A massive tornado swept through the Oklahoma City area Monday afternoon, leaving ruin in its path.
Moore Medical Center, which stood directly in the tornado's path, was devastated. But the workers, patients and their families in the hospital escaped.
Nick Stremble, a registered nurse and manager at the hospital, told Shots Tuesday what he saw.
"My ER is destroyed," he said. "My department was at the Moore Medical Center. I mean it's wiped out. The building is roped off so we're not doing anything there."
About 250 or 300 people were inside as the storm approached. The staff was able to direct everyone to designated zones located in the center of the hospital.
"[We] were able to move everbody to a safe location ... [and] get everybody where they needed to go and kind of hunkered down," Stremble said.
Stremble was doing a final sweep of the floors when he saw the storm heading for the hospital:
"I could see the debris in the air, and there was no mistaking it was going to be hitting the hospital. It was just right in front of me, so I ran downstairs to the safe zone and let everybody know they needed to hunker down. You could hear the noise picking up and wind kind of picking up and howling. And you can start to feel pressure on the doors, so I kind of braced the door with my back, trying to keep the door closed."
Stremble saw a door near him get sucked open and then he prepared himself as things deteriorated:
"My door got [blown] inward and I got pinned between the door and the wall. ... I was facing down the hall, and I could see all the folks being hit with the wind that was coming through the building, and the people that were kind of along the wall just kind of starting to tumble and roll and be pushed down the hall. And they all kind of ended up in a pile, down in front of another set of doors."
He said it's tough to comprehend the damage. "You can't recognize your landmarks — everything is just flat. It's disorienting to look around and not know where the streets should be."
The staff at Moore Medical Center staff is now working at other branches of the Norman Regional Health System and preparing for the possibility of more storms and more patients.
When it became clear that the conditions over Moore, Okla. were ripe for a huge tornado, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put its GOES-13 satellite into high gear.
Instead of imaging the earth every 30 minutes, it was doing it every 5 minutes. The images it beamed back are stunning. Here's a time-lapse video that NOAA put together and released today:
NOAA says that their GOES-15, which sits over the Western U.S. and Pacific, was taking pictures at 1-minute intervals. Here are images from that satellite:
A controversial petition by the dairy industry to allow milk sweetened with aspartame or other alternative sweeteners to be labeled on the front of the carton simply as MILK is drawing criticism from the nation's leading group of nutritionists.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is urging the FDA to reject the petition, which we first told you about in March.
"The Academy's recommendation to deny the petition is not based on the safety of artificial sweeteners," writes Ethan Bergman, the group's president, in a release explaining its opposition.
So what's the academy's rationale? Well, as we previously reported, the petition is aimed at boosting consumption in schools, where many kids have decided that milk is not their drink of choice. Given the options of water, juice or milk, milk is losing out.
Studies show that offering flavored milk such as chocolate or strawberry turns more kids onto milk, but critics have pointed to the extra sugar as a drawback.
In an effort to get around the sugar problem, the dairy industry has petitioned to change what's known as the standard of identity of milk, which is basically the definition of milk, allowing aspartame or alternatives such as stevia to be used to sweeten the milk.
So what's the academy's beef with the petition? Well it goes back to the assertion that the dairy industry makes in its petition that the change (allowing no or low-calories sweeteners in milk) could promote healthful eating and help reduce childhood obesity.
Not necessarily, says the academy.
"Flavored milk is not a major source of added sugar in children's diets," says Bergman.
The academy points to studies, including this one, that show that school-aged kids who drink flavored (chocolate and strawberry) milk meet more of their nutrient needs, don't consume more added sugar, fat or calories. These kids are also "similar in weight compared to non-milk drinkers," according to a statement released by the academy. In other words, there's no need to try to cut sugar and calories with artificial sweeteners.
And there's criticism among consumers, too.
A petition by the group Sum Of Us, which says the goal of the petition is to "turn the wholesome drink (milk) into another artificial flavor-laden sweet snack," has received about 117,000 signatures.
It was the Senate's turn Tuesday to grill the Internal Revenue Service, or more accurately, former agency officials, about its handling of the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.
