Monthly Archives: May 2011

Oklahoma City and the Midwest hit byTornadoes on Tuesday

14 people  were killed when tornadoes dropped down on Oklahoma City  and in Arkansas and Kansas. Oklahoma City suburbs of Chickasha, Piedmont and Canton,were hardest hit communities.  From AP via Yahoo.com:

When three tornadoes marched toward Oklahoma City and its suburbs, thousands of people in the path benefited from good forecasts, luck and live television to avoid the kind of catastrophe that befell Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo.

Even though more than a dozen people died in the latest round of violent weather, schools and offices closed early, giving many families plenty of time to take shelter. And even stragglers were able to get to safety at the last minute because TV forecasters narrated the twisters’ every turn.

“We live in Oklahoma and we don’t mess around,” Lori Jenkins of Guthrie said after emerging from a neighbor’s storm shelter to find her carport crumpled and her home damaged.

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Great. US Supreme Court Order the Release of Tens of Thousands of Inmates due to Overcrowing

On Monday, the US Supreme Court dealt  California a serious blow to the California Pris ion system by ordering tens of thousands of  inmates out-of-state prison due to overcrowding: From The LA Times:

The Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to release tens of thousands of its prisoners to relieve overcrowding, saying that “needless suffering and death” had resulted from putting too many inmates into facilities that cannot hold them in decent conditions.

It is one of the largest prison release orders in the nation’s history, and it sharply split the high court.

Justices upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that called for releasing 38,000 to 46,000 prisoners. Since then, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. As a result, the total prison population is now about 32,000 more than the capacity limit set by the panel.

The good news the overcrowding comes to an end.And the lest violent will be release. (I hope!)

The bad news there are no jobs, the state has very high unemployment  at 11.8% crime will shoot up.
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Tornado Strikes Joplin, Missouri Nearly Wiped Off the Face of the Earth Kills 122; Minneapolis’ North Side and Suburbs, La Crosse, Wisconsin and Topeka,Kansas Suburbs Hit by Storms as Well

On Sunday evening as families were having dinner or nighttime Church services a Category EF-5 Tornado Slams in to Joplin, MO. 40 Years to the Month killing 116, injuring more than 2000 people. The images are striking. St. John Regional Medical Center one  largest hospital in Southwest Missouri suffered heavy damage in six deaths, windows blown out. KOAM-TV/HD “KOAM News“:

Joplin city manager Mark Rhor says in the news conference that search and rescue efforts continue.

Rhor says the death toll is now at 122, but names are still not being released.

He said nine survivors have been found over the past two days during search efforts.

8,000 structures were damaged in Joplin over a 1,800 acre area.

Rhor says the city has been testing the siren system, and and all but two are working.  Those will be repaired.  In the meantime, the uncovered area will be notified with PA by the police department.

From The New York Times:

An additional 1,500 people remained on the official list of those who remained unaccounted for, which ballooned in a flood of worried phone calls but is gradually shrinking as the names of the living and the dead are scratched off.

The police said two people were found alive Tuesday, in addition to seven found on Monday.

Because cellphone service was knocked out by the storm on Sunday and remained spotty two days later, many residents were unable to contact friends and relatives who may still be alive. Residents’ frustration and fears grew as officials declined to share the names of the dead and the missing, and they have turned to local radio and Facebook.

Missouri Politicians  came to Joplin to the tornado damage for themselves. From KODE-TV/HD -KSNF-TV/HD “Action 12 News”/”KSN NEWS”:

Senator Roy Blunt and Congressman Billy Long toured the tornado devastation.

They met with FEMA directors, the Chief of Police, Fire Chief, and other emergency units involved in the disaster.

President Obama speaking from London,United Kingdom reassure the tornado victims the US Federal Government is help on the way. The President will visit Joplin on Sunday. From KCTV/HD “KCTV 5 News”:

President Barack Obama plans to travel to the tornado-damaged state of Missouri on Sunday.A tornado that cut through the city of Joplin on Sunday was the single deadliest twister to ever hit American soil since the National Weather Service began keeping records 61 years ago. At least 124 people have died.”We are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure they recover,” said Obama, in England on Tuesday to meet with Britain’s royal family and huddle with top politicians.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Richard Serino have traveled to Missouri to work with state and local officials, Obama said.

