Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray Nagin was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been criticism that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.

So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood – who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be. 

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:40 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Could Pot Help Veterans With PTSD? Brain Scientists Say Maybe

There's data to support the notion that pot, or a drug based on its active ingredient, could help ease the fears of PTSD.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 10:50 am

Veterans who smoke marijuana to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder may be onto something. There's growing evidence that pot can affect brain circuits involved in PTSD.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:20 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Mass Graves Discovered In South Sudan; Is Civil War Coming?

Troops sent to South Sudan by the U.N. watch as men walk to a camp for refugees near Juba, the nation's capital.
James Akena Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 2:20 pm

The already alarming news from South Sudan grew even more worrisome Tuesday with word from the United Nations of mass graves.

In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said "we have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba," the new nation's capital.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
8:36 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Judge Grants Oklahoma Religious Colleges Injunction Against Federal Birth Control Mandate

Credit James Martin / Flickr

A federal judge says four religious schools in Oklahoma don't have to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and other contraceptives as a lawsuit challenging the health care mandate is pending in court.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:10 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Book News: Efforts To Ban Books On The Rise

Joe Songer AL.COM/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 9:03 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:31 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Repairs Done, Astronauts Wrap Up Spacewalk

Astronaut Mike Hopkins during Saturday's spacewalk. He's going out again Tuesday.
NASA.gov

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 3:12 pm

Spacewalking astronauts have successfully replaced a failed coolant pump on the International Space Station.

NPR's Joe Palca reports that American spacewalkers Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio had to bolt the massive pump in place (on the ground, it weighs 780 pounds), connect four ammonia lines and plug in five electrical cables. The ammonia is a refrigerant used in the station's two-part cooling system, which is necessary to dissipate heat from the onboard electrical equipment.

Read more
Anyone With A Computer Can Access
6:18 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Court Documents To Be Available For Viewing Online

Credit OklahomaJudicialProcessServers / Flickr.com

A plan to publicly release court documents from all 77 Oklahoma counties online and make them free to the public is slowly moving ahead. Noble County in north-central Oklahoma is going live as a test for the ambitious information technology upgrade.

Documents dating back decades, even more than a century in some cases, that have been filed in Noble County are available for anyone with a computer to view from home. This includes marriage licenses, traffic tickets, and criminal and civil filings, among other court documents.

Read more
Long-term Effects Unknown
5:21 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Fallin Bans Electronic Cigarettes And Vapor Devices

Credit planetc 1 / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order that bans the use of electronic cigarettes and vapor devices on state property, saying the potential long-term health effects of the products are unknown.

Fallin's office released the order Monday that applies to all land and property owned or leased by the state, including state vehicles, effective Jan. 1. The only exception in the order is to residents of state residential facilities for veterans.

Read more
Same-Sex Marriage
9:23 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Utah Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Spurs Oklahoma Court Filing

Credit Ronny Richert / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawyers for two same-sex couples suing for the right to marry in Oklahoma and to have a marriage from another jurisdiction recognized in the state have filed a brief pointing to a recent ruling in Utah that found a same-sex marriage ban violated the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin filed the lawsuit along with another couple back in November 2004. That was shortly after Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:26 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Ice Storm Leaves Tens Of Thousands In The Dark

Heather Griffin, of Buffalo, N.Y., and her dog Sal walk beneath ice-covered trees on Sunday in Buffalo.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 12:06 pm

About 200,000 households are in the dark across the country, after a massive ice storm swept through Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard.

The Associated Press estimates that some 95,000 households are without power in New York, Vermont and Maine. MLive.com reports that 155,000 are without power in Michigan.

Read more
Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Take Shelter Oklahoma Lacks Signatures, Seeks Supreme Court Support

Credit hyku / Flickr / Creative Commons

The 90-day time period for collecting those signatures ran out last week, and supporters were 35,000 signatures short. They’re now awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge, claiming the deck was stacked against them.

After Kristi Conatzer lost her daughter Emily in the tornado that hit Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School on May 2o, she got together with others to form “Take Shelter Oklahoma.”

Read more

Pages