CNN: Oklahoma tornado leaves massive path of death, destruction; at least 51 dead
Clinging to the hope of finding more survivors, rescue workers raced overnight scouring mountains of rubble where houses and schools once stood– even as the sobering death toll continued to climb. The vicious tornado that tore across central Oklahoma on Monday has killed at least 51 people - with about 40 more bodies expected to arrive at the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office, Amy Elliott of the coroner's office said. The official death toll will gradually rise as the bodies are processed. At least 20 of those killed were children, including seven from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore - the site of a frantic search early Tuesday morning.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Federal resources ready, Obama tells Oklahoma governor
LA Times: Salt Lake City has highest rate of same-sex couples raising kids
Salt Lake City: the gay parenting capital of the United States? Unexpected as it may sound, a new study finds that the Utah capital and its outskirts have the nation's highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children. Among couples of the same sex in the Salt Lake City area, more than 1 in 4 are rearing children, the analysis of census data reveals. That fact may seem at odds with perceptions that San Francisco and New York are the centers of gay and lesbian life. Pop culture depicts gays and lesbians turning to adoption, sperm banks or surrogacy to form families in decidedly liberal cities such as Los Angeles. But the reality for gay parents can be very different, said Gary J. Gates, the researcher behind the new estimates from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
NYT: E.R.’s Account for Half of Hospital Admissions, Study Says
Emergency rooms account for about half of the nation’s hospital admissions and accounted for virtually all of the rise in admissions between 2003 and 2009, according to a study released on Monday. Although emergency rooms are widely considered expensive places for diagnostic care, physicians are increasingly relying on them to determine whether a patient needs to be hospitalized. The study’s findings raise important questions about how emergency rooms contribute to high health care costs in the United States and what their role will be in the future as the nation undergoes fundamental changes in health care delivery. One goal of the Obama administration’s health care law was to reduce reliance on costly emergency room care.
USA Today: Obama schedules China summit, Africa trip
President Obama is planning major diplomatic initiatives with China and Africa in the coming weeks, the White House announced Monday. Obama and new China President Xi Jinping will hold a summit June 7-8 in Southern California. The president and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania from June 26 to July 3. Obama will meet with Xi Jinping — their first get-together since the latter became president of China — at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif
BuzzFeed: Obama Went Off Script To Address Gay Grads Directly At Morehouse College
President Obama addressed the graduates of the all-male, historically black Morehouse College on Sunday, sharing with them his views about what it meant to be a good man — a vision that included gay men. Obama told the graduates, “Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner.” The line was powerful and immediately noticed by the students, who stirred, leading the president to raise a finger and seek silence. Once the audience quieted, he added, “Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.” The words, spoken by the first black president to an overwhelmingly male and black audience at a school that prides itself on its history and understanding of black masculinity, answered an era of unfair stereotypes in the negative.
CNN: White House chief of staff knew of IRS report before its release
New details emerged of what the White House knew about the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, with spokesman Jay Carney disclosing Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was among the top officials made aware of the matter late last month. In a new timeline provided by Carney to reporters on Monday, General Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned on April 24 of a pending Treasury inspector general's report on how IRS staff used criteria targeting conservative groups in assessing eligibility for tax-exempt status. According to Carney, Ruemmler told McDonough as well as other Treasury officials about the pending report. It was the first time the White House acknowledged that McDonough was aware of the report before it became public in early May. In addition, Carney made clear that the information Ruemmler received on April 24 included details of improper acts by IRS officials.
ALSO SEE: Politico: The White House’s shifting IRS account
WaPo: Treasury consulted on multiple occasions about timing of IRS disclosure, source says
The Treasury Department was informed on three separate occasions that the Internal Revenue Service planned to disclose that it targeted conservative groups for scrutiny, and on one occasion, Treasury expressed concern about the form of the disclosure, a Treasury official said on Monday night. In all cases, the official said, Treasury ultimately deferred to the IRS. In late April, the IRS told the Treasury that senior tax official Lois Lerner was considering making a speech in which she would make a public apology for inappropriate conduct at the IRS in advance of an inspector general report documenting how tax agency officials gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups. “Treasury expressed some concern about the idea of a speech, but ultimately deferred to the IRS on that issue,” the Treasury official said Monday.
