Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray Nagin was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been criticism that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.

So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood – who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be. 

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Ellsberg Praises Bradley Manning
5:41 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Pentagon Papers Leaker Ellsberg Calls Manning Inspirational

Daniel Ellsberg at Whistleblower Conference
Credit Carol Leigh / Flickr.com

Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg says Bradley Manning is ``one more casualty of a horrible, wrongful war'' and he did not deserve any prison time.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday for giving troves of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.  Ellsberg told The Associated Press by telephone that Manning will always be an inspiration of civil and moral courage to truth tellers. 

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Measles in Texas
4:00 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Measles Outbreak In Texas Too Close For Comfort

Child With Measles
Credit Dave Haygarth / Flickr.com

Health officials in Oklahoma say they're keeping a close eye on a measles outbreak in Texas.

There have been no reported cases of measles in Oklahoma. But state Department of Health Immunization Service Director Lori Linstead says there is concern because measles is very contagious and "spreads like wildfire."

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Politics and Government
2:51 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Ex-Oklahoma State Senator Arrested In Mississippi

Former State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant).
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Senate

The Mississippi state auditor says a former Oklahoma state senator has been arrested for embezzlement.

A news release from State Auditor Stacey Pickering's office says Jay Paul Gumm of Wiggins, Miss., was arrested last week for allegedly embezzling more than $24,000 from the Stone County Economic Development Partnership in Mississippi. Gumm is the former director of the partnership and is now free on $20,000 bond.

Pickering spokesman Brett Kittredge said Wednesday that Gumm is a former state senator from Durant, Okla.

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Religion
2:24 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

New Southern Baptist Leader On Issues And The State Of The Church

Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention.
Credit Provided / Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination, with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide.

The new president of its Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission – the division tasked with addressing moral and religious freedom issues — is Russell Moore, a theologian from Louisville, Kentucky.

The Southern Baptist Convention has been criticized for its strictly conservative views.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:01 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

GRDA And Gov. Fallin Make Nice As Plans For New Natural Gas Plant Move Forward

Empty coal cars leaving the Grand River Dam Authority's coal-fired complex in Chouteau, Okla.
Credit Doug Wertman / Flickr Creative Commons

The summer was tough on the Grand River Dam Authority’s relationship with Gov. Mary Fallin.

It started when the GRDA announced plans earlier this year to spend almost $400 million to build a new natural gas power plant, and upgrade its newest coal-fired plant in compliance with new federal regulations.

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Duncan Murder
1:27 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Killing Of Australian Sparks Calls For Boycott Of U.S.

A Facebook tribute page for murdered Australian baseball player Christopher Lane already has more than 50,000 followers.
Credit R.I.P. Christopher Lane / Facebook

Killing Of Australian Sparks Calls For Boycott Of U.S.

Former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer is urging Australian tourists to stay away from the U.S., following the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Christopher Lane, an Australian on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.

Fischer told the country’s Herald-Sun newspaper that Australians should boycott the U.S. as a way to force Congress to act on gun control.

WBUR and NPR's Here and Now host Robin Young spoke with Claire Crouch, a reporter for KSWO, the ABC television affiliate in Lawton.

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Duncan Murder
12:33 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Tom Cole Comments On Duncan "Thrill Killing" Of Australian Man

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
Credit U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) says he's distressed what he calls a "senseless murder" was committed against a citizen of a country that's always been a, quote, "steadfast friend and ally of the United States."

“It is with sadness that I offer my sincere sympathy and send my prayers to the family and friends of Chris Lane as they grieve the loss of a loved individual,” Cole said in a statement. “To our dear friends in Australia, I extend my profound apology for this senseless, brutal crime that sadly occurred in my state and district.”

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World Views
11:09 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Outgoing OU Museum Director Says Technology Will Define Art’s Next Generation

A mural at the Venezuela Pavilion at the 55th Art Biennale in Venice, Italy.
Credit Konstantinos Koukopoulos / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Ghislain d’Humières.

The departing director of the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art says 21st Century art will be shaped by music, video, and other mixed media to visually express ideas in new and exciting ways.

Ghislain d’Humières spoke with World Views host and OU College of International Studies Dean Suzette Grillot shortly before he takes over as the CEO of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville.

“It’s an exciting trend. There is absolutely no border on the canvas. Anything could be the canvas,” d’Humières says. “One could argue that every period had a very cutting-edge, contemporary time, but I think the period we’re living in right now has been seeing a huge amount of new technology and new ways to express art.”

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The Two-Way
10:07 am
Wed August 21, 2013

35-Year Sentence For Bradley Manning

U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, Md., on Tuesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 1:31 pm

Update at 10:18 a.m. ET. 35 Years:

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was responsible for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, was sentenced by a military judge to 35 years in prison Wednesday, according to reporters covering the trial at Fort Meade, Md. He'll get about 3 1/2 years' credit for time he's already spent behind bars.

More details (added at 10:30 a.m. ET):

-- Manning is also to be dishonorably discharged.

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State Capitol
8:57 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Monies Moving Into State Senate Role, Leaving State Chamber

Jennifer Monies is moving from the State Chamber of Commerce to the state Senate as press secretary and senior adviser.
Credit State Chamber of Commerce

Oklahoma state Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman has named a state Chamber of Commerce official as his new press secretary and senior adviser.

Bingman says Jennifer Monies will replace Nathan Atkins. Atkins left Bingman's office staff during the summer to attend law school.

Monies is a former reporter for The Oklahoman and Congressional Quarterly. She has also served as press secretary for two Oklahoma House speakers and has worked for the State Chamber of Oklahoma since 2010.

She will join Bingman's staff on Aug. 30.

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