Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray Nagin was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been criticism that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.

So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood – who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be. 

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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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Robert Patton Is From Arizona
4:37 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

New Director For Oklahoma's Prison System

Credit geezaweezer / Flickr.com

Oklahoma's Board of Corrections has picked an official from Arizona as the Oklahoma prison system's new director.

The board voted Friday to hire Robert Patton, who runs the operations division in the Arizona prison system. Patton's salary was set at $160,000 annually.

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Elections
3:48 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Fallin Sets Election To Fill Coburn's Senate Seat

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Credit Tom Coburn / Facebook

Gov. Mary Fallin says the special election to fill U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's seat in the Senate will be held on the same dates as Oklahoma's primary and general elections in 2014.

Fallin said Friday the election dates will include a June 24 primary, a potential runoff election on Aug. 26, and a general election on Nov. 4.

Coburn already had said he wouldn't run after his term expired in 2016, but announced late Thursday that he planned to finish the current year in office and then step down.

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U.S. Senate
2:58 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Coburn Earns Praise From Obama, Oklahoma Colleagues

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced his retirement Thursday night after 9 years in the Senate. Coburn was also elected to the U.S. House in 1994.
Credit Medill DC / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama called U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) a personal friend who was willing to work in a bipartisan manner to fight wasteful spending and cut down on earmarks.

In a statement released by the White House on Friday, Obama noted that he and Coburn were both elected to the Senate in 2004 and quickly became friends after their wives struck up a conversation. Obama said the people of Oklahoma have been "well-served by this 'country doctor from Muskogee' over the past nine years."

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