Families of Uvalde school shooting victims are suing Texas state police over botched response

Victim families sue police

The families of 19 of the victims in the Uvalde elementary school shooting in Texas on Wednesday announced a $500 million federal lawsuit against nearly 100 state police officers who were part of the botched law enforcement response to one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

The families said they also agreed to a $2 million settlement with the city, under which city leaders promised higher standards and better training for local police.

The announcement in Uvalde came two days before the two-year anniversary of the massacre. Nineteen fourth-graders and two teachers were killed on May 24, 2022, when a teenage gunman burst into their classroom at Robb Elementary School and began shooting.

The lawsuit, seeking at least $500 million in damages, is the latest of several seeking accountability for the law enforcement response. More than 370 federal, state and local officers converged on the scene, but they waited more than 70 minutes before confronting the shooter.

It is the first lawsuit to be filed after a 600-page Justice Department report was released in January that catalogued “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership and technology problems that day.

The lawsuit notes that state troopers did not follow their active shooter training or confront the shooter, even as the students and teachers inside were following their own lockdown protocols of turning off lights, locking doors and staying silent.

“The protocols trap teachers and students inside, leaving them fully reliant on law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively,” the families and their attorneys said in a statement.

Terrified students inside the classroom called 911 as agonized parents begged officers — some of whom could hear shots being fired while they stood in a hallway — to go in. A tactical team of officers eventually went into the classroom and killed the shooter.

“Law enforcement’s inaction that day was a complete and absolute betrayal of these families and the sons, daughters and mothers they lost,” said Erin Rogiers, one of the attorneys for the families. “TXDPS had the resources, training and firepower to respond appropriately, and they ignored all of it and failed on every level. These families have not only the right but also the responsibility to demand justice.”

A criminal investigation into the police response by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell’s office is ongoing. A grand jury was summoned this year, and some law enforcement officials have already been called to testify.

The latest lawsuit against 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officials and troopers also names the Uvalde School District, former Robb Elementary Principal Mandy Gutierrez and former Uvalde schools police Chief Peter Arredondo as defendants. The state police response was second only to U.S. Border Patrol, which had nearly 150 agents respond.

The list of DPS officials named as defendants includes two troopers who were fired, another who left the agency and several more whom the agency said it investigated. The highest ranking DPS official among the defendants is South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon.

The Texas DPS did not respond to efforts by The Associated Press seeking comment Wednesday.

The plaintiffs are the families of 17 children killed and two more who were wounded. A separate lawsuit filed by different plaintiffs in December 2022 against local and state police, the city, and other school and law enforcement, seeks at least $27 billion and class-action status for survivors. And at least two other lawsuits have been filed against Georgia-based gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, which made the AR-style rifle used by the gunman.

The families said the settlement with the city was capped at $2 million because they didn’t want to bankrupt the city where they still live. The settlement will be paid from the city’s insurance coverage.

“The last thing they want to do was inflict financial hardship on their friend and neighbors in this community. Their friends and neighbors didn’t let them down,” Josh Koskoff, one of the attorneys for the families, said during a news conference in Uvalde on Wednesday.

The city of Uvalde released a statement saying the settlement would bring “healing and restoration” to the community.

“We will forever be grateful to the victims’ families for working with us over the past year to cultivate an environment of community-wide healing that honors the lives and memories of those we tragically lost. May 24th is our community’s greatest tragedy,” the city said.

But Javier Cazares, the father of slain 9-year-old Jackie Cazares, noted that the announcement — which was made in the same Uvalde Civic Center where the families gathered to be told their children were dead or wounded — was sparsely attended.

“On the way over here, I saw the sticker, which I see everywhere, ‘Uvalde Strong.’ If that was the case, this room should be filled, and then some. Show your support. It's been an unbearable two years. ... No amount of money is worth the lives of our children. Justice and accountability has always been my main concern.”

Under the settlement, the city agreed to a new “fitness for duty” standard and enhanced training for Uvalde police officers. It also establishes May 24 as an annual day of remembrance, a permanent memorial in the city plaza, and support for mental health services for the families and the greater Uvalde area.

The police response to the mass shooting has been criticized and scrutinized by state and federal authorities. A 600-page Justice Department report in January catalogued “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership and technology problems that day,

Another report commissioned by the city also noted rippling missteps by law enforcement but defended the actions of local police, which sparked anger from victims’ families.

“For two long years, we have languished in pain and without any accountability from the law enforcement agencies and officers who allowed our families to be destroyed that day,” Veronica Luevanos, whose daughter Jailah and nephew Jayce were killed, said Wednesday. “This settlement reflects a first good faith effort, particularly by the City of Uvalde, to begin rebuilding trust in the systems that failed to protect us.”


Mexico's drought, heatwave and water shortage are so bad even police are blocking traffic in protest

Drought strangles Mexico

Mexico’s drought, heatwave and water shortages have gotten so bad that even police blocked traffic in protest Wednesday.

In recent months, residents of some Mexico City neighborhoods have regularly taken to forming human chains to block boulevards to demand water. In April, complaints about contaminated water sparked a weeks-long crisis in one upscale neighborhood.

Normally, police seek to redirect traffic, but on Wednesday some officers were themselves manning a protest blockade, near the capital’s iconic Independence Monument.

The officers stood blocking six lanes of traffic, saying their barracks hadn’t had water for a week, and that the bathrooms were unusable.

“We don't have water in the bathrooms,” said one female officer who would not give her name for fear of reprisals, adding that conditions in the barracks were intolerable. “They make us sleep on the floor,” she said.

The lack of water has worsened longstanding tensions between police officers and their supervisors over issues like sexual harassment and unfair working conditions.

“The bosses have water in their offices, but we're not allowed to go in there,” said the female officer. “They don't give us solutions. Today they brought in a water truck, after they saw the news media show up.”

In the midst of record temperatures and a severe drought, many buildings in the capital have to get water brought in by tanker trucks, but they have been in short supply and are expensive.

