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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May Be An Imperial or Columbian Mammoth
4:37 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Prehistoric Mammoth Found By Gas Line Construction Crew

Columbian Mammoth
Credit greaterumbrage / flickr.com

Nearly two dozen Oklahoma State University students are helping excavate the remains of a prehistoric mammoth found near Enid.

The remains were discovered by Access Midstream workers who were installing a high-pressure natural gas line northwest of Enid. The remains are now being moved to a lab on the OSU campus in Stillwater where they're being studied and will be reconstructed.

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State Dept. of Education
11:05 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Another Democrat Joins State Superintendent Race

Jack Herron
Credit Jack Herron

Former school administrator and assistant state superintendent Jack Herron has kicked off his campaign for the superintendent of public instruction job held by first-term Republican Janet Barresi.

Herron, a Democrat from Norman, launched his campaign Wednesday at the state Capitol. He joins at least three other Democrats and a Republican who have announced plans to seek the education post in 2014.

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The Two-Way
10:35 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt And KISS Among Rock Hall Nominees

Gene Simmons of KISS during a 2009 concert in Washington, D.C.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Have years of complaining by fans (and The Two-Way) paid off?

The nominees for this year's of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honorees have been announced and the band that many love to hate (or hate to love?) is back on the list.

Yes, KISS is up for consideration.

So, soldiers of the KISS Army, here's your chance to show your support.

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The Salt
10:06 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Banksy's Latest Work Takes On The Meat Industry ... With Puppets

Banksy's "Sirens of the Lambs" started its tour of New York City in — naturally — the Meatpacking District.
BanksyNY Youtube

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 9:55 am

Banksy, the mysterious British graffiti artist known for his satirical work, has been making mischief around New York City this month.

His latest artwork makes a statement about the meat industry, or lost innocence — or something like that. In any case, it'll certainly make you stop and look.

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State Capitol
9:57 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Ralph Ellison Portrait Planned For Oklahoma Capitol

Ralph Ellison
Credit http://www.ralphellisoncentennial.com

UPDATE: The Ralph Ellison Centennial Gala is Feb. 8 at the Oklahoma History Center. 

KGOU's Kurt Gwartney talks with state Sen. David Holt and Ralph Ellison literary executor John Callahan.
John Callahan discusses Ralph Ellison's literary heritage and connection to Oklahoma (recorded Oct. 9 at Oklahoma City University).

Portraits hanging on the walls of the state Capitol building provide a glimpse of the people who helped make Oklahoma what it is today.

You can see Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Robert S. Kerr, Carl Albert, Woody Guthrie and Angie Debo.

But Ralph Ellison, one of Oklahoma’s most famous writers, is not honored in this way, and that is about to change.

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Grand Jury
9:03 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Judge Tosses Rogers County Grand Jury Petition

Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley
Credit Oklahoma District Attorneys Council

A judge has dismissed a petition calling for a grand jury to investigate Rogers County leaders, finding that backers of the measure used an unauthorized form to gather nearly 7,000 signatures from registered voters.

Tulsa County District Judge Jefferson Sellers dismissed the grand jury petition on Tuesday, ruling that the petition summary included language that had not been approved by the court.

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Flu
8:34 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Oklahoma Seniors Encouraged To Get Flu Shot

Credit NHSE / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma health officials are urging seniors to get a flu shot because they have a higher risk for developing flu-related complications.

Health officials say people with a weakened immune system, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer are at the highest risk. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older.

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Planet Money
7:44 am
Wed October 16, 2013

When Will The Government Run Out Of Money?

Quoctrung Bui

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 11:19 am

In the course of any given month, the government collects billions of dollars in taxes, spends billions more, and borrows money to cover the difference between what it collects and what it spends.

If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling soon, the government won't be able to borrow money to cover the difference anymore and won't be able to pay all of its bills.

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Memo Sent From Secretary of Finance
6:16 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Fallin Says No State Funds To Ease Federal Programs

Credit Steve Wampler / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin is ordering state agency leaders not to use any state money to temporarily fund federal programs during the ongoing partial government shutdown unless they've been guaranteed federal reimbursement.

Fallin's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger sent a memo on Tuesday to all state agency directors and finance officers to that effect. The memo urges agency heads to discontinue any federally funded programs that could result in a permanent loss of state funds.

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Residents Face Economic Hardship
3:58 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Five Oklahoma Counties Have Faced Unrelenting Drought

Credit Al Jazeera English / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a drought emergency for parts of southwestern Oklahoma and a portion of the far western Panhandle.

Despite recent rainfall across much of Oklahoma, information released Tuesday by the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates extreme-to-exceptional drought conditions in the western part of the state. The counties included in the drought emergency are Jackson, Tillman, Greer, Harmon and Texas.

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