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Morning News Links – Oklahoma Tornado Edition (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office Revises Death Toll Down To 24, Including 7 Children

Dozens Killed In Massive Tornado Near Oklahoma City

A massive tornado ripped through the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City, Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 people 24 people, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

The death toll was expected to rise.

Helicopter images showed large tracts of Moore, Okla., completely leveled by what the National Weather Service says was at least an EF-4 tornado with winds in excess of 166 mph. The tornado stayed on the ground for 40 minutes and traveled 20 miles.

Read More: Massive Tornado Blasts Through Oklahoma City Suburbs (Slideshow)


Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn Will Seek To Offset Tornado Aid

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.

“That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” a spokesman told the Huffington Post Monday night. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”

Read More: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on Sandy Relief

Cole called it “hypocritical” for lawmakers whose districts have benefited from federal aid after previous disasters to require sweeping spending cuts in order to authorize the storm aid. “We have never done that in the past in a disaster, and we certainly shouldn’t do so now,” Cole said.

In other news:

CEO Cook To Defend Apple Before Senate Committee Hearing

Giant technology firm Apple is paying billions of dollars less than it should in U.S. taxes each year, according to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The panel will hold a hearing on the matter Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Apple CEO Tim Cook will be there to defend the company.

The subcommittee’s report says Apple avoids the tax payments mainly by shifting profits to three subsidiary companies in Ireland. The investigation found Apple is taking advantage of technicalities in U.S. and Irish tax laws to avoid paying any tax on a huge portion of its profits.

“They’ve created corporations that don’t exist anywhere for tax purposes,” says Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan who is chairman of the subcommittee. “That is right at the epitome of creative tax gimmickry.”


Senator Undertakes $3-Per-Day Food Stamp Challenge As Congress Readies Cuts

As the farm bill approved by the Agriculture Committee last week reaches the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) will be a few hours into an experiment: eating for a week on the meager food budget afford by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Murphy announced on Twitter that he would take the SNAP Challenge, which is the brainchild of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

That means Murphy will be eating on a few dollars per day, as his colleagues debate a measure that would cut $4 billion from the SNAP budget over the next decade. Murphy is using the $3 per day allowance FRAC and allies recommended in 2007 guidelines for lawmakers interested in the challenge, although government data shows the program averaged about $4.40/day nationwide in fiscal year 2012.


Texas Medicaid Debate Complicated By Politics And Poverty

The Rio Grande Valley has a load of troubles: high unemployment, low paying jobs, warring Mexican cartels, a meager tax base and legions of people without health insurance. While many of those woes seem incurable, expanding Medicaid to the region’s uninsured is to , who runs several local health clinics, a no-brainer.

“I think if we’re not ready, if Texas doesn’t buy in in the next three months, shame on us,” she says.


Controversies or YAWNtroversies?

Less than 25% of Americans following IRS, AP and Benghazi stories

D.C. is obsessed with scandal. America isn’t.

Another Poll Shows No Public Backlash Against Obama

Froma Harrop: Tea Party rage over IRS already boomeranging

Please add links to other news stories in the comment threads.


  1. Portlaw

    Sen Coburn has said that aid to victims must be offset by budget cuts and is being pummeled for that.  

  2. nchristine

    of decent tornado shelters across the country.  But, of course, that means that ‘those’ people just might survive.

    We didn’t get storms last night, just to the west and south of us.  Supposed to be quite today and rain again tomorrow.  It’s overcast and breezy this morning.

  3. pittiepat

    people slamming his statement.  I spent a little time “liking” many of the comments.  There is also a diary at the Other Place with more reaction to his heartless comment.  Doubt he’ll walk it back but at least the people of Moore have a representative, Tom Cole, who will look out for the best interests of his constituents.

  4. Forecast

    The threat area on Tuesday looked to be east and west of Oklahoma City, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth. Cities in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana could be affected.

  5. HappyinVT

    federal money given to Oklahoma in the form of ag subsidies and whatnot.

    Cory Booker did the SNAP challenge last year (and I had a former SIL start but not finish a few weeks ago).  One thing someone pointed out to the mayor is that it isn’t quite the same because even while you are doing the challenge you know that it ends at a certain date; folks living the challenge every day have no such sign of impending relief.


    Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:27 PM EDT

    Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Immigration Overhaul BillIn a bipartisan vote of 13 to 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a

    broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws Tuesday evening, sending the legislation onto the floor, where the fight is expected to last through June.

    The move came as the committee reached a deal on one of the final

    snags threatening the legislation Р and agreed to hold off on

    another particularly controversial amendment, which would have added protections for same-sex couples.