About 85 percent of the country was expected to see highs of at least 104 degrees (40 Celsius) Wednesday, with about a third of the country reaching 113 degrees (45 Celsius) or more.

Almost 40% of the country's dams are below 20% of capacity, and another 40% are between 20 and 50% full. Mexico City has been forced to reduce water supplies because the reservoirs that feed the city are drying up. Some stores are running of mineral water.

Nationwide, authorities have had to truck in water for everything from hospitals to fire-fighting teams. Low levels at hydroelectric dams have contributed to power blackouts in some parts of the country.

Consumers are feeling the heat as well. On Monday, the nationwide chain of OXXO convenience stores — the nation’s largest — said it was limiting purchases of ice to just two or three bags per customer in some places.

Meanwhile, the heatwave has been so bad that in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, howler monkeys are falling from the trees due to apparent heat stroke.

At least 138 of the midsize primates, who are known for their roaring vocal calls, were found dead in Tabasco since May 16, according to the Biodiversity Conservation of The Usumacinta group.

Lara Trump is taking the reins and reshaping the RNC in her father-in-law’s image

Lara Trump taking the reins

The direction of the Republican National Committee is clear from the last name of its new second-in-command: Trump.

“My No. 1 goal is making sure that Donald Trump is the 47th president,” said Lara Trump, the RNC co-chair, in an Associated Press interview.

It’s one more step in solidifying Trump's hold over the Republican Party. The daughter-in-law of the former president has wasted no time in rebranding the typically staid committee in Trump’s image, embracing her own version of his pugilistic politics and brash management style in ways that affirm his sway over the Republican establishment.

The RNC has fired dozens of longtime staffers and sought alliances with election deniers, conspiracy theorists and alt-right advocates the party had previously kept at arm’s length. Lara Trump, who is married to Trump's third child, Eric, has been an outspoken defender of the former president and has not hesitated to blast his foes, promising four years of “scorched earth” political retribution if he wins the election.

She has led a steep increase in fundraising, a particularly acute need for Trump's election bid because his political fundraising operations have spent tens of millions of dollars in legal fees to defend him in criminal and civil cases.

Trump supporters say Lara Trump is breathing new life into the party, and say her charisma and dogged work ethic make her an ideal choice to serve as its champion.

But her installation has raised concerns among some Republicans who say the RNC is being run in ways that could harm its mandate to help all its candidates up and down the ballot. By prioritizing the presidential campaign, they said, the RNC might not be able to dedicate the necessary resources to assist other office seekers.

“It kind of suggests an expectation of complete, unabashed and, perhaps, a blind loyalty to the candidate,” said Marc Racicot, a former RNC chair who served as Montana's governor for eight years.

Acknowledging that she is confronting a “big, big learning curve,” Lara Trump told the AP she has the background to succeed, having worked on both of Trump's previous presidential campaigns.

“You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has had as much political experience as I have in any campaign right now, and that’s kind of unique to be able to say," she said.

She is also aware that, as a Trump, she makes a particularly tempting political target.

“Certainly," she said, “I am in the crosshairs for a lot of people given this position.”


Lara Trump became co-chair in March, culminating efforts by Trump and his allies to shake up the RNC, the party’s governing body.

Trump and other members of his “Make America Great Again” movement had grown disenchanted with the RNC’s leadership, blaming the organization for the party’s lackluster performances in 2018, 2020 and 2022. They were also concerned about the RNC’s financial position.

They succeeded in replacing its chair of eight years, Ronna McDaniel, with Michael Whatley, a fervent Trump supporter and leader of North Carolina’s GOP. Lara Trump, a fellow North Carolinian, was tapped to be Whatley’s No. 2. The chair runs the party’s day-to-day operations. The co-chair, meanwhile, generally focuses on raising money and boosting morale.

As they took the reins, Lara Trump and Whatley promised to enact sweeping changes. And they did: They merged the GOP and the Trump campaign into a single operation.

Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told the AP the strategy was essential to ensuring Republican victories in November.

“By joining the two organizations together, we are all rolling in the same direction to get President Trump elected, as well as to increase the majority of the House and the Senate," he said.

Lara Trump said party and campaign staff are “all part of organizing the ground game, working on day-to-day operations.”

She appears to have already helped turn around the committee’s anemic fundraising operation. Republicans say she is a sought-after speaker on the fundraising circuit and has helped excite donors.

Whatley, the RNC’s chair, told the AP that Lara Trump was among the party’s “most important assets.”

“My friend Lara has the ability to raise money, inspire our grassroots and deliver our message extremely effectively,” he said.

The RNC brought in $76 million in April and $65.6 million in March — up from just $10.6 million in February. The increase also reflects changes in donation limits after Trump, in March, became the party’s presumptive nominee. The Democratic National Committee raised far less in April, $51 million, down from $72 million in March.

The RNC’s ability to pump money into the election could prove critical to Trump’s chances because he needs money. The former president is facing dozens of federal and state criminal charges over his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election and retention of classified documents. He is currently on trial in New York, accused of making hush money payments to bury allegations of extramarital affairs. His political action committee, Save America, presidential campaign and other fundraising organizations have spent at least $76.7 million on legal fees over the past two years.

The donation button on the RNC webpage redirects to Trump’s campaign site, where 90% of every donation goes to his reelection efforts and the remaining 10% goes to other committee business.

The RNC is “a very big fundraising arm,” said Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver. “He’s trying to get donors to help cover his legal fees, pay for his lawyers, pay for some of the fines he owes.”

The Trump campaign says money donated to the RNC will not be directed toward Trump’s legal defense.


Party insiders and former RNC staffers, including those swept out in recent months, say the committee is lagging in building a county-by-county operation that helps turn out the vote. Former staffers said they worry the RNC is focusing too much on Trump's race, putting down-ballot candidates in a tough spot.

