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
9:27 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Syrian Peace Talks Set To Start In January

In the Syrian town of Hejeira, a fighter from a Shiite militia patrolled last week.
Jaber al-Helo AP

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 9:07 am

Representatives from the Syrian opposition and from President Bashar Assad's regime will sit down at a negotiating table for the first time on Jan. 22, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office announced Monday.

The U.N. adds that:

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Bethel Acres Family Finds New Foundation After May Tornadoes

Bettie and Joel Spears in front of their new home.
Credit Kate Carlton

When a series of tornadoes battered Central Oklahoma last spring, close to 4,500 houses were damaged or destroyed.  Six months later, many organizations are helping rebuild these homes and restore normalcy to the affected families. One of those organizations, Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity, has just finished its first home for one couple affected by the storms. 

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Asia
4:07 am
Mon November 25, 2013

After The Storm: Commerce Returns To Damaged Philippines City

In the past week, this street market in Tacloban has grown exponentially as people try to earn money to rebuild their lives.
Frank Langfitt/ NPR

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 12:11 pm

Commerce has returned to the storm-savaged streets of Tacloban in the past week. People sell bananas along the roads, and a bustling market has sprung up across several blocks downtown.

Jimbo Tampol, who works for a local Coca-Cola distributor, drives across Tacloban selling ice-cold sodas from coolers. In a city where there is no electricity and little refrigeration, a cold soda is a big deal, a symbol of normalcy.

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The Two-Way
12:51 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

What You Should Know About The Iran Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius react during a statement early Sunday in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 7:37 am

(This post was last updated at 4:40 p.m. ET.)

Just before the sun rose on Geneva on Sunday, international negotiators emerged to announce Iran and world powers had reached a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program for six months while the two sides work out a permanent, more sweeping solution.

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The Two-Way
11:22 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Vatican Puts St. Peter's Bones On Display For The First Time

For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, relics of St. Peter the apostle (fragments of bone) are displayed for veneration.
Franco Origlia Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 11:43 am

In the Vatican today, a surreal scene:

That's Pope Francis, the 266th Bishop of Rome, holding what the church believes are the bone fragments of St. Peter, the apostle and the first bishop of Rome.

Pope Francis cradled the relics during a mass at St. Peter's Square, which marked the end of the global church's Year of Faith. It was also the first time the Catholic Church has displayed the relics in public.

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The Two-Way
8:56 am
Sun November 24, 2013

LISTEN: A Joyous Moment In Typhoon-Ravaged Tacloban

Sunday, Typhoon survivors watch the boxing match between Philippine hero Manny Pacquiao and American boxer Brandon Rios at the Tacloban Convention Center, which had been used as an evacuation center.
Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 10:48 am

The city of Tacloban in the Philippines was essentially leveled by Typhoon Haiyan. Over the past few weeks, residents of the city have been attending burials and picking up the pieces. But this afternoon, thousands gathered to watch the country's favorite son, Manny Pacquiao, box 12 rounds against Brandon Rios.

As NPR's Jonathan Blakely describes the scene, fans gathered at a plaza near city hall in the soaring heat and they watched the fight on a large screen powered by a generator.

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Winter Weather
8:34 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Sleet, Snow Moving Across Oklahoma

Winter precipitation will move across western and central Oklahoma and adjacent areas of north Texas today and tonight. Currently, it appears parts of western and southern Oklahoma and north Texas will have higher amounts of snow and sleet.
National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office

EMERGENCY SNOW ROUTES

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday. The National Weather Service advises caution for anyone traveling Sunday.

Even small amounts of snow and ice can make roads and sidewalks dangerous.

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Iran
10:37 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

Deal Reached To Limit Iran's Nuclear Program

President Obama speaks at the White House on Saturday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 12:17 pm

Updated at 5:01 a.m. ET Sunday

Iran and six world powers have reached a preliminary agreement in Geneva on curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief.

In a late-night statement from the White House, President Obama called the breakthrough "the most significant and tangible progress" with Iran since he took office. It calls for specific actions over the next six months, while negotiations continue on a longer-term deal.

Obama said:

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Business
5:07 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

What Have Mortgage Settlements Done For Homeowners Lately?

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to a $13 billion settlement over faulty mortgage securities with the Justice Department on Tuesday, though it did not admit any wrongdoing.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 1:51 pm

This week, JPMorgan Chase agreed to a $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the sale of faulty mortgage securities that led to the financial crisis. It's the largest settlement with a single company in U.S. history.

From that settlement, $4 billion must go to help the millions of families who saw the values of their homes plummet and who still struggle to keep up with mortgage payments.

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Politics
9:13 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Stumping For GOP Governors, Chris Christie Gets His Own Boost

In his role as chairman of the RGA, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will crisscross the country giving stump speeches and fundraisers.
Ralph Freso AP

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 7:30 pm

It's good to be Chris Christie these days.

Just a few weeks after his landslide re-election victory, the New Jersey governor won a second election this week: chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

The RGA chair is a largely ceremonial role, but in it, Christie will travel the country campaigning for other Republicans in gubernatorial races in 2014, a job that many see as groundwork for a potential White House run.

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