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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Prosecuters Will Cross-Examine
6:13 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Terrill Tells Truong He Will Testify

Judge Cindy Truong
Credit OKlahoma Court Judges

A former state lawmaker accused of bribing a Senate colleague says he will testify during his trial.

Former Rep. Randy Terrill told Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong Monday that he plans to testify in his own defense. Terrill is expected to testify on Tuesday.

Truong also told Terrill that prosecutors will have a right to cross-examine Terrill is he testifies. Terrill says he welcomes their questions.

Truong told Terrill's 12-member jury that they will be asked to deliberate a verdict on Tuesday.

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Oklahoma Supreme Court
4:12 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Challenge To Master Lease Program Denied By Court

Credit Serge Melki / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied a request for a new hearing in a legal challenge of a bond program used by Oklahoma colleges and universities.

Last month, the state's highest court rejected legal challenges brought by Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent and others and ruled the program was constitutional. The court also authorized an application to issue the bonds.

The Supreme Court rejected Fent's request for a rehearing on Monday.

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World
3:17 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Slow Improvements In The Garment Industry In Bangladesh

Credit Tareq Salahuddin / Flickr Creative Commons

The economy in Bangladesh is connected to the clothes Americans buy in many stores, including national retailers. The readymade garment industry in Bangladesh has been rocked by several major industrial accidents, leading to large scale worker protests calling for improved building and fire safety. The garment workers are also demanding better working conditions and higher minimum wages.

After several industrial accidents, where hundreds of people have died, attention turned to the stores selling the clothes. This put pressure on the industry and government in Bangladesh to take steps to improve the safety of garment factories.

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Oklahoma Watch
8:55 am
Mon October 28, 2013

New Data Reveals Widespread Financial Losses Among Small Oklahoma Hospitals

Bruce Mayhan, lab manager at Pauls Valley General Hospital, looks at a blood sample through a microscope in the hospital’s lab.
Credit Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

A majority of small general hospitals in Oklahoma are losing money, and health care officials warn that some hospitals could close, be sold or cut services.

Federal financial reports for nearly every hospital in the state, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, show that in each year from 2009 to 2012, between half and three-fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money. Most are in small cities or rural areas. More than half posted losses in multiple years.

Larger hospitals fared better. In each year during the four-year period, between 7 percent and 19 percent of general hospitals with 100 beds or more lost money.

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It's All Politics
8:02 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Monday Morning Political Mix: Obamacare Site Hits Another Snag

President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Russia in September in happier times before revelations that the NSA electronically eavesdropped on U.S. allies.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 9:54 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

It's the last week of October. That means the administration has just a month to meet its self-imposed deadline to have the Affordable Care Act website running as efficiently as it and millions of Americans had originally envisioned.

But the first item in our Monday political mix of some of the more interesting tidbits that caught my eye this morning indicates why setting such a deadline might be easier than meeting it.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon October 28, 2013

National Weather Center Aims To "Prepare, Respond, Restore" At This Year's Festival

Katie Western as Swirl Girl and Rick Smith at the 2012 National Weather Festival.
Credit Kate-Lynn Walsh

Katie Western practices her lines for the upcoming National Weather Festival. She’s majoring in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and is one of the festival’s Weather Friends, a group of superheroes representing each kind of severe weather. Katie’s character goes by the name “Swirl Girl.” She’ll run around in a costume and answer questions about tornado preparedness. And even though it’s fun, Katie realizes her role may be more important this year than it has been in years past. 

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Around the Nation
6:13 am
Mon October 28, 2013

The Slow, Uneven Rebuilding After Superstorm Sandy

Samantha Langello and her daughter Alanna, 2, stand in front of their flood-damaged house in Fox Beach on Staten Island, N.Y.
Joel Rose NPR

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 10:33 am

After Hurricane Sandy, the south shore of Staten Island looked like it had been hit by a tsunami. The storm surge devastated whole neighborhoods suddenly, in a matter of hours. In the year since the storm, some families have been rebuilding their homes and their lives. Others are ready to sell their flood-damaged properties and move on.

Joe Salluzzo lives in a neighborhood called New Dorp Beach, a few blocks from the ocean. He rode out the storm on the second story of his brick bungalow, which he's been repairing himself ever since.

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Environment
10:15 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Predicting Quakes Still Shaky, But Being Prepared Is Crucial

Cars lie smashed by the collapsed Interstate 5 connector a few hours after the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994, in California.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 4:59 pm

Morning recess at St. Augustine Catholic School in Culver City, Calif., is like recess in many other schools. Children run and play in the afternoon sun. But nearby, away from the basketball hoops and the games of tag, the staff is preparing.

Next to the playground sits a cargo container full of supplies: water, duct tape, an axe, a shovel and a generator along with gasoline. All of these supplies are here just in case the freeways are cut off or the power goes out — in case there is a major, destructive earthquake.

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The Record
10:12 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Lou Reed, Beloved Contrarian, Dies

Lou Reed onstage in London in 1975 playing a transparent, Plexiglass guitar. Reed died Sunday. He was 71.
Denis O'Regan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 4:59 pm

One of rock's most beloved and contrarian figures has died. Lou Reed epitomized New York City's artistic underbelly in the 1970s, with his songs about hookers and junkies. He was 71.

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4-H Members Pick 20,000 Pounds
6:21 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Sweet Harvest Will Feed 80,000 People

Credit Wally Hartshorn / Flickr.com

More than 100 4-H members from Caddo County spent their Friday morning picking thousands of pounds of sweet potatoes that will be donated to the hungry just in time for Thanksgiving.

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