Quote of the day.
"Coming off the second deployment back into civilian life, we just had to do what we had to do. Those benefits kept my kids fed." Don Martinez, 33, an Iraq veteran protesting cuts in food stamps because of the assistance he received while he struggled with getting recognition for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress.
1. Time reveals lower death toll from tornado.
The mountain of rubble that was once Plaza Towers Elementary School has become the emotional and physical focal point of one of the most destructive tornadoes to strike Oklahoma. Although the casualty toll fluctuated wildly early on, officials said on Tuesday that at least 24 people had died, including 9 children, 7 of them at Plaza Towers.
(New York Times)
2. Immigration bill clears hurdle in Senate.
A sweeping bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system headed to the Senate floor after a key committee approved it Tuesday, setting the stage for a debate next month that could lead to the biggest victory for advocates of immigrant rights in a generation.
(Los Angeles Times)
3. House panel OKs big spending cuts.
Discretionary spending would drop to $967 billion — $17 billion below where appropriations stand now after the first round of cuts in March. And within this tighter cap, labor, health, and education programs are to be transformed into a virtual GOP bank to help finance a $28 billion increase for defense.
4. More seniors are living in poverty.
An alternative census estimate shows that more of America’s seniors than originally thought are living in poverty — and that means the poverty rate could spike under certain Medicare reforms, a new analysis finds. The estimate, which takes into account health spending and regional cost of living, finds 1 in 7 seniors lives in poverty. It was previously thought that just 1 in 10 did.
5. Pentagon wants $450 million for Guantanamo.
The Pentagon is asking Congress for more than $450 million for maintaining and upgrading the Guantanamo Bay prison that President Barack Obama wants to close.
6. Debate aside, drone strikes drop sharply.
Lost in the contentious debate over the legality, morality, and effectiveness of a novel weapon is the fact that the number of strikes has actually been in decline. Strikes in Pakistan peaked in 2010 and have fallen sharply since then; their pace in Yemen has slowed to half of last year’s rate.
(New York Times)
7. Syria opposition calls for reinforcements in embattled Qusair.
Syria's leading opposition group called on Wednesday for rebels across the country to send reinforcements to the strategic border town Qusair, where heavy fighting has drawn in fighters from Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement.
8. Rafsanjani blocked from running for president.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the leading opposition-backed candidate in Iran's presidential election, was disqualified on Tuesday from standing in a blow to those hoping for significant change when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leaves office.
9. Guatemala full of questions after genocide conviction annulled.
The Guatemalan high court's decision to annul the genocide conviction of former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt on Tuesday revived questions about his responsibility for the slaughter of some 1,700 ethnic Maya people.
(Chicago Tribune/Los Angeles Times)
10. Number of Afghan women jailed for fleeing abuse soars.
The number of Afghan women jailed for fleeing forced and abusive marriages, and other "moral crimes", has soared since 2011, according to Human Rights Watch. About 600 women and girls are in prison for offences including running away from their husband or family, even though fleeing abuse is not a crime under Afghan law.