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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Illegal Internet Gambling
5:46 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Chase Burns Sentencing Delayed

Credit Sean and Lauren / Flickr.com

Sentencing has been delayed for an Anadarko man accused in Florida of connections to an illegal Internet cafe gambling ring that led to the ban of the cafes in Florida and the resignation of that state's lieutenant governor.

Chase Burns still faces criminal charges in Seminole County, Fla., where court records show sentencing initially scheduled for December has been postponed until Feb. 12. The 38-year-old reached a deal earlier this month with Oklahoma's attorney general to forfeit $3.5 million to the state.

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World Views
3:34 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Breaking Down India’s Caste System Through Education

LaNelma Johnson stands with villagers in Panchgani, India
Provided LaNelma Johnson

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with LaNelma Johnson.

Forty-five years ago, LaNelma and Ray Johnson accepted the Bahá’í faith, and its tenet to serve humanity and the oneness of mankind. That desire took them to India in 1971, where they taught children ages five to 18 at a small, rural school in Panchgani.

“Some of the children were there because they were orphans, and some were there because they came from war-torn countries,” LaNelma Johnson says. “We really felt like we could do a service there with these children.”

Johnson told the story of her family’s 12 years in India in her memoir Okie in a Saree. The couple set out to consciously recruit female students from all over India, since they weren’t afforded the same educational opportunities as boys. India’s caste system had already been illegal for decades, but reforms were slow to trickle down to rural villages.

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History
2:43 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

'Thanks' To The Woman Who Helped Make A November Thursday Special

This portrait of Sarah Josepha Hale, painted by James Reid Lambdin, hangs in Newport, N.H., where she was born.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 5:39 pm

Thursday's holiday has Sarah Josepha Hale to thank for helping it get national recognition.

Thanksgiving before 1863 was something of a moveable feast, with states honoring the holiday at various times or not at all. But as the Civil War dragged on, Abraham Lincoln needed a way to unite the country. And Hale, a prominent magazine editor, persuaded him to declare a national holiday.

Hale, who was from New Hampshire, was a prolific writer of biographies, cookbooks, novels, editorials and volumes of poetry, including the children's rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

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Child Care
11:38 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Oklahoma Child Care Facility Settles With Feds Over Disabled Child

Credit DonkeyHotey

The Department of Justice has entered into an agreement with an Oklahoma-based child care facility that was found to have discriminated against a child with Down's Syndrome.

Under the agreement, Camelot Development Center will provide annual training on working with children with developmental disabilities and make modifications to try to allow the child to take field trips.

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Earthquakes
10:51 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Earthquakes Continue To Shake Edmond, Enid Areas

Amanda and Keith Erwin, of Edmond, say they're learning to live with near-daily earthquakes. The Erwins have written letters to both of their state lawmakers asking them to investigate.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

More earthquakes have rocked Oklahoma.

A preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a 2.5 magnitude earthquake struck 24 miles northwest of Healdton, in south-central Oklahoma, at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

It had a depth of 3.1 miles.

Another earthquake centered near Edmond struck at around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. The 2.8 magnitude quake had a depth of 3.1 miles and was located 4 miles southeast of Edmond and 11 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

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OKC Thunder
9:45 am
Thu November 28, 2013

OKC Thunder Fan Wins, Could Lose Spot On Kansas Team

Cameron Rodriguez
Credit Southwestern College, KS Athletics

An Oklahoma City Thunder fan who hit a half-court shot for $20,000 may not be able to keep both the money and his eligibility to compete in college sports.

Cameron Rodriguez, a sophomore forward for the Southwestern College Moundbuilders basketball team, sank the promotional shot Nov. 18 during the Thunder's home game against the Denver Nuggets. The 23-year-old is from Elk City, Okla.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:06 am
Thu November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving, Everybody Needs A Friend — And That Means Everybody

Blue_Cutler iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 7:08 am

Last December, a website called The Morning News asked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.

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The Two-Way
8:34 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Fly On, Snoopy (And Friends): Macy's Parade Balloons Get All-Clear

Workers prepare the giant Snoopy balloon before the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 8:51 am

Updated at 9:06 a.m. ET on Nov. 28.

The show will go on, giant balloons and all: Snoopy, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and 12 other massive balloons will fly in the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York police say.

Forecasts had called for winds close to the maximum that New York City will allow for the balloons — some as tall as a five-story building — to fly over the parade route.

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Prisons
8:32 am
Thu November 28, 2013

More Women Graduating From Oklahoma Prison Diversion Program

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White
Credit ok.gov

A third group of women will graduate from a prison diversion program next week.

The women are part of the ReMerge of Oklahoma County program. The four-phase program offers an alternative for pregnant women and mothers facing incarceration from non-violent felony convictions.

The commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be at the ceremony. It's scheduled for Dec. 5 at Chesapeake Energy Corp.

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Business
8:24 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Retailers Hope 'Gray Thursday' Boosts Bottom Line

K-Mart was one of the chains deciding to open early this Thanksgiving Day.
Jan Somma-Hammel Staten Island Advance /Landov

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 1:06 am

You are not imagining it, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. Black Friday has been around for decades — that's the point where retailers hope to begin to make a profit.

Shoppers looking to get a jump on deals can shop on Gray Thursday – think Black Friday intruding into Thanksgiving Day.

This Turkey Day, many national chains will open their doors early in an effort to boost sales. K-Mart opened at 6 a.m.

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