Lara Trump brushed off such critiques, saying the restructuring will ensure the RNC is supporting candidates in state and local races.

“It would be very silly of me to assume that only having the presidency would be able to achieve the goals of the Republican Party,” she said. “Obviously, that requires majorities in Congress, and that’s our goal.”

To help bolster turnout, she is embracing conservative groups that espouse fringe beliefs.

She speaks highly of Scott Presler, an election denier who chaired the group Gays For Trump and who described the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol as “the largest civil rights protest in American history.” Lara Trump calls him a “grassroots hero,” and said in March that she hoped to hire him to help run the RNC’s “legal ballot harvesting” initiative, but later said the RNC would partner with his group, Early Vote Action, instead.

Another organization she said she wants to collaborate with is led by Charlie Kirk, a right-wing student organizer who leads Turning Point USA. Kirk has questioned whether Black pilots are qualified to fly and derided gymnast Simone Biles after she withdrew from the 2020 Olympics. His group has raised roughly a quarter-billion dollars since 2016 — enriching Kirk — but has generally struggled to help Republicans win elections.

“No prior political candidate has inspired grassroots supporters to start their own groups and initiatives like Donald J. Trump and it’s why we have seen great expansion in the Republican Party," Lara Trump said, adding the RNC would work with groups run by Presler, Kirk and others “in whatever way we legally can.”


She is also hoping to encourage Republicans to adopt an election tactic that Trump and many of his allies view with suspicion: mail-in voting. The former president has long criticized the voting method as being rife with fraud — an unfounded assertion. Sizable contingents of voters rely on this method, and Lara Trump sees value in making it as easy as possible for Trump supporters to cast their ballots.

She said she supported a nationwide policy of not counting any ballots after Election Day but declined to go into specifics, adding it wasn’t her area of “expertise.”

That strategy is illegal. States set their own election laws, and many rely on postmarks to determine if a vote was cast in time. That’s because it can take days — even weeks — for ballots cast on or before Election Day to arrive in the mail.

Stephen Richer, a Republican who runs elections in Maricopa County, Arizona, said under state law every legal ballot must be counted. He also said Lara Trump’s policy would have hurt Trump in 2020: He had an edge over Biden in ballots that were tabulated after Election Day.

“That’s not the law as we understand it and as it has been practiced for many, many, many, many elections in Arizona,” he said.

Lara Trump is no stranger to controversy over counting ballots. In 2020, as the results of the presidential election rolled in, the Trump campaign fired off frantic fundraising missives to supporters, claiming they were victims of fraud and the election was being stolen.

In one email, Lara Trump told supporters the campaign will just “keep fighting.”

Two months later, Lara Trump was onstage with the then-president and his family at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot.

Richer said voter fraud and voter suppression are at an all-time low, and questioned the motivations for the Trumps’ insistence that the vote count had been rigged.

“Which is worse, a person who really believes some of these things or the person who knows it’s all nonsensical and goes along with it anyways?" he said. “I’m not sure.”


Lara Trump is not the first presidential relative to be tapped to help lead the RNC. Maureen Reagan, daughter of then-President Ronald Reagan, was named co-chair in 1987 amid nepotism concerns.

But unlike Maureen Reagan, who kept her head down and spent her time attending party meetings and staying out of the headlines, Lara Trump has embraced her more public role. A communications major at North Carolina State University, she had dreamed of becoming a sportscaster, and dabbled in modeling before working as a producer on a TV news show.

She married Eric Trump in 2014 at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s estate and club in Florida.

Lara Trump has focused on reaching Trump voters through appearances on Fox News, smaller conservative outlets and podcasts, including her own. Such appearances have not always gone smoothly and some of her starkest rhetoric — while appealing to Trump supporters — could alienate moderate Republicans whose votes will count in November.

She was recently lambasted on social media and by a late-night comic for a gaffe during an appearance on Newsmax, a conservative cable channel, in which she asserted the RNC had filed lawsuits in “81 states.”

The RNC co-chair was also roasted after releasing a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down," and Democrats in March used artificial intelligence to create a parody track after she released an original song, “Anything is Possible.”

“Oh Lara, Lara,” the AI voice croons, “what have you done, the party’s fallin’ down, it’s no longer fun.”


Lara Trump is painting a startling picture of what a second Trump term might look like.

At a conservative conference last month, she said Trump would punish his political enemies if he retakes the White House. It will be, she said, “four years of scorched earth," referencing the wartime strategy of destroying everything that could help an enemy, including food and water.

Such stark language has been known to backfire, said John J. Pitney, a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.

“It fires up the Trumpist base, but it doesn’t sound so good to that sliver of moderate voters that Trump is going to need,” he said.

Supporters described Lara Trump as loyal, a staunch conservative committed to her family. She's a mother of two, a fitness buff and a fierce advocate for rescue dogs.

“I’m a kind-hearted person,” she said. “I continue to maintain values with which I was raised.”

But online, on television and on her podcast she sometimes uses aggressive and incendiary language, including describing political foes as “deranged” and “lunatics.”

When asked about her tone, Lara Trump laughed.

“Obviously some of it is a bit of showmanship for sure,” she said. “I have a fun time.”


Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy takes a 7.7% stake in BuzzFeed

Vivek buys BuzzFeed stake

Former Republican presidential candidate and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has purchased a minority stake in BuzzFeed, the digital publishing company that shut down its media outlet last year.

Shares of the company skyrocketed higher Wednesday.

Ramaswamy acquired a 7.7% stake in BuzzFeed, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Tuesday.

Ramaswamy said in the filing that he believes BuzzFeed's stock is undervalued. He is looking to speak with the company's board and management.

BuzzFeed has struggled to prop up sales since it went public in 2021. In late 2022 job cuts began rolling out with the company citing a poor digital advertising environment, then early last year announced that it was shutting down its Pulitzer Prize winning digital media outlet BuzzFeed News.

The corporate parent’s co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staff at the time that in addition to the news division, layoffs would take place in its business, content, tech and administrative teams.

