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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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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Fills Vacancies On Council
6:15 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Fallin Makes Appointments To Science And Tech Council

Credit Fort Sill Cannoneer / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin has named four new members to a council that works to grow the science and technology industries in the state.

Each of the new members to the Governor's Science and Technology Council are filling a vacancy on the 18-person council.

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Certification To Native Language Instructors
4:16 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Rule Change Benefits Native Languages In Oklahoma

Credit katiew / Flickr.com

A new rule change implemented this year by the Oklahoma State Department of Education allows the state to grant an annual certification to American Indian language instructors to teach tribal languages in public schools.

The Oklahoman reports that the rule change aims to address the shrinking number of people who are fluent speakers in their native languages. The change also allows students to receive graduation credit for taking the courses.

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Governing
12:51 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

In 2013, Federal Workers Found New Reason To Be Unhappy

Cindy VanDerwerker, a maintenance worker at Saratoga National Historical Park, clears leaves from a walkway on Oct. 17 in Stillwater, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:08 pm

Elizabeth Lytle is an administrative program assistant with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago — "a glorified name for a secretary," she says.

If Lytle isn't thrilled with her title, she's even less enamored of her job.

"The morale is just unbelievably low because we're never recognized," Lytle says. "Management doesn't seem to go to bat for us."

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Shots - Health News
12:45 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Common Knee Surgery May Help No More Than A Fake Operation

Knee pain is common, but surgery isn't necessarily the answer, researchers say.
Inna Jacquemin iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:09 am

Go to the doctor with knee pain, and they might say you've got a meniscus tear and need surgery to fix it. But surgery for this common problem might not be any better at relieving pain than having no surgery at all, according to researchers who went to the trouble of performing fake surgery to find out.

The gold standard for medical research is a randomized controlled trial, but it's hard to sign people up if they might undergo pretend surgery.

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State Capitol
11:49 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Randy Brogdon To Challenge Gov. Fallin For GOP Nomination

Randy Brogdon
Credit Randy Brogdon for Governor Website

A website attributed to former state Sen. Randy Brogdon says he plans to file paperwork this week to run against incumbent Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

Brogdon lost to Fallin in the 2010 Republican primary. He announced his run through social media, and the Secretary of State says a "Brogdon for Governor" corporation was formed last week.

Brogdon told the Tulsa World on Thursday he is "compelled" to fight for liberty.

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Winter Weather
8:22 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Freezing Fog Ices OKC Bridges, Snarling Traffic

Traffic sits at a standstill I-40 eastbound through downtown Oklahoma City early Thursday morning. Freezing fog caused icy bridges and overpasses in parts of Oklahoma.
Credit Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has closed part of Interstate 40 eastbound in Oklahoma City because of multiple accidents and icy conditions.

The highway patrol says it closed I-40 eastbound at the Dallas and Fort Smith junctions because of the accidents and road conditions. A freezing fog advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday.

The highway patrol says the closure includes the ramps for southbound Interstate 235 and northbound Interstate 35 to eastbound Interstate 40.

There were no immediate reports of injuries with the crashes.

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Apologies, Promises From UPS And FedEx About Delivery Delays

UPS delivery man Vinny Ambrosino was dressed for the holiday season on Tuesday as he delivered packages in New York City. Not all the things ordered for Christmas got to their destinations on time.
Carlo Allegri Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:28 pm

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

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It's All Politics
2:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success

Supporters for gun rights gather outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters in Newtown, Conn., on March 28.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:13 pm

For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.

For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.

A 'Voice' For Lost Children

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World Views
12:04 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

How Technology Is Transforming Poetry, Literature, And Activism

Credit Jeroen Bennink / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Lauren Camp and Deji Olukotun

Author and attorney Deji Olukotun compares the growth and development of digital technology over the last decade to a spectrum, with highly-polished published work on one end, and tweeting and texting on the opposite.

“It’s making writing and communicating and expressing yourself more democratic, and that includes repressive countries,” Olukotun says. “At the same time, there’s still a value for quality and for craft.”

Olukotun works on digital freedom cases for the PEN American Center in New York.

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