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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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:31 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Oklahoma House Speaker Wants To Make Horizontal Drilling Tax Break Permanent

A rig hand on a Triad Energy horizontal drilling operation near Alva, Okla. Company CEO Mike McDonald says he likely wouldn't have drilled the well with out a tax break Oklahoma's House Speaker has proposed making permanent.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon will author legislation to make permanent an oil and gas industry tax break for horizontal drilling.

The incentive lowers gross production taxes from 7 percent to 1 percent for the first 48 months of production, and was installed in the ’90s to encourage the then-experimental type of drilling. Now days, most oil and gas wells in Oklahoma are horizontally drilled, and critics say the incentives are unnecessary.

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The Two-Way
1:16 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Boeing Delivers Record Number Of Jetliners In 2013

A Boeing 787-9 lands after its first flight on September 17, 2013 at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. The aircraft maker delivered 65 of the new jetliners last year.
Stephen Brashear Getty Images

Boeing delivered a record 648 commercial jetliners last year, including 65 of its newest 787s and also had a record backlog of 5,080 unfulfilled orders.

The 2013 deliveries were expected to keep Boeing in the No. 1 slot for the second year, nudging out rival Airbus, which is expecting to report 620 deliveries.

"The Boeing team performed extremely well in 2013," CEO Ray Conner said.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:46 am
Mon January 6, 2014

How Train Accidents Involving Northern Plains Crude Affect Oklahoma’s Oil Industry

A series of explosive train accidents has renewed concern about the safety of transporting crude oil by rail, especially the type of crude extracted from the Northern Plains.

The most recent accident was the the fiery crash that occurred on Dec. 30 in North Dakota. No one was injured, but dramatic fireballs erupted when the train with more than 100 cars collided with another train carrying grain in the small town of Casselton.

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Oklahoma Deep Freeze
10:12 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Bitterly Cold Monday Morning Temperatures Across Oklahoma

Credit RiverRatt3 / Flickr Creative Commons

Dozens of schools across Oklahoma called off classes as bitterly cold sub-zero temperatures and wind chill indexes were reported.

The Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts - the state's two largest - are among those cancelling classes for Monday.

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning for Ottawa and Craig counties until noon Monday and a wind chill advisory for all but far southern and parts of southwestern Oklahoma.

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The Two-Way
9:07 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Nation Turns Blue As Temperatures Continue To Plunge

Alison Mueller skies to work through several inches of snow in Detroit as the area deals Monday with record-breaking freezing weather. Wind chill has driven temperatures in Michigan and much of the Midwest down to 50-70 degrees below zero.
Joshua Lott Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 4:55 pm

One weather map tells the story.

Check out the National Weather Service's map of the Lower 48 for Monday night. If you need to know just how much of the nation's going to be freezing (or well below!), it offers a bone-chilling picture. Anywhere in the blue-to-purple shades is going to be cold — and that's before accounting for wind chills.

What is the Weather Service forecasting?

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Business and Economy
8:03 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Tax Breaks Add Up For New Macy's Center Near Owasso

Gov. Mary Fallin at the Tulsa Regional Chamber to announce a $170 million Macy's fulfillment center in the Tulsa area - December 17, 2013.
Credit Gov. Mary Fallin / Facebook

Macy's Inc. could receive up to $21 million in tax breaks and incentives for its $170 million order fulfillment center to be built in Tulsa County.

The Tulsa World reports the largest of those tax breaks would come from Tulsa County, pending approval from county commissioners.

The commissioners recently agreed to pursue the creation of a Tax Incentive Finance District that would exempt Macy's from property taxes on new construction for four years at its planned site for the center.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
6:53 am
Mon January 6, 2014

'Timing Is Everything' For First Responder Mental Health During Disasters

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Orr
Credit Kate Carlton / KGOU/Oklahoma Tornado Project

For over a decade, Lieutenant Brian Orr of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has responded to disasters throughout the state, including both the 1999 and 2013 Moore tornadoes. He remembers each of them clearly.  

“It was very difficult to see things, and of course first arriving, hearing screams from people and just the total devastation,” Orr said.

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The Two-Way
2:19 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Kerry Appears To Signal Openness To Iran Role In Syria Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Brendan Smialowski AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 2:37 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has opened the door for Iran's participation in peace talks to end Syria's civil war.

The U.S. has long been opposed to an Iranian role in the so-called Geneva II talks later this month, but Kerry's comments in Jerusalem on Sunday may be the first sign that opposition is softening.

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Food
2:18 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014

Tea leaves will be big in entrees and desserts in 2014.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 11:44 am

At the beginning of every year, we read the tea leaves to see what new food trends we'll be tasting in the coming months. This year, the tea itself is the trend.

Tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and, of course, cocktails. Starbucks has opened its first tea shop.

We won't be just drinking tea; Artisan distilling keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local botanicals as well as the traditional juniper berry.

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The Two-Way
8:57 am
Sun January 5, 2014

New York Weighs Easing Limits On Marijuana Use

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Tim Roske AP

Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 3:03 pm

New York may join a group of states that have loosened restrictions on marijuana: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly considering allowing the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

The New York Times first reported the story. Here's more from the paper:

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