Earlier this month, BuzzFeed reported a first-quarter loss of $35.7 million, or 72 cents per share, on revenue of $44.8 million. Advertising revenue fell 22%, while content revenue declined 19% and the company is projecting a worsening revenue situation.

Ramaswamy suspended his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in January and endorsed former President Donald Trump after finishing a distant fourth in Iowa’s leadoff caucuses.

The son of Indian immigrants, Ramaswamy entered politics at the highest level after making hundreds of millions of dollars at the intersection of hedge funds and pharmaceutical research, a career he charted and built while graduating from Harvard University and then Yale Law School.

Shares of BuzzFeed Inc., based in New York City, rose 22% to about $3.05 early Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Sunak sets July 4 election date as his Conservatives face likely defeat

U.K. sets July 4 election

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday set July 4 as the date for a national election that will determine who governs the U.K., as his divided and demoralized Conservative Party looks likely to lose power after 14 years.

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future,” Sunak said in an announcement that took many people who expected a fall election by surprise. He chose a good day of economic news, hoping to remind wavering voters of one relative success of his time in office.

But Sunak was drenched by heavy rain outside the prime minister's residence, and his announcement was nearly drowned out by protesters blasting “Things Can Only Get Better,” a rival Labour campaign song from the Tony Blair era.

Sunak’s center-right party has seen its support dwindle steadily. It has struggled to overcome a series of crises including an economic slump, ethics scandals and a revolving door of leaders in the past two years.

The center-left Labour Party is strongly favored to defeat Sunak’s party. Labour leader Keir Starmer said his party would bring stability.

“Together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country,” Starmer said.

Bookies and pollsters rank Sunak as a long shot to stay in power. But he said he would “fight for every vote.”

Sunak stressed his credentials as the leader who saved millions of jobs with support payments during the COVID-19 pandemic and got the economy under control. He said the election would be about “how and who you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future.”

The election will be held against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis and deep divisions over how to deal with migrants and asylum seekers making risky English Channel crossings from Europe.

The announcement came the same day official figures showed inflation in the U.K. had fallen sharply to 2.3%, its lowest level in nearly three years on the back of big declines in domestic bills.

The drop in April marks the greatest progress to date on five pledges Sunak made in January 2023, including halving inflation, which had climbed to above 11% at the end of 2022. Sunak hailed the new figure as evidence his plan was working.

“Today marks a major moment for the economy, with inflation back to normal,” Sunak said Wednesday ahead of the election announcement. “Brighter days are ahead, but only if we stick to the plan to improve economic security and opportunity for everyone.”

Voters across the United Kingdom will choose all 650 members of the House of Commons for a term of up to five years. The party that commands a majority in the Commons, either alone or in coalition, will form the next government and its leader will be prime minister.

Starmer, a former chief prosecutor for England and Wales, is the current favorite. The party’s momentum has built since it dealt the Conservatives heavy losses in local elections earlier this month.

The Conservatives have also lost a series of special elections for seats in Parliament this year, and two of its lawmakers recently defected to Labour.

Following on his party’s successes in the local elections, Starmer, 61, last week announced a platform focused on economic stability after years of soaring inflation as he tries to win over disillusioned voters.

He also pledged to improve border security, recruit more teachers and police and reduce lengthy waiting lists at hospitals and doctors? clinics across the country.

Elections in the U.K. have to be held no more than five years apart, but the prime minister can choose the timing within that period. Sunak, 44, had until December to call an election. The last one was in December 2019.

Many political analysts had anticipated that a fall election would give Conservatives a better chance of maintaining power. That’s because economic conditions may improve further, voters could feel the effect of recent tax cuts, interest rates may come down and a controversial plan to deport some asylum-seekers to Rwanda — a key policy for Sunak — could take flight.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said some voters might give Sunak credit for gambling on an early election because it makes him look strong and bold rather than weak and indecisive. But he said voters care about the fundamentals.

“And those fundamentals don’t look particularly good for the prime minister,” Bale said. “The economy, whatever he says, is still fairly weak. Growth is fairly anemic. Inflation has come down, but it’s still there ... (and) public services are in trouble.”

Sunak had been noncommittal about the election date, repeatedly saying — as late as lunchtime on Wednesday — that he expected it would be in the second half of the year.

Although inflation has fallen, Sunak’s other promises — to grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists to see a doctor at the state-run National Health Service and stop the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel — have seen less success.

He has struggled after entering office following the disastrous tenure of Liz Truss, who lasted only 49 days after her economic policies rocked financial markets. Truss had been chosen by party members after Boris Johnson was ousted over a series of ethics scandals.

Tornado kills multiple people in Iowa as powerful storms again tear through Midwest

Town destroyed by twister

Multiple people were killed when a tornado tore through a small town in Iowa and left a wide swath of obliterated homes and crumpled cars, while the howling winds also twisted and toppled wind turbines.

After devastating Greenfield, a town of 2,000, on Tuesday the storms moved eastward to pummel parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers in the two states.

Greenfield's hospital was among the buildings that were damaged in the town, which meant that at least a dozen people who were hurt had to be taken to facilities elsewhere, according to Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla.

“Sadly we can confirm that there have been fatalities,” Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night, without specifying how many. “We’re still counting at this time.”

He said he thought they had accounted for all of the town’s residents but that searches would continue if anyone was reported missing. The Adair County Health System said in a Facebook post Tuesday night that it had set up a triage center at the Greenfield high school and that people who need medical attention should go there.

The tornado destroyed much of Greenfield, which is located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines, during a day that saw multiple tornadoes, giant hail and heavy rain in several states. The National Weather Service said it received 23 tornado reports Tuesday, with most in Iowa, and one each in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In Wisconsin, the weather service’s Green Bay office dispatched a staffer Wednesday morning to survey storm damage near the village of Unity in western Marathon County after law enforcement received a report from the public about a tornado on the ground about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in that community about 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Eau Claire, said meteorologist Roy Eckberg. He said staffers would also be visiting Outagamie County near the city of Kaukauna, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Green Bay, to investigate significant wind damage there.

