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Latest from Marcy Williams

    The Butts County Sheriff's Office warns Georgians not to fall for a bogus Facebook headline reporting a fiery fatal crash.   The Macon Telegraph reports the headline is designed to grab your attention by mentioning multiple casualties involving women and children, but if you click to read more, a virus or malware infects your account.  The sheriff's office has been so besieged by calls about this phony fatal accident, it's posted about it on its Facebook page.   'This is FALSE information,' the post reads. 'We are being told the link on Facebook may be some type of virus. PLEASE DO NOT click on or 'share' the link as it apparently hacks your Facebook account after doing so.'   The Telegraph reports similar scams have popped up mentioning other counties in and out of Georgia. They typically feature a 'breaking news' graphic and a reference to 'NEWSROOMS.INFO' in the text.   If you do end up taking the bait, change your password and follow other web security precautions.
  • The success of Ponce City and Krog Street Markets in Atlanta inspires developers in Marietta.   The Marietta Daily Journal reports Concordia Properties and partners file plans to build an 18,000 square foot food hall just off the Marietta Square.   Marietta Square Market will be built in a converted warehouse on North Marietta Parkway.   The Daily Journal reports the food hall will feature three anchor restaurants, a central restaurant and bar, and smaller kiosks for food and shopping.   The hall's design is patterned after an old-fashioned railroad depot and there are plans to incorporate a fully-restored 1920s streetcar.  Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin's excited about the project and hopes it will be in business by the summer of 2018.   '[That area] used to be just car places and stuff, real dirty,' Tumlin tells the MDJ. 'You can put a shine on that area, especially with this.
  • A Columbus teen files suit in Muscogee County State Court after an incident at school results in the loss of his leg.   'We feel pretty good about this case,' Renee Tucker, the attorney representing Montravious Thomas, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The suit seeks $25 million in damages.   The AJC reports Thomas was injured by a contract teacher at an alternative school last September. Behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley allegedly threw the 13-year-old boy to the floor at Edgewood Student Services Center several times.   Tucker alleges Thomas had to be carried to the school bus and the district failed to notify his family about the severity of his injury.   Mosley, who is named in the suit, is no longer working for the school district.   Thomas ultimately had to have his right leg amputated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. His attorney tells the AJC, he continues with physical therapy but will require additional surgery on his leg.   Tucker says Thomas no longer lives in Columbus.   A school district spokeswoman states the system does not comment on pending litigation.
  • The family of a female inmate who died of pneumonia at the Gwinnett County jail files suit against the sheriff, jail health care provider and staff.  'This was such an avoidable, preventable death,” attorney Mark Begnaud tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Begnaud says Denise Forte begged a jail nurse to send her to the clinic after she was found in her cell too sick to go to breakfast on a Saturday in February, 2015.   The nurse noted Forte's resting heart rate was high and she complained she hurt all over.  Forte had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The nurse administered a standard cold protocol of Tylenol, an antihistamine and an expectorant and told Forte she could see a doctor Monday.    Forte died in her cell.   Begnaud alleges negligence.  The lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County State Court claims Forte's pneumonia should have been caught and treated earlier had medical decisions outweighed cost. The AJC reports Corizon Health, the private health care provider for the jail, is the largest for-profit provider of correctional health services in the country.   Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin will not comment on pending litigation but defends the quality of health care.  'One of the greatest misconceptions about our company is that we somehow benefit from providing lower quality care,” Harbin tells the AJC in an email.   'It is important to emphasize that the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing,” Harbin adds in her statement to the AJC.  The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.   An inmate at the Gwinnett County jail died last month after what is described as a medical emergency. The sheriff’s office denies claims by the inmate’s family that he was not fed properly.
