Authorities: 3 tornadoes flatten homes, businesses in Alabama, Miss; 1 woman dead
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) -- At least three tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through the South on Monday, killing at least one woman in Mississippi and unleashing severe thunderstorms, damaging hail and flash floods.
Local officials also reported six deaths in Alabama from a tornado. State emergency officials could not immediately confirm those deaths. Thousands of customers were without power in Alabama and Kentucky, where severe storms caused widespread damages.
Monday's storm system was so huge it was visible from space, photographed by weather satellites that showed tumultuous clouds arcing across much of the South. The National Weather Service posted tornado watches and warnings around Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia that were in effect through Monday night.
The system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.
Mississippi Republican Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their 19-year-old dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law's SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville, seat of Winston County and home to about 6,600 .
AP PHOTOS: Recovery underway from tornadoes as more strong storms move into South
With parts of the U.S. recovering from deadly tornadoes, more heavy storms are making their way across the South.
A half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the Little Rock, Ark., suburbs Sunday evening. It was part of a rash of storms that killed people in Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma.
On Monday night, people in the path of a huge system were on edge as the National Weather Service posted tornado watches and warnings around Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.
Here is a gallery of images from the severe weather.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. STORM PUSHES INTO SOUTHERN US
A tornado causes extensive damage in Tupelo, Miss., a day after the powerful system triggered deadly twisters in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Putin's allies hit with sanctions over Ukraine crisis as US, EU push for Russia to back off
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and its European allies hit more than two dozen Russian government officials, executives and companies with new sanctions Monday as punishment for their country's actions in Ukraine, yet the penalties stopped short of targeting Russia's broader economy and it remained unclear if they would work. In Moscow, there was relief that the sanctions were not as far-ranging as feared.
The measures, including asset freezes and visa bans, affect people close to the Kremlin, and Western leaders hope those hurt by the sanctions will pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to limit his reach in Ukraine and de-escalate the crisis there. However, the Russian leader himself was not among those targeted, and Obama administration officials acknowledged there was no expectation that Putin would quickly change course.
Still, officials in Washington and Brussels said the sanctions, coupled with an initial set imposed following Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula last month, would significantly boost the cost to Moscow of ignoring an agreement it signed earlier this month to take concrete steps to ease tensions in Ukraine.
"The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin personally," President Barack Obama told reporters in the Philippines, where he was wrapping up a four-nation trip to Asia. "The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul."
Obama said Russia still could resolve the Ukraine crisis diplomatically. But he sounded far from confident about the immediate prospects for the new sanctions packages.
A who's who of Putin's friends, loyal aides and their companies hit by new US sanctions
MOSCOW (AP) -- The seven people from Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle targeted with U.S. sanctions on Monday include men who have helped Putin restore Kremlin control over Russia's economy and its political system. They have been tasked with carrying out some of Putin's most ambitious projects, most notably his plans to make Crimea an integral part of Russia after seizing the peninsula from Ukraine.
There were already 20 people on the list. The United States also added 17 Russian companies.
Putin publicly has scorned the West's efforts to pressure him over the crisis in Ukraine, where a pro-Russia militia has been working to undermine the new Western-supported government in Kiev. "No sanctions can be effective in the modern world and they never produce the desired effect," Putin declared last week.
Still, the first round of sanctions has harmed Russia's economy, as Putin acknowledged, and the only positive news from the new round was that many feared they would be even worse.
Here is a list of the Russian officials and companies targeted:
Exposing frustration with critics, Obama vigorously defense foreign policy approach
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- President Barack Obama vigorously defended his foreign policy record Monday, arguing that his cautious approach to global problems has avoided the type of missteps that contributed to a "disastrous" decade of war for the United States.
Obama's expansive comments came at the end of a weeklong Asia trip that exposed growing White House frustration with critics who cast the president as weak and ineffectual on the world stage. The president and his advisers get particularly irked by those who seize on Obama's decision to pull back from a military strike in Syria and link it with virtually every other foreign policy challenge, from Russia's threatening moves in Ukraine to China's increasing assertiveness in Asia's territorial disputes.
"Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?" Obama said during a news conference in the Philippines.
Summing up his foreign policy philosophy, Obama said it was one that "avoids errors."
