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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Expand Authority To Prosecute Non-Indians
6:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Report Released Today On How To Make Tribal Communities Safer

Credit Indian Law And Order Commission

A national panel of judicial and law enforcement experts has released recommendations on how to make tribal communities safer.

The Indian Law and Order Commission traveled around the country for two years to hear about criminal jurisdiction, tribal courts, grant funding and other topics. The result is a 324-page report that addresses gaps in public safety.

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Business and Economy
5:03 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Governor, Tulsa Officials Praise Airline Merger Approval

Credit Simon_sees / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Tulsa Regional Chamber President Mike Neal are praising an agreement that allows American Airlines and US Airways to merge.

The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday that the agreement allows the merger that creates the world's biggest airline. The agreement requires the airlines to scale back the size of the merger at certain airports in large cities.

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Around The State
4:08 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Chavez Sentenced To 30 Months For Planned Bartlesville Attack

Credit jczart / Flickr.com

A 19-year-old has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for planning an attack at Bartlesville High School that was never carried out.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports Sammie Eaglebear Chavez was sentenced Tuesday by Washington County District Judge Curtis DeLapp.

He was convicted in September of planning a mass shooting and bombing, though no attack was carried out. The jury recommended the 30-month sentence.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:31 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Red Cedars Aren’t As Thirsty As We Thought, But They Still Suck

This 2011 fire in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge was fueled, in part, by red cedars.
Credit Dennis Frank / Flickr Creative Commons

Eastern Red Cedar trees are bad for Oklahoma. The volatile oils they contain can cause the trees to explode during wildfires, spreading embers over hundreds of yards. They crowd out other plants, force wildlife off their habitats, and steal rainfall — which is bad news during a drought.

As The Journal Record‘s Brian Brus reports, it’s been said each red cedar can guzzle dozens of gallons of water each day:

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The Two-Way
1:08 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

New York's One World Trade Center Declared Tallest Building In U.S.

The world's tallest buildings by architectural top.
CTBUH

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:02 pm

One World Trade Center — the skyscraper that now rises from the site of the Twin Towers, destroyed during the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11 — has been declared the tallest building in the U.S. by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Coming in at 1,776 feet tall, the World Trade Center beat out the Willis Tower in Chicago. At issue was whether a 408-foot needle that sits atop the New York building was an architectural top or a removable radio antenna. If it had been deemed an antenna, the honor would have gone to Chicago.

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The Two-Way
12:21 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Justice Reaches Deal To Allow American, US Airways Merger

A US Airways plane rests near two American Airlines jets at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport last year. The combined carrier would be named American Airlines.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 11:57 am

The Justice Department has reached a deal that will allow for the merger of American and US Airways, opening the door to the creation of the world's largest airline.

The merger still needs final approval from a bankruptcy court.

The U.S. had hoped to block the merger arguing that it would result in less competition and higher prices for consumers.

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World Views
11:27 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Changing Guatemala's Decades-Old Culture Of Corruption

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz - June 22, 2011.
Credit U.S. Embassy Guatemala / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Adriana Beltrán.

Guatemala signed peace accords in 1996 to end a decades-long civil war. But even though the fighting came to an end, institutional democratic reforms never took place.

The government consolidated power through corrupt relationships with organized crime and a lack of accountability over the next two decades. 

“A very popular phrase is ‘hidden powers’,” says Adriana Beltrán, a Senior Associate for Citizen Security at the Washington Office on Latin America, and the author of a study of the same name. “Established institutions like the judicial sector, the police… they’ll use them to prevent any kind of conviction when it comes to human rights cases to protect in case of criminal wrongdoing.”

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Weather and Climate
10:38 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Cold Air Brings End to Oklahoma Growing Season

The Oklahoma Mesonet windchill map from Tuesday morning.
Credit Oklahoma Mesonet

Frigid air continues to push into the southern plains, bringing unseasonably cold conditions and a hard freeze warning to Oklahoma.

High temperatures Tuesday will struggle to reach the 40s, with wind chills in the 30s throughout the day.

Overnight lows will fall into the 17-to-27 degree range across the state early Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service Norman forecast office. This hard freeze will also end the growing season.

Temperatures will slowly rebound through the weekend, with highs returning to near 60 degrees by Friday.

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State Capitol
9:44 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Oklahoma License Tags Target Of Insurance Verification Law Starting In January

Credit Oklahoma Tax Commission

Law enforcement officers in Oklahoma will soon have the option to seize license plates from uninsured drivers and assign temporary insurance.

A new state law went into effect Nov. 1 allowing the seizure, but the Oklahoma Insurance Department says agencies won't implement the changes until January as procedures are established.

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The Two-Way
9:41 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Iran Foreign Minister: West Is To Blame For Crumbling Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 10:03 am

Reacting to a speech in which Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran rejected a "fair" proposal on its nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seemed to put the blame squarely on France.

Zarif said on Twitter that "no amount of spinning" can change what happened during the marathon negotiating sessions in Geneva, but "it can further erode confidence."

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