Tornadoes made their way through several states Sunday evening, killing at least eight people in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma.
The damage is severe in Mayflower and Vilonia, towns north of Little Rock, CNN reports. Vilonia Mayor James Firestone told CNN that he was unable to get down the main street in town due to the debris. "I am trying to make my way through the downed trees and power lines," he said "What I am seeing, it is a lot of damage. I've been listening to the rescue folks. They're saying people have to be extracted from vehicles.... It looks pretty bad."
In Oklahoma, one person is confirmed dead in the small town of Quapaw, 200 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Tornadoes were also spotted Sunday afternoon and evening in areas of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa. --Catherine Garcia
— Austin Oberlag (@AustinOberlag) April 28, 2014
Saw major damage in mayflower. Prayers go out for the injured and families with fatalities. pic.twitter.com/bxMXZHbbPH
— Austin Oberlag (@AustinOberlag) April 28, 2014
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) April 28, 2014
President Trump will share his first state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening, and only Republicans are invited. Breaking with tradition, the White House did not include any members of the media or congressional Democrats.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said on CNN on Tuesday that the move would not have been his choice. "I would have included — and this is just me; the president can select his own management style — I would have included more of a cross-section. I would have included the media," he told host Chris Cuomo. "I think it would have sent a better message, just my opinion, if we included a cross-section of Congress. You can't include everybody, but that's Democrats, independents, and Republicans."
Watch a clip of the conversation below. Bonnie Kristian
GOP Sen. John Kennedy says he would have invited Democrats and the media to the White House state dinner tonight: "I think it would have sent a better message ... if we included a cross-section of Congress" https://t.co/vpRNObvuvU https://t.co/Lv1oWNSe4s
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 24, 2018
The fierce debate on gun control has led people on both sides to put money where their mouths are.
The NRA raised more money in March 2018 than any other month in the past 15 years, Federal Elections Commission records reported by the Miami Herald show.
The organization's Victory Fund, used for backing political campaigns, raised $2.4 million last month, and the majority came from small donors who gave less than $200. The boom in fundraising coincided with student-led March for Our Lives protests, which followed a February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. The March for Our Lives Action Fund, meanwhile, has raised $3.5 million since Feb. 18, just four days after the shooting.
In March 2017, the NRA Victory Fund raised $884,000, while February 2018 brought in just $800,000. The major jump in last month's donations follows a pattern — the organization also saw a rise in fundraising after a 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Herald reports that the NRA spends money from its Victory Fund on political campaigns for candidates who oppose stricter gun control laws, but is often limited by state and federal campaign finance laws. The organization spends many millions more through its lobbying arm: For example, it spent $31 million to oppose Hillary Clinton and support President Trump in the 2016 election. Read more at the Miami Herald. Summer Meza
A deadly van attack broke through an idyllic afternoon in Toronto on Monday, when a man driving a white van mounted the sidewalk and crashed into pedestrians. The incident, which occurred on the city's famous Yonge Street, left 10 people dead and 15 more injured.
Hours later, the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup. The Leafs entered the series trailing 3-2, but kept their Stanley Cup hopes alive with a 3-1 win that forced a Game 7.
But before the triumph on the ice, the Leafs held a moment of silence for the lives lost on Yonge Street. Then came time for the customary performance of the national anthem, "O Canada," which Leafs anthem singer Martina Ortiz-Luis was set to sing — until the crowd chimed in. Watch the emotional moment below. Kimberly Alters
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 23, 2018
The United Nations, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq are banding together for a massive multimillion-dollar restoration of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which was destroyed by the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, last year. The centuries-old mosque was also where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate after his forces took control of Mosul during an offensive in northern Iraq and Syria in 2014. ISIS militants blew the structure up when Iraqi troops closed in last summer.
"You can find [the mosque] on money notes, you can find it in scrapbooks," Rasha Al Aqeedi, who grew up in Mosul, told The New York Times around the time of its destruction. "It's everywhere. I don't know how to put it into words. It's just something people always identified with because it was always there."
The project is expected to take five years, as all that remains of the mosque and its famous leaning minaret is the foundation and a barely-supported dome, BBC reports. The collaboration between the Iraqi and UAE governments and the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is "the largest and unprecedented cooperation to rebuild cultural heritage in Iraq ever," the UNESCO director said.
