Rescue crews were waiting for daylight early Tuesday to aid in the search for survivors and victims of a massive tornado that chewed through a suburb of Oklahoma City on Monday, grinding up entire neighborhoods and obliterating an elementary school where students who had huddled in a hallway with their teachers were buried in rubble.
The swath of devastation in Moore, Okla., was up to a mile wide and 20 miles long. The state medical examiner’s office told the Associated Press early Tuesday that at least 40 more bodies were expected, in addition to the 51 people already confirmed dead. Twenty of those 51 are children. You can read more here.
Apple using off-shore firms to avoid paying U.S. taxes - Apple Inc. employs a group of affiliate companies located outside the United States to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes, a Senate investigation has found.
The world’s most valuable company is holding overseas some $102 billion of its $145 billion in cash, and an Irish subsidiary that earned $22 billion in 2011 paid only $10 million in taxes, according to the report issued Monday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The strategies Apple uses are legal, and many other multinational corporations use similar tax techniques to avoid paying U.S. income taxes on profits they reap overseas. But Apple uses a unique twist, the report found. The company’s tactics raise questions about loopholes in the U.S. tax code, lawmakers say. TPM.com has more here.
Obama approval rating at 51% - a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds the president’s approval rating, at 51 percent positive and 44 percent negative, has remained steady in the face of fresh disclosures about the IRS, the Benghazi attack and the Justice Department’s secret collection of telephone records of Associated Press journalists as part of a leak investigation. The Washington Post has more here.
White House chief of staff also knew of IRS investigation - The White House on Monday once again added to the list of people who knew about the IRS investigation into its targeting of conservative groups — saying White House chief of staff Denis McDonough had been informed about a month ago.
Press secretary Jay Carney said again that no one had told President Barack Obama ahead of the first news reports: not his top aide McDonough, nor his chief counsel Kathy Ruemmler, nor anyone from the Treasury Department. Politico.com has more here.
"Citizens United" ruling fueled IRS mess - The IRS controversy has laid bare a far more serious and far-reaching problem: the agency’s utter failure to keep pace with drastically changing campaign finance laws. For decades, the IRS has taken heat for its muddy rules governing politically active tax-exempt groups, a recent CQ Weekly story notes. Among other problems, the recent inspector general’s report found:
- IRS employees did not understand and bickered over the agency’s own rules, repeatedly changing course over how to screen groups seeking tax-exempt status.
- The IRS went so far as to reject the IG’s recommendation that the tax agency clear up guidelines for how to handle such groups. The IRS instead recommended more staff training, an alternative the IG in turn rejected.
- Though lawmakers and watchdogs urged the IRS to curb deep-pocketed nonprofits spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2012 campaign, the IRS ignored the top-spending players and instead went after shoestring groups.
The fallout has exposed an agency that lacks the tools, the will or even the rules to regulate increasingly wealthy and influential tax-exempt groups unfettered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling to deregulate political spending. RollCall.com has more here.
Benghazi witness points finger at Clinton - The star witness in the Benghazi investigation said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally ordered Ambassador Chris Stevens to set up a permanent post in the restive city and should have known about deteriorating security.
Gregory Hicks, who briefly took over as head of mission when Stevens and three other Americans were killed, testified on May 8 that Clinton personally ordered the ambassador to turn Benghazi into a full consular post, and that she planned to announce the upgrade during a visit in December.
Hicks’s attorney has been drawing attention to that section of his testimony, which was overshadowed by revelations that no one at the U.S. embassy in Libya believed the terrorist attack was preceded by a peaceful protest, and that the Pentagon told a special operations team to stand down.
“According to Stevens, Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post,” Hicks testified. TheHill.com has more here.
Israel-Syria exchange border fire - Israeli troops shot at a target across the Syrian frontier on Tuesday in response to gunfire that struck its forces in the Golan Heights, the Israeli military said.
A statement said a military vehicle was damaged by shots fired from Syria but that there were no injuries. It said that soldiers "returned precise fire".
Gunfire incidents across the frontier from Syria have recurred in past months during an escalating a civil war there in which rebels have sought to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Israel's Army Radio said Tuesday's was the third consecutive cross-border shooting this week. Reuters.com has more here.
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