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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Nine Murder Complaints
4:14 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Federal Agents Arrest Doctor, Seize Medical Records

Credit .v1ctor Casale / Flickr.com

Narcotics investigators have seized medical records from the office of a former Oklahoma City-based doctor who has been arrested on nine murder complaints after eight patients died of prescription drug overdoses and another allegedly caused a fatal traffic accident.

An affidavit for a search warrant filed Monday says the records were seized from the office of 71-year-old William Martin Valuck. Federal agents arrested Valuck Friday at his home in Kilgore, Texas.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Test Sites Chosen For Commercial Drone Testing

The Federal Aviation Administration's map showing the locations of the six "unmanned aircraft systems" test sites it has chosen.
FAA.gov

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:24 am

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday unveiled the names of the six applicants who have been granted the right to test the commercial uses of "unmanned aircraft systems" — drones.

The FAA's approvals were highly sought after because the test sites are expected to bring high-tech jobs and investments to the states where they're located. The six winners are:

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:12 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Why Oklahoma Drivers Will Pay 50 Cents More For CNG On Jan. 1

Credit Scott Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

People who drive natural gas powered vehicles aren’t used to pain at the pump, but a federal tax credit that expires at the end of 2013 will add at least 50 cents to the price of a gallon of compressed natural gas.

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The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Al-Qaida's Receipts: From 60-Cent Cake To A $6,800 Workshop

This receipt for groceries, which includes prices paid for tomatoes, onions, charcoal, meat and a light bulb, was retrieved from a building occupied by al-Qaida's North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali.
AP

The Associated Press has posted images of more than 100 receipts believed to have been left behind by al-Qaida operatives in Timbuktu, Mali, that show how "the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb."

According to the wire service:

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10:28 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Oklahoma Fails To Make FAA Unmanned Aircraft Research Site List

Lead in text: 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin had expressed hope that Oklahoma would become a center for drone research. But the Federal Aviation Administration selected locations in Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia Tech, New York and Corpus Christi.
RT @flightlevel150: Merry Christmas to Pilots, ATCOs, Flight Attendants, Mechanics and all other aviation professionals who keep grinding t... Follow us on Twitter After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
Oklahoma Voices
10:14 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Changing Demographics May Help Recovery Of Southern Democrats

Lloyd's new military map of the border & southern states from 1864.
Credit Author: Hall, Edward S. Publisher: H.H. Lloyd & Co. / Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL

Listen to three experts in southern politics discuss the region's political past and future.
Scott Buchanan discusses the politics of the southern U.S. and its role in national elections during fall event sponsored by the Oklahoma Political Science Association.

Three political scientists who study the politics of southern states in the U.S. say shifts in population from rural areas to urban centers could help Democrats win more elections.

Scott Buchanan of the Citadel Symposium on Southern Politics says there is evidence the move is already taking place in Florida and Virginia.

Buchanan also says the coast of South Carolina is seeing an influx of immigration from other states, changing the politics of the area.

The Democrats lost the south, in part, because they failed to develop their party, according to the University of Georgia’s Charles S. Bullock III. He says they took their dominance for granted and did not develop candidates in the face of a rising GOP presence.

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Corrections
7:45 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Special Report: How Actions By Gov.'s Staff Led To Weakened Oklahoma Justice Reforms

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. More Oklahoma Watch content can be found at www.oklahomawatch.org.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Clifton Adcock talks with KGOU about his investigation into efforts to weaken changes in state policy intended to reduce Oklahoma's high incarceration rates.

Behind-the-scenes moves by Gov. Mary Fallin’s senior staff members helped lead to a severe weakening of a program designed to cut the state’s high incarceration rates and save taxpayers more than $200 million over a decade, according to interviews and records obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

The efforts by the governor’s staff, assisted by legislative leaders, to take control of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative took place during periods when staff members met with representatives of private prison companies, which stood to gain or lose depending on how the initiative was implemented, emails and logs of visitors to Fallin’s offices show.

During that time, private-prison company representatives also made donations to Fallin’s 2014 campaign as well as to legislators, Oklahoma Ethics Commission records indicate.

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The Two-Way
6:56 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Doctors Unsure Whether Michael Schumacher Will Survive

Race car driver Michael Schumacher in November 2012.
Mark Thompson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:42 am

One of the world's most famous and highest-paid athletes, Formula One racer Michael Schumacher, is in a medically induced coma at a hospital in Grenoble, France. Doctors there are treating him for a critical head injury suffered over the weekend when the German driver fell and hit his head while skiing.

His prognosis?

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The Two-Way
5:58 am
Mon December 30, 2013

'Blood On The Snow' After Second Suicide Blast In Russia

A woman wiped away tears Monday in Volgograd, Russia, after the second suicide bombing in that city in the past two days.
Denis Tyrin AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:42 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: Second attack in Volgograd
  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Corey Flintoff reports about the bombings in Volgograd

There's shock in the southern Russian city of Volgograd after what appears to have been the second suicide bombing in two days.

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Remembrances
4:42 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Lost In 2013: Three Nobel Scientists Who Saw Something In Us

Pallbearers carry the flag-draped coffin of Francois Jacob, Nobel Prize-winner and World War II veteran, in Paris on April 24.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 5:41 pm

Before turning the page on 2013, All Things Considered wanted to tell you stories you haven't heard — unknown stories about people you've heard of, and unknown people who have affected your lives in ways you can't imagine.

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