Eckberg said high winds were reported Tuesday night across parts of central Wisconsin, with a wind gust of 70 mph (113 kilometers per hour) in the city of Marshfield and with wind damage also reported to the northwest in the city of Wausau.

Weather service staff would also be assessing storm damage Wednesday in southeastern Minnesota after radar indicated that a tornado touched down Tuesday night in Winona County, said Kate Abbott, a meteorologist with the agency’s La Crosse, Wisconsin, office.

“With that one we did have a radar confirmed tornado, but we’re going out and survey there to make sure the damage is consistent with a tornado,” she said.

Authorities announced a mandatory curfew for Greenfield and said they would only allow residents to enter the town until Wednesday morning. They also ordered media representatives to leave the city Tuesday night.

In the aftermath of the storm, mounds of broken wood from homes, branches, car parts and other debris littered lots where homes once stood. Some trees still standing were stripped of their limbs and leaves. Residents helped each other salvage furniture and other belongings that were strewn in every direction.

Rogue Paxton said he sheltered in the basement of his home when the storm moved through. He told WOI-TV he thought the house was lost but said his family got lucky.

“But everyone else is not so much, like my brother Cody, his house just got wiped,” Paxton said. “Then you see all these people out here helping each other. ... Everything’s going to be fine because we have each other, but it’s just going to be really, really rough. It is a mess."

A tornado also apparently took down several 250-foot (76-meter) wind turbines in southwest Iowa. Some of the turbines caught fire, sending plumes of smoke into the air. Wind farms are built to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and other powerful winds.

Mary Long, the owner of Long’s Market in downtown Greenfield, said she rode out the storm at her business in the community’s historic town square, which largely escaped damage. Long said there appeared to be widespread damage on the east and south sides of town.

“I could hear this roaring, like the proverbial freight train, and then it was just done,” she said.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. ahead of the storm.

“I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road,” she said of the tornado.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she planned to visit Greenfield on Wednesday morning.

“It was just a few weeks ago that tornadoes hit several other Iowa communities, and it’s hard to believe that it’s happened again,” she said in a statement. “Iowans are strong and resilient, and we will get through this together.”

Iowa had braced for severe weather after the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. The storms and tornado warnings moved into Wisconsin on Tuesday evening and night.

Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters rescuing people from vehicles.

In Illinois, dust storms led authorities to shut down stretches of two interstates due to low visibility.

The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma.

Another round of storms Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska and saw the city of Yuma, Colorado, blanketed in hail the size of baseballs and golf balls, turning streets into rivers of water and ice.

In Texas, deadly storms hit the Houston area last week, killing at least eight people. Those storms last Thursday knocked out power to hundreds of thousands for days, leaving many in the dark and without air conditioning during hot and humid weather. Hurricane-force winds reduced businesses and other structures to debris and shattered glass in downtown skyscrapers.

Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the weather service, said the system is expected to turn south Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.


Anonymous gifts are common. But a climate group says a $10 million gift it got is an all-out mystery

$10M anonymous gift

On a Friday morning in April, Dan Stein, the founder of Giving Green, a climate philanthropy organization, found some big news in a surprising email. An anonymous donor had given his fund $10 million.

“I didn’t quite process the number of zeroes,” Stein said, adding he was “tickled, awestruck, surprised” by the gift.

Giving Green collects donations and disperses them to a handful of nonprofits that it believes have the potential to make a significant difference in preventing climate change and reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. The $10 million donation is by far the largest single gift the nonprofit has ever received and it essentially fell out of the sky without warning.

The mystery gift went to Giving Green's fund, which is housed at Giving What We Can, an organization inspired by effective altruism that asks people from all over the world to pledge to give away a percentage of their income or their wealth each year. The donor is anonymous with the gift coming from a donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable.

“At first, they also were nervous that it was a mistake, and they went back to Fidelity to verify it before they told us,” Stein said of Giving What We Can.

Looking back at their records and speaking with organizations they recommend, Stein and his team think the same donor may actually have given as much as $17 million more directly to those organizations in the last two years. Because the gifts are anonymous, it's impossible to confirm, but Stein says the timing of the gifts, which came in two clusters, suggests they could have come from the same person or organization.

Fidelity Charitable said it does not comment on specific grants or donors.

Anonymous donations — even large ones — are not unusual, but such gifts are generally the work of behind-the-scenes relationship building, said Tory Martin, director of communications and strategic partnerships at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

“Most of the time, if you’re getting millions of dollars, stewardship has happened. Cultivation has happened,” she said.

In general, giving anonymously is often perceived as the highest form of giving, with a donor deflecting attention from themselves, Martin said, adding the donor thinks “I’m doing this out of a sense of creating a better community and simply saying that this money should go towards other uses rather than sitting in my pocket or my bank account.”

But for any individual nonprofit, receiving an anonymous gift can present reputational risks if eventually the donor is discovered to be controversial.

Stein has no good leads on the mystery donor's identity, though he doubts it is a corporation trying to greenwash donations since it wouldn't get any public credit for the gift. He sees the donations as evidence that there are donors who want to give to climate change but don't know where to donate. Providing highly researched recommendations is the reason he started Giving Green.

One recommended organization, Industrious Labs, advocates for decarbonizing heavy industries like aluminum and steel. Evan Gillespie, a partner at the organization, said those industries are often wrongly thought to be the hardest to abate. Giving Green reached out directly to them for what turned out to be a long vetting process that ended with Giving Green recommending them two years in a row.

“You have to make this leap of faith that, ‘Okay, we’re going to open up our most private thoughts about how this is going to work,'” Gillespie said. He credits Giving Green’s recommendation with providing a couple of million dollars in funding to them, which crucially is unrestricted.