ALSO SEE: WSJ: Treasury Knew IRS Was Planning Apology
CNNMoney: Apple set for showdown on Capitol Hill over corporate taxes
Apple executives are set to defend the company's tax practices and call for corporate tax reform on Capitol Hill Tuesday amid harsh criticism following a Senate investigation. A report released Monday by Senators John McCain, R-Arizona, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan, charged that Apple "has used a complex web of offshore entities - including three foreign subsidiaries the company claims are not tax resident in any nation - to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes." The report says Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) relies on a number of unusual accounting tactics along with a handful of subsidiaries in Ireland - where it has negotiated a tax rate of less than 2% - to reduce its tax bill. The U.S. corporate tax rate stands at 35%.
ALSO SEE: Fortune: Meet AOI, Apple's mysterious Irish subsidiary
LA Times: Congress expands inquiry into IRS handling of conservative groups
Congressional investigators are broadening their inquiry into the Internal Revenue Service's mishandling of groups seeking tax-exempt status, indicating that they plan to examine how the agency dealt with a wide swath of nonprofit applications during the last three years. The Senate Finance Committee on Monday requested that the agency turn over a list of all charities, social welfare organizations, unions and trade groups targeted for extra scrutiny, as well as copies of all requests the IRS sent those groups for information about donors, volunteers and political activities since Feb. 1, 2010. The letter to Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner, from Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, shows that the committee — one of three investigating the IRS — plans to look beyond the screening of advocacy groups seeking tax-exempt status under section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
ALSO SEE: Cincinnati Enquirer: 'Perfect storm' led to IRS fiasco
Politico: Immigration bill nears finish line
The Senate Judiciary Committee will almost certainly pass the sprawling immigration overhaul bill by the end of the week, setting up a floor fight for early June. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy has been pushing the panel to get its work done, holding a rare Monday markup that stretched into the evening, with additional sessions scheduled each day this week until the bill is finished. The two biggest wild cards in the final days of the markup are whether Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wins enough concessions on high-skilled visas to persuade him to vote for the bill and whether Leahy decides to offer an amendment allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards. The former could boost bipartisan support but the latter could wash it away.
ALSO SEE: NYT: Veteran Senator Emerges as Player on Immigration Overhaul
Politico: More trouble for House immigration bill
Democrats want to press pause on the House bipartisan immigration negotiations. After a slew of Monday meetings, the House Democratic leadership expressed private concern about language in a proposal regarding health care for undocumented immigrants. A flurry of meetings — between Democratic leadership, top committee members, and rank-and-file Democrats, including the party’s lawmakers on the House immigration group — illustrated that concern, and once again threw the group’s prospects into doubt. Meetings among top Democrats will continue Tuesday. The provision — agreed to by the bipartisan House group in principle last week — is meant to ensure that the government doesn’t pay for the health care of the 11 million undocumented immigrants on the so-called “pathway to citizenship.”
ALSO SEE: Bloomberg: Parties Split on Tracking Foreigners Who Remain in U.S.
WaPo: Big-name conservatives rally against Senate immigration bill
A coalition of high-profile conservatives and tea party activists has signed a letter urging members of Congress to oppose a bipartisan Senate immigration bill, an attempt to increase public pressure just days before it faces an initial committee vote. In the letter, the group writes that the bill, developed by four Democrats and four Republicans, would allow illegal immigrants to gain citizenship before securing the U.S. borders, bankrupt the entitlement system and favor foreigners over Americans in low-skilled jobs. …Among those who signed the letter are radio hosts Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley and Mark Levin, author Michelle Malkin, activist Phyllis Schlafly, former congressman Allen West, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.
ALSO SEE: NYT: Immigration Officials Say Safeguards Were Added
CQ Roll Call: Oklahoma's Coburn Says Emergency Tornado Aid Must Carry Spending Offset
Sen. Tom «Coburn» says he will “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress kicks in to respond to the deadly tornado that ripped through his home state this week. The Oklahoma Republican said Monday evening that it is too early to guess at a damage toll but he will fight to make sure disaster funding that the federal government contributes is offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget — a stipulation he has consistently insisted upon as Congress has approved supplemental funding for other catastrophes in recent years.
CNN Poll: Likability helps Obama survive brutal week
President Barack Obama's personal popularity may be one reason he came out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady, according to a new national poll. A CNN/ORC International survey, released Monday, also indicates that Americans see the current controversies as very important, maybe even as much as the Iran-Contra scandal, but they haven't reached the epic levels of Watergate.
