On a Friday, this is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
Today is the first day of school for students in Moore, Oklahoma. It is a bittersweet return. Nearly three months ago, a tornado tore through that small community. The storm destroyed hundreds of buildings, including two elementary schools. Seven students and 18 other people died. The storm has fueled a debate about why there aren't more storm shelters in the heart of Tornado Alley. Across Oklahoma, there's no statewide plan to put shelters in schools.
Oklahoma was hit particularly hard by two massive outbreaks this year in what's been another deadly season of tornadoes in the U.S. Despite technology and forecasting improvements, scientists still have plenty to learn about how and why tornadoes form.
Currently, one of the best ways for researchers to understand how tornadoes form is to chase them. So off they go with mobile science laboratories, rushing toward storms armed with research equipment and weather-sensing probes.
A federal judge has prohibited Oklahoma officials from certifying the results of a statewide election in 2010 that would have prohibited state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.
In an order handed down Thursday, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange permanently enjoined the State Election Board from certifying results of the vote in which State Question 755 was approved. The measure was passed with 70 percent of the vote on Nov. 2, 2010.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services says an increase in the number of children in state custody is hampering efforts to meet goals that are part of the settlement of a federal lawsuit over DHS' treatment of children.
The Oklahoman reports that DHS officials told a joint meeting of DHS citizens' advisory panels Wednesday that the number of children in state custody rose from about 8,000 in 2009 to 10,428.
Coal mining can cause a lot of damage to the landscape, and the federal government has rules about how mining companies are supposed to treat the land after they’re done with it.
Basically, they’re supposed to return it to approximately what it was like before.
The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is charged with making sure the Oklahoma Department of Mines is enforcing that rule. If the Oklahoma mining regulator doesn’t, the feds can step in and take over that role.
On Thursday President Obama canceled joint military exercises with Egypt – saying U.S. cooperation with that country can't "continue as usual" amid the violence that claimed more than 600 lives since Wednesday.
Samer Shehata, a University of Oklahoma professor of Middle East Studies and an expert on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, says while the move was the least President Obama could do, it was still necessary.
“It isn't terribly costly for the United States or for the Egyptian military,” Shehata says. “I think the larger questions, the more important questions, are will U.S. military assistance to Egypt, which is on the tune of $1.3 billion annually, will that be suspended or ended?”
Americans are buying less gasoline than they did just a few years back. While many people believe this is a good thing, it does present a problem: Most road construction is paid for with fuel taxes. Less gas tax revenue means less money for roads.
One reason gas purchases are down is that more people are driving more efficient cars, such as hybrid and electric vehicles. Now states are looking for solutions, including charging hybrids extra fees or imposing fees based on miles driven.
A recent NCAI resolution says authorizing the wind energy project to kill eagles in Osage Nation territory without the tribe's consent would set a dangerous precedent. The resolution says it would limit the ability of all tribes in the U.S. to protect their cultural resources.
Kiowa historian Phil "Joe Fish" DuPoint and Kiowa museum director Amie Tah-Bone stand at the base of Longhorn Mountain, near Coopertown, Okla. DuPoint and Tah-Bone say a new limestone mine will desecrate the mountain, which the tribe considers a sacred site and source of ceremonial cedar.
Limestone mining on Longhorn Mountain, northwest of Lawton, could start anytime. The company that leases the land on the western side has a permit to mine, and just needs to put up some bond money with the state Department of Mines to get started.
This is a surprise to the Kiowa Tribe, which has used Longhorn Mountain for hundreds of years as a temple where tribe members pray, have vision quests and retrieve sacred cedar used in many rituals.
But the mining shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cushing, Okla.-based Material Service Corporation — and President Larry Stewart — has had a permit for a 370-acre mine on the site for almost 10 years. It’s up to the company to decide when and whether to go forward with the project.