Social media in the wake of the Oklahoma tragedy

May 21, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching Tuesday:

1) A fierce tornado has torn through Moore, Okla., leaving dozens of people dead, and the death toll is expected to climb.

Rescue workers, as The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach reports, waited until sunlight Tuesday to continue their work. The tornado, estimated to be roughly a mile wide with winds up to 200 miles per hour, has been devastating. Survivors and other interested parties are taking to social media to help identify and find survivors. The Guardian reports that a Facebook page has been established where users are posting photos, and information about other debris found, in the hopes of reuniting the objects with the owners. Pictures and notes of missing loved ones are also being posted. The Red Cross, however, is maintaining its Safe and Well registry to assist loved ones in finding one another. Meanwhile a site has been established for lost pets. For the latest developments, our colleagues over at The Capital Weather Gang are maintaining live updates, covering news of the aftermath as it happens. President Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks regarding the tragedy at 10 a.m. Eastern Tuesday.

Also, even in the midst of the tragedy, we found one tale of hope. CBS News, while interviewing a survivor of the storm, was on hand when she discovered that her dog had also survived.

2) Apple CEO Tim Cook is going to Washington Tuesday to testify before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (you can watch it live here), with Cook appearing on the second panel of three. Other witnesses include specialists from Villanova and Harvard Universities as well as officials from the IRS and Treasury Department.

Cook is expected to address the findings of a Senate investigation released Monday addressing what the company does — and more importantly, does not — pay in taxes. As the Post’s Cecilia Kang reports, Apple managed to shield $74 billion from being taxed between 2009 and 2012, using subsidiaries established in Ireland.

“Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee. “It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.

While Apple’s practices are legal, the scale on which the company has operated has attracted the attention of lawmakers, and turned up the volume on calls for corporate tax reform. But cutting-edge innovation isn’t cheap, and Apple has said that it engages in the practice to remain competitive.

3) Speaking of Silicon Valley and the Hill, The New Republic’s Lydia DePillis has an interesting read on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s fundraising swing through Silicon Valley, where he has, she reports, amassed a “who’s who” list of Valley tech titans on his campaign filings:

“Their $3,800 checks won’t make the difference between a Christie win and a loss; the bulk of his $3.4 million war chest still comes from Jersey burgs like Morristown and Parsippany. But the personal endorsements could boost his appeal among the young and tech-savvy, as well as lay the foundation for a national run in 2016.”

More valuable than the insights into Christie’s fundraising is her advice for lawmakers on how to gain access to the Valley piggy bank.

4) Airbnb’s disruption of the hotel industry is bumping up against the law, CNET’s Donna Tam reports. A New York judge has ruled in favor of fining an Airbnb host for violating New York residency laws — laws that prohibit residents from renting out their property for a period less than 29 days. Airbnb stepped in on the host’s behalf in the case. As Tam writes:

“Airbnb stepped in at [host Nigel] Warren’s hearing on May 9 to argue that his case should be an exception to the New York law. Airbnb argued that “allowing such transient use supports the city’s desire to preserve living accommodations because it allows tenant the ability to bolster their income and pay rent.”

The argument essentially makes the case for how the sharing economy helps the traditional economy move along more smoothly. Do you buy it? Let us know in the comments.

5) And, yes, someone has realized Patton Oswalt’s detailed description of “Star Wars: Episode 7″:

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Emi Kolawole · May 20, 2013