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
4:25 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Shut Up And Give? Oklahomans Rethinking International Development And Philanthropy

A family in rural Bangladesh that sells milk to Grameen Danone Foods.
Chad Jordan Cornerstone International

Chad Jordan volunteered in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, but seeing the state of infrastructure, sanitation conditions, and the lack of financial services after decades and billions of dollars of humanitarian aid affected him even more than the temblor’s destruction.

“It’s really been used for projects that are corrupt,” Jordan says. “It doesn’t really go toward projects that are really sustaining people and focusing on business.”

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World Views
4:12 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

UPDATE: Obama Says He's Considering "Narrow" Syria Action

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013.
Credit Pete Souza / The White House

President Barack Obama says he hasn't made a final decision about a military strike against Syria. But he says he's considering a limited and narrow action in response to a chemical weapons attack that he says Syria'sgovernment carried out last week.

“We don't know how hard they're going to hit [President Bashar] Assad, but clearly they're going to hit Assad,” says Joshua Landis, a leading Syria watcher and the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “What Obama articulated very clearly is that we can hit him hard enough to dissuade him from using chemical weapons again. So it's worth it to try to extend that and punish Assad and make him think twice about using again.”

Obama says that attack was a challenge to the world and threatens U.S. national security.

 

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Tornado Recovery
11:08 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Feds Give Oklahoma $37 Million In New Storm Aid

Survivors of May's tornado look at a car damaged in the storm.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The city of Moore and state of Oklahoma will receive nearly $37 million in federal aid to help recover from the May and June tornadoes and storms that killed dozens of people and caused damage estimated at more than $1 billion.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Friday that Moore will receive $23.6 million for recovery efforts from the May 20 tornado and the state will receive $10.6 million for storms that occurred from May 18 to June 2.

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The Two-Way
10:41 am
Fri August 30, 2013

India's PM Tries To Reassure Country Over Rupee's Slide

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a diplomatic signing ceremony with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in New Delhi last week.
Prakash Singh AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 2:03 pm

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed a steep slide in the country's currency in recent weeks in a rare public speech on Friday, hoping to assuage concern over the rupee's sudden depreciation and blaming the opposition for inaction in Parliament that he said was sending the wrong signals to the markets.

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OU Football
9:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Boren Postpones New Stadium Security Restrictions

OU is lifting new restrictions on purses and seat cushions for Saturday's game.
Credit allisonmeier / Flickr Creative Commons

New security measures set to take place Saturday as the University of Oklahoma football team opens its season against Louisiana-Monroe at home are being delayed.

An emailed statement from OU President David Boren says fans will be allowed to bring "purses of reasonable size and seat cushions" into the stadium.

Earlier this week, the university was alerting football fans to restrictions that would have limited purses to 10 inches by 10 inches and ban seat cushions and chair backs.

The statement from OU says the university "does not want to unduly inconvenience fans."

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The Two-Way
8:44 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Striking Syria Still Seems A Question Of When, Not Whether

At the White House, President Obama and his advisers continue to work to build support in Congress and among allies for striking Syria.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 12:54 pm

  • From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Bowman reports.

Though Great Britain won't be joining in any military action aimed at Syria, it appears the White House is determined to go ahead — most likely within the next few days and most likely with missile strikes.

We'll be following the news throughout the day and over the weekend. As Friday dawns, here's where things stand:

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Science
2:03 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Wise Old Whooping Cranes Keep Captive-Bred Fledglings On Track

This young whooping crane is on its first fall migration, guided by an Operation Migration ultralight aircraft. Each whooper in this population wears an identification band, and many carry tracking devices that record their movements in detail.
Joe Duff Operation Migration USA Inc.

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:40 pm

Being a wildlife biologist in the 21st century increasingly means rescuing rare animals from extinction. Among the success stories is the whooping crane. Seventy years ago there were only about 16 birds left on the planet. Now there are about 600.

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Adoption Dispute
6:14 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

South Carolina Sending Deputies To Oklahoma In Cherokee Custody Case

Seal of the Cherokee Nation
Credit Cherokee Nation

A South Carolina sheriff says he has sent two deputies and a state agent to Oklahoma as the dispute over the adoption of a 3-year-old Cherokee girl continues.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon told The Post and Courier of Charleston he sent the officers Thursday morning because he thought they could assist authorities in Oklahoma.

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150 Jobs On The Line
4:17 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Impending Closure Of Casino Prompts Negotiations With Cherokee Nation

Keetoowah Casino
Credit peggydavis66 / Flickr.com

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians is hoping to negotiate with the Cherokee Nation to keep the Keetoowahs' Tahlequah casino open.

The Tulsa World reports that the Keetoowah Council voted to enter negotiations with the Cherokees to sign over the land to the Cherokee Nation — which would then lease it back to the Keetoowahs to keep the casino open.

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Syrian Civil War
3:06 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Inhofe On Syria: "We Just Can’t Take On Anything Else"

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says the Defense Department budget cuts due to sequestration have been too great to use military resources.
Credit Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Congress is in recess until September 9th, but lawmakers are calling for congressional involvement to any U.S. response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians last week.

This evening, U.S. House and Senate leaders will get a briefing from the White House. President Obama has said he is certain that the chemical weapon attack was initiated by Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

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