White House advisers argue in part that Obama's approach puts him on the side of a conflict-weary American public, some of whom voted for him in the 2008 election because of his early opposition to the Iraq war. Yet the president's foreign policy record of late has provided plenty of fodder for his critics.
AP survey: China's lending bubble could threaten US and global economies if not defused
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just as the global economy has all but recovered from debt-fueled crises in the United States and Europe, economists have a new worry: China. They see a lending bubble there that threatens global growth unless Beijing defuses it.
That's the view that emerges from an Associated Press survey this month of 30 economists. Still, the economists remain optimistic that Beijing's high-stakes drive to reform its economy -- the world's second-largest -- will bolster Chinese banks, ease the lending bubble and benefit U.S. exporters in the long run.
"They've really got to change the way they do business," said William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Asset Management. "But they have a good track record of doing just that. I'm an optimist about their ability to make this transition."
The source of concern is a surge in lending by Chinese banks. The lending was initially encouraged by the government during the 2008 global financial crisis to fuel growth. Big state-owned banks financed construction of homes, railroads and office towers. But much of the lending was directed by local officials for pet projects rather than to meet business needs.
On Monday, the International Monetary Fund issued a warning about China's private debt. It released a report citing "rising vulnerabilities" in China's financial system, including lending outside traditional banks. Lending by that "shadow" banking system now equals one-quarter of China's economy, the report said.
Stowaway boy's refugee mom says son has 'strong affections' for her, seeks reunion
SHEDDER REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia (AP) -- The Somali woman lives in a stick hut covered by ragged blankets in this dusty refugee camp. It was here that her 15-year-old son wanted to travel on a perilous journey as a stowaway on a plane from California.
Ubah Mohammed Abdule hasn't seen her boy -- who was hospitalized in Hawaii after landing there last week in the wheel well of a jetliner -- for eight long years.
Clutching her black-and-white head covering, she wept Sunday as she stood before the flimsy shelter holding her meager possessions and spoke about her son, Yahya Abdi.
She was alarmed, she said, by the dangerous journey the teenager undertook. Those who stow away in plane wheel wells have little chance of surviving, and many who attempt it are Africans desperate for a better life in Europe or America.
Abdi had been unhappy in California and desperately missed his mother, according to those who know his family. So on April 20, he hopped a fence at San Jose International Airport and climbed into the wheel well of a jetliner bound for Hawaii. Somehow he survived the 5½-hour trip over the Pacific, despite extreme cold and low oxygen levels. He has not spoken publicly about the ordeal.
Education rising as issue among 2016 GOP class; standards now a metaphor for government reach
CHICAGO (AP) -- Raising U.S. educational expectations through national goals was a priority for Republican President George W. Bush. But many of his would-be successors in the GOP are calling for just the opposite of government-set rules, and it's splitting the party as the GOP class of 2016 presidential hopefuls takes shape.
Just six years after Bush left office, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last week referred to a set of state-created standards, called Common Core, as a national "curriculum that originates out of Washington." That kind of statement stokes outrage among grass-roots conservatives, who are still incensed with the Obama administration over the 2010 health care law.
It also happens to be untrue: Forty-four states voluntarily participate in Common Core standards developed in part by Republican governors. And some other potential GOP presidential candidates support the standards and are objecting to the red-meat rhetoric designed to fire up the party's most fervent supporters.
"We cannot expect our children to compete with the best in the world when we have no standards or dumbed-down standards," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the former president's brother, said at an education conference in Arizona last week.
In the meantime, education is rising as a GOP priority, if only as a proxy for a larger internal party debate over government's proper scope.
Not the first time: Clippers owner Donald Sterling has a lengthy history of trouble
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Donald Sterling has been known to heckle his own team from the center-court seat where he has sat for decades, whether with his now-estranged wife or women young enough to be his granddaughters.
Former Los Angeles Clippers say the owner would barge into the locker room to berate players, offer awkward praise or -- according to testimony in a lawsuit filed by his fired general manager -- tell guests to check out his players' "beautiful black bodies."
The NBA's longest-tenured owner is among the least successful in basketball history. He has watched the Clippers became a profitable punch line, compiling the worst record in North American pro sports during his first quarter-century in charge.
He has fired loyal coaches, waged court battles with long-serving executives and publicly seethed when players didn't want to stay with the team.
And that's only what Sterling does when the world can see him.