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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World Views
2:52 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Saudi Arabia Warns Online Backers Of Women Drivers

Credit Edward Musiak / Flickr Creative Commons

On October 26 dozens of Saudi women got behind the wheel in defiance of the country’s traditions. Though no specific law bans women from driving, the rules are enforced by Saudi Arabia's powerful Islamic establishment.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says even though the issue seems to be gaining traction, she’s heard critics argue it’s symbolic of larger issues Saudi women face.

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World Views
1:22 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Now That Parents Identified, Fate Of Girl Found With Greek Roma Couple Uncertain

Roma (Gypsy) street beggers crouching to keep warm on the steps of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Credit Lori Scott / Wikimedia Commons

DNA tests confirm that a Bulgarian Roma, or Gypsy, couple living in an impoverished village with their nine other children are the biological parents of the girl named Maria found in Greece with another couple.

The Greek Roma couple has been charged with abducting the girl and committing document fraud. Under Greek law, child abduction charges can include cases where a minor is voluntarily given away by the parents.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies, calls the issue “a clear case of discrimination” against people of Roma descent.

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The Two-Way
12:21 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

One Officer Dead, Several Shot By Gunman At LA Airport

Police officers stand near an unidentified weapon in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport on Friday. Officials said a gunman who opened fire in the terminal was wounded in a shootout with police and taken into custody.
AP

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 11:33 pm

(Click here to jump to our latest updates.)

A lone gunman walked into one of the nation's busiest airports Friday in Los Angeles and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing at least one transportation security officer and wounding another, police and TSA officials say.

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World Views
12:06 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Amount Of Water In Africa Not The Problem, But Delivery To People

Women and children gather around a communal water pump in Lulimba, Democratic Republic of The Congo.
Credit Julien Harneis / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Ada Oko-Williams and Richard Taylor.

Ada Oko-Williams grew up in Nigeria, a country with more than 160 million people, but where only half the population has access to safe drinking water. Even fewer people have acceptable sanitary facilities.

She now lives and works in Sierra Leone, and over the past half-decade has worked with charities and non-governmental organizations in West Africa to create open-defecation free communities that benefit hundreds of thousands of people. Oko-Williams says the health problems associated with unsafe drinking water are well-known, but there are other dimensions to a lack of access.

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Economy
8:27 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Business Survey Shows Economic Decline In Oklahoma And Midwest

The corporate campus of Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A business conditions index for nine Midwest and Plains states, including Oklahoma, has dropped after rising the previous two months.

The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index plunged to a growth neutral 50.0 in October from 54.8 in September.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the partial government shutdown and slower business activity for firms tied to agriculture pushed overall economic conditions lower for the month.

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The Two-Way
6:43 am
Fri November 1, 2013

U.S. Spying Efforts Sometimes 'Reached Too Far,' Kerry Says

Secretary of State John Kerry.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 12:10 pm

Some of the electronic surveillance programs of the National Security Agency have been on "automatic pilot" in recent years and have inappropriately "reached too far," Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

Kerry's comments are causing something of a stir.

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StoryCorps
2:20 am
Fri November 1, 2013

An Unconventional, But 'Perfect,' Path To Parenthood

Robin Share and Rami Aizic hold a photo of their daughter, Bailey, at a visit to StoryCorps in Santa Monica, Calif.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:18 am

Since childhood, Rami Aizic knew he "needed and wanted to be a dad." He assumed he would one day meet the girl of his dreams and it would all just happen.

Then he realized he was gay.

Robin Share also wanted kids, but had no partner. So when a mutual friend told Rami about Robin, he called her up and left a message: "Hi, Robin. I'm a friend of Scott's and he said you might be interested in having a baby with me. So give me a call back."

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OneSix8
8:51 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Entertaining the Hours of Your Week: Halloween Horrors and Highlights

"Pumpkin Witch"
Credit Chelly Johnson

Halloween activities are our focus this week, and whether you want a family friendly tick-or-treating event, Halloween arts and crafts or Halloween-themed performances, this week’s OneSix8 has an option for you.

The spooky Peanut’s classic The Great Pumpkin comes to life on Halloween from noon to 8 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma City.

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State Capitol
6:20 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Muslim Leader Banned From Police Training Seminar

Credit Council on American Islamic Relations

The head of a Muslim advocacy group in Oklahoma says he's been banned from attending a police training seminar Friday at the state Capitol that the group says includes speakers who have in the past engaged in anti-Muslim rhetoric.

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OG&E May Go To U.S. Supreme Court
4:58 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Federal Court Rules EPA Has Authority Over State

Credit Wright91 4 / Flickr.com

A federal appeals court has denied Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's request for a new hearing in the state's regional haze case against the Environmental Protection Agency.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in July that the EPA has authority to implement its own plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions by coal-fired generating plants. Pruitt's request for a new hearing was denied Thursday.

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