On its website, Giving Green explains why they decided to recommend donating to Industrious Labs and its other partners and include detailed information about their campaigns, theory of change and future plans. Giving Green says its methodology is inspired by the tenets of effective altruism, a philanthropic social movement that grew out philosophy departments in the United Kingdom in the 2010s.

Proponents say they seek to maximize the good they can do in the world and give to what they calculate are the most effective charities and interventions. Some powerful and wealthy donors, especially from the technology sector, have embraced effective altruism and poured funding into areas like mitigating the potential worst impacts of artificial intelligence, preparing for pandemics, global health and animal rights.

Many effective altruists also pledge to give away a portion of their incomes while others have argued for the morality of earning as much money as possible in order to give it away.

“We think that the climate problem is an incredible generational issue and we think that we, as a society, should be doing things to stop it,” Stein said. “And that one thing that people can do is make donations, and that they should be trying to make those donations in an effective way.”

Charitable giving to climate change related issues has increased in recent years, though research from the nonprofit ClimateWorks shows it still remains a small portion of overall giving. ClimateWorks tracked $3.7 billion in philanthropic giving from foundations in 2022 to support reducing the impacts of climate change or adapting to those effects. Major gifts by individuals likely represent another $4.2 billion to $9 billion in 2022, though it is more difficult to track, ClimateWorks reported.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy argues more funding should go directly to communities most impacted by the effects of climate change now, rather than to thinktanks or national environmental organizations. They also warn that investing in technologies that will take years to develop are “false solutions.”

“What movement groups have been saying is ‘System change, not climate change.’ And often when you’re looking at things that are cost effective, you are still thinking through things in an extractive mindset. Like trying to protect your bottom line. Save your funds for a rainy day. Only give as much as needed,” said Senowa Mize-Fox, the movement engagement manager for climate justice at NCRP. “Ultimately, what we always say is, the rainy day is here. The rainy day has been here. The climate crisis is happening right now.”

Stein said Giving Green intends to disperse the vast majority of the $10 million gift as soon as possible, with much of it going to the organizations they recommend. They'll also direct smaller amounts to new organizations or programs within organizations that they support but aren't ready to include in their top recommendations.

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Norway, Ireland and Spain say they will recognize a Palestinian state, deepening Israel's isolation

Backing for Palestinian state

Norway, Ireland and Spain said Wednesday they would recognize a Palestinian state, a historic but largely symbolic move that further deepens Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas in Gaza. Israel immediately denounced the decisions and recalled its ambassadors to the three countries.

Palestinians welcomed the announcements as an affirmation of their decades-long quest for statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — territories Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

While some 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the United Nations — recognize a Palestinian state, Wednesday's cascade of announcements could build momentum at a time when even close allies of Israel have piled on criticism for its conduct in Gaza.

It was the second blow to Israel's international reputation this week after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister. The International Court of Justice is also considering allegations of genocide that Israel has strenuously denied.

Israel recalled its ambassadors to the three countries and summoned their envoys, accusing the Europeans of rewarding the militant Hamas group for its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the European ambassadors would watch grisly video footage of the attack.

In that assault, Hamas-led militants stormed across the border, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage. The ICC prosecutor is also seeking arrest warrants for three Hamas leaders. Israel's ensuing offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

“History will remember that Spain, Norway, and Ireland decided to award a gold medal to Hamas murderers and rapists,” Katz said.

In response to the announcements in Europe, Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir paid a provocative visit Wednesday to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — a flashpoint in Jerusalem that is sacred to Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. The move that could escalate tensions across the region.

“We will not even allow a statement about a Palestinian state,” he said.

Netanyahu’s government opposes Palestinian statehood and says the conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations, which last collapsed over 15 years ago.

The international community has long viewed the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as the only realistic way to resolve the conflict, and in past weeks several European Union countries have indicated they plan to recognize a Palestinian state to further those efforts.

In contrast, the United States and Britain, among others, have backed the idea of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel but say it should come as part of a negotiated settlement.

The formal recognition by Norway, Spain and Ireland — which all have a record of friendly ties with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, while long advocating for a Palestinian state — is planned for May 28.

Their announcements came in swift succession. Norway, which helped broker the Oslo accords that kicked off the peace process in the 1990s, was the first to announce its decision, with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre saying “there cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

The country plans to upgrade its representative office in the West Bank to an embassy.

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris called it an “historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine,” saying the announcements had been coordinated and that other countries might join.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced his country's decision before parliament, has spent months touring European and Middle Eastern countries to garner support for recognition and a cease-fire in Gaza.

“This recognition is not against anyone, it is not against the Israeli people,” Sánchez said. “It is an act in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.”

President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, welcomed the decisions and called on other nations to “recognize our legitimate rights and support the struggle of our people for liberation and independence.”

Hamas, which Western countries and Israel view as a terrorist group, does not recognize Israel's existence but has indicated it might agree to a state on the 1967 lines, at least on an interim basis. Israel says any Palestinian state would be at risk of being taken over by Hamas, posing a threat to its security.

The announcements are unlikely to have any impact on the war in Gaza — or the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem and considers it part of its capital, and in the occupied West Bank it has built scores of Jewish settlements that are now home to over 500,000 Israelis. The settlers have Israeli citizenship, while the 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank live under seemingly open-ended Israeli military rule.

Netanyahu has said Israel will maintain security control of Gaza even after any defeat of Hamas, and the war is still raging there. An Israeli airstrike early Wednesday killed 10 people, including four women and four children, who had been displaced and were sheltering in central Gaza, according to hospital authorities.

Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said “recognition is a tangible step towards a viable political track leading to Palestinian self-determination.”

But in order for it to have an impact, he said, it must come with “tangible steps to counter Israel’s annexation and settlement of Palestinian territory – such as banning settlement products and financial services.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide defended the importance of the move in an interview with The Associated Press, saying that while the country has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state for decades, it knew that recognition is “a card that you can play once.”