  • A Lawrenceville woman and her husband stand trial in Gwinnett Superior Court for child cruelty and false imprisonment after allegedly starving the woman's 15-year-old autistic daughter.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports Jade Jacobs and William Anthony Brown allegedly made the child live in a closet in the basement.   'Not only was it tiny, but it was disgusting,” Assistant District Attorney Bobby Wolf tells jurors in court. 'There was feces on the wall and a urine-stained mat where she was supposed to sleep on a hard floor.' The Daily Post reports the alleged abuse came to light after Jacobs brought her daughter to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in August 2014.   According to the police report, a clinical social worker at the hospital said the teen only weighed about 60 pounds.      The girl's current foster father testifies she squirreled away food for months after coming to live with his family.   'She would fill her cheeks full of food, then spit it under the pillow or hide it under the pillow,' Todd Moog testifies.   He says she is now at a healthy weight.   Defense attorneys argue the overwhelmed couple tried desperately to get help to address the autistic girl's disabilities, but were stymied. 'All the resources my client begged for months, now they’re suddenly all available,' Jacobs' defense attorney Lawrence Lewis tells jurors.
  • Protesters show up at Tuesday's Gwinnett County commission meeting but embattled Commissioner Tommy Hunter does not.    Commission Chair Charlotte Nash explained Hunter was out of town.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the board, in Hunter's absence, votes unanimously to name Herman Pennamon to the ethics panel hearing a complaint against Hunter.  An Atlanta resident filed the complaint after Hunter referred to Congressman John Lewis as a 'racist pig' on Facebook.  Hunter has apologized but resists calls to resign.  Three of the five ethics panel members have now been appointed.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter chose Terri Duncan as his representative and the Gwinnett Bar Association tapped David Will.  Hunter and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia must still make their picks.  County Attorney Bill Linkous advises commissioners Hunter can be censured or reprimanded for his behavior but state law does not grant the Board of Commissioners authority to suspend or remove him.  Linkous explains citizens have the option to organize a recall effort.  Provisions of state law prevent a recall within 180 days of an elected official's term.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports a campaign against Hunter could not begin in earnest until summer.  For the first time this week, protesters also turned up at Hunter's employer in Norcross. United Consulting distances itself from Hunter's comments and has apologized to Lewis.
  • Over the protests of some parents, Atlanta's Board of Education votes to close Adamsville Primary School and Whitefoord Elementary School this summer.  Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's plan also repurposes Miles Intermediate School as an elementary school.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports dozens of parents urged the board Monday night to vote down the restructuring, arguing the upheaval is not in students' best interest.  Carstarphen maintains the system must streamline to cut costs and maximize efficiency.  'We're not rolling in the dough,' she tells the AJC.  Board members expressed concern about class size and potential blight from empty buildings.  Steven Lee and Byron Amos cast both no votes.  'I do not think merging two struggling schools into one larger school is what's best for children,' Lee stated at the meeting.   While there had been some early discussion of combining Benteen and D.H. Stanton Elementary Schools, that was not included in the final plan the board voted to approve.   Carstarphen says she is evaluating future uses of the buildings that will be vacated. 'I don't ever want to close schools or consolidate but we're in a special situation,' she tells parents and the board.  'I'm hopeful these changes are going to make a difference for our district.' 
  • Atlanta parents protest plans set forth by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to close and consolidate under-attended elementary schools in east and southeast Atlanta. The Atlanta Board of Education votes on the proposal today and is expected to give Carstarphen the go-ahead, with some tweaking.   The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports opponents of the restructuring fear classroom overcrowding as students are absorbed into other schools.  They also worry about neighborhood blight if buildings are left vacant.  In a letter to parents earlier this year, Superintendent Carstarphen explained the consolidations are part of her overall strategy to promote academic progress while making operations more efficient.  The AJC reports the plan calls for Benteen Elementary School to close with students moving to D.H. Stanton Elementary.  Whitefoord Elementary students would be divided between Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Miles Intermediate School would be converted to elementary while Adamsville Primary would close.  Some current Adamsville students might be sent to West Manor Elementary. Carstarphen acknowledges teachers at affected schools would have to reapply for their jobs.  Approved changes by the school board will take place before the new school year. Stay tuned to WSB for updates.  
