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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Transportation
8:57 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Weight Limits Placed On Damaged Lexington-Purcell Bridge

The James C. Nance bridge connects Lexington and Purcell in Cleveland County.
Credit J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials have restricted the weight limit on a bridge in Cleveland County after discovering significant damage to the span.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says damage was discovered during an inspection Monday to the James C. Nance bridge over the Canadian River connecting Lexington to Purcell. The Norman Transcript reports that the weight limit was initially dropped to five tons, but officials increased it to 16 tons on Tuesday.

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Parallels
7:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

What's At Stake In The Syrian Peace Conference

A man runs with a child after an attack Tuesday in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Activists said President Bashar Assad's military carried out an airstrike.
Ammar Abdullah Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:34 am

With a major push from the U.S., a new Syrian peace conference opened Wednesday in Switzerland, the first such effort since the middle of 2012. It wasn't easy getting everyone there, and it will be harder still to achieve a breakthrough.

Here are a few key things to know about the conference:

1. What's the goal?

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Sees Lack Of Diversity In GOP
6:24 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Gay Paramedic Throws Hat In Ring For Senate Seat

Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr.com

A 31-year-old paramedic from Norman says he plans to seek the Republican nomination in the race for Oklahoma's open U.S. Senate seat.

Jason Weger, who is gay, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he's running in part because of a lack of diversity within the GOP.

A native of Valliant in southeast Oklahoma, Weger said he has never sought political office before. He describes himself as a "non-establishment" candidate who believes in individual freedom and a smaller government.

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Drought
3:38 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Frustrations And Rumors Bubble To The Surface As Lake Texoma Waters Retreat

Credit The Italian Voice / Flickr Creative Commons

Lake Texoma’s level was about 609 feetlast week, down from 612 feet two months ago. The lake can only be used for hydropower until levels drop to 590 feet.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Preventive Medical Care Can Come With Unexpected Costs

Insurers still charge copays for some contraceptives.
Laura Garca iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 3:42 pm

Preventive health care services are supposed to be covered under the Affordable Care Act so that people don't have to pay out of pocket to get recommended screening tests. But some people are discovering that these supposedly free services can be costly.

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Oklahoma News
2:18 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Hearing Delayed In Case Over Oklahoma Veterans' Deaths

Claremore Veterans Center
Credit ok.gov/odva / Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

The preliminary hearing has again been delayed for a former physician assistant charged in the deaths of two patients at the Claremore Veterans Center.

Kenneth Adams was due in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing, but the case has been delayed until March 11-12.

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U.S. House
1:29 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Iraq War Vet To Seek GOP Nod In Oklahoma 5th District

State Sen. Steve Russell, joined by fellow senators, voices his concerns with a hard cap tort reform bill - April 5, 2011.
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Senate

A retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in the Oklahoma state Senate is the latest Republican to join the race for the U.S. House seat being vacated by two-term Republican Rep. James Lankford.

Steve Russell told The Associated Press Tuesday that he's "definitely in" the race.

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Native American
12:49 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Osage Nation Chief Red Eagle Removed From Office

Former Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle.
Credit Provided / Osage Nation

The Osage Nation has been removed its Principal Chief from office.

The Tulsa World reports the Osage Nation Congress voted this morning to remove John Red Eagle after a trial sustained five of the six counts he was being tried on.

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U.S. House
11:10 am
Tue January 21, 2014

GOP Corporation Commissioner Enters U.S. House Race

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas served as Edmond's mayor from 2009-2011.
Credit Commissioner Patrice Douglas / Facebook

Republican Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas says she's running for the open U.S. House seat being vacated by two-term Rep. James Lankford.

Douglas says she's "thrilled with the opportunity" to run for the seat representing Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District. The 51-year-old said she wants to "take a business sense to Washington."

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The Two-Way
8:38 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Hunt Is On For At Least One 'Black Widow' In Sochi

Police in Sochi have distributed leaflets as they search for Ruzanna Ibragimova, an alleged "black widow" who may be intending to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics.
Natalya Vasilyeva AP

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 10:22 am

Is there already one or more "black widow" in or near Sochi, Russia, who might be determined to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics?

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow that Russian security forces are said to be looking for "Ruzanna Ibragimova, the 22-year-old widow of an Islamist militant who was killed by security forces."

He tells our Newscast Desk that according to Russian news outlets:

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