RSS
10 things you need to know today: May 21, 2013
A two-mile-wide tornado kills dozens in Oklahoma, senators say Apple avoided billions in taxes, and more
Apple really doesn't like paying taxes.
Apple really doesn't like paying taxes. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

1. 91 FEARED DEAD AFTER OKLAHOMA TORNADO
A massive tornado killed at least 51 people, including 20 children, as it blasted through Moore, Okla., on Monday. President Obama declared the area a major disaster, qualifying it for federal aid, as rescuers searched through the night for survivors and bodies. A state official said early Tuesday that as many as 40 more people might have died as the twister, with 200 mph winds, cut a two-mile-wide path through the Oklahoma City suburb, wiping out entire neighborhoods and two schools. [USA Today]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. SYRIAN REBELS FIRE ROCKETS AT HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON
Israeli and Syrian troops exchanged fire over their shared border on Tuesday. The skirmish came after Syrian rebels fired rockets at Hezbollah militants in Lebanon on Monday. Hezbollah fighters over the weekend reportedly helped Syrian government forces retake the strategically important border town of Qusair. President Obama called Lebanese President Michel Sleiman to stress his concern about Hezbollah's involvement, which diplomats say might help turn the civil war into a regional conflict. [Associated Press, CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. SENATE PANEL SAYS APPLE SAVED BILLIONS WITH TAX SHELTERS
A Senate investigation unveiled Monday accused Apple of using a "complex web" of offshore shell subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes on $74 billion in profits earned overseas between 2009 and 2012. Such schemes are common, but Senate staffers said Apple's tax strategy was unprecedented in its use of multiple affiliates with no employees or offices. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly plans to forcefully defend the tech giant in testimony before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. SECTARIAN VIOLENCE SURGES IN IRAQ
A string of car bombings and suicide attacks killed more than 70 Shiite Muslims across Iraq on Monday. It was the worst single day of sectarian violence since U.S. forces withdrew from the country in 2011. The attacks pushed the death toll from clashes between Shiites, who now rule Iraq, and minority Sunni Muslims to 200 over just the last week, raising fears that the country could be spiraling back into all-out civil war. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. GUATEMALAN COURT THROWS OUT RIOS MONTT'S CONVICTION
Guatemala's highest court on Monday overturned a genocide conviction against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, 86, who had been sentenced to 80 years for massacres of members of the Maya-Ixil ethnic group in 1982 and 1983. The ruling marked a setback for human-rights activists, who had hailed the May 10 conviction as a blow against impunity. Rios Montt will remain under house arrest, though, and prosecutors will try to redo the disputed final weeks of the trial. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. OBAMA URGES MYANMAR LEADER TO CONTINUE REFORMS
President Obama welcomed President Thein Sein of Myanmar to the White House on Monday in the first visit by a leader from the once-pariah Asian state, also known as Burma, in 47 years. Obama urged Thein Sein to continue allowing democratic reforms. Obama also pointedly said that violent repression against minority Muslims "needs to stop." Myanmar's leader responded by saying that the country's democracy is just two years old, and needs more time to take hold. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. MUSHARRAF GETS BAIL IN BHUTTO CASE
Former Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf was granted bail on Monday in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. Musharraf has been accused of failing to provide proper security for the former prime minister after she returned from self-imposed exile in 2007. Musharraf will remain under house arrest, as he faces several other charges, but legal experts said the decision to grant him bail suggested that the military might be exerting pressure to get him out of his legal troubles. [BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. NORTH KOREANS RELEASE CHINESE FISHING BOAT
Gunmen in North Korean military uniforms released a Chinese fishing boat on Tuesday after holding the vessel's crew for two weeks. The hijacking of the boat, which owner Yu Xuejun said was in Chinese waters, was the latest in a series of incidents that frayed relations between Pyongyang and its increasingly frustrated allies in Beijing, although foreign-policy experts said ransom-seeking rogue border guards — not the North Korean regime — were probably responsible. [Associated Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. VOLCANO DISRUPTS FLIGHTS IN ALASKA
An eruption from one of Alaska's most active volcanoes has forced the cancellation of regional flights, local officials said Monday. Pavlof Volcano has been sending ash as high as 22,000 feet, and lava flowing from its 8,261-foot peak is sending up clouds of steam as it hits snow on the mountain's sides. Commercial airliners, which fly higher than the small planes serving remote fishing towns and villages in the area, still haven't been affected. [Reuters]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. DOORS KEYBOARDIST RAY MANZAREK DIES
Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist for the Doors, died Monday in Germany after a battle with bile-duct cancer. He was 74. Manzarek and Jim Morrison met at UCLA in 1965, and put together the band. Manzarek's electric organ contributed to the Doors' music its unmistakable sound. By the time Morrison died in 1971, the Doors had released six Top 10 albums and 15 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Light My Fire," "Hello, I Love You," "Touch Me," and "Riders on the Storm." [Los Angeles Times]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week