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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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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Environment
10:58 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Debate Revs As Decision Stalls Over Oil Pipeline From Canada

A 60-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline in Prague, Okla., in March. The Gulf Coast Pipeline, a 485-mile crude oil line, is part of the Keystone XL project and will run from Cushing, Okla. to Nederland, Texas. Although this southern stretch of the pipeline is nearly finished, the northern stretch is still under study.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 11:56 am

Five years ago this week, a Canadian company proposed building a pipeline to send heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. Although the Obama administration's answer on the Keystone XL pipeline is not expected anytime soon, politicians in Washington and Canada are ramping up the pressure for the project, while environmentalists are pushing hard against it.

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Elections
10:31 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Independent Voters Outpacing GOP And Democrats In Oklahoma

2012 Oklahoma presidential election results. The darker red the county, the higher the vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Election officials say the number of independent voters has outpaced Republicans and Democrats in new voter registrations this year.

In March, Election Board officials removed about 145,000 inactive voters from the rolls. According to the Tulsa World, independents have added 4,582 new voters since then.

Republicans have added 1,544 new voters, while Democrats have decreased by 3,306.

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The Two-Way
10:02 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Attack At The Navy Yard: Gunman And 12 Victims Killed

Workers emerge from a building after a deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. There are multiple injuries and deaths, and one gunman is dead. Police say they are searching for two other "potential" shooters.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 12:31 pm

(We're constantly updating the top of this post and adding to it below as well.)

The nation's capital went on high alert Monday after a shooting attack at the city's U.S. Navy Yard left at least 12 victims and one gunman dead and injured 8 others.

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