  7. Storm blew through this afternoon and tree-downed the whole area. Road blocked due to down wires so can’t get to town over the only bridge, only choice was to go the hour round trip the other way to get more generator gas.

    Now kids snuggling in bed with lights and civilization, neighbors wired in as well so their little girls aren’t in the dark, rubbermaids full of lake water for bucket flushing (next job: make the well easily connected to the gennie).

    You appreciate your infrastructure when you live in the woods and it suddenly goes away. The Good Old Days of candles and living like illiterate tundra farmers in blissful septic ignorance can bite me. God Bless those building and maintaining our infrastructure, they make the world a better place to be.

  8. Court Strikes Down Arizona 20-Week Abortion Ban

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law violates a string of U.S. Supreme Court rulings starting with Roe v. Wade that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb. That’s generally considered to be about 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks.

    The district court judge had ruled that the ban was in order because of concerns about “fetal pain”.


    Charlie Cook: Republicans’ Hatred of Obama Blinds Them to Public Disinterest in Scandals

    One wonders how long Republicans are going to bark up this tree, perhaps the wrong tree, while they ignore their own party’s problems, which were shown to be profound in the most recent elections. Clearly none of these recent issues has had a real impact on voters yet. Republicans seem to be betting everything on them, just as they did in 1998-about which even Newt Gingrich (who was House speaker that year) commented recently to NPR, “I think we overreached in ’98.”

    Please, more overreaching. 2014 looks better and better with our opponents running on the YAWNtroversies.


    McCain, Collins Slam Republicans For Budget Hypocrisy

    Their comments on the Senate floor Tuesday reflect a growing Republican schism over how to approach the tax and spending fights that have hamstrung Congress for years and dragged its approval ratings to historic lows.

    “For four years, four years, we complained about the fact that the majority leader … would refuse to bring a budget to the floor of the United States Senate,” McCain said. “What [do] we on my side of the aisle keep doing? We don’t want a budget unless – unless – we put requirements on the conferees that are absolutely out of line and unprecedented.”

    Sorry guys. You invited the Rand Paul and Ted Cruz mentality into your party, you have to live with the consequences. Don’t go all Captain Renault on us.

  9. McConnell Rages Against Reid’s Nuclear Option Threats

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday lashed out at Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) ongoing threats to invoke the nuclear option to change the filibuster rules for nominations, if not legislation.

    “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the culture of intimidation is simply confined to the executive branch. The administration’s allies here in the senate are trying to intimidate their political opponents as well,” he said. “What I’m talking about is the persistent threat by the majority to break the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the Senate — in other words, to use the nuclear option if they don’t get their way.”

    p.s. Democrats getting “their way” is actually the way of the majority in the senate and the 66% of the population that they represent. It is the minority that is using their ability to obstruct to promote their own culture of intimidation.

    Could it be?

    Reid is said to be ready to use the nuclear option to eliminate filibusters of nominations …

    While many wonder how serious Reid is about the threat, McConnell’s remarks suggests he isn’t taking it lightly.


  10. Oklahoma Needs Help, Not Ideology

    Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican who lives in the very neighborhood that was overwhelmed, was talking about a call he received from President Obama. Hearing Cole, I realized how strange it is these days for politicians to speak in human terms about someone in the other political party — especially if that someone is named Barack Obama. “He was very kind,” Cole said.

    This interesting historic parallel is drawn:

    And except for one moment in our past, there has never been anything un-conservative or controversial about helping the victims of disasters. In fact, federal disaster relief is as old as our republic, as Brian Balogh, a University of Virginia historian, noted in his seminal book “A Government Out of Sight.”

    The practice goes back to the 1780s, he writes, and “by the mid-1820s, general relief bills were directed at entire classes of victims.” The sensible justification “was the victims’ inability to foresee or predict these sudden events, and the recipients’ innocence of any responsibility for them.”

    It was only between 1840 and 1860 that disaster relief from Washington became contentious as a particularly extreme brand of states’ rights politics reared its head. Southerners, Balogh notes, began fearing that “extending federal power” in this way “might establish a precedent for national intervention in the slavery question.”

    The same states-rights party, now known as the Republican Party, has new faces but the same ideology of their forebears. I wonder how much of this ideology is driven by their supposed “fiscal conservatism” and how much is driven by their hatred of President Obama and their unwillingness to help those in need if it takes even a penny from the .001%ers. The heart of the current Republican Party looks punier and punier as their “brand of states’ right politics” is laid bare.

  11. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert in the East Room honoring singer-songwriter Carole King, the recipient of the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

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