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.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
8:55 am
Thu September 19, 2013

The Fight For Southeast Oklahoma Water Has 19th Century Roots

University of Oklahoma law professor and tribal law expert Taiawagi Helton says Choctaw and Chickasaw water rights were never revoked.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Oklahoma City decided to build a pipeline that would eventually carry water from Sardis Lake, in southeast Oklahoma, to the city, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations filed suit in federal court saying pretty much all of the water in that part of the state belongs to them.

That was in 2011. The parties have been negotiating outside of court since early 2012, and the case was stayed for a sixth time Sept. 17.

Read more
National Security
8:25 am
Thu September 19, 2013

ACLU Posts Fed-Collected 'Suspicious' Activity Reports Online

In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world. At a fusion center in Las Vegas, workers like Daniel Burns, a program coordinator, analyze suspicious activity reports. The ACLU on Thursday posted more than 1,800 of these reports that were gathered in central California.
Monica Lam Center for Investigative Reporting

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 1:29 pm

With all the talk of spying by the National Security Agency, it's easy to forget the government engages in off-line surveillance, too. In the last few years, the feds have expanded efforts to collect tips about people's behavior in the real world; they're called suspicious activity reports.

Hal Bergman, a freelance photographer in Los Angeles, has a fondness for industrial scenes, bridges, ports and refineries.

Read more
OneSix8
7:30 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week: Take Flight This Weekend

Credit Eric BC Lim / Flickr Creative Commons

If your plans for this weekend are up in the air, this week’s OneSix8 has some suggestions for you. From fairies to butterflies, there are a lot of options to spread your wings and enjoy the warm weekend ahead.

The Gatesway International Balloon Festival and Oklahoma Hot Air Balloon Championship take flight this Thursday and continue through Saturday. People from across the country have traveled to Oklahoma with their award winning balloons. There are 30 Balloons in total, but this event is more than just nylon and hot air.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:09 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Death Toll At 80 And Likely To Rise As Storms Slam Mexico

Near the town of Petaquillas, Mexico, a man held on to a line Wednesday as he crossed a stream swollen by rain dumped by the storm Manuel.
Alejandrino Gonzalez AP

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 7:54 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': Host Renee Montagne talks with the AP's Michael Weissenstein

Mud slides, flash floods and rising waters are proving to be a deadly combination in the mountains near Acapulco, Mexico, where dozens of people have died in recent days as a tropical storm-turned hurricane pummels the area.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:03 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Conservative Lobbyist Derails Bipartisan 'Science Laureate' Bill

The U.S. Capitol at sunrise.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 10:24 am

No one who's been paying attention for, say, the past few decades, needs to be reminded of how extremely polarized Washington is.

So it's usually good news when Democrats and Republicans can come together on an issue, as they did recently to support the idea of creating the new honorary position of "Science Laureate of the United States."

Read more
Fallin Signed Into Law
6:22 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Challenge To New State Workers' Compensation Law

Credit Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma

Two Oklahoma lawmakers and a firefighters' organization are challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma's new workers' compensation law.

The lawsuit was filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Tuesday by Sen. Harry Coates of Seminole, Rep. Emily Virgin of Norman and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma.

Read more
"It Can Wait" movement
3:55 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Tulsa Mayor Joins Campaign To End Texting While Driving

Credit mrJasonWeaver / Flickr.com

Tulsa is joining a national campaign that aims to educate people about the dangers of texting while driving.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett is to kick off the It Can Wait Tulsa campaign Thursday at City Hall. He'll be joined by AT&T Oklahoma President Bryan Gonterman.

The announcement coincides with the campaign's Drive4Pledges Day, an effort to gather pledges from people nationwide stating that they will not text while behind the wheel.

The national It Can Wait movement is headed by the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon companies.

Read more
All Tech Considered
1:47 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

This Board Game Aims To Teach Preschoolers How To Code

Robot Turtles is for future programmers ages 3 to 8.
Courtesy of Robot Turtles

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 12:01 pm

In our "Weekly Innovation" blog series, we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.

Read more
State Capitol
1:17 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

UPDATE: Group Launches Oklahoma School Shelter Ballot Drive

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

Organizers have launched a signature-gathering campaign for a $500 million bond issue to put storm shelters in public schools.

The group Take Shelter Oklahoma filed a petition on Wednesday with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office to get the issue on a statewide ballot. Once the ballot language is given final approval by the attorney general, supporters have 90 days to gather about 155,000 signatures of registered voters.

The plan calls for the debt service on the bond issue to be paid by the annual franchise tax levied on businesses.

Read more
1:01 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

New Pride Of Oklahoma Director Draws Fire From Alumni, Students, Fans

Lead in text: 
As fans trekked to Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Saturday before the Sooners' matchup against Tulsa, volunteers handed out fliers printed with an odd request — don't cheer.
Although the message asked fans not to show their support for the band, it was distributed by band alumni, parents and others. Those supporters are upset about the direction the band is taking under new director Justin Stolarik, who came to OU this fall.

Pages