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
Affordable Care Act
6:20 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Injunction Prevents Enforcement Of Health Care Mandate To Provide Access To Morning-After Pill

Credit steakpinball / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has granted an injunction in a class-action lawsuit by almost 200 religious organizations that prohibits the government from enforcing the federal health care law's requirement that insurance coverage include access to the morning-after pill and similar contraceptives.

A preliminary injunction was granted Friday by U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti. The injunction prevents the government from enforcing the mandate on the religious groups as the lawsuit is litigated.

Read more
Code Switch
4:42 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original 'Welfare Queen'

The Chicago press covered Linda Taylor's 1977 trial extensively, and she dressed to court the cameras.
Charles Knoblock Associated Press

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 9:36 am

If you haven't read Josh Levin's amazing story at Slate — the woman upon whom the term "welfare queen" was originally bestowed — you're missing out on a fascinating and disturbing profile of an unlikely political figure.

Read more
World Views
3:34 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Chemical Weapons Watchdog OK’s Syria Plan Even As Civil War Worsens

Credit Bernd Schwabe / Wikimedia Commons

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has drawn up a timeline for the destruction of Syria's poison gas and nerve agent program by mid-2014.

The most toxic chemicals are to be destroyed on a U.S. ship. Denmark and Norway are providing ships to transport the chemicals out of Syria and more than three dozen private companies have offered to destroy less toxic chemicals.

Read more
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?”

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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:

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages