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Sri Lanka, Ukraine, ‘Game of Thrones’: Your Monday Briefing



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Good morning,

We’re covering the aftermath of the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, new details about the relationship between President Trump and his former lawyer, and drug distributors’ role in the opioid crisis.

At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in a series of suicide bombings targeting churches and hotels in the island nation on Easter Sunday. Here are the latest updates.

Twenty-four people have been detained in connection with the attacks. The government today blamed National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known Islamist terrorist organization. Ten days ago a police official warned of a threat on churches by the group, but the authorities failed to act on the information.

Closer look: We have maps of the sites of the attacks, and photographs and video of the aftermath.

The victims: Here’s what we know about those who died, including at least 36 foreigners.

Background: The bombings were the deadliest attack against Christians in South Asia in recent memory, part of a trend of religious-based violence in the region.

Workers at a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina have complained of defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure not to report violations.

There is no evidence that the problems have led to major safety incidents, but a Times investigation of the 10-year-old plant in North Charleston found a culture that often valued production speed over quality, echoing broader concerns about Boeing since two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max.

How we know: Reporters reviewed hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, and interviewed more than a dozen current and former employees.

Response: “Boeing South Carolina teammates are producing the highest levels of quality in our history,” Kevin McAllister, Boeing’s head of commercial airplanes, said in a statement.

As the president’s former lawyer prepares to head to prison, dozens of previously unreported emails, text messages and confidential documents reviewed by The Times suggest that his falling out with Mr. Trump might have been avoidable.

Mr. Cohen figured prominently in the special counsel’s report, which was released last week. The undoing of his relationship with Mr. Trump helped drive multiple criminal investigations into the president’s inner circle. Here are five takeaways from our report.

Yesterday: Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, said it was acceptable for a political campaign to use hacked data obtained from a foreign adversary. “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Mr. Giuliani said, noting that he personally would have advised against it.

Another angle: Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump, but other Democratic presidential candidates have been more reluctant.

The Daily: Today’s episode is about Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel, and his role in Robert Mueller’s report.

Three states — New York, Vermont and Washington — have recently filed civil suits against pharmaceutical distributors, accusing the companies of devising systems to evade regulators. They allege that the distributors warned pharmacies at risk of being reported to the Drug Enforcement Administration, helped others to circumvent limits on how many opioids they were allowed to buy, and often gave advance notice of audits.

The distributors reject the allegations. The companies named in the suits include Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, all three among the 15 largest American companies by revenue. Together, they distribute more than 90 percent of the nation’s drug and medical supplies.

Background: Since the painkiller OxyContin was introduced in 1996, there have been more than 200,000 overdose deaths related to prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose deaths continue to rise, but the number of opioid prescriptions has been falling since 2012.

Four years ago, public schools began trials of an educational program using a system developed by Facebook engineers and funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician.

It’s now in around 380 schools, and debate over its merits is growing. “We’re allowing the computers to teach, and the kids all looked like zombies,” said Tyson Koenig, who pulled his 10-year-old from a Kansas school using the program, called Summit Learning.

U.S. targets Iran’s oil sales: The Trump administration is poised to end a program that has allowed five countries, including China and India, to buy Iranian oil despite American sanctions, according to two American officials. The decision is intended to squeeze Tehran’s government but could lead to higher oil and gasoline prices.

Comedian wins in Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky, a political neophyte who is best known for playing a president on TV, decisively won the country’s presidential election on Sunday.

New York jogger’s death: A juror has accused other jurors of misconduct in the trial of the man convicted of killing Karina Vetrano, whose body was found in a Queens park in 2016.

New charge for ex-auto chief: Prosecutors in Japan charged Carlos Ghosn, the former head of the Nissan-Renault alliance, with breach of trust, adding a count of financial impropriety to existing charges.

Snapshot: Above, a hobbyhorse competition in Helsinki, Finland, last month. The country’s subculture of girls who ride stick horses long flourished quietly, but now the craze is a national export.

“Game of Thrones”: The Morning Briefing won’t give anything away. Read our recap of Episode 2.

What we’re reading: This article in The Daily Beast. “I am a huge fan of Monty Python and had no idea about its origins,” says Chris Mele, an editor based in New York. “This was a fun read that made me appreciate this zany group all the more.”

Listen: Our favorite artists told us about the piano music that matters to them.

Smarter Living: Rejection hurts. Brain scans show that the physiological response to verbal or visual rejection looks similar to the processing of physical pain. But research shows that blaming rejection on the relationship between the rejected and the rejecter, instead of on either individual, encourages people to keep on trying.

And here are ways to take your business to the next level.

Today is Earth Day. Around the world, at least a billion people are expected to participate in garbage cleanups, tree planting or other environmental activities.

The day has been celebrated since 1970 as pollution became more evident — and as space exploration made clear that our planet is finite.

One powerful factor was “Earthrise,” a photograph taken by the Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders in December 1968. He realized that only color film would do the image justice, and scrambled to load his Hasselblad camera before the moment passed.

Today, astronauts are equipped with state-of-the-art gear and receive technical training. American astronauts learn about photography and video from instructors like Paul Reichert of NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate. NASA collects their work.

Don Pettit and Jeff Williams are among the astronauts whose images have earned special note.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Matthew Sedacca, who works on our Lens blog, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the Mueller report.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Easter egg coating (3 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• No professional journalists have yet gone to space. Kenneth Chang, a science reporter for The Times who has experienced zero gravity on special airplane flights, said he “would love to fill out that expense form.”

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