  • Metro Atlanta's becoming a mecca for professional soccer.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports First Team SC announces plans to bring two professional teams to play in DeKalb County.  WSB's Edgar Treiguts reported this week, ground breaks in May for a huge soccer and sports complex near Stonecrest Mall in DeKalb.  Developers compare Atlanta Sports City to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida.  These new teams, men and women, will play at Atlanta Sports City, according to the Chronicle.  The men's team will begin competing in 2018 with the women's team in competition the following year.  Atlanta United MLS opens its season next week against the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.  Ultimately, it will play home games at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Atlanta United President Darren Eales tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the area is hungry for soccer. 'With over 40,000 tickets sold for our home opener, the excitement and momentum is building quickly as we near our first match on March 5,' he tells the Chronicle. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League also call Atlanta home.  More details about the new teams should roll out within the next few weeks on atl2018.com.
  • Forsyth County commissioners vote unanimously to deny a permit for a Hindu temple near Lake Lanier.  The Forsyth News reports the landowner pursuing the conditional use permit (CUP) may go to court.  Dr. Sumaltha Satoor's attorney believes the refusal was on religious grounds.  'The issue of religious use basically neutralizes this issue of zoning, so I think there's really no reason for denial of this,' attorney Stuart Teague tells the Forsyth News.  Commissioner Laura Semanson insists religion is not the issue at all. She says building a temple and adjoining priest's residence in a residential community is prohibited by neighborhood covenants and the increased traffic would affect other homeowners. Dr. Satoor applied last summer for a permit to build an 11,200 square foot temple and priest's residence on 8 acres she owns on Pilgrim Point Road. Plans call for 109 parking spaces.  Hundreds of residents have turned out at various hearings to object to the plans.  'They shouldn't be discriminating against one particular religion and that's what I felt like happened,' Dr. Satoor tells the Forsyth News. Longtime residents of Bald Ridge and Shady Shores near Lake Lanier disagree. 'It makes me sad that Dr. Satoor is pursuing this on religious grounds,' Bald Ridge resident Paula Chambers tells the Forsyth News.  'This is so not what that's about.' 'This is about our way of life,' she adds. 
  • Marcy  Williams

    Atlanta's Morning News Anchor

    Marcy Williams has co-anchored Atlanta's Morning News with since 1993. Marcy started working at WSB in 1992 after news stints at KLAC-Los Angeles and KNEW-San Francisco. A 1984 graduate of Princeton University, Marcy is married with 3 children.

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  • A California girl managed to avoid a man following her in a car as she walked through a Vacaville neighborhood by hiding behind a parked truck. >> Read more trending news  Home surveillance video captured the incident, which happened earlier this month, and shows the girl being followed by a dark colored Pontiac driven by an adult man. The girl is clearly trying to avoid the man as he repeatedly turns around and tries to approach her. Vacaville police Capt. Matt Lydon said when the girl first noticed she was being followed, she walked to a different neighborhood and the driver followed.  Trending: Children find their lost puppy hanging from noose in woods behind home “As she walked into the adjacent neighborhood, she saw the Pontiac again,” Lydon said, according to KRON-TV. “She hid behind a parked truck on the street as the male went up and down the street a couple of times attempting to get her attention and attempting to have a conversation with her.” The video shows the girl hide behind the truck as the car repeatedly drives by, backs up and stops as the driver tries to engage in a conversation with her. >> Trending: Opossum found living in 7-year-old’s bedroom for 3 days before parents find it  When the car appears to drive off, the girl takes off running. Police are hoping someone may be able to help identify the driver and the car.
  • 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 11:30 p.m. EDT April 23: Police said the death toll in the Easter attacks has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58. The prime minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large. 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.
