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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Around the Nation
8:15 am
Sat January 25, 2014

String Of Oil Train Crashes Prompts Push For Safety Rules

A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment in Casselton, N.D., in December.
Bruce Crummy AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 6:29 pm

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for the swift enactment of tough new standards on trains carrying crude oil. And in an unprecedented move, the NTSB made its recommendations jointly with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

With the huge increase in oil shipped by train across North America, the agencies warn another major disaster could be looming.

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64% Of Oklahoma Remains In Drought
6:30 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Fallin Says Keep Up Water Conservation Practices

Credit duggar11 / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin says Oklahomans should implement water conservation practices as drought and dry conditions continue in the state.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 64 percent of Oklahoma remains in a drought. Those conditions will affect water availability throughout the state, particularly in southwestern Oklahoma where sustained, exceptionally dry conditions have led to record low lake levels along the Red River.

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Former Governor "Exploring All Options"
6:20 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

The Return Of Frank Keating?

Senate Chamber
Credit Marion Doss / Flickr.com

 A spokesman for the American Bankers Association says former Okla. Gov. Frank Keating is "exploring all options" with respect to a possible run at Oklahoma's open U.S. Senate seat.

Spokesman John Hall released a statement Friday indicating Keating will "make a decision soon." Keating is the president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based American Bankers Association. Hall said Keating was not available for comment.

The 69-year-old Republican served two terms as Oklahoma's governor from 1994 to 2002.

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BancFirst Of Oklahoma City Will Take Responsiblity
5:12 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

The Bank Of Union Closed

Credit Alina Sofia / Flickr.com

Regulators have closed a small lender in Oklahoma, the second U.S. bank failure of 2014 after 24 closures last year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it has taken over The Bank of Union. BancFirst, based in Oklahoma City, has agreed to assume Bank of Union's deposits and to buy $225.5 million of the failed bank's assets.

Bank of Union has one branch in Oklahoma City and another one about 30 miles away in El Reno, Okla. It had $331.4 million in assets and $328.8 million in deposits as of Sept. 30.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
4:07 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

West Virginia Chemical Spill Prompts Oklahoma Officials To Examine Storage Locations

Freedom Industries storage tanks along the Elk River in West Virginia.
Credit WVUMC / Flickr Creative Commons

The West Virginia chemical spill that left 300,000 residents without water has spurred Oklahoma environmental regulators to examine chemical storage locations.

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World Views
2:09 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

So Now What? Breaking Down The Syrian Peace Talks

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, flanked by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, gavels open the Geneva II conference in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22, 2014.
Credit U.S. Department of State / Flickr Creative Commons

A United Nations mediator announced Friday a Syrian government delegation and the Western-backed opposition will meet Saturday “in the same room.”

Joshua Landis, the author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says this week’s peace conference in Switzerland shows both sides understand there has to be a political solution.

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All Tech Considered
1:28 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

As Windows XP Fades Away, Will Its Users Stick With Microsoft?

A man walks past a Microsoft billboard featuring Windows XP in November 2001 in Beijing.
Kevin Lee Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 9:10 am

Windows XP may have been largely developed in a different millennium, but it's not going into retirement without a fight.

Even as Microsoft promotes Windows 8, its latest operating system, Windows XP is still the second-most used OS on nonmobile computers, according to Net Applications web analytics. Debuting in 2001, XP lasted through three new Microsoft operating systems and the growth of mobile technology.

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World Views
12:58 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Reports: Leader Offers Concessions In Kiev Crisis

Authorities respond to protesters at Independence Square in December 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Mass protest actions started after the president of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych refused the association agreement with the European Union.
Credit Sasha Maksymenko / Flickr Creative Commons

At least two protesters were killed this week in clashes with police, and protesters seized government offices in scores of cities in the pro-Western part of Ukraine. The two-month-long crisis turned violent after the passage of anti-dissent legislation.

“That obviously did not sit well with those that have been spending many cold nights out protesting,” says Rebecca Cruise, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies and an expert on international security and political participation. “These things often feed upon themselves. We hear stories of old men handing rocks to protesters that are then throwing them.”

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12:23 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Add Oklahoma To List Of Top Ten Senate Primaries

Lead in text: 
Ken Rudin, the "Political Junkie" formerly of NPR, writes in his weekly column Oklahoma's upcoming Senate race has all the makings of, once again, another Republican family feud between the conservative and the very conservative wing of the party.
Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, who wasn’t up until 2016, announced last week he would resign his seat at the end of this year. That immediately brought two-term Rep. James Lankford into the race … and hours later, hints from freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine that he’s going to run as well.
The Two-Way
11:44 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Ukraine Protests Spread, But 'Fragile Truce' Holds In Kiev

On Friday in Kiev, a woman knelt as she appealed to Ukranian police troops at the site of clashes with anti-government protesters.
Gleb Garanich Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 10:36 am

"Violent protests in Ukraine have spread beyond the capital, Kiev," the BBC writes, as President Viktor Yanukovych and three key opposition leaders meet.

On Friday, according to the BBC, "protesters stormed the governor's offices in Lviv, and there were rallies in at least five more western cities."

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