Unlike last week, when House lawmakers got to beat up only on Steve Miller, until recently the IRS' acting director whose "resignation" President Obama reported at a hastily called appearance before news cameras last week, this time Miller was joined by Douglas Shulman, the former commissioner who left that post in November. They were joined by J. Russell George, a Treasury Department inspector general whose recent report on the politically charged practices sparked outrage on the right and left.
From the start, a few things were readily apparent. Senators from both parties weren't buying the men's version of events, that they only found out about the by now notorious practices of the Cincinnati office relatively late.
Sen. Max Baucus, the Senate Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, started the interrogation.
Baucus asked Shulman: "What happened in Cincinnati? What — how'd that — what conditions caused that?"
To which Shulman, whose time leading the IRS from 2008 to 2012 fully encompassed the period when the problems occurred, said: "Mr. Chairman, I can't say — I can't say that I know that answer. I'm six months out of office..."
Baucus wasn't letting Shulman off that easily. "Well... you've got some sense of the office. You were a commissioner for a good number of years. You've got some idea. You've thought about this."
Shulman insisted that he's been away from the agency since late last year, so he was clueless.
"Well, I'm kind of disappointed, frankly," Baucus said. "Because you've got — you've had time to think about this, and you certainly have more thoughts than that."
At one point, a Senate committee staffer who might have earned for himself a moment on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, could be seen behind a senator, visibly shaking his head in disbelief.
Senate Republicans were no less frustrated than Baucus. They pressed Shulman and Miller on how it was, exactly, that at the same time the GOP senators in the spring of 2012 were asking the men to address allegations by Tea Party groups that the IRS was targeting them for political reasons, the men denied knowledge of the dubious practices.
Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the IRS post, got no quarter from Senate Republicans who showed varying degrees of unhappiness, from the grandfatherly disappointment of Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to the prosecutorial chilliness of Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina.
Hatch spoke for many of his colleagues when he asked Shulman how it was that, after the then-IRS commissioner learned of the controversial targeting in May 2012 — even that there was a "be on the lookout" for list, or a BOLO — just weeks he told senators the IRS was doing no such thing, Shulman never followed up with a revision.
HATCH:"But you knew this was going on and you had represented that it was not going on, and then you found out that it was going on, and you never came to us and let us know what was going on."
Shulman, a lawyer, gave a very lawyerly response:
SHULMAN:"I certainly don't believe and I don't have any memory of representing that this — that the BOLO list was not going on at a time that I knew it was going on."
While Senate Democrats shared their Republican colleagues' outrage, like House Democrats and President Obama they said the scandal proves that Congress should clarify the law that now permits organizations with 501 (c) (4) tax-exempt status to conduct political activities. Leaving it up to the IRS to decide just how much political activity is permissible is partly the reason the scandal happened in the first place, Democrats argue.
As at most hearings like Tuesday's spectacle, part of the political show was about the senators wanting the disgraced witnesses to demonstrate adequate levels of contrition. For much of the hearing, the lawmakers seemed disappointed with what they were getting.
Eventually, they wrangled something resembling contrition from Shulman.
SHULMAN:"I certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it. And what I know, with the full facts that are out, is from the inspector general's report, which doesn't say that I'm responsible for that. With that said, this happened on my watch. And I very much regret that it happened on my watch."
Close but no cigar, said Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.
CORNYN: "Well, I don't think that qualifies an apology. It qualifies as an expression of regret, which I think is well-deserved..."
When I found out that one of my cousins — now 88 — had hidden from the Nazis in Amsterdam, just like Anne Frank, it was a revelation. It made me want to know more about my cousin's life and story.
"I like to analyze what happens and to put it in writing; that gives you neatness in your head, and that is what I'm after," says my cousin, retired Judge Suzanne Hoogendijk. She was 87 at the time, and was talking about why she loved being a judge. But delving into her personal past was another matter.
About three years before that, I was sitting in a lovely house on the Brouwersgracht Canal in Amsterdam with Suzanne, her three children, their husbands and wives, and a whole bunch of grandchildren, 16 of us in all. We were about to eat take-out Chinese food, which people do in Holland just like they do here in the States.
