Breaking the Bubble

Deadly tornados sweep across South

On Tuesday, the deadliest tornado outbreak in nearly 10 years ripped across the southern U.S., and is blamed for the deaths of over 50 people, a pipeline explosion in Tennessee and the destruction of homes from Alabama to Kentucky reported Bloomberg. These tornadoes prompted the first high-risk weather alert in February to be issued in nearly 10 years. These tornadoes were spawned from unseasonably warm temperatures.

The first tornadoes touched down in the late afternoon, killing 26 people in Tennessee, 13 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and four in Alabama, the Associated Press reported, citing emergency officials.President Bush is expected to visit the region on Friday, and spoke to the governors of the states that experienced the tornadoes and offered federal assistance.

Several large corporations experienced damage to their buildings. FedEx said that the storm peeled parts of the roof off their “superhub“ located in Memphis and the construction equipment maker, Caterpillar Inc, said a components factory was heavily damaged.

GOP Senators block addition to stimulus

On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate blocked a Democratic move to add $40 billion to an economic stimulus bill that will increase the money sent to the elderly, disabled veterans and the unemployed reported the Associated Press.

A vote to break a GOP filibuster fell one short of the required 60 votes at 58-41. The majority had 59 votes, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted “no“ at the last second in a move that would allow him to bring the measure up for a re-vote.

The Republican objected to $14.5 billion intended to extend unemployment benefits, $1 billion in heating aid for the poor and tax breaks for renewable energy producers and coal companies.

The original economic stimulus bill was a $161 million measure that would provide $600-1200 for most tax payers and tax breaks for investment in new plants and equipment.