ALSO SEE: WaPo/ABC News Poll: Obama’s rating steady in face of controversies, likely buoyed by rising economic hopes
CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy
As a major tea party group plans protests Tuesday at Internal Revenue Service offices across the country, a new national poll indicates that the IRS controversy has given the four-year-old movement a shot in the arm. The week-and-a-half-old controversy, which involves the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups which were seeking tax exempt status, has dominated headlines and put the White House on the defensive. And according to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, it's also boosted the favorable rating for the tea party movement.
ALSO SEE: CNN: First lawsuit filed against IRS
CNN: With humor and criticism, Rand Paul courts New Hampshire voters
Sen. Rand Paul used humor to accompany biting criticism of President Barack Obama Monday on issues ranging from the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative organizations to the president’s health care law, as the Kentucky Republican made his formal introduction to influential New Hampshire voters. Paul was well received by the 500 GOP activists at this sold out fundraiser for the state party, where he repeated his criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. While Paul, using a folksy tone, did not break any new ground, he connected with these Republican primary voters who applauded him at times and gave a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks.
ALSO SEE: CNN: N.H. primary gets boost from national GOP leaders
The Hill: Snowe: President thought opposition to health law would eventually fade away
President Obama believed that opposition to his healthcare reform law would fade after the 2010 election, according to former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Obama courted Snowe’s support in an attempt to make the bill bipartisan. He assured her GOP opposition to the law would be short-lived, she said. “He thought the opposition to it would lessen after the  election. I said, ‘It’s just the beginning.’ I said, ‘It’s going to grow because I can tell you it’s not going to go away and it’s going to get worse,’” Snowe said in a radio interview moderated by Julie Mason, host of SiriusXM’s Press Pool. Snowe was invited to participate in the new series, “SiriusXM Leading Ladies.” Obama locked his attention on the centrist Snowe to the exclusion of other members of the Senate Republican Conference.
BuzzFeed: Liberal Super PAC Had Secret Bain Ties
A top liberal SuperPAC in the 2012 election had undisclosed financial ties to the private equity firm Bain Capital — something that some people close to the group say interfered with its core mission of attacking Bain veteran Mitt Romney’s business record. American Bridge 21st Century PAC was launched in 2012 as part of a multi-pronged Democratic effort to define and defeat the Republican nominee, a project of David Brock, a former conservative reporter best known as the founder of the liberal media monitoring group Media Matters. By last January, it had amassed a vast store of opposition research, most of it focused on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital — and on the hard-edged private equity practices that would help define the Republican as an out-of-touch millionaire. But in January, as Romney’s nomination — and the line of attack — became clear, American Bridge’s top fundraiser took a stand. In a series of meetings through the first half of 2012, several people close to the group confirmed, fundraiser Mary Pat Bonner demanded that the group avoid any public attacks on Bain.
WaPo: Antiabortion group plans to use Virginia races as ‘template’ for 2014 midterm efforts
A leading antiabortion group plans to use Virginia’s 2013 statewide races as a strategic proving ground ahead of next year’s midterm elections, raising the stakes in a gubernatorial contest marked by heated debate over social issues. The Susan B. Anthony List said in February that it would spend $1.5 million to boost Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) in his gubernatorial race against businessman Terry McAuliffe (D). But the group’s interest in the commonwealth goes beyond its pledge to Cuccinelli, a longtime abortion foe. “We have made Virginia a priority state for 2013,” the SBA List says in its current business plan. “We propose a massive investment there, seeking to make 2013 a template for wider victories in the mid-term elections in 2014.”
The Hill: GOP’s Love seeks rematch in Utah
Utah Republican Mia Love, one of the GOP’s most highly-touted House recruits in 2012, is making a second run for Congress in 2014 — and says she’s learned from mistakes that helped sink her campaign last November. …Love, who announced last weekend she’s seeking a rematch, was criticized for what some Republicans viewed as a poorly run campaign plagued with staff shake-ups and inefficient polling. This time, she has hired Dave Hansen, a strategist from Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) 2012 campaign, to join her team.
Politico: Clintons to stay out of N.Y.C. race
Bill and Hillary Clinton are making clear they are staying out of the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, just as the race is about to be roiled by the candidacy of their close aide Huma Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner. The pair of stay-on-the-sidelines statements came as Weiner is set to declare his candidacy by video this week, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. ...“Secretary Clinton knows all of the candidates, she has worked with many of them, and is close with many of them, so won’t be weighing in one way or the other,” Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement to POLITICO. Likewise, Bill Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna said, “President Clinton has too many friends in this race who have been good to him and his family. He wishes them all well, but won’t be getting involved.”
