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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The Two-Way
9:50 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Better Than Expected Job Growth In June

At a job fair in Los Angeles last month, job seekers filled out applications.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 9:48 am

More jobs were created last month than economists had expected, but the unemployment rate held steady.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added 195,000 jobs to public and private payrolls. That's better than the gain of 165,000 that forecasters had predicted.

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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Fri July 5, 2013

That's 'My Son Screaming' On 911 Call, Trayvon's Mother Says

Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, testifies Friday in Sanford, Fla.
Gary W. Green/pool Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 5:40 pm

Update at 5:50 p.m. ET. The prosecution concluded its case Friday in the trial of George Zimmerman. Afterward, the judge denied a request by the defense to acquit Zimmerman of second-degree murder. The defense had argued that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against him.

Our original post:

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DHS
8:56 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Family Sues Over DHS Child Death

Credit Bruce Tuten / Flickr Creative Commons

Family members of a 5-year-old girl who was killed by her father have amended a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and two child-welfare workers who were fired by the state.

The girl's mother and grandparents claim in the lawsuit that Serenity Deal's death in June 2011 came about due to negligence by the state, which placed the girl with her father. The father is serving a sentence of life in prison for the girl's death.

The defendants haven't yet filed papers responding to the wrongful-death lawsuit.

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All Tech Considered
8:41 am
Fri July 5, 2013

At Tech-Free Camps, People Pay Hundreds To Unplug

Camp Grounded is located in Northern California.
Courtesy of Scott Sporleder

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 11:17 am

The overwhelming and endless stream of electronic alerts and messages on our computers, phones and tablets is driving demand for a new kind of summer camp for adults. "Technology-free" camps that force their campers to surrender their gadgets, wallets and that nagging "fear of missing out" — FOMO — are booking up fast.

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World Views
7:46 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Why Egypt Likely Won't See Democratic Stability After Ousting Morsi

Anti-Morsi protest in downtown Cairo - August 31, 2012
Credit Gigi Ibrahim / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week a top judge replaced Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi as Egypt’s president as the army cracks down on the Muslim Brotherhood.

In his final days in power, Egypt's embattled president was defiant even though his allies abandoned him.

Record numbers of protesters gathered in Alexandria and Cairo on June 30 calling for Morsi’s removal, resignation, or early presidential elections. Incoming University of Oklahoma Middle East scholar and Muslim Brotherhood expert Samer Shehata says the millions of protesters exceeded his expectations of the June 30 movement.

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World Views
2:00 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

OU Graduate Sees Continued Instability In Afghanistan's Future

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jon Lyman hands a piece of candy to an Afghan child during a security patrol on November 30, 2011.
Credit Reece Lodder / United States Marine Corps

Listen to Dana Mohammed-Zadeh's conversation with Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry announced on Monday that insurgents had killed nearly 300 local and national police last month, as well as 180 civilians. A day later, militants detonated a suicide car bomb at the gate of a NATO compound in Kabul killing five guards and two civilians.

Dana Mohammad-Zadeh says knowing attacks like these will happen is part of life in Afghanistan’s capital city. She earned a degree in Economics and International Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2012, and now works in the development sector in Kabul.

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World Views
7:21 am
Thu July 4, 2013

WEB EXCLUSIVE: NSA Surveillance Strains U.S. Relations With The European Union

Edward Snowden
Credit Voice of America / Wikimedia Commons

Internet users worried about their personal information being intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies should stop using websites that send data to the United States, Germany's top security official said Wednesday.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also said German officials are in touch with their U.S. counterparts "on all levels" and a delegation is scheduled to fly to Washington next week to discuss the claims that ordinary citizens — and even European diplomats — were being spied upon by the NSA.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies, says what Snowden has revealed goes beyond normal intelligence gathering and turned into a major international incident.

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Around the Nation
4:03 am
Thu July 4, 2013

The Declaration: What Does Independence Mean To You?

Kara, Michael, Mikaila and Cameron Milton of Greensboro, N.C., pose for a portrait near the Lincoln Memorial on June 21, after reading the Declaration of Independence for Morning Edition.
Erica Yoon NPR

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 8:48 am

We often celebrate Independence Day with backyard barbecues and fireworks, forgetting the document that started this whole country: the Declaration of Independence.

For the past 20 years Morning Edition has asked NPR hosts and reporters to read the document on the Fourth, as a reminder of our country's history. This year, we decided to ask visitors at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to give it a try.

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Chesapeake Energy
12:52 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

EXCO Spends $1B On Chesapeake Energy Assets

Credit Chesapeake Energy

EXCO Resources is spending about $1 billion to acquire assets from Chesapeake Energy in Texas and Louisiana. 

The land provides EXCO both with producing fields and potentially lucrative drilling sites in the future.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., based in Oklahoma City, is selling approximately 55,000 net acres in Zavala, Dimmit, La Salle and Frio counties in Texas — part of the Northern Eagle Ford Shale. There are 120 producing wells there.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:47 am
Wed July 3, 2013

New Infrastructure Means Fresh Life For Broken Arrow’s Broken Water System

Construction underway on Broken Arrow's new water treatment plant in December 2012.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

It seemed like a good idea back in 1979: Broken Arrow, population 35,000 at the time, would pipe its water in from the Grand River, 27 miles away, and save some money over buying water from Tulsa.

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