday morning, with some European officials predicting that the two sides would not be able to close the gap on customs issues in time to finalize a draft deal before the critical summit meeting of European leaders on Thursday and Friday.

The value of the British pound soared on the news of a deal to a five-month high, trading at $1.29 to the dollar. The rise reversed a slump earlier in the day, when the Democratic Unionist Party signaled that it would not back Mr. Johnson’s draft deal.

The Democratic Unionists, who have proved to be a pivotal blocking force in previous attempts to negotiate a Brexit agreement, said they were troubled by elements of the deal on how to handle Northern Ireland in a post-Brexit world.

The statement from the Democratic Unionists suggested that Mr. Johnson faces a tense day of negotiations.

Brussels has pushed Mr. Johnson so far that it “makes sense they are unhappy,” Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst with the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, said of the Democratic Unionists. But he said it was unclear how serious the setback was, because “the D.U.P. does have to be seen fighting.”

Room to maneuver is limited, however. The two sides could agree on some “optical tweaks” to mollify the skeptics, said a European official not authorized to speak publicly, adding that European Union leaders would be “cautious to give more.”

The intervention from the Democratic Unionists underscored the problems that Mr. Johnson faces in trying to get any deal through Parliament, where he does not have a majority. Without the support of the D.U.P., Mr. Johnson has little hope of getting any agreement ratified by Parliament.

It is also a reminder that he faces many of the problems confronted by Mrs. May. In December 2017, the Democratic Unionists derailed her efforts to reach a deal to allow her to proceed to another phase in the Brexit negotiations.

That happened while she was holding a working lunch with Mr. Juncker. She was forced to pause discussions with the European Commission president, and keep diplomats waiting, to take a call from Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party’s leader.

Mrs. May then returned with a revised plan several days later, at which point Ms. Foster said that the new version ensured that there would be no border between Britain and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Essentially, Mr. Johnson’s proposed agreement would leave Northern Ireland aligned with European Union laws and regulations on most trade issues, even as it moved out of the European single market and into a customs union with Britain.

Under the proposed terms, there would be customs checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland to ensure that they meet the rules if those goods were ultimately destined for the European Union.

There would be a complex series of rules on tariffs and value-added tax payments to compensate for differences in tariff rates between the European and British customs unions, though negotiators had struggled on Tuesday to resolve the issue of how to rebate value-added tax payments.

The arrangement would also be subject to consent by the Northern Ireland Assembly, but in a way that would prevent the Democratic Unionists, who have opposed previous such proposals, from simply vetoing it at the first possible opportunity.

The Democratic Unionists are crucial to Mr. Johnson’s effort to win a majority for the deal in Parliament. Their opposition to similar previous versions of a Brexit agreement forced Mrs. May to overhaul that agreement to place all of Britain in the European customs union for a period of time.

Mrs. May’s deal was, nevertheless, soundly defeated in Parliament three times.

Mr. Johnson was seen as having a better chance of cobbling together a majority, in part because he was a vocal supporter of Brexit before the 2016 referendum and thus has greater credibility with euroskeptic elements of the Conservative coalition.

The Democratic Unionist Party campaigned for Brexit in the 2016 referendum campaign, and Mr. Johnson has presented his plan as the last chance to deliver on that mandate from voters. In Northern Ireland as a whole, however, 56 percent of voters in the referendum favored remaining in the European Union.

Yet, for the party, which is strongly committed to maintaining Northern Ireland’s status as a part of the United Kingdom, the issues being negotiated by Mr. Johnson are existential. That is because if they bind Northern Ireland much more closely to Ireland, its southern neighbor, some fear that it would inevitably lead to a united Ireland.

If the Democratic Unionists have collectively decided that the proposals are unacceptable, they will have to change to secure support.

Mr. Johnson has vowed to withdraw Britain from the European Union, with or without a deal, by Oct. 31, and his negotiators have labored to seal an agreement by this week so that he is not forced to ask Brussels for an extension, as would be required under a measure that Parliament passed last month.

Anna Schaverien contributed reporting from London.


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The Politician Cast Plays WHO SAID IT: Glee, Pose, or American Horror Story?



We tested the stars of Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series The Politician to see how well they knew quotes from the biggest Ryan Murphy shows in a game of Who Said It: Glee, Pose, or American Horror Story? — featuring Dylan McDermott, Lucy Boynton, Benjamin Barrett, Theo Germaine, Julia Schlaepfer, Rahne Jones, Laura Dreyfuss, and Ryan J. Haddad, with a special appearance by Pose’s Indya Moore. The Politician is streaming on Netflix.

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C­N­N­ Anderson Cooper 360 10/16/19 | CNN News Today Oct 16, 2019



C­N­N­ Anderson Cooper 360 10/16/19 | CNN News Today Oct 16, 2019
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