NYT: U.S. Takes Steps to Add Security at Embassies
By late this summer, the State Department plans to send dozens of additional diplomatic security agents to high-threat embassies, install millions of dollars of advanced fire-survival gear and surveillance cameras in those diplomatic posts, and improve training for employees headed to the riskiest missions. The price tag for the security improvements proposed after the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11 has reached $1.4 billion to meet the most urgent needs, including additional personnel. But diplomats and lawmakers say it will take years and billions more dollars to fully carry out the changes called for by the independent review panel that investigated the assault, which killed four Americans and touched off a highly charged political debate about the Obama administration’s ability to ensure the security of overseas outposts.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Obama administration regroups to counter Benghazi criticism
WaPo: Chinese hackers who breached Google gained access to sensitive data, U.S. officials say
Chinese hackers who breached Google’s servers several years ago gained access to a sensitive database with years’ worth of information about U.S. surveillance targets, according to current and former government officials. The breach appears to have been aimed at unearthing the identities of Chinese intelligence operatives in the United States who may have been under surveillance by American law enforcement agencies. It’s unclear how much the hackers were able to discover. But former U.S. officials familiar with the breach said the Chinese stood to gain valuable intelligence. The database included information about court orders authorizing surveillance — orders that could have signaled active espionage investigations into Chinese agents who maintained e-mail accounts through Google’s Gmail service.
CNN: Survey shows little improvement in religious freedom
There has been little improvement in religious freedom worldwide but some positive changes were seen in Turkey and Vietnam, according to an annual State Department survey of nearly 200 countries. Secretary of State John Kerry, a former U.S. senator who helped push the law mandating the original report 15 years ago, helped announce the findings on Monday in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. "This report is a clear-eyed, objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world. And when necessary, yes, it does directly call out some of our close friends, as well as some countries with whom we seek stronger ties." Government repression in China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia has kept all three countries on a list the report calls "Countries of Particular Concern."
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Report says prosecutor behind 'Fast and Furious' leak
A former top Justice Department official in Arizona leaked an internal memo from a federal agent who had criticized the politically charged "Fast and Furious" gun trafficking operation, a government report found. Dennis Burke, who was U.S. Attorney for the state, admitted to senior Justice Department officials in 2011 that he had leaked to the media the memo written by John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the Justice Department inspector general's finding on Monday. The IG report said the leak was an apparent attempt to undermine Dodson's credibility.
NYT: 3 N.Y.U. Scientists Accepted Bribes From China, U.S. Says
It was, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan said on Monday, “a case of inviting and paying for foxes in the henhouse.” Three researchers at the New York University School of Medicine who specialized in magnetic resonance imaging technology had been working on research sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. But, prosecutors charged on Monday, the three had their eyes on other business as well. They conspired to take bribes from a Chinese medical imaging company and a Chinese-sponsored research institute to share nonpublic information about their N.Y.U. work, according to the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Politico: Holder, Clapper subpoenaed in no-fly list case
Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have been subpoenaed to give depositions this week in a lawsuit over the “no-fly list,” which bars individuals identified by the U.S. government from flying to, from or within the country. The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to quash the subpoenas, which are related to the officials’ claim of state secrets privilege in the case. The lawsuit is being brought by Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian woman and former Stanford student who sued in 2006 for allegedly being placed on the “no-fly list” which led to her being barred from a flight home and briefly detained at the San Francisco a year earlier.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Inspector general to review flawed Milwaukee ATF sting
The U.S. Department of Justice inspector general will investigate the mistake-ridden ATF undercover sting in Milwaukee as part of a larger review of the agency's handling of sensitive cases after its flawed "Operation Fast and Furious." Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote to two members of Congress that the Milwaukee sting appeared to raise "significant management issues relating to the oversight and management" of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The issues, the letter said, were especially troubling coming after the agency had promised reforms.
Tampa Bay Times: Democrat Nan Rich says she's ready to take on Florida Gov. Rick Scott
For 10 years, political pros have taken it almost as gospel that the strongest statewide Democratic candidates are centrists from Florida's top battleground region of Tampa Bay. But 2014 gubernatorial hopeful Nan Rich says that's bunk. "We tried that three times, and we had three good candidates — we had Jim Davis, Alex Sink and Bill McBride," Rich said Monday, referring to the last three Democratic nominees for governor. "And you know what? We didn't win. So let's try something new. Let's try someone from South Florida." Rich, the former Democratic leader of the Florida Senate from Broward County and so far the only major Democrat running for governor, met with activists from Pinellas and Pasco counties Monday.