Rescue workers search Apartments and stores for survivors. From ABC News:

Rescuers shifted through the rubble of six miles of debris and more than 2000 damaged buildings on Monday, looking for survivors as high winds and hail continues to plague the area.

“This a community. We are more than a city … we do things together,” Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. “The city sheltered a number of people the first night, but it was a hundred or so, something like that. Given that we had 2,000 structures that are damaged, you wonder where those people went. Well, they’re staying with friends, they’re staying with family, some of them may be staying with complete strangers they don’t know but may have taken them in. The amount of donations we’ve had is overwhelming.”

A small EF-2 tornado struck Minneapolis Far North Side killing one injuring several others. 60 miles away in La Crosse, WI a strong line of thunderstorms damage over 200 homes in that area. From WCCO-TV/HD  “WCCO 4 News”:

About 800 homes were damaged by the storm that hit north Minneapolis on Sunday, and a lot of people in the community have been toughing it out despite roof damage and other damage.

But Tuesday afternoon, the city informed some of those folks that, like it or not, their house isn’t safe enough to live in anymore.

“They say we have to leave our house, our house is unsafe. But the man never checked the structure,” said DeWayne Thornton.

A powerful storm sideswiped this western Wisconsin city on Sunday, tearing roofs from homes and littering streets and lawns with downed trees and debris.

One person is dead when a EF-3 tornado struck Reading,KS 60 miles southwest Topeka and 20 miles from Emporia,KS. From WIBW-TV “13 News“:

Reading, a small town of about 250 located 19 miles northeast of Emporia was destroyed in a late Saturday night EF3 tornado.

The twister killed 53-year-old Don Chesmore.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson says Don Chesmore was in a mobile home that flipped over Saturday night.

Chesmore was taken to a hospital in Emporia, where he was pronounced dead. Four others were injured in the tornado.

About 20 houses, the downtown post office, bank, the town’s only cafe and the elementary school were all hit.

Please the Midwest in your prayers!

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Pres. Obama Promotes Two State Solution For Middle East Calls for Israel to Return Pre 1967 Borders

President Obama has call for a two-state solution to Middle East peace between Israel and a Palestinian homeland. In doing so, Mr. Obama has called for Israel pre-1967 borders which would shrink Israel dramatically. The announcement come before a meeting between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. From the AP via Yahoo News:

President Barack Obama is endorsing the Palestinians’ demand for their future state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, in a move that will likely infuriate Israel. Israel says the borders of a Palestinian state have to be determined through negotiations.

In a speech outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama on Thursday sided with the Palestinians’ opening position a day ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is vehemently opposed to referring to the 1967 borders.

Reaction was swift to the announcement by the President was not received well by Israel. From The Jerusalem Post:

A day before their scheduled meeting in Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama staked out dramatically conflicting positions Thursday as to the path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu issued a quick, bitter response on Thursday night to Obama’s landmark Middle East speech, saying that the establishment of a Palestinian state could not come “at Israel’s expense.”

“The Palestinians, and not only the US, must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” he said.

Obama, in his address earlier in the day on the changes sweeping the Middle East, called for a demilitarized Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps.While thanking Obama for his commitment to peace, Netanyahu said he “expects to hear from President Obama a reconfirmation of commitments to Israel from 2004 that received wide support in both houses of Congress.” This was a reference to a letter from president George W. Bush to prime minister Ariel Sharon that did not call for a return to the 1967 lines, and that recognized that any agreement would take into account the changed realities on the ground – a line interpreted by Israel to mean a recognition that it would hold on to the large settlement blocs.

Meanwhile  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. has called for an Emergency Meeting of the Palenstine Authority leadership on Pres. Obama statement calling for Israel to return the Pre-1967 borders. Abbas will also consult with other Arabic nations on the announcement. Also from The Jerusalem Post:

 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called an emergency meeting of the PA leadership to discuss US President Barack Obama’s speech on peace in the Middle East, an official in Ramallah said.

Abbas has also decided to hold urgent consultations with a number of Arab leaders on the speech, the official said.

