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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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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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Hazy Guidance Over Fracking Water Lines Confounds Commissioners And Cowboys

A water line for hydraulic fracturing traverses an oil and gas access road in Woods County.

Hydraulic fracturing and modern oil and gas drilling use a lot of water, a commodity that’s in short supply in northwestern Oklahoma’s booming oilfield.

To get their water, energy companies lay temporary pipelines atop private property, but a county commissioner and a class-action lawsuit are raising questions about the common practice.

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The Two-Way
7:28 am
Thu December 19, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' Dad Doubles Down; Palin Defends Him

Four of the stars of Duck Dynasty, from left to right: Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson (Phil's son), Si Robertson (Phil's brother) and Willie Robertson (Phil's son).
Zach Dilgard AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:36 pm

Saying that his mission "is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson isn't backing away from the comments he's made about gays that have led A&E to suspend him from the popular show indefinitely.

Robertson, in a statement to Fox News' FOX411, goes on to say:

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Business and Economy
6:22 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Oklahoma Finance Officials Project Revenue Decline

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger
Credit Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma’s top finance official says state agencies should prepare for reduced or flat budgets in the next fiscal year.

“It will be tight,” Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said describing the prospects for the 2015 fiscal year budget.

Early estimates show the Legislature will have about $6.9 billion to appropriate for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That's about $273 million, or 3.8 percent, less than lawmakers spent on the current fiscal year.

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