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Happening Today: Sri Lanka, Joe Biden, Measles, Starbucks, Taylor Swift, John Havlicek, Stefanie Sherk

What to Know

  • The suspected leader of the militant group Sri Lankan authorities said carried out a series of Easter bombings died in the blast
  • The county executive of suburban Rockland County, New York is renewing his 30-day state of emergency to combat the measles outbreak
  • Taylor Swift released a colorful single, ending the weeks-long search the singer set off when she teased fans with clues about a new project

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Sri Lanka Says Easter Attack Leader Died in Hotel Bombing

The suspected leader of the militant group Sri Lankan authorities said carried out a series of Easter bombings died in the blast at the Shangri-La hotel, one of six hotels and churches targeted in the attacks that killed at least 250 people, officials said. Police said on an official Twitter account that Mohamed Zahran, the leader of local militant group National Towheed Jamaat known for his vitriolic extremist speeches on social media, had been killed in one of the nine suicide bombings. Police also said they had arrested the group's second-in-command. They said investigators had determined that the assailants' military training was provided by someone they called "Army Mohideen," and that weapons training had taken place overseas and at some locations in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province. Police also said that the attackers had worked out at a local gym and by playing soccer using their authentic national identity cards. They added that the vehicles used in the attack were purchased from a car dealership in Kadawatha, a suburb of Colombo, the capital.

Inside Joe Biden's Decision to Run One More Time

Joe Biden spent a hot August day at his lakefront Delaware home watching hatred on display in Charlottesville, Virginia, where, days earlier, torch-wielding white supremacists had marched through town. A counter-protester advocating racial equality was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd. When President Trump blamed the violence on "both sides," the former vice president says he was stunned. He turned to his closest advisers — his family — to discuss what to do next. Spread out across the country, the Bidens quickly convened through a series of group text messages. For months, they'd weighed whether Biden, whose two prior White House campaigns were abject failures, should try again. There was now consensus: Prepare to run against Trump. Biden's sister and longtime political confidante, Valerie Biden Owens, described Trump's comments as a "blow" to the man who had served as the No. 2 to America's first black president.

Emergency Measles Order Renewed in Suburban New York County

The county executive of suburban Rockland County, New York is renewing his 30-day state of emergency to combat the measles outbreak that has sickened 200 people in the county since October. County Executive Ed Day's original state of emergency issued March 26 was set to expire. The move to renew it is largely symbolic and carries no new restrictions. The first order barred unvaccinated children from schools and other public places. It was struck down by a judge. County health officials then imposed a more limited order affecting measles-exposed people in certain ZIP codes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 695 measles cases had been reported this year nationwide. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Rockland County and in Brooklyn account for the majority of those cases.

Starbucks to Install More Needle Disposal Boxes Nationwide

As the opioid crisis continues to affect millions of Americans, Starbucks says it will move forward with plans to install more needle-disposal boxes in select store bathrooms nationwide. The move, which the chain publicly started considering in January, comes as more people have signed up to support an employee-led campaign to install "safe needle disposal boxes in the bathrooms of high-risk areas." In February 2018, the Starbucks employee who started the petition reported being the third "partner" (the term Starbucks uses to describe its employees) to be pricked by a dirty needle in a Seattle-area cafe. Since then, the petition has received over 5,000 of its 6,000 signatures goal. Now, TODAY has confirmed that Starbucks locations in Seattle, Philadelphia and New York City have received needle-disposal boxes.

Taylor Swift Releases Colorful New Song, Video Called 'ME!'

Taylor Swift released a colorful, upbeat single, ending the weeks-long search the pop star set off when she teased fans with clues about a new project. Swift released "ME!" — featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco — on streaming services and also dropped its eye-popping music video. It's the first single from her upcoming seventh album — the follow-up to 2017's "reputation." In an interview with Robin Roberts — during the 2019 NFL Draft on ABC — Swift said the song is about "embracing your individuality and really celebrating it." Swift wrote "ME!" with Urie and co-producer Joel Little, the New Zealander best known for producing Lorde's 2013 debut album, "Pure Heroine." He has also worked on hits for Imagine Dragons and Khalid.

John Havlicek, Boston Celtics Great, Dies at 79

John Havlicek, the Boston Celtics great whose steal of Hal Green's inbounds pass in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers remains one of the most famous plays in NBA history, has died. He was 79. The Celtics said the Hall of Famer died in Jupiter, Florida. The cause of death wasn't immediately available. Nicknamed "Hondo" for his resemblance to John Wayne, Havlicek was drafted in the first round in 1962 out of Ohio State by a Celtics team stocked with stars Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Sanders, Tom Heinsohn and Frank Ramsey. Havlicek went on to win eight NBA championships and an NBA Finals MVP award with Boston, setting Celtics career records for points and games. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Canadian Actress, Model Stefanie Sherk Dies at 37

Canadian actress and model Stefanie Sherk has died at the age of 37. Sherk's husband, actor Demian Bichir, shared the news in a message to his followers on Instagram. Along with a photo of Sherk, Bichir wrote, "Dear friends, On behalf of the Sherk and the Bichir Njera families, it is with inconceivable pain that I announce on April 20, 2019, our dearest Stefanie Sherk, my beloved and loving wife, passed away peacefully." "It has been the saddest and toughest time of our lives and we don't know how much time it will take for us to overcome this pain," his message continued. "Stefanie's beautiful, angelical and talented presence will be immensely missed. We will hold Stefanie in our hearts forever." "We thank everybody beforehand for their prayers and we respectfully ask for your understanding so we may grieve in peace and privacy in these incredibly difficult times," Bichir concluded his post. "It is our sincerest hope that our beautiful Stefanie, my angel and love of my life, will rest in eternal peace."

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