Dallas Morning News: House OKs requiring legislative input on Medicaid expansion
The Legislature would have to approve any enlargement of Medicaid under a provision approved by the House late Monday. Medicaid expansion “is too big a decision for the future of this state to be made by one person,” said Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, the provision’s author. Leach complained that unless lawmakers change existing state law, Gov. Rick Perry with one phone call could direct state social services overlord Kyle Janek to negotiate a deal with President Barack Obama’s administration on accepting federal dollars to cover about 1 million uninsured adults in Texas. “The Legislature ought to be involved in the approval,” Leach said.
New Jersey Star Ledger: First gun bills land on Christie's desk
Three bills aimed at controlling gun violence gained final legislative approval in the state Assembly today, making them the first of what is expected to be a big batch of gun control legislation to land on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk. But the bills — part of a larger package introduced in the aftermath of the December Newtown, Ct. school shooting — were far from the most controversial ones the Legislature has put forward, and face an uncertain fate with the governor, who has 45 days to decide what to do.
Haaretz: Syrian forces, IDF exchange fire in Golan Heights for third time this week
Syrian forces fired into Israeli territory on Monday night, the third such incident this week. At approximately 1:00 AM, Syrian forces fired at IDF troops patrolling near Tel Fares in the central Golan Heights. No one was wounded, but an army jeep was damaged. Following the incident, the Artillery Corps returned fire with precision Tammuz missiles. IDF officials said that a military response to the firing incidents on the border was being considered in detail and in accordance with a situation assessment in progress. It is not yet known whether the gunfire was aimed at the IDF troops or was stray fire from the nearby fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels. Earlier this week, IDF troops were fired upon near Tel Hazeka in two separate incidents. There were no injuries or damage in either incident. While the IDF did not return fire, IDF officials sent a message to the UNDOF troops charged with maintaining the cease-fire between Israel and Syria.
NYT: Guatemalan Court Overturns Genocide Conviction of Ex-Dictator
Guatemala’s highest court on Monday threw out the genocide conviction and prison sentence of the former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt. The decision by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court was a dramatic legal victory for General Ríos Montt, 86, and a blow to human rights advocates who had called his conviction a sign that Guatemala’s courts would no longer allow impunity for the country’s powerful. General Ríos Montt was sent to prison immediately after the verdict on May 10 when a three-panel tribunal found him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison but was soon transferred to a military hospital for medical tests. Monday’s decision means that he will return to house arrest, where he had been held since the case against him began in January 2012.
AFP: Chinese PM vows to open up markets to India
Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged on Tuesday to open up domestic markets to Indian businesses and narrow a gaping trade deficit between the two countries. "As for Indian concerns over the trade deficit, the Chinese side is willing to provide facilitations for more Indian products to access the Chinese market," Li said during a speech to Indian business leaders in New Delhi. "I am confident we have the ability to mitigate the trade imbalance between our two countries," he added. The Indian and Chinese premiers pledged on Monday to finally resolve a border dispute that has soured ties for decades, saying good relations between the two Asian giants were key to world peace.
Financial Times: Berlin plans to streamline EU but avoid wholesale treaty change
Berlin is drawing up plans for treaty changes to streamline decision-making in the eurozone, while stopping short of any wholesale renegotiation that would allow the UK to repatriate powers from Brussels. Although Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has expressed her desire to keep the UK inside the EU, the move being discussed in Berlin would thwart a plan by David Cameron, UK prime minister, to piggyback on eurozone reforms to renegotiate the British relationship with Brussels. The strategy would take as a model two recently adopted standalone treaties – one creating the new €500bn eurozone rescue fund and the other enshrining budget discipline in a “fiscal compact” – that were written and ratified in a matter of months.
Bloomberg: U.S. Treasury Takes Extra Steps to Stay Under Federal Debt Limit
The Treasury Department announced further steps to keep funding the government without going over the nation’s debt limit, amid a stalemate between Congress and the Obama administration on approving an increase in the ceiling. The U.S. declared a “debt-issuance suspension period” under the statute governing the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. That allows the U.S. to redeem existing Treasury securities held by the fund as investments, and suspend new investment. Each month a debt-issuance suspension period lasts frees up about $6.4 billion, according to the Treasury. During this period, civil service benefit payments will continue to be paid and won’t be affected by the action. However, once all of the so-called extraordinary measures it has at its disposal to avoid breaching the limit have been exhausted, the U.S. government will be limited in its ability to make payments across the government, the Treasury says.