“We used to think that recognition would come at the end of a process," he said. "Now we have realized that recognition should come as an impetus, as a strengthening of a process.”


Family says Alaska photographer killed in moose attack knew the risks, died doing what he loved

Moose kills photographer

The family of an Alaska man fatally attacked by an enraged moose trying to protect her newborn twin calves said he was a nature photographer who knew the risks of taking photos in the wild and died doing what he loved.

Even though there have been some calls for the moose to be killed, Dale Chorman's family does not want the moose put down because she was only protecting her calves.

Chorman, 70, and a friend were attempting to find the moose and calves to photograph them Sunday when the moose came charging out of the brush, said Chorman’s friend, Tom Kizzia, a Homer, Alaska, author and journalist.

“They both turned to run, and the friend looked back and saw Dale lying on the ground with the moose standing over him,” Kizzia told The Associated Press by phone.

“There was no evident trampling, and they didn’t see any signs of trauma later when they recovered his body,” he said. “I think the medical examiner’s going to try to figure out exactly what happened, whether it was just single blow in the terrible wrong place or something.”

The friend sought help, and by the time medics arrived, Kizzia said the moose had faded back into the woods.

Chorman’s son, Nate Spence-Chorman, posted on social media that Dale was “a loving husband to Dianne, a great father to me and (as you know) a fantastic friend to many.”

The fatal attack occurred on Chorman’s 3-acre (1.2-hectare) property just east of Homer, where every spring moose give birth in a dense scrub forest of alder and elderberry.

Chorman was a builder and carpenter by trade, but also loved being around wildlife. He was a naturalist, an avid birder and a wildlife guide who loved sharing his photos.

“This was not a hapless fool stumbling into danger — this was a person who went out looking for a great photo, knowing the risks, and got caught in a dangerous moment,” his son wrote.

The moose should not be killed, Spence-Chorman wrote. “The ungulate mother need not die. She was just protecting her offspring.”

Even though the death was tragic, Spence-Chorman said his father would have accepted this outcome.

“The truth is, he died doing what he loved,” he wrote.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game normally receives reports of aggressive or unusual moose behavior, said Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor in the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“In this case, we’re obviously very concerned about public safety,” she said.

“If there was an animal that was behaving in a way that continued to present a public safety threat, then we could possibly put that animal down but we’re not specifically pursuing that course,” she said.

Wardlow encouraged everyone, including the many summer tourists just beginning to arrive in Alaska, to be aware of wildlife and their surroundings.

In the case of moose, the largest in the deer family, small adult females can weigh up to 800 pounds (360 kilograms) with males twice that. They can also stand up to 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) at the shoulder.

It's estimated there are up to 200,000 moose in Alaska.

This is the second fatal moose attack in Alaska in the last three decades.

In 1995, a moose stomped a 71-year-old man to death when he was trying to enter a building on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Witnesses said students had been throwing snowballs and harassing the moose and its calf for hours, and the animals were agitated when the man tried to walk past them.

Dale Chorman grew up in Painesville, Ohio, but hitchhiked to Alaska in the 1980s, his son said in an email to the AP. He was well-traveled, spending time across the Americas, Europe, Asia and visited Antarctica.

He met his wife, Dianne, when she came to Alaska to view bears and he was guiding at a nearby river lodge.

Chorman's professional guiding work was primarily focused on brown bear photography, but he was passionate about all wildlife, especially birds, his son said. He could identify many species of birds by their calls alone and sometimes taught “birding by ear” classes in Homer.

Homer is located on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, about 220 miles (355 kilometers) south of Anchorage.

Biden, Trump win Kentucky primaries as presidential nominating season nears its end

Biden, Trump win primaries

President Joe Biden and his Republican rival, Donald Trump, piled up more delegates Tuesday as both presumptive nominees won primaries in Kentucky.

Voters in Oregon also had their chance to weigh in. The symbolic decisions provide a few more delegates to the national conventions and a gut check on where the Democratic and Republican bases stand toward their standard-bearers as the presidential nominating season nears its end.

Even after they secured the nominations and their rivals dropped out, Biden and Trump have continued facing dissent from within their own parties. Biden has faced protest votes over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war while Trump is still seeing thousands of people voting for long-vanquished rival Nikki Haley.

That trend continued Tuesday in Kentucky with about 18% of the Democratic vote going to “uncommitted” with roughly 80% of the vote counted. In the GOP race, Haley was winning about 6%.

After Tuesday, eight presidential nominating contests will remain: Democrats in Idaho, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands, and both parties in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Voters in Kentucky, Oregon, Georgia and Idaho also held state primaries Tuesday to choose nominees for the U.S. House and other contests. And in California's Central Valley, voters will select a Republican to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Republicans Vince Fong and Mike Boudreaux face off in the special runoff election to finish McCarthy's term, and will have a rematch in November for the next full two-year term.

In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the prosecution of Trump in a 2020 election interference case, defeated challenger Christian Wise Smith in the Democratic primary. The judge in the case, Scott McAfee, also won his election.

In Oregon’s Multnomah County, home to Portland, the progressive district attorney who took office during the social justice movement of 2020 is being challenged by a candidate vowing to be tough on crime.

Thailand welcomes home trafficked 1,000-year-old statues returned by New York's Metropolitan Museum

Statues welcomed home

Thailand's National Museum hosted a welcome-home ceremony Tuesday for two ancient statues that were illegally trafficked from Thailand by a British collector of antiquities and were returned from the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The objects — a tall bronze figure called the Standing Shiva or Golden Boy and a smaller sculpture called Kneeling Female — are thought to be around 1,000 years old.

This most recent repatriation of artwork comes as many museums in the U.S. and Europe reckon with collections that contain objects looted from Asia, Africa and other places during centuries of colonialism or in times of upheaval.

The Metropolitan Museum had announced last December that it would return more than a dozen artifacts to Thailand and Cambodia after they were linked to the late Douglas Latchford, an art dealer and collector accused of running a huge antiquities trafficking network out of Southeast Asia.

