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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Around The State
12:51 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Properties Tied To Famous Oklahoma Women To Be Surveyed

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, one of several Oklahoma women Alyson Greiner plans to research.
Credit LaDomene13 / Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma State University professor is set to start examining historical properties associated with famous women in the Sooner State later this month.

Alyson Greiner says the project will last about nine months and her research will be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office. The hope is to nominate some of the properties associated with the women to the National Register of Historic Places or to update current landmark listings with the role women played.

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Native American
11:35 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Cherokee Nation's Economic Impact On Oklahoma Is $1.3 Billion

The Cherokee Casino in Tahlequah, Okla.
Credit peggydavis66 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report shows the Cherokee Nation had a $1.3 billion economic impact on the state of Oklahoma during 2012.

The report says the Cherokee Nation government and business operations directly accounted for more than 8,000 jobs and an additional 1,160 contract employees.

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Corrections
9:40 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Oklahoma AG: Pardon And Parole Board Can Continue Considering More Crimes Violent

Credit mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

The Pardon and Parole Board can continue its practice of treating some offenders’ crimes as violent even though the offenses are not included in two statutory lists of violent crimes, board members were informed Monday.

Tracy George, Pardon and Parole Board interim executive director, said a recent attorney general’s opinion reaffirmed the practice of treating some crimes as violent although they are not among the violent offenses listed in statute.

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Shots - Health News
9:18 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Laid Off And Looking For Health Insurance? Beware Of COBRA

After losing a job, figuring out health insurance may be the smartest first step.
Franck Camhi iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 1:14 pm

People who lose their jobs and the health insurance tied to them will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces open in October.

But consumer advocates are concerned many of these unemployed people may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need.

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Parallels
8:57 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Why The U.S. Needs Bashar Assad To Stay For Now

President Obama is no longer calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as the U.S. presses him to dismantle his stockpile of chemical weapons. Assad is shown here on Sept. 8.
AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:57 am

Throughout the Syrian war, President Obama has insisted that President Bashar Assad must go. But now, the U.S. may want, or even need, Assad to remain in power for a while longer so he can oversee the dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpile.

"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," Obama said back on Aug. 18, 2011, in his first explicit call for Assad's ouster, something the U.S. president went on to repeat on multiple occasions.

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eCapitol
7:41 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Teacher Shortages Continue To Leave Numerous Vacancies In Oklahoma

Teacher shortages continue to increase across the state despite small progress made last session via legislation that would allow alternative certification for special education teachers through the use of a “boot camp.”

Since the state Board of Education approved the boot camps in the spring, the department has approved five providers and offered two boot camps itself, serving just over 100 participants.

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College Football
6:20 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

OSU: Former NCAA Official To Investigate Charges of Misconduct

Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.
Credit ptcruiser4dogs / Flickr.com

Oklahoma State University has appointed a former NCAA official to investigate alleged misconduct in the Cowboy football program.

OSU President Burns Hargis and the Board of Regents announced Monday that Charles E. Smrt will lead an independent review of alleged violations reported by Sports Illustrated.

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Alleged Navy Yard Killer A Former Reservist, Authorities Say

Aaron Alexis, whom the FBI believes to have been responsible for the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., is shown in this handout photo released by the FBI on Monday.
FBI Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:04 am

Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old man believed responsible for Monday's shooting rampage that killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, was a former full-time Navy reservist who had obtained a concealed-carry permit in Texas and was arrested three years ago for illegally discharging a weapon.

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Human Trafficking
4:13 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

42 Arrested In Oklahoma Sex Trafficking Investigation

Anonymous Female Prostitute
Credit allessandro isnotaurelio / Flickr.com

A total of 42 people have been arrested following a four-day investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics into sex trafficking in northeastern Oklahoma.

A spokesman for the agency, Mark Woodward, says OBN's Human Trafficking Unit launched the investigation after learning that individuals, including minors, were being forced into prostitution in Tulsa, Rogers, Ottawa, and Delaware counties.

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Oklahoma Politics
11:10 am
Mon September 16, 2013

GOP Takeover In Oklahoma Explained

Credit Oklahoma Policy Institute

It wasn’t long ago that to be involved in a meaningful way in Oklahoma politics, office seekers had to have a “D” after their names. But in just a few years, that has turned around so that an “R” is now necessary to have a significant influence in state politics.

That change was not as sudden as it seems, according to political consultant Pat McFerron,“To me the question isn’t, ‘Why we’re so Republican now? It’s why were we so Democrat before?’”

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