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
8:31 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Biden Says U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' About China's Air Defense Zone

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.
Toru Yamanaka AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:50 am

Kicking off a weeklong trip to East Asia, Vice President Joe Biden urged China and Japan to put in place new mechanisms to reduce the chance of an escalation in tensions.

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It's All Politics
7:41 am
Tue December 3, 2013

How 2013 Became The Greatest Year In Gay Rights History

Several same-sex couples hold a group wedding ceremony Monday at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu.
Marco Garcia AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:59 am

Any day now, the New Mexico Supreme Court may grant same-sex couples the right to get married.

At this point, such a ruling may not seem like such a big deal. Prior to last year's elections, gays and lesbians had a civil right to marry in only six states. Now, they have it in 16.

"This year represented the true tipping point," says Eric Marcus, author of Making Gay History. "We've reached a moment in history where it's very difficult, if not impossible, to go back."

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Shots - Health News
7:40 am
Tue December 3, 2013

As Polio Spreads In Syria, Politics Thwarts Vaccination Efforts

Syrian boys line up to get the polio vaccine at a refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, on Nov. 7. The Lebanese government plans to vaccinate all kids under age 5 for the virus, including Syrian refugees.
Mohammad Zaatari AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:31 am

The World Health Organization has declared a polio emergency in Syria.

After being free of the crippling disease for more than a decade, Syria recorded 10 confirmed cases of polio in October. Now the outbreak has grown to 17 confirmed cases, the WHO said last week. And the virus has spread to four cities, including a war-torn suburb near the capital of Damascus.

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2,000 and 5,000 Seat Arenas
5:45 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Opening Two New Entertainment Venues

Credit Citizen Potawatomi Nation

An Oklahoma-based Native American tribe is preparing to open two new entertainment venues.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is opening the 2,000-seat Grand Events Center at Grand Casino Hotel and Resort this month to host concerts. It is located just east of Oklahoma City off of Interstate 40. Rodney Carrington will be the first to perform at the new venue. He has performances scheduled for Dec. 27 and 28.

Firelake Arena, a 5,000-seat space, will open in January in Shawnee. It will host concerts, conventions and community events.

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Revenue Collections Down
4:23 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Fallin Tells State Agency Heads To Look For Ways To Save Money

Credit Mary Fallin / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin is warning state agency heads to look for ways to save money amid more than $60 million in mandatory spending increases on health care and reports of lackluster collections to the state's general revenue fund.

Fallin said Monday the state will need to make up $60 million in federal matching funds next year for Oklahoma's Medicaid program as a result of an increase in the state's per-capita income.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:49 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Oklahoma No. 2 For Earthquakes In Recent Years, Analysis Shows

A disposal well in Northern Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is four years into a “swarm” of unusual earthquakes, and is now the second most seismically active state in the continental United States, an EnergyWire analysis shows.

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Arts and Entertainment
1:07 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Fate Of Oklahoma Pop Culture Museum Remains Uncertain

An artist's rendering of the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) in Tulsa.
Credit Oklahoma Historical Society

Promoters of a museum dedicated to all things pop culture in Oklahoma plan to once again seek funding from the Legislature, but the fate of the Tulsa-based museum remains uncertain.

The Tulsa World reports the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, or OKPOP, would be a 75,000-square-foot building dedicated to the state's contributions in music, film, television, theater, pop art, comic books, literature and humor.

But state lawmakers have not yet committed to it for the 2015 fiscal year.

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The Two-Way
11:29 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Comet ISON Is No More, NASA Says

NASA took a series of images to create this "timelapse" view of comet ISON's trip around the sun.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:02 pm

Comet ISON, a "shining green candle in the solar wind," is no longer with us, NASA declared Monday morning in a tribute to what many hoped would be the "comet of the century."

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Shots - Health News
8:56 am
Mon December 2, 2013

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:35 pm

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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Wintry Weather
8:44 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Snow, Freezing Rain, Ice Expected In Oklahoma This Week

Winter weather will be making a return to Oklahoma this week.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says a cold air mass will move into northwest  Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon, bringing colder temperatures early Wednesday.

Forecasters say high temperatures will remain in the 20s and 30s from Thursday through Saturday. The weather service says overnight wind chill values will range from 0 degrees to 10 degrees.

Wintry precipitation is expected early Thursday until Friday afternoon.  Forecasters predict snow in northern Oklahoma and freezing rain that eventually turns to sleet and snow in central Oklahoma.

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