Destructive duo. Rare twin tornados spun out of the skies over Nebraska last night, destroying much of the town of Pilger. The twisters killed two people, injured dozens, and destroyed homes and businesses. “More than half of the town is gone—absolutely gone,” Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said. “The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It's a complete mess.” But the town of about 350 people has comeback in its DNA. It’s motto: “The little town too tough to die.”
Not terrorism? Attackers in a Kenyan coastal town killed 15 more people yesterday in another night of violence. Although the militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the killing and destruction, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed his political rivals. He called them “hate-mongers” but didn’t name anybody in particular. “The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against the Kenyan community,” Kenyatta told the nation in an address. “This, therefore, was not an al-Shabaab terrorist attack. Evidence indicates local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous crime.”
Historic chase. Twenty years ago today, O.J. Simpson’s slow-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles shut down the city and began a saga that would grip the nation for months. Simpson took off after he was charged with killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Even then, popular sentiment lay with the former football star. People crowded overpasses and roadsides to wave as Simpson’s white Ford Bronco cruised past. When police finally took him into custody at his mansion, hundreds of fans gathered in the upscale neighborhood chanting “Free O.J.!” Simpson was acquitted of the murder in what has become known as the “trial of the century.” But he’s now serving a 33-year sentence in Nevada for kidnapping and armed robbery.
Illegal purchase. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that falsely answering a question on a gun-purchase form violates a law intended to keep firearms out of the hands of felons, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. The gun buyer in the case fit none of those categories. The retired Virginia police officer bought the gun for his uncle, who was licensed to carry it. On the purchase form, he wrote that he was the “actual transferee/buyer.” By a 5-4 majority, the court ruled the officer committed an illegal straw purchase.The dissenting judges pointed out that guns intended for gifts, resale, or raffle prizes are still permitted under current law. One misstatement was not, in their view, serious enough to merit federal criminal charges.
Popular generosity. Charitable giving rose again last year, a good sign for the recovering economy, analysts say. In 2013, Americans gave $335.17 billion to charity, according to Giving USA. That’s a 4.4 percent increase over 2012 and close to the pre-recession giving peak of $349.50 billion in 2007. Though corporations, foundations, and bequests made up the largest share of last year’s giving, the biggest percentage increase came from individuals. “If the rate of increase continues, we’ll reach the pre-recession high in the next year or two,” said Gregg Carlson, chair of the Giving USA Foundation and president of Carlson Fund Raising in Henderson, Nev. “We’re very optimistic that will happen next year, and certainly in the next two years.”