He was indicted in the United States in 2019 for allegedly orchestrating a long-running scheme to sell looted Cambodian antiquities on the international art market. Latchford, who died the following year, had denied any involvement in smuggling.

Speaking at Tuesday's ceremony, the Metropolitan’s curator of Asian and Southeast Asian art, John Guy, called the returned works “unrivalled masterpieces“ of their period and said the handover was “a very meaningful moment to recognize the importance of the art of Thailand in world culture.”

“The Met initiated the return of these two objects after reviewing information and established that the works rightly belonged to the Kingdom of Thailand,” he said.

“This return followed the launch of the Metropolitan’s Cultural Property Initiative last year, an initiative driven by the Met’s commitment to the responsible collecting of antiquities and to the shared stewardship of the world’s cultural heritage,” Guy told his audience in Bangkok.

Thai Culture Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol expressed her country’s gratitude for the return of the items.

"These artifacts that Thailand has received from the Met are the national assets of all Thais,” she said.

Last month, the Metropolitan Museum signed a memorandum of understanding in New York with Thailand “formalizing a shared commitment to collaborate on exchanges of art, expertise, and the display and study of Thai art.”

The statement also explained that the museum had recently tackled the controversial issue of cultural property and how it was obtained.

It said its measures include “a focused review of works in the collection; hiring provenance researchers to join the many researchers and curators already doing this work at the Museum; further engaging staff and trustees; and using The Met’s platform to support and contribute to public discourse on this topic.”

Multiple deaths confirmed from a tornado in Iowa, state patrol says

Multiple deaths in tornado

The Iowa State Patrol has confirmed multiple deaths from a tornado and at least a dozen injuries in storms Tuesday, but it has not released specific numbers.

“We do have confirmed fatalities,” Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night. He said authorities were still determining the total number.

Powerful storms that rolled through the Midwest spun up multiple tornadoes, including a fierce twister that smashed through the small Iowa town of Greenfield, with a population of about 2,000 around 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines. The twister carved a bleak landscape of destroyed homes and businesses, shredded trees, smashed cars and widely strewn debris.

In the aftermath of the storm, parts of Greenfield appeared devastated. Mounds of broken wood, branches, car parts and other debris littered lots where homes once stood. Cars lay busted and bent while damaged houses sat skewed against the gray and overcast sky. Trees stood — barely — bereft of branches or leaves. Residents helped each other salvage furniture and other belongings from mounds of debris or from homes barely left standing.

Rogue Paxton said he sheltered in the basement of his home when the storm moved through. He told WOI-TV he thought the house was lost but said his family got lucky.

“But everyone else is not so much, like my brother Cody, his house just got wiped,” Paxton said. “Then you see all these people out here helping each other. ... Everything’s going to be fine because we have each other, but it’s just going to be really, really rough. It is a mess."

Multiple tornadoes were reported throughout the state, and one also apparently took down several 250-foot (76 meters) wind turbines. Des Moines, Iowa, television station KCCI-TV showed at least three wind turbines that were toppled by an apparent tornado in southwest Iowa, and at least one was in flames with black smoke pluming from the bent structure.

Wind farms are built to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and other powerful winds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turbines are designed to shut off when winds exceed certain thresholds, typically around 55 mph (88.5 kph). They also lock and feather their blades, and turn into the wind, to minimize the strain.

The Adair County Health System hospital in Greenfield was damaged in the storm, but Mercy One spokesman Todd Mizener said he had no further details. The hospital is affiliated with Mercy One, and officials were on their way to Greenfield to assess the damage.

The town bills itself as “the friendly wave as you walk” type of place with tree-lined streets — before the storm — and “the crack of the fireworks or twinkle of the lights” on special holidays. Also touting itself as the “perfect place to grow,” Greenfield prides itself on being a town where business owners know your name and neighbors help neighbors, according to its visitors page.

Mary Long, the owner of Long’s Market in downtown Greenfield, said she rode out the storm at her business in the community’s historic town square, which largely escaped damage. Long said there appeared to be widespread damage on the east and south sides of town.

“I could hear this roaring, like the proverbial freight train, and then it was just done,” she said.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. ahead of the storm. She emerged from her home to describe widespread damage and scattered debris.

“There’s a pretty significant roof damage to several houses that I know will need whole new roofs," she said. "And I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road.”

In far southwestern Iowa, video posted to social media showed a tornado just northwest of Red Oak. Further east and north, the National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings for areas near the towns of Griswold, Corning, Fontanelle and Guthrie Center, among others.

Iowa was already braced for severe weather after the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. Des Moines public schools ended classes two hours early and canceled all evening activities ahead of the storms.

The storms and tornado warnings moved into Wisconsin Tuesday evening and night, including a warning for the state's capital city of Madison.

Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to weather sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters arriving to rescue people from vehicles.

In Illinois, dust storms forced authorities to shut down stretches of two interstates due to low visibility. Winds gusts of between 35 mph (56 kph) and 45 mph (74 kph) hit the McLean area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Schaffer.

“There is no visibility at times,” state police posted on the social media platform X.

The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma.

Another round of storms Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska and saw the city of Yuma, Colorado, blanketed in hail the size of baseballs and golf balls, turning streets into rivers of water and ice. Front-end loaders were used to move half-foot deep (1.83 meters deep) hail Tuesday.

Last week, deadly storms hit the Houston area in Texas, killing at least eight people. Those storms Thursday knocked out power to hundreds of thousands for days, leaving those Texans in the dark and without air conditioning during hot and humid weather. The total of deaths was raised Tuesday from seven to include a man who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after his power went out. Hurricane-force winds reduced businesses and other structures to debris and shattered glass in downtown skyscrapers.

Tuesday's storms were expected to bring much of the same high winds, heavy rain and large hail to Minnesota and part of northern Missouri, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.

He said the system is expected to turn south on Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.

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