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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Education
9:27 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Study: Oklahoma Ranks High In Academic Standards, Low On Achievement

Credit Lexie Flickinger / Flickr

An annual report released Thursday by Education Week ranks Oklahoma high for its academic standards, but shows the state continues to underperform in student achievement and per pupil spending.

The Quality Counts report tracks key education indicators, including national exams, and grades the states on their performances and outcomes.

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Economy Adds Only 74,000 Jobs In December; Jobless Rate At 6.7 Percent

Sign of the times? A "help wanted" sign in the window of a Philadelphia business last year.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:08 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Yuki Noguchi and David Greene preview the jobs report
We'll be posting updates after the report's 8:30 a.m. ET release.

There were only 74,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls in December, but the unemployment rate fell to a 5-year low 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday morning.

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Oklahoma Watch
7:41 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Corrections Board Looks at Expanding Use of Private Prison Beds

Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections is looking at three options to deal with overcrowding at the state’s prison facilities: expanding public prisons, contracting for more private-prison beds, and buying or leasing one of the state’s two empty private prisons.

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Code Switch
5:35 am
Fri January 10, 2014

White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma

Chief Gregory Pyle (left) and Assistant Chief Gary Batton stand in front of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's Capitol building in Tuskahoma, Okla.
Larissa Copeland Courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 4:59 pm

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."

All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.

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Says Cuts Would Be Unsafe For Aviation
6:23 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Inhofe Wants Full Funding For Airport Towers

Credit momboleum / Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is pushing his Senate colleagues for full funding of a Federal Aviation Administration program that funds 149 contract towers at airports across the country.

Inhofe announced in a press release Thursday that he and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a subcommittee on transportation funding, urging them to fully fund the Contract Tower Program.

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More Flu Hospitalizations In Tulsa County
6:12 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Oklahoma Flu Statistics Released Today

Credit jpalinsad360 / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma Department of Health says five people have died from the flu so far in the state's flu season.

The Health Department posted the state's flu statistics on its website Thursday. In addition to the five deaths, the agency says 242 Oklahomans have been hospitalized with the flu since Oct. 1.

The Health Department says the flu deaths were recorded in Kay, Le Flore, Osage, Pittsburg and Tulsa counties. Two victims were between 18 and 49 years old and two were between 50 and 64. The other was 65 or older.

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All Tech Considered
1:55 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Government Tech Problems: Blame The People Or The Process?

HealthCare.gov's failures are prompting a closer look at the federal government's out-of-date technology.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:37 pm

Thanks to epic problems with HealthCare.gov's rollout, the federal government's out-of-date technology processes have received more attention than most of us could have expected. The main doorway for millions of Americans to get health insurance was unusable for two months, but that screw-up is just one in a long line of government IT failures.

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Code Switch
1:15 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

States May Recognize Same-Sex Marriages, But Navajo Nation Won't

The Navajo Nation prohibits marriage between persons of the same sex, and critics are now challenging that ban.
dbking/flickr

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 4:13 pm

The Navajo Nation has prohibited same-sex marriage since 2005, when the Diné Marriage Act was passed. Now, critics are challenging that ban.

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Business and Economy
12:48 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Criticizes OSHA Digital Reporting

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Department of Labor/ok.gov

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello testified Thursday before the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration  against a proposed federal regulation made by OSHA.

The proposal would require U.S. businesses to electronically submit workplace injury and illness reports to OSHA so the information could be posted online.

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Washington
11:38 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Oklahoma Senator Coburn Testifies About Government Waste

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday.
Credit U.S. House of Representatives / Library of Congress

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) testified Thursday morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He discussed his annual oversight report during the "Waste in Government: What's Being Done?" hearing chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

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