Severe Weather
5:03 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

How Low Can It Go? Tornado Numbers, Deaths Fall

Credit Harold Brooks / NOAA

The 12-month period from May 2012 to April 2013 was remarkable for the absence of tornado activity and tornado impacts in the United States.

We can start by looking at the number of EF1 and stronger tornadoes during that period. A final count is available through January 2013 and we have a pretty good estimate of how many occurred in February through April, although final numbers won’t be available until July. Although the 12 month total may change a little bit with the final data, it’s unlikely to change enough to affect the results here.

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State Capitol
4:08 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Fallin Signs Sweeping Workers' Compensation Bill

Back injuries are a common workers' compensation claim.
Credit Darcie / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Monday a sweeping overhaul of the way Oklahoma treats workers hurt on the job. Senate Bill 1062 changes the state’s court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative plan.

Supporters of the bill, including its authors, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon, say it will reduce costs for businesses.

But detractors, including many Democrats, say the new law saves money at the expense of injured workers and does nothing to reduce medical costs associated with workers’ compensation claims.

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Teach In
3:45 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

U.S. Civilian Economy Grew During World War II

David Kennedy
Credit OU

Listen to David Kennedy's presentation during the OU Teach-In on the Great Depression and World War II.

Of all the major countries fighting in World War II, the United States is the only nation whose civilian economy grew during the conflict, according to David Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and historian.

“In this country and this country alone, the civilian portion of the economy grew by 15 percent,” Kennedy said. This is in contrast to allies Great Britain and the Soviet Union where that sector of the economy shrank by one-third.

Kennedy made those comments during his presentation, “A Tale of Three Cities: How the United State Won World War II,” at the second annual Teach In at the University of Oklahoma.

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Mon May 6, 2013

UPDATE: White House Doubts Syrian Rebels Used Sarin

Carla del Ponte, a diplomat and prosecutor who now serves on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria.
Salvatore Di Nolfi EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:07 pm

Update at 1:55 p.m. ET: White House Is "Highly Skeptical":

At the White House this afternoon, spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is "highly skeptical" of the comments made over the weekend by international prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who said there are "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof" that rebels in Syria have used sarin gas.

We've been covering del Ponte's comments, and the reaction to them, through the day. Scroll down to see an earlier update and our original post.

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State Capitol
8:08 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Lawmakers Approve Income Tax Cut Despite Threat of Reimbursment Costs

Credit 401(K) 2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

A lawsuit by an out-of-state company that challenges a tax break on capital gains for Oklahoma-based businesses is causing some concern at the state Capitol.

An analysis on the potential costs of a tax reimbursement show Oklahoma could be on the hook for as much as $480 million if the court rules in favor of tax payers.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Hickman raised the issue during questions on a tax cut bill approved by the House last week. But budget negotiators said any repercussions of the capital gains issue should be worked out apart from the state budget.

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10:55 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Oklahoma Wheat Crop Threatened

Lead in text: 
"Six freezes since March 20, on top of a yearslong drought, has left wheat crops extremely stressed and without a well-developed root system."
Far southwest: 5.5 million * Southeast: 490,000 * Northeast: 3 million * West central: 11.3 million * Central: 15.1 million * Northwest and west: 15.1 million * Total: 85.5 million Oklahoma producers are expected to harvest 85.5 million bushels of wheat this year, a 45 percent drop from last year's 154.8 million bushels, the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association announced at its annual meeting this week.
Weather and Climate
10:07 am
Sun May 5, 2013

May is Tornado Month in Oklahoma

May 3, 1999 tornado paths in Oklahoma
Credit National Weather Service

Tis the season ... when we check the forecasts, make sure the batteries in the radios are good, and rehearse safety plans with the family and our neighbors.  Tornado season is here.

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10:28 am
Sat May 4, 2013

Bloomberg: Kaiser Charity Exploits Loophole

Lead in text: 
An analysis of the 2011 tax return of the George Kaiser Family Foundation shows how some types of charities take advantage of federal tax law to support for-profit ventures.
When Oklahoma energy billionaire George Kaiser opened the Northeast Gateway liquid natural gas terminal in 2008, the floating depot's first delivery was shipped on the Excellence, a 909-foot supertanker that holds 138,000 cubic meters of LNG -- enough gas to meet more than 4 percent of daily U.S. demand.
U.S.
4:51 am
Sat May 4, 2013

At NRA Convention, Dueling Narratives Displayed With Guns

An ammunition display at the NRA's annual convention in Houston on Friday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 4, 2013 11:50 am

The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention in Houston this weekend. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend for speeches and demos and acres of guns, ammo and camo.

The NRA is coming off of a major victory: the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate. While the talk in the convention hall is about keeping up the fight and staying true to the Constitution, a small protest against gun violence is being held outside.

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Politics and Government
5:58 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Lawmakers Delay Pension Board Reform

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Late timing and skepticism among legislators have pushed into next year an effort by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Treasurer Ken Miller to consolidate the state's pension boards.

The plan would combine the administration boards of Oklahoma's seven pension systems, which cover more than 200,000 teachers, judges, police and other employees and retirees. The pensions' funds would be kept separate. The governor says the change would save millions of dollars.

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