Slatest PM: Search for Survivors Draws to a Close

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 21 2013 4:31 PM

Slatest PM: Door-to-Door Search for Survivors Draws to a Close

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Two firefighters break through concrete during the search for survivors in the remains of the Plaza Towers Elementary School after it was hit by a tornado on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Photo by Maj. Geoff Legler, Oklahoma National Guard Public Affairs/U.S. Department of Defense via Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Search Nears End: Associated Press: "The search for survivors and the dead is nearly complete in the Oklahoma City suburb that was smashed by a mammoth tornado, the fire chief said Tuesday. Gary Bird said he's '98 percent sure' there are no more survivors or bodies to recover under the rubble in Moore, a community of 56,000 people. His comments came after emergency crews spent much of the day searching the town's broken remnants for survivors of the twister that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. The storm killed at least 24 people, including at least nine children. Every damaged home has been searched at least once, Bird said. His goal is to conduct three searches of each location just to be sure. He was hopeful the work could be completed by nightfall, but the efforts were being hampered by heavy rain. No additional survivors or bodies have been found since Monday night, Bird said."

Death Toll Difficult to Pin Down: More AP: "Earlier in the day, the state medical examiner's office cut the estimated death toll by more than half.  ... Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner, said she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm that struck Monday afternoon. Downed communication lines and problems sharing information with officers exacerbated the problem, she said. 'It was a very eventful night,' Elliott said. 'I truly expect that they'll find more today.'"

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Safe Rooms Tied Up In Red Tape: NBC News: "Officials in the Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by deadly tornadoes Monday complained earlier this year about FEMA’s foot-dragging over $2 million in federal grants for 'safe rooms' in 800 homes that would protect people from severe weather. 'Our countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan still has not been approved by the State and FEMA,' said a statement posted in February on the City of Moore’s website. It said that changes to federal requirements occurred while the city’s contractor was preparing the plan, adding, 'We’ve found that the FEMA requirements …  seem to be a constantly moving target.' ... In October 2011, the city collected the name of Moore residents interested in applying for the federal money. In order for residents to be eligible for the money, the city and other communities in Cleveland County had to submit an updated 'Hazard Mitigation Plan' for FEMA and state approval. ... In May 2012, according to city’s website, the county-wide plan was almost finished and the city anticipated final approval of the plan by November. ... But in an update in February,  the officials said the Hazard Mitigation Plan had to be rewritten because of the 'new wrinkles.'"

More Tornado Coverage From Slate

(Another) Storms A-Comin': CBS News: "More severe weather is in the forecast for parts of the central United States already reeling from powerful tornadoes this week. Forecasters say golf ball-sized hail, powerful winds and isolated, strong tornadoes could strike areas of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma on Tuesday. The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for Central and North Texas until 7 p.m. ET and much of south and southwestern Arkansas until 10 p.m. ET. ... The area at risk for the worst weather does not include Moore, Okla., near Oklahoma City where dozens of people were killed in a monstrous tornado Monday. However, intermittent reports of lightning and strong rains continued throughout Tuesday in the area around Oklahoma City. Severe weather warnings extend through most of the central United States, with conditions ripe for large storms from Michigan to Texas."

Happy Tuesday and welcome to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Taking the Fifth: Politico: "Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner will invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself when she appears before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. In a letter to Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Lerner’s attorney William W. Taylor III cites the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the issue of whether the IRS singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Lerner oversaw the IRS’s nonprofit department and Issa has accused her of lying to Congress about her knowledge of the investigation into whether the agency targeted conservative groups. Taylor’s letter requests that Lerner be excused from testifying, but Issa has issued a subpoena to compel her appearance."

Apple Under Fire in Washington: New York Times: "Facing down blistering criticism on Capitol Hill that Apple sidestepped billions of dollars in taxes, the company’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, carefully defended Apple’s record Tuesday, rejecting any suggestion of misconduct but avoiding clashes with skeptical legislators. ... Rather than taking unfair advantage of what Congressional investigators say are a host of tax code loopholes, Mr. Cook said his company was actually a victim of an outdated tax system. ... On Monday, Congressional investigators unveiled a detailed report showing how Apple subsidiaries based in Ireland but spanning other regions had helped the company pay as little as one-twentieth of 1 percent in taxes on billions of dollars in income. Mr. Cook sought to draw a sharp distinction between sales in the United States and those abroad, arguing the company had complied with local laws everywhere."

More on Apple:

Russian Road Trip: ABC News: "A delegation of American lawmakers will travel to Russia next week in part to investigate last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, ABC News has learned. The group, led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., wants to find out why a 2011 Russian request that the United States investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected Boston bombers, did not raise more red flags. The Russians offered a vague warning that Tsarnaev planned to link up with extremist groups abroad, but an FBI investigation yielded no evidence to support those claims at the time. The lawmakers also want to know why  subsequent U.S. requests for additional information about Tsarnaev went unanswered by the Russians."

Secret Bin Laden Photos to Stay Secret: Associated Press: "A federal appeals court Tuesday backed the U.S. government's decision not to release photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden during and after a raid in which the terrorist leader was killed by U.S. commandos. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia turned down an appeal from Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, which had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the images. The Defense Department said it didn't turn up anything pertinent to the FOIA. The CIA had found 52 such records, but withheld all of them, citing exemptions for classified materials and information specifically exempted by other laws."

Super Bowl Bound: ESPN: "The 50th Super Bowl will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area and the NFL championship will go to Houston the following year. Team owners voted Tuesday for the 49ers' new stadium as host of the 2016 game. That facility in Santa Clara, Calif., is due to open for the 2014 season. ... San Francisco beat out South Florida, which was stymied in its bid to stage an 11th Super Bowl when the Florida Legislature did not support financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins. ... Houston, which also beat out Miami, was awarded the 2017 title game. Reliant Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans, has hosted once before, in 2004."

Notre Dame Suicide: CNN: "A right-wing historian and author killed himself inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Tuesday in front of horrified tourists, police said. About 1,500 people at the cathedral were evacuated, CNN affiliate BFM reported. The site is one of the world's most prominent churches and a huge tourist attraction in the French capital. BFM identified the man as Dominique Venner, 78. Le Monde newspaper quoted a rector at the cathedral, who said the man placed a letter on the altar and then shot himself. On his blog, Venner has lashed out against same-sex marriage and what he called a future Islamist takeover of France."

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