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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12:54 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

The Eight Best Things Oklahoma Towns Did In 2013

Lead in text: 
The University of Oklahoma's Institute for Quality Communities reviewed some of the best things that happened in Oklahoma’s towns in 2013, from big time music festivals to smartphone apps (H/t to "World Views" contributor Rebecca Cruise).
The Atlantic Cities recently shared 2013 highlights from cities around the country.
World Views
12:07 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Looking Ahead: Why 2014 Will Be A Huge Year For Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets Afghan President Hamid Karzai before a trilateral meeting with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani in Brussels, Belgium on April 24, 2013.
Credit U.S. Department of State / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Andrew Wilder, Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs at the United States Institute of Peace.

In April, voters in Afghanistan head to the polls to elect a successor to the term-limited President Hamid Karzai. The controversial-at-times leader is the only democratically-elected head of state the troubled country has known since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Andrew Wilder, the Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs at the United States Institute of Peace and a close observer of Afghanistan for nearly 30 years, says it’s very important April’s elections are credible, and produce a legitimate outcome.

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OU Football
8:55 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Oklahoma Expects Best From 'Bama In Sugar Bowl

Credit Sooner Sports / soonersports.com

Whatever Bob Stoops may have said about the overall strength of the Southeastern Conference, that apparently doesn't apply when it comes to the challenge he sees before 11th-ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

The Sooners' coach made that clear on the eve of Thursday night's matchup with No. 3 Alabama.

Stoops says Alabama, in his eyes, is "still the best team in the country."

Last spring, Stoops challenged the notion that the SEC — home of the last seven national champions — is the strongest league in the nation.

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The Two-Way
8:38 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Accident Or Not? Palestinian Diplomat's Death Is A Mystery

The scene outside the residence of Palestinian diplomat Jamal al-Jamal in Prague. An explosion there Wednesday killed the 56-year-old ambassador.
Filip Singer EPA/LANDOV

Was the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic killed by accident or are the circumstances of his death on Wednesday more nefarious?

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The Salt
8:37 am
Thu January 2, 2014

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

A dead carp floats in water near the shore at Big Creek State Park on Sept. 10 in Polk City, Iowa. Like many agricultural states, Iowa is working with the EPA to enforce clean-water regulations amid degradation from manure spills and farm-field runoff.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 9:27 am

It's a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

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Economic Forecast
8:19 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Oklahoma, Midwest Economic Outlook Optimistic

Credit Steve Wampler / Flickr.com

A monthly economic report suggests supply managers surveyed in nine Midwestern and Plains states are optimistic about the regional economy over the next six months.

The confidence index for the Mid-America Business Conditions Index jumped to 66.5 last month from 57.2 in November. However, the overall index rose just 2 points, to 53.2 from 51.2 in November.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says businesses tied to agriculture continue to report softer economic conditions.

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Thu January 2, 2014

VIDEO: Stranded Passengers Flown To Safety In Antarctic

Help arrives: an image from video taken as a helicopter landed Thursday on an ice floe in the Antarctic. The copter then carried passengers from a stranded ship to another vessel waiting nearby in open waters.
Intrepid Science

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 7:51 am

After more than a week aboard a ship stuck in ice off Antarctica, 52 scientists and paying passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy are either aboard or headed to an Australian icebreaker that will now take them to warmer waters.

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World Views
8:02 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Three Global Stories To Watch In 2014

A countdown to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia taken February 10, 2010.
Credit Roland Tanglao / Flickr Creative Commons

2013 brought change in the Vatican, thousands more deaths in Syria and millions more displaced as the civil war rages with no end in sight, and the death of iconic anti-apartheid statesman and former South African president Nelson Mandela. KGOU's World Views wraps up the year by looking ahead to 2014.

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Associated Press Picks
6:01 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Oklahoma's Top Ten Stories

Credit Prairie Thistle / Flickr.com

Associated Press members overwhelmingly picked the Moore tornado and other violent storms as the top story of 2013.

Coming in second was the slaying of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane in Duncan. Third was the conviction of two former lawmakers in a bribery case, and the custody battle over Baby Veronica is fourth.

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Will Benefit The Hungry
4:57 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Governor Makes Wager On Cotton Bowl, Will Pay With Food

Credit J Stephen Conn / Flickr.com

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon are placing a wager on the Oklahoma State-Missouri matchup in the Cotton Bowl and a food pantry in one of the two states will be the beneficiary.

Fallin announced in a news release Tuesday that she and Nixon are wagering food products from their home states that will be donated to a food mission in the winning team's home state.

Fallin graduated from OSU and Nixon graduated from Missouri.

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