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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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Mon January 20, 2014

U.N. Rescinds Offer For Iran To Take Part In Syrian Peace Talks

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the media during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Sunday.
Jason Szenes EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:06 am

This post was updated at 4:35 p.m. ET.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has withdrawn an invitation to Iran to participate in Syrian peace talks after groups opposing President Bashar Assad's regime threatened a boycott of the discussions if Tehran got a seat at the table.

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Higher Education
9:44 am
Mon January 20, 2014

New Oklahoma Website Shares Research

Credit SHAREOK

The libraries at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma have joined together to create a website that makes published research results easily accessible to the public.

The website includes digital dissertations, faculty publications and research, open-access publications and more.

The project is called SHAREOK and is an effort to make federally funded research results freely available to the public. The White House has called for greater transparency in scientific research projects.

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Tax Cuts
8:41 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Experts Disagree With Movement To Cut Oklahoma Income Taxes

Credit 401(K) 2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

Cutting income taxes. The state's been here before, and quite recently.

"The [Oklahoma] Supreme Court threw the legislature a lifeline by striking down 2032," said Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt at the organization's budget summit last week. 

As passed, House Bill 2032 would have cut the state income tax to 5 percent in 2015 and 4.85 percent after that. The state Supreme Court threw it out in December because it also provided money for capitol repairs.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Animal Welfare Groups Seek Clearer Chain Of Command After May Tornadoes

Credit Animal Resource Center

In the days and weeks following the May 20 tornado, an estimated 850 pets were lost and shuffled between individuals’ homes, triage clinics and shelters. Most of them were eventually reunited with their owners, but eight months later, nearly a third have been adopted by new families, since their original owners were never able to be found. 

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Shots - Health News
2:39 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Can Probiotics Help Soothe Colicky Babies?

You tried burping. You tried bouncing. You tried swaddling. Now what?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 2:53 pm

When Melissa Shenewa and her husband imagined their first weeks with their new baby, they pictured hours of cuddling. Instead, they're enduring hours of inconsolable crying.

Their 6-week-old son, Aladdin, is a colicky baby. He cries for hours, usually in the middle of the night. They've tried everything they could think of. Nothing helps.

"Being a parent when your child is screaming in pain for hours on end and there's nothing you can do, you feel helpless," says Shenewa, 24, who lives in Houston. "You feel like you're not a good parent."

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The Two-Way
5:16 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Obama: Marijuana Is Not 'More Dangerous Than Alcohol'

President Barack Obama.
Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 3:02 pm

The New Yorker has just dropped an extensive profile of President Obama by David Remnick, who wrote a major book on the president published in 2011.

It's nuanced and touches on issues like gay marriage and Israel and Palestine. But Obama also drops this bombshell about marijuana: "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

Obama goes on to add more nuance to the statement. Here's the context for the statement:

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The Salt
12:43 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Cooking With Conifers: An Evergreen Trick That's Newly Hip

Gabrielle Hamilton prepares pine needles at Prune Restaurant in New York City.
Julia Gillard

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 12:17 pm

If you still have your Christmas tree up in your living room because you just can't bear the thought of throwing out all that fine pine scent, then you may be an evergreen addict. If you still have it up because you're too lazy to take off the ornaments, then you may be a hoarder, but that's another post.

Fear not, conifer connoisseurs. You don't have to wait for the holidays to surround yourself with spruce. American chefs from coast to coast are using evergreens to develop unique flavors in dishes, from white fir and sorrel broth to pine needle vinegar to smoked mussels.

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Manager's Desk
6:00 am
Sun January 19, 2014

KGOU Students For Spring 2014

The main entrance to KGOU's operational area -- the doors through which our students will pass on their way to learning.
Credit Karen Holp and Laura Knoll/KGOU

Student participation in the life of KGOU kicked off last week.

In the Radio Practicum class, we have Becca Buckner, Jeremy Choat and Nick Masopust.  These three will be learning and completing a wide range of activities behind the scenes including writing, announcing and producing a range content for broadcast.

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Health
11:49 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Surgeon General Adds New Risks To Long List Of Smoking's Harms

John Hartigan, proprietor of Vapeology LA, a store selling electronic cigarettes and related items, takes a puff from an electronic cigarette in Los Angeles.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:39 pm

Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak is the latest in a long line of surgeons general who have tried to pound the final nails into the coffin of America's smoking habit.

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Could Cut State Revenue By $125 Million
6:19 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Bills Filed To Lower Personal Income Tax Rate

Credit 201(k) 2013 / Flickr.com

A group of House and Senate Republicans have introduced a plan to deeply slash Oklahoma's top personal income tax rate over the next four years.

Bills filed this week in the House and Senate would slash the rate from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent in January, with additional cuts of one quarter of 1 percent each year until the rate reaches 4 percent in 2018. Each quarter-percent cut costs the state about $125 million in revenue annually, but supporters say the cuts will ultimately lead to increased revenues.

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