PLO Executive Committee member Saeb Erekat said that Abbas remained committed to fulfilling all Palestinian obligations in accordance with international agreements, especially the road-map plan and the 2002 Arab peace initiative.

Erekat said that the PA was hoping the Israeli government would fulfill its obligations “to give the peace process the chance it deserves.”

In the US  Presidential Candidate former Governor Mitt Romney(R-MA) accused Obama of abandoning  Israel. From The Hill:

President Obama “disrespected” Israel and threw it “under the bus” in a wide-ranging speech on the Middle East on Thursday, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney charged.

Romney strongly criticized Obama, who, in a speech at the State Department, called for Israel to return to its border lines as drawn before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

“President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said in a statement.

PA Teachers to Sue Told By Principal They Can’t Teach Black Kids

Four Philadelphia school teachers are suing the School District of Philadelphia after a principal said White teachers cannot teach black students. From AP via Yahoo News:

Four white Philadelphia teachers filed federal race-bias lawsuits that accuse a black principal of creating a hostile work environment and suggesting they were unfit to teach black children.

The teachers work at a predominantly black elementary school that has a recent history of racial tension. Their lawsuits say that a former principal had them read an article that said “white teachers do not have the ability to teach African-American students.”

The teachers also allege that the principal, Charles Ray III, and others undermined their work by reprimanding them, randomly changing their room assignments and letting black teachers ignore rules that their white counterparts had to follow. Ray also retaliated when they filed union grievances, they said.

“Charles Ray III consistently stated that he had a relationship with top school officials indicating that his conduct was part of an approved policy or was part of a pattern of practices sanctioned and supported by `higher authority,'” the suits allege.

The teachers — Nicole Boyd, Debra McKibben Marenbach, Colleen Yarnell and Marta Ciccimaro — filed the lawsuits last week, demanding more than $150,000 each. Courthouse News Service first reported on the complaints Tuesday.

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Historic Mississippi River Flooding Heads For Baton Rouge and New Orleans

The Mississippi River floods are near the end of the line Baton Rouge  and New Orleans and the Delta. Many cities and town have been flooded due to the this past winter snows and recent rains. Parts of Memphis and Tunica, MS have serious flooding. Up river The Army Corps of Engineers  blew up levees new Cairo, Ill  late last week. Now the Army Corp of Engineers will open the Morganza Spillway Saturday to relieve the pressure on the Mississippi. Thousands have been evacuated from the spillway area. From AP via Yahoo News:

In an agonizing trade-off, Army engineers said they will open a key spillway along the bulging Mississippi River as early as Saturday and inundate thousands of homes and farms in parts of Louisiana’s Cajun country to avert a potentially bigger disaster in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

About 25,000 people and 11,000 structures could be in harm’s way when the gates on the Morganza spillway are unlocked for the first time in 38 years.

“Protecting lives is the No. 1 priority,” Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh said aboard a boat from the river at Vicksburg, Miss., hours before the decision was made to open the spillway.

The opening will release a torrent that could submerge about 3,000 square miles under as much as 25 feet of water in some areas but take the pressure off the downstream levees protecting New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the lower reaches of the Mississippi.

Keep the communitites in the path and those that have been affected by recent flooding in the Mississippi River Valley.

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April Employment 244,000 Found Work Unemployment at Nine Percent

There good news and bad news about the April Unemployment report. 244,000 hired, that’s the good news. The bad news the Unemployment rose to 9.0% due to people looking for work. From Bloomberg:

American employers in April added more jobs than forecast and the labor market in the prior two months was stronger than initially estimated, indicating the world’s largest economy is weathering the impact of higher fuel prices.

Payrolls expanded by 244,000 last month, the biggest gain since May 2010, after a revised 221,000 increase the prior month, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate climbed to 9 percent, the first increase since November, a separate survey of households showed. Employment was forecast to grow by 185,000 last month, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Stocks jumped after four days of losses and the dollar rallied as the report eased concern that the economic recovery is cooling. The figures bolster Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s forecast for a labor market that is “improving gradually.”

“This is good news, and it’s getting better,” James Glassman, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene. “People increasingly are becoming more confident that we are on a recovery track.”

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