Southern sorrow. Tens of thousands of Southerners are without power today after a devastating storm system roared across portions of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee overnight. Tornadoes dropped out of the clouds and plowed across neighborhoods and businesses, leaving 13 dead. An earlier line of storms killed 17 in Arkansas on Sunday. And forecasters warn another round of heavy rain and possible tornadoes is headed for the same areas tonight. Monday’s storms did the most damage in Tupelo and Louisville, Miss. Every building in a two-block area of downtown Tupelo, a town of about 35,000, sustained damage.
Prelude to a nuke? North Korea is raising tensions again with a live-fire exercise near the South Korean border. The offshore drill lasted for about 15 minutes but no shells landed in South Korean waters. Analysts fear the exercise could be a prelude to a nuclear test after South Korean officials reported the North had completed the steps necessary for such a display of military might. During his recent visit to the South, U.S. President Barack Obama warned of more sanctions if the North detonated a nuclear bomb.
Disapprove. President Obama’s job approval rating continues to fall ahead of this year’s midterm elections. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, just 41 percent of voters say they are satisfied with his performance. The president got his lowest approval ratings when pollsters asked about Obamacare’s implementation: 57 percent said they disapproved of the rollout. Respondents also gave the president low marks—just 34 percent approval—for his handling of the crisis in Ukraine. But it wasn’t all good news for Republicans. Respondents consistently said they had more faith in the Democrats to properly handle the economy, healthcare, immigration, and the overall problems facing the nation. Republicans won out only on reducing the federal budget deficit.
Plane spotting? An Australian company claims it might have found the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, far from the site of the official search. GeoResonance, which uses remote sensing technology to search for oil, gas, and mineral deposits, says it has found evidence of the plane in the Bay of Bengal, about 118 miles south of Bangladesh. The equipment allegedly picked up traces of chemical elements that would have been found on the aircraft: aluminum, titanium, and jet fuel residue. Malaysian officials say they plan to investigate.
Heavy-handed tax man. A Pennsylvania judge ruled yesterday that Beaver County officials were justified in selling a widow’s $200,000 home because of a $6.30 tax penalty. Eileen Battisti of Aliquippa paid her school taxes six days late in 2009 and said she had no idea the county levied a fine. Officials sold the home in 2011, but Battisti has continued to live there. The judge ruled county officials properly notified her that her home would be sold. The county’s top solicitor was unapologetic. “The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,” Joe Askar said.