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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World Views
2:33 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

North Korea Projects Unity On Anniversary Despite Purges, Execution

Credit (stephen) / Flickr Creative Commons

North Korea marked the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il Tuesday with vows to unite behind his son, Kim Jong Un, and a series of events to show the world that the regime has returned to business as usual despite the execution last week of Kim's once-powerful uncle.

“Both his father and his grandfather were known to have these purges as well as a means of gathering power and showing their might,” says Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. “It was very public. It's a family member, and what message does that send but that no one is safe from this individual?”

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10:12 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Judge Orders Opening Of Shadid Divorce Court Files

Lead in text: 
While Oklahoma City council member and mayoral candidate Ed Shadid has publicly discussed details of his divorce, records from that court case have remained sealed. The Oklahoman newspaper sued to have them opened.
A judge Friday made public Oklahoma City mayoral candidate Ed Shadid's divorce records. The Oklahoman sought the records after the Ward 2 city councilman announced in August he is running for mayor. Reporters plan to review the records once the court clerk makes them available.
State Capitol
10:07 am
Fri December 20, 2013

UPDATE: Terrill Sentenced To Prison, Fined

Former state Rep. Randy Terrill
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

An Oklahoma judge has sentenced a former state lawmaker to a one-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine following his conviction on a felony bribery charge.

District Judge Cindy Truong handed down the sentence Friday to Republican former Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore.

A jury in October found Terrill guilty of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy. Jurors recommended a one-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.

Terrill says he will appeal his conviction.

Truong has allowed Terrill to remain free on a $10,000 appeal bond during the appellate process.

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The Two-Way
9:38 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Sen. Baucus Tapped To Be Ambassador To China

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Confirming one of the week's less-secret secrets, the White House announced Friday morning that President Obama intends to nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to the People's Republic of China.

The 72-year-old Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978. He is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

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The Two-Way
7:19 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Health Care Rules Relaxed Again, 'Backlash' Follows

HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:06 am

  • From the NPR Newscast: Julie Rovner on the latest changes to the health care program (with an introduction from Jean Cochran)

Word from the Obama administration that Americans who recently had their health insurance canceled will be allowed to buy "catastrophic policies" mostly intended for young adults has upset the insurance industry, NPR's Julie Rovner tells our Newscast desk.

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The Two-Way
6:53 am
Fri December 20, 2013

When Obama Takes Questions Today, What Should He Be Asked?

President Obama's most recent news conference at the White House was on Nov. 14.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 9:05 am

Update at 10:02 a.m. ET. News Conference Set For 2 P.M. ET:

The White House just announced that the president will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET.

So, we've changed our original headline from "If Obama Takes Questions ..." to "When."

Note: The president's sessions with reporters often get started a little late.

Our original post picks up the story:

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Chesapeake Energy
6:29 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Chesapeake Subsidiary To Pay Nearly $10 Million In Fines In West Virginia

Credit Chesapeake Energy

A Chesapeake Energy subsidiary agrees to nearly $10 million in fines and restoration work to settle federal allegations over unauthorized discharges of fill material at more than two dozen natural gas extraction sites in West Virginia.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice announced the settlement Thursday.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake's subsidiary, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, will pay a $3.2 million fine and spend $6.7 million on restoration work. It also agreed to implement a plan to follow water protection laws.

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Counterterrorism
9:15 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Memorial Institute For The Prevention Of Terrorism Moving To Midwest City

Credit Provided / Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

A counterterrorism institute formed after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing is changing locations.

Officials say the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism is moving to Rose State College in Midwest City. The institute is now located in the same building as the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which honors the victims of the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

A press conference is planned for Thursday afternoon on the college campus in Midwest City.

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OneSix8
8:51 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week: Some Bright Ideas For The Holidays

Credit Beaukiss Steve

Holiday lights illuminate the night no matter where you go and this weeks OneSix8 gives just a few of the many seasonal light displays throughout the state.

A 118 foot Christmas Tree with 9,000 lights, a huge tunnel of lights, an animated waterfall display and an animated Cady Cane Company are just a few of the features one finds along the mile long walk or drive through this Midwest City- based attraction at Joe B. Barnes Regional Park.

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State Treasurer
8:31 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Mickey Mantle Baseball Brings $400 In Oklahoma Auction

A baseball autographed by Mickey Mantle was one of many items auctioned by the state Treasurer's office.
Credit Oklahoma Treasurer's Office

A baseball autographed by Mickey Mantle is among the items that have sold in the Oklahoma state treasurer's auction of unclaimed items found in abandoned safe deposit boxes.

Treasurer Ken Miller says the baseball sold Wednesday for $400. Six large silver bars sold for $11,000, while one box containing 67 class rings sold for $19,000.

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