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
2:59 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

European Union Warns Russia Over Ukraine, Moldova Pressure

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Credit Presidential Press and Information Office / maiak.info / Flickr Creative Commons

European Union trade ministers are warning Russia to stop pressuring neighborhood countries that seek closer ties with the EU.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says since the end of the Cold War, countries that once served as Russia’s “buffer zone” increasingly look to the West.

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Indian Times
2:27 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Cherokee Breaks New Ground As A Woman Mixed Martial Arts Fighter

Credit Provided / Kathina Catron

She’s a surgical tech by day, and a mom to her 7 year old son Coy…but in her other life she is one tough cookie. Kathina Catron is one of the top women fighters in Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, in this region. And she’s a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

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World Views
1:24 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Heavy Smog Hits North China City, Flights Canceled

Credit Nicolò Lazzati / Flickr Creative Commons

Severe smog has reduced the visibility of a northern Chinese city to less than half a football field.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says Chinese authorities blame the increase on two things: a lack of wind, and more smoke in the air.

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World Views
12:18 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Germ Theory: How Disease And Climate Change Toppled The Roman Empire

The Roman Colosseum - September 26, 2009.
Credit Yellow.Cat / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with historian Kyle Harper.

University of Oklahoma historian Kyle Harper says there have been thousands of answers to what caused the fall of the Roman Empire. Overexpansion, economics, and the rise of Christianity are all valid explanations, but he’s exploring the role of disease and climate change.

“When we look back at the Roman Empire now, we can see that changes in the Romans' environment, both the climate, but also the kind of species that live in and around humans, especially pathogens, play an enormous role in the collapse,” Harper says.

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Native American
9:54 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Gay Marriage Comes To Oklahoma

Despite Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, a gay couple will be legally married in the state thanks to one man's bloodline.

Darren Black Bear is a member of the Oklahoma-based Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes. It's among the few Native American tribes in the U.S. that allow same-sex marriage.

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Product Liability
9:45 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Punitive Settlement Reached In Oklahoma Toyota Case

2005 Toyota Camry
Credit Bull-Doser / Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma judge says a settlement to award punitive damages has been reached in a case that blamed sudden acceleration in a Toyota Camry for a wrongful death.

The jury found Toyota Motor Corp. liable Thursday for a fatal crash and awarded $1.5 million compensation to Jean Bookout, the driver injured in the crash, and $1.5 million to the family of Barbara Schwarz, who died.

The jury also decided that Toyota acted with "reckless disregard" for the rights of others.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
9:19 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Texas’ Application For Oklahoma Water Still Active Despite Supreme Court Ruling

Credit Mark Fischer / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court in June sided with Oklahoma, ruling the interstate Red River water compact did not entitle Texas to water within Oklahoma’s borders.

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StoryCorps
7:31 am
Fri October 25, 2013

'Never Say Goodbye': A Love And Life Kept Vivid

Danny and Annie Perasa on their wedding day on April 22, 1978.
Courtesy of Annie Perasa

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 10:08 am

When we first met Danny and Annie Perasa in 2004, we heard about how their first date unfolded into an on-the-spot marriage proposal. We got a sense of Danny's big personality and his deep love for his wife. And we heard about his daily love notes to her.

To my princess, the weather out today is extremely rainy, I'll call you at 11:20 in the morning. And I love you, I love you, I love you.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Fri October 25, 2013

France, Germany Want To Set New Rules For Surveillance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) talks with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on the second day of an European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 10:52 am

This post was updated at 10:15 a.m.

A day after reports surfaced that the NSA may have spied on dozens of world leaders, France and Germany are offering to hold talks with the U.S. to establish new rules on surveillance.

"What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States," French President Francois Hollande said at an EU summit in Brussels, according to The Associated Press.

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Leftwich Planned To Run Again
6:17 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

McAffrey Testifies In Terrill Bribery Trial

Credit Oklahoma State Senate

Several agency and elected officials are testifying in the trial of a former state legislator accused of bribing a Senate colleague with a job offer.

Two state senators were among those who testified Thursday in the trial of former state Rep. Randy Terrill. The Moore Republican is charged with offering a former Democratic colleague an $80,000-a-year state job in exchange for her withdrawal as a candidate for re-election in 2010. Prosecutors allege Terrill masterminded the scheme so that a Republican colleague of Terrill's could seek the open seat.

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