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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Manager's Desk
6:00 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

Credit Creative Commons/Flicker/EEPaul

Dec. 29, 2013

This is from the Manager’s Desk.

I don’t know about you, but this past year has flown by. I just learned the habit of saying "twenty-thirteen." But we are looking forward to 2014. 

Jan. 1 is KGOU’s anniversary, and we are marking 31 years of public radio service. KGOU’s longevity is a combination of constant support from the University of Oklahoma, the constant availability of the annual grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the constant support from KGOU listeners. And that support has enabled KGOU to grow. 

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Indian Times
4:23 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

2013 Year End Review For Oklahoma's Indian Country

Credit Susan Shannon

This week on Indian Times, we look back at 2013... lucky for some, not so lucky for others.

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Research News
12:25 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

The Hunt For Meteorites Begins In Antarctica

The most abundant meteorites found in Antarctica are called chondrites. They are some of the oldest objects known in the solar system.
Katherine Joy Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program / Case Western Reserve University

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 9:07 am

Antarctica is one of the best places on Earth to spot these fallen stars.

Each winter — which is summer in down south — a team of geologists camps out on an Antarctic glacier in the middle of nowhere, often where no human has ever tread. It's kind of like a space voyage, but a lot cheaper.

And it's the meteorite that's done most of the traveling.

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Politics
8:27 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Up Next For Joe Biden, A Busy Year — And A Choice

Joe Biden has a light-hearted moment in the Old Senate Chambers in January. The vice president has not ruled out running for president in 2016.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 3:24 pm

This was a busy year for Vice President Joe Biden: He was President Obama's point man on gun control; he traveled widely, pushing for infrastructure spending; and he recently returned form a trip to Asia, where he met with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.

In 2014, Biden may face an even busier schedule, as he stumps for Democratic congressional candidates in advance of November's midterm elections and tries to decide whether to make another run for president himself.

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State Capitol
5:39 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Brogdon Faces New Challenges In Oklahoma Governor's Race

Credit Randy Brogdon / Facebook

A conservative Republican state senator who rode a tea party wave four years ago that nearly landed him in a primary runoff with Gov. Mary Fallin will face some added challenges in 2014, including dampened tea party enthusiasm and a popular incumbent governor.

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Business
4:20 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

On-The-Job Deaths Spiking As Oil Drilling Quickly Expands

Energy companies are adding workers, but fatal accidents are on the rise, too.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 6:15 pm

Blue-collar workers, hit hard by automation and factory offshoring, have been struggling to find high-paying jobs.

One industry does offer opportunity: As baby boomers retire and drilling increases, oil and gas companies are hiring. They added 23 percent more workers between 2009 and 2012.

But the hiring spree has come with a terrible price: Last year, 138 workers were killed on the job — an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009.

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Sports
3:14 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Thunder's Westbrook Out Until After All-Star Break

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
Credit Keith Allison / Flickr

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery and won't return until after the All-Star break.

General manager Sam Presti says in a statement Friday that Westbrook has been playing pain free, but "recently had experienced increased swelling" in his right knee.

Presti says the team consulted with a surgeon in Los Angeles and an MRI determined there was "an area of concern that had not previously existed."

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Here & Now
1:45 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

2013: A Look Back At The Year In Tech

A developer, Loic Le Meu selected for Google Glass explorer edition shows off his device. (Wikimedia Commons)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:15 pm

This year started with high expectations for Google Glass and other wearable technology, but even by the end of the year those devices haven’t really reached the mainstream.

Companies like Samsung and Snapchat saw great success, while others had a few flops.

NPR technology correspondent Steve Henn joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to look at the year in technology.

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Prisons
7:45 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Fallin Attorney Says Prison Staffing Is Not A Problem For Oklahoma

Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Credit duggar11 / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite a recent report that Oklahoma's ratio of prison guards to offenders is among the worst in the nation, Governor Mary Fallin's top attorney says he doesn't believe safety is being compromised at the state's prisons.

Fallin's general counsel Steve Mullins said Thursday he meets regularly with the interim director of the Department of Correction and is not concerned there is a problem with staffing at the state's prisons.

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StoryCorps
7:26 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Recalling His Inspiration, A Neurosurgeon Thanks A Teacher

After a patient told neurosurgeon Lee Buono to thank the teacher who inspired him, he called up Al Siedlecki.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:06 am

This story originally aired on Weekend Edition on Sept. 25, 2011.

As a middle-school student in the 1980s, Lee Buono stayed after school one day to remove the brain and spinal cord from a frog. He did such a good job that his science teacher told him he might become a neurosurgeon someday.

That's exactly what Buono did.

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