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 Salt
7:43 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Sriracha: First, The Crisis. Now, The Movie

Can't get enough of Sriracha? Now it can fill your belly and your screens.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 1:20 pm

Lately, it seems as if news about Sriracha has been as ubiquitous as the much-loved hot sauce itself.

First, there was the panic over a potential shortage, after a judge ordered the California factory where Sriracha is made to partially shut down, as our friends on the Two-Way blog have reported.

Now, this red hot culinary phenomenon is starring in its own documentary.

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The Two-Way
12:36 am
Sun December 15, 2013

As The World Watches, Mandela Is Buried In His Humble Village

Large video screens were set up around the village of Qunu for the more than 4,000 mourners who gathered for the service.
Jeff J Mitchell Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 6:09 pm

Updated at 6:22 a.m. ET

Under a sunny African sky, Nelson Mandela was buried Sunday on a hill overlooking his beloved boyhood village. Members of his clan, national leaders and a global audience bid farewell to the man who transformed his country and became one of the world's most revered figures.

The burial marked the culmination of 10 days of mourning and tributes to Mandela's remarkable journey, which began and ended in Qunu. Home to a few hundred farmers, the village is little-changed since Mandela's childhood.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
4:13 pm
Sat December 14, 2013

In Newtown, Making Promises To Transform A Tragedy

Ian and Nicole Hockley are parents of Dylan Hockley, one of 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last year. Nicole helps lead Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit seeking to prevent the causes of gun violence.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 14, 2013 6:18 pm

Nicole Hockley says she used to be the kind of person who knew where she was going in life. Then, last Dec. 14, her 6-year-old son, Dylan, was one of the 26 victims killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"Every plan I had went out the window, and I just kind of lost my way in terms of where do you go from here, how do you pick yourself up and move forward and find a new path," Hockley says.

The phone kept ringing at home, and media outlets sent flowers with cards asking for interviews.

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State Capitol
6:05 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Fallin Names Pickerill Associate District Judge

Patrick Pickerill
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Governor's Office

Gov. Mary Fallin has named Patrick Pickerill to a vacant associate district judge position in Pawnee County.

Pickerill, of Cleveland, has been in private practice since 1995 with Pickerill Law Offices, a general practice law firm that focuses on wrongful death cases, trusts and real estate. He also has served as a municipal judge for Oilton and city attorney for Jennings.

Pickerill has served the past eight years as president of the Pawnee County Bar Association. He also is a member of the Osage Nation Bar Association.

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State Capitol
5:22 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Oklahoma Senator Seeks Bill Of Rights Monument

A Republican state senator from Enid is filing a bill authorizing a monument of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution to be placed on the Capitol grounds.

Sen. Patrick Anderson announced on Friday his plans to introduce the bill during the legislative session that begins in February.

The bill calls for the privately funded monument to be placed at the Capitol, and Anderson says more than two dozen legislators already have signed on as co-authors.

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

2 Students Injured, Suspected Shooter Dead At Colo. High School

Senior Jenni Meyers, center, is hugged by her sister Mary as they leave a church with their mother Julie after they were reunited after a shooting at nearby Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Sat December 14, 2013 5:04 am

A student armed with a shotgun apparently killed himself after opening fire at a Colorado high school, wounding two fellow students, police said Friday.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the armed student entered the school and said he was looking for a specific teacher, calling him by name through the hallways. Robinson said another student confronted the gunman and then was shot.

"The teacher began to understand that he was being looked at [and] exited the school," Robinson said.

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Education
4:14 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Oklahoma Schools To Lose $40 Million In Tax Exemption

Credit comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Tax Commission says Oklahoma public schools stand to lose about $40 million this year because of new tax exemptions that have primarily benefited telecommunications companies, utilities and railroads.

Passed by Oklahoma voters in 2012, State Question 766 extended the intangible property tax exemption that locally assessed companies enjoyed previously to centrally assessed corporations.

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World Views
3:22 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Oklahoma Native Reflects On Iraq And Interrogation On Anniversary Of Saddam Hussein’s Capture

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and Amb. L. Paul Bremer speak to the media during a press conference at the Iraqi Forum in Baghdad, covering the capture of Saddam Hussein - December 13, 2003.
Credit Staff Sgt. Steven Pearsall, USAF / U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Eric Maddox

Ten years ago Friday, hundreds of interrogations and months of intelligence work paid off for Eric Maddox when his fellow U.S. Army soldiers pulled deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from the now-infamous underground “spider hole” near his hometown of Tikrit.

More than a decade after the start of the conflict, and nearly two years after the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Maddox says once Hussein was apprehended, the U.S. had no idea how to rebuild the country.

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Indian Times
3:00 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

A Look Back: Buffy Sainte-Marie In Oklahoma

Credit Buffy Sainte-Marie

This week we re-visit an interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie, singer, songwriter, and a member of the Cree Nation.

In the 1960’s she, all alone, toured North America’s colleges, reservations and concert halls. She came after the beatniks and before the hippies. She was met with enthusiasm by audiences and record executives who were expecting an Indian princess in fringes but were instead entertained and educated by a dose of Native American reality in the flesh.  

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World Views
1:18 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Amid Celebration, Subtle Reminders Of Mandela’s Controversial Legacy

The statue of Nelson Mandela outside the site of the South African Embassy, Washington, D.C.
Credit Ted Eytan / Flickr Creative Commons

It's been just over a week since former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. A memorial service Tuesday drew leaders from across the globe, and the inspirational statesman will be buried Sunday in a private ceremony in his beloved boyhood village of Qunu.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the University of Oklahoma's Center for Middle East Studies, says within two weeks of Mandela's release from a 27-year prison term in 1990, he traveled to the Middle East to embrace Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

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