Special Report: Auditing The Disaster Aid For 2013 Tornadoes And Storms

Federal public-assistance funds are paying for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers Elementary School, in which seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado. The school is expected to open next month.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

A Battle Of Words: School Shelter Hearing Goes To State Supreme Court

Take Shelter Oklahoma spent Fall 2013 gathering signatures for its initiative petition and State Question 767. The group fell short by more than 30,000.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

When the school shelter advocacy group Take Shelter Oklahoma formed several months ago, its goal was simple: to obtain enough signatures to get a $500 million bond issue on the ballot and use that money to build safe rooms in schools to protect kids from tornadoes. 

The group’s path has become a winding one, the most recent turn was at the State Supreme Court in a fight against Attorney General Scott Pruitt. 

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The Two-Way
1:48 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Get Ready For Yet Another Winter Storm

The National Weather Service calls for snow, ice or a "wintery mix" across much of the nation.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 8:44 pm

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. ET.

It already has an ominous-sounding name: Winter Storm Titan. And it has much of the nation's mid-section in its sights.

The storm is the same system that that caused flash-flooding in California on Saturday and is now heading the Midwest and the Deep South on Sunday, where it will dump snow, ice or some combination of the two over a large swath of the country, according to The Weather Channel.

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Assignment: Radio
12:00 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Assignment: Radio March 2, 2014

It’s the first episode of the Spring 2014 season for Assignment: Radio. This week theme “Best Of” shows off the best stories of the last semester of Assignment: Radio, Spring 2013. From traveling around the world to awkward first kisses this episode has something for everyone. 

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The Two-Way
9:13 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Is It Too Late For Ukraine To Take Back Crimea?

A Russian naval landing vessel enters one of the bays of Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sunday.
Andrew Lubimov AP

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 2:27 pm

This post was updated at 1:20 p.m. ET.

Russian forces appear to be digging in after seizing key assets in the Ukrainian republic of Crimea, and despite tough talk from Kiev's new leaders, the former Soviet satellite's under-manned and under-equipped military is no match for Moscow's battle-tested troops, experts say.

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The Two-Way
7:08 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Kerry Will Travel To Kiev Amid Escalating Crisis

Ukrainian military personnel stand guard in the Crimean port city of Feodosia on Sunday. Ukraine is mobilizing for war, calling up reserve troops.
Thomas Peter Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 7:12 pm

This post was updated at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who has described Moscow's military intervention in the Crimea an "incredible act of aggression," will travel to Ukraine's capital on Tuesday to meet with the country's embattled government.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday that Kerry "will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine's new government, leaders of the Rada [Ukraine's parliament], and members of the civil society."

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The Two-Way
8:16 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Russia's Parliament Approves Putin's Call For Troops In Ukraine

Young people look at pro-Russian armed men blocking access to the Ukrainian frontier guard base in Balaklava, a small city not far from Sevastopol, on Saturday.
Viktor Drachev AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 5:32 pm

This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.

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Indian Times
8:30 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Allan Houser Drawings Exhibition Fulfills His Dream

Credit Jackson Rushing

Allan Houser would have been 100 years old this year, and in recognition of this centennial, museums and institutions across Oklahoma are celebrating his work.

Jackson Rushing, the Eugene B. Adkins Presidential Professor of Art History at the University of Oklahoma, describes Houser as a “a distinguished painter and sculptor and draftsman, a Chiricahua Apache modern artist who many people would agree was one of the founding fathers of Native American modernism at mid-century.”

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Fight Broke Out Between Troopers And Suspect
6:17 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

OHP Troopers Cleared Of Wrongdoing In Arrest Of Hearing-Impaired Man

Credit peggydavis66 / Flickr.com

Three Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers have been cleared of wrongdoing after the arrest of a hearing-impaired man involved in a hit-and-run accident.

The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater cleared troopers Eric Foster, Kelton Hayes and Jason Owens.

Prater says statements made by the troopers concerning the arrest of Pearl Pearson Jr. matched Foster's dash cam video and witness statements.

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100-year-old building needs overhaul
4:16 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Letter Urges Legislators To Support Capitol Building Repairs

Credit Serge Melki / Flickr.com

A nine-member committee that oversees the long-term management of state buildings is urging the Legislature to support a bond issue of up to $160 million to repair the state Capitol.

The Long-Range Capitol Planning Commission voted Thursday to send a letter to lawmakers urging support of the bond issue.

The Senate already has passed a bill authorizing up to $160 million in bonds to pay for an overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old building. That measure is pending in the House, where conservatives have rejected the idea of borrowing money.

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World Views
2:35 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

SLIDESHOW: On The Road - Rio Ready? Brazil's Inequality Ahead Of World Cup, Olympics

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Suzette Grillot KGOU

Rio de Janeiro is known throughout the world for its Carnival celebration and an incredibly diverse and lively culture, but this vibrant image contrasts with striking examples of inequality.

University of Oklahoma anthropologist and International Studies professor Erika Robb Larkins says “the beauty of the contradiction of Brazil” is the coexistence of cultural vibrancy and the challenges facing segments of the population. Wealth neighbors poverty in close proximity throughout Rio de Janeiro.  

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