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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Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission
6:27 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Aerospace And Aviation Organizations Receive Grant Money

Plane Flown By Tuskegee Airmen In WWII
Credit Tony's Place / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has awarded $57,500 to several organizations in the Oklahoma City metro area that teach youth about aerospace and aviation.

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School Report Cards
10:18 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Losing Confidence: A-F Grading System Dogs Oklahoma Education Dept.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi
Credit Oklahoma Department of Education

A state Department of Education spokeswoman says "sniping" over the controversial A-F school grading system needs to stop because parents deserve better.

Spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton's comments came in response to Broken Arrow Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall's recent call for school leaders statewide to move on a vote of "no confidence" in State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

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The Two-Way
9:41 am
Wed October 30, 2013

75 Years Ago, 'War Of The Worlds' Started A Panic. Or Did It?

Invader? No, it's a man dressed as one in 1988. He was in Grovers Mill, N.J., at a 50th anniversary celebration of The War of the Worlds broadcast.
Chris Lischy AP

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 10:18 am

We interrupt this blog to bring you a special bulletin:

Martians have invaded New Jersey!

OK, as far as we know that hasn't happened.

But we wanted to issue that faux alert because 75 years ago tonight, as our friend Korva Coleman pointed out on the NPR Newscast, Orson Welles and his troupe of radio actors interrupted the Columbia Broadcasting System's programming to "report" that our planet had been invaded.

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Native American
9:30 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Osage Government Panel Recommends Removal Of Chief

Credit Osage Nation

Findings to support seven allegations of wrongdoing against Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle have been presented in a report by an Osage Congress committee that recommended his removal from office.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that eight other allegations were deemed insufficient and no criminal matters are involved.

The tribe's Select Committee of Inquiry ruled that six of the charges were serious enough to warrant removal from office for the chief, who was elected in 2010.

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The Two-Way
7:12 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Sebelius: 'Hold Me Accountable For The Debacle'

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as she was sworn in prior to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 3:28 pm

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Secretary Sebelius on who's responsible for 'this debacle'

(We last added to this post at 4:10 p.m. ET.)

"You deserve better. ... I apologize. ... I'm accountable to you."

That's what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Americans on Wednesday morning during a Congressional hearing into problems with the Obama administration's HealthCare.gov website and Republicans' concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

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State Capitol
6:45 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Former Rep. Terrill Seeks Release After Tuesday Guilty Verdict

An Oklahoma County jury found former state Rep. Randy Terrill guilty of political bribery Tuesday. He is expected back in court Wednesday to seek release on bond while appealing his conviction.
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

A former Oklahoma lawmaker convicted of bribery wants a judge to let him remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction.

A hearing is set for Wednesday in Oklahoma City on the request from former Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore.

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Corrections
6:29 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Study: Oklahoma Prison Health Care Costs Drop

Credit Kenny Breedlove / Flickr.com

A Pew Charitable Trusts report says the cost of health care for prison inmates in Oklahoma bucked a national trend and fell by 6 percent from 2001 to 2008.

Tuesday's report says Oklahoma spent $3,935 per inmate in 2008 — down from $4,201 in 2001. Researchers used numbers from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and 2008 was the most recent year available.

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The Two-Way
5:33 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Alabama Agrees To Permanently Gut Immigration Law

Parents arrive to pick up their children from a school in Montgomery, Ala. After a tough immigration law was enacted in 2011, Hispanic students began to disappear from classrooms in the state's public schools.
Dave Martin AP

Opponents of Alabama's strict immigration law are declaring victory Tuesday, as the state agreed not to pursue key provisions of a measure critics had called an endorsement of racial profiling. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a federal court's ruling that gutted the law.

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Rise In Seismic Activity
4:38 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Numerous Earthquakes In Oklahoma May Require Additional Insurance

Seismic Graph
Credit Tom Phillips Photos / Flickr.com

Oklahoma's insurance commissioner is advising residents to purchase earthquake insurance after a national report suggested that seismic activity in the central part of the state is here to stay.

Commissioner John Doak says quake damage can cripple the finances of property owners who haven't purchased policies.

A report released last week from the U.S. and Oklahoma Geological surveys suggests an earthquake "swarm" continues to affect central Oklahoma after a record 5.6-magnitude quake rattled Oklahoma in November 2011.

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The Two-Way
2:12 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

'We Hurt A Lot Of People,' Westboro Pastor's Granddaughter Says

Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, is seen during her days with the church. Now alienated from their family, Phelps-Roper and her sister, Grace, speak to religious and cultural groups.
Jennifer Hack MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:25 pm

Nearly a year after breaking with the Westboro Baptist Church, two of Pastor Fred Phelps' granddaughters are enjoying a new freedom. But as they tell a Canadian newspaper, they also want to extend empathy to those they hurt in the name of a cause championed by the man they call "Gramps."

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