  • Britney Spears appeared on Instagram on Tuesday evening to tell her fans that “all is well.” >> Read more trending news In the very brief Instagram video, Spears checked in, saying she “just needed time to deal,” but promised that she would be back very soon. “I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear. These fake emails everywhere were crafted by Sam Lutfi years ago... I did not write them. He was pretending to be me and communicating with my team with a fake email address. My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment 🌸🌸🌸 You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you” Earlier this month, Spears checked herself into a mental health facility as her father, Jamie Spears, continues to have health issues, according to TMZ. The celebrity news site reported that, according to unnamed sources, the singer has been distressed over her father’s illness, which the site claims is not getting better. In January, Spears announced that she was putting her planned Las Vegas residency — and the rest of her career — on hold for the sake of her father. The 37-year-old Spears has sons aged 13 and 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Children as old as 12, and even 13, may find themselves back in car booster seats under new legislation signed into law by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee. >> Read more trending news  The new law updates children’s car seat regulations, requiring all children under 4 feet, 9 inches tall to ride in car booster seats.  According to House Bill 1012, children are required to sit in booster seats in vehicles “until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly, typically when the child is between the ages of eight and twelve years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, or must be properly secured with the motor vehicle's safety belt properly adjusted and fastened around the child's body.” The new law also requires all children under 13 to ride in the back seat and requires children under 2 to ride in rear-facing car seats. “Children aged 2 to 4 can be forward-facing in a car seat until they reach the specifications for a booster seat,” according to the new law. >> Trending: Opossum found living in 7-year-old’s bedroom for 3 days before parents find it  People in violation of the law can be ticketed.
  • An Ohio 9-year-old boy performing in drag at a Lancaster bar prompted an Ohio lawmaker to introduce a bill to expand the definition of child endangerment. State Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced House Bill 180 to prohibit a performance in a bar where a child simulates sexual activity. The business could lose its liquor license and the parent could face misdemeanor criminal charges, if the bill becomes law. >> Read more trending news “Given our heightened focus on human trafficking and the role money plays in trafficking children, I knew I had to take action to make sure this activity does not occur again,” Schaffer said. “We can do better to protect innocent children and we must do better.” Related: Video of the boy’s performance Jacob Measley has been performing as Miss Mae Hem for several months, according to The (Toledo) Blade. His performance includes cartwheels, high kicks, splits and dancing in costume. He got interested in drag queens while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality TV show, with his mom, Jerri Measley, The Blade reported. She could not be reached for comment on this story. Video of a Dec. 1, 2018 performance at JD Hendersons bar in Lancaster led to complaints and an investigation by Lancaster police and state agencies, said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler. No law violations were found, he said. After the investigations ended, a “social media outbreak” occurred when a website purporting to be the city of Lancaster made it sound like it was an ongoing issue, Scheffler said. “It was all dead, gone, over. Investigation found no violations. Then someone anonymously on this site posted inaccurate information.” The posting led to threats of violence and demands to close the bar from people across the country, the mayor said. “It got really nasty.”
  • A Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing her husband and four children, and stabbing a fifth child, who survived, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office said. >> Read more trending news Isabel Martinez, 35, entered guilty pleas to five counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of cruelty to children Tuesday. Martinez's defense attorney, Don Geary, said she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill. Martinez called 911 on July 6, 2017. When paramedics arrived at her Loganville home, they found Martinez with her wrists slashed. Martinez’s husband, Martin Romero, 33, was found stabbed to death, along with 10-year-old Isabela Martinez, 2-year-old Axel Romero, 7-year-old Dacota Romero and 4-year-old Dillan Martin-Romero. Diana Romero, then age 9, was found with stab wounds, but survived. Diana Romero told a DFCS worker that Martinez began stabbing the children first; when Martin Romero tried to stop her, Martinez stabbed him, according to a DFCS report. Martinez was not crying or screaming as she killed her family members, and told Diana Romero that she was “going to the sky to see Jesus,” Diana Romero told a DFCS worker. Martinez confessed to the killings in the following hours and was arrested, according to the DA’s office. Later, she claimed a “family friend” committed the stabbings in her Loganville home, but she did not give police the name of that alleged friend.  The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office declined to seek the death penalty in this case in part due to Martinez’s “apparent mental issues,” District Attorney Danny Porter said in 2018. Family and neighbors said Martinez was depressed in the weeks before she killed her family. Her father had died and Martinez was unable to attend the funeral in Mexico. She worried that he would go to hell because he practiced witchcraft, her brother-in-law, Orlando Romero, told the AJC. She told a Department of Family and Child services worker after her arrest that she felt a “devil-like spirit” was trying to take her children when they were playing in the ocean near Savannah shortly before the killings.  Martinez was sentenced to five life sentences with the possibility of parole plus 21 years after entering her plea Tuesday, according to the DA’s office.