Being visiting tourists, my husband, son and I had just come from Anne Frank's house. At the mention of that, this matriarch of the family said: "You know, they make such a big thing about Anne Frank, such a big thing; but you know hiding, it was boring."
I'm shocked into silence for a moment. I had no idea. It took me several years to return to Holland to sit down with my cousin, a recorder in hand. I start with that moment, years ago, right before the Chinese food arrived.
"I never talk about it because it is boring," she says. "You only feared that you were discovered, and it is not worthwhile to talk about it. Everybody writes about it; everybody knows [Anne] Frank, so why should I add to those stories?"
She doesn't want to discuss it. In the one page she has written about it, she describes it as nothingness:
I turned myself off. Your single prescription for survival was to make yourself invisible and mute.
She really doesn't want to say more. "You think, 'They took away five years of my life; I am not spending one minute more on that period.' That is why I don't want to talk about it. I have lost enough time on the Germans."
While her last name is Hoogendijk, her maiden name is Deutsch. She laughs and says, "I married only to lose that name!" I ask, "Because it means German? "Yes," she replies.
Gradually, I learn a few more things: She lived in three or four different places while underground, and she was 17 when she hid, a couple of years older than Anne Frank. She was 20 when she emerged. She lived for two years with her mother in a room that was 2-by-3 meters. She could never go out; her family's savings were spent on the black market for food; and her first boyfriend was executed. She has a photo of her class from the school she was forced to leave. "I am not in that picture," she says, "because I had to leave school like a Jewish child, which I didn't know that I was before."
She didn't really know she was Jewish since she grew up totally assimilated in the Dutch world. That may seem surprising to some, but it's exactly how my father grew up in Austria, celebrating Christmas, in a world with no Jewish resonance. When the war ended and she tried to resume her normal life in Amsterdam, she says she had a strong desire to belong to a community. "It is in nature that you want to belong. And I went to the Jewish Student Association — I didn't feel at home at all; they all knew each other; they knew each other's families; they were rich."
But she still felt a connection to Jewish people. She eventually reconnected with her best friend from the gentile school she had attended, but only after that friend married a Jewish man. "I feel an affinity with Jewish people," she adds, "but I don't belong to the circle of Jews."
On the family's recommendation, I visit Amsterdam's Resistance Museum, which documents Holland's opposition to the Nazis. There I learn that 25,000 Dutch Jews hid like Anne Frank, and two-thirds of them survived. I learn that 105,000 Jews were deported by the Germans, and all but 5,000 of them died in the camps. So hiding gave you a better chance.
When Suzanne looks back, she says it astonishes her that she found her way in life. "I am amazed because I was innocent — I knew nothing," she says.
She had few people to talk to, no one her age with whom to compare stories. She had had no sexual experiences. After the war was over, "I had a feeling of urge," she says. "I went to bed with the first boy who was acceptable because I thought, 'I have to catch up.' "
I wondered if that attitude of putting it all behind her allowed her to become a successful law professor and judge, with three successful children. I wondered if she had always had a certain resilience. Her answer was matter of fact: "I think it's in your personality."
And yet as she looks at her granddaughter, now about the same age Suzanne was when she was underground, "I try to think how I was at her age. I am at a loss — I was not free to be myself. I missed all those years of growing up, of being an adolescent."
Once she emerged, she studied and excelled and made a good life for herself in Amsterdam. "But that is the surface," she told me. "I don't know what I would have become otherwise. I cannot understand why I didn't get more angry, and I have a suspicion that the anger is hidden somewhere, but I don't know where."
She says she will never be a pacifist, since she welcomed the Canadian liberators with their guns.
Now 88, Suzanne is beginning to write some of her own personal history. I asked her what she knows now that she didn't know growing up.
"That's easy," she says. "I know now that you have to accept for instance your partner — that he is both things, good and bad, and not only morally good and bad. That you can't have everything, and you have to adapt at what you can get; and when you are young, you cannot accept that."
Perhaps it's this attitude that has allowed Suzanne Hoogendijk to end up with a lot.