"The five-year project is not just about rebuilding the mosque, the minaret, and the infrastructure, but also about giving hope to young Iraqis," explained UAE Culture Minister Noura al-Kaabi. The UAE has given some $50 million to the mosque's restoration. She added: "The millennia-old civilization must be preserved." See more images of liberated Mosul at The Week. Jeva Lange
CNN's Chris Cuomo laughed nervously at the "frightening" parallels between the way his 15-year-old and the president of the United States use their cell phones on New Day on Tuesday.
"President Trump is using his personal cell phone more than he had been in the past year," Alisyn Camerota began, citing a CNN report that suggests Trump is back on his less-secure device when talking to outside advisers. Cuomo then jumped in with some well-rehearsed fatherly scolding: Trump is on the phone "when he's supposed to be studying," Cuomo said. "This is a very teachable moment. You have to say to him in this moment if you're [Chief of Staff] John Kelly, 'Look, we let you use this phone, it's a privilege. It's not a right. And if you don't use it the right way, we're going to take it from you until we know that you can use it responsibly.'"
"And you're going to be grounded!" pitched in Camerota.
Cuomo observed that "this is the exact conversation I have, and lose, with my 15-year-old on a regular basis." Watch the humorous comparison below. Jeva Lange
New CNN reporting says President Trump has been ramping up personal cell phone use. @AbbyDPhillip: "The President is losing or lost a lot of his very close advisors ... People close to him who were part of the guard rails for the President are now gone" https://t.co/id6PuBTbAE pic.twitter.com/hoG96d2AV4
— New Day (@NewDay) April 24, 2018
Rep. Martha McSally, a leading GOP Senate candidate in Arizona, says she was sexually abused in high school
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a leading candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), tells The Wall Street Journal that she was sexually abused by a track coach during her senior year in high school, and that the experience helped shape her life choices. McSally, 52, said that she had taken up running to "escape from the grief of losing my dad" in middle school, and at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, an all-girl Catholic high school in Rhode Island, she placed her trust in a male coach who pressured her into having sex with him.
"It took a while for me to come to a place where I understood what the hell I had been through," McSally told the Journal. "I now understand — like many girls and boys who are abused by people in authority over them — there's a lot of fear and manipulation and shame." The sexual relationship wasn't physically coerced, she added, but "it certainly was an emotional manipulation." McSally said she ramped up her running to shut down her menstrual cycle, because "I was freaking out that he would get me pregnant."
McSally said she chose to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado in part "to get away from him," and she pushed herself in other ways because of the ordeal. She told her family 10 years after the experience, and Rich Robinson, who volunteered at an Arizona Air Force base chapel when McSally was stationed there, told the Journal that she had told him about the alleged abuse by her coach, "and others," in 1994. (McSally also told the Journal she had "similar, awful experiences in the military on the spectrum of abuse of power and sexual assault.") The Journal identified the coach in question, who denied ever having sex with McSally. You can read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber
A national lynching memorial and museum is about to open in Alabama, and visitors will be 'uncomfortable'
On Thursday, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opens in Montgomery, Alabama, along with its accompanying Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. The two sites will be the nation's first "comprehensive memorial dedicated to racial terror lynchings of African Americans and the legacy of slavery and racial inequality in America," according to the organization behind it, the Equal Justice Initiative. The memorial features 800 brown metal slabs inscribed with the names of 4,400 African Americans lynched or otherwise killed in "racial terror" incidents from 1977 to 1950. Each 6-foot-tall slab represents one of the 800 U.S. counties where the lynchings occurred.
Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, said Monday that his legal advocacy group wanted to create a place for Americans to confront and "deal honestly with this history," like South Africa and Germany did to face their legacies of Apartheid and the Holocaust, respectively. "We don't have many places in America where we have urged people to look at the history of racial inequality, to look at the history of slavery, of lynching, of segregation," he said, adding that he expects some people to be "uncomfortable" visiting the memorial and museum.
The Legacy Museum starts with the enslavement of Africans and continues through today's criminal justice system. First thing you read in the museum is: "You are standing on a site where people were warehoused" — a reference to the site being a former Montgomery slave depot. And along with the slabs, the memorial includes a sculpture of six slaves in chains. "I think there is a better America still waiting, there is a more just America waiting," Stevenson told The Associated Press. "There's a kind of community that we haven't achieved yet. but we can't achieve it if we are unwilling to tell the truth about our past." Peter Weber