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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Business and Economy
8:03 pm
Sun June 23, 2013

Supreme Court Ruling Won't Keep Texas From Trying to Buy Oklahoma Water

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 10:29 am

When the U.S. Supreme Court sided unanimously with Oklahoma in the courtroom war over water that flows into the Red River, Texas’ legal claim to the resource was greatly diminished.

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The Mix
9:01 am
Sat June 22, 2013

The Mix: The Songs Of The Summer

Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" is undeniably one of the songs of this summer.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:54 am

People have funny ways of describing hit pop songs. A song is "infectious," an "earworm." It "gets under your skin." It's not summer without little annoyances — sunburn, mosquito bites, sweat — just as it's not summer without the Song of the Summer. We're talking about a song (or two, or three) that explodes and quickly permeates pop culture. It runs rampant up and down your radio dial, around your parties and deep in your brain. Perhaps this is why such pop music is described in terms usually reserved for the plague.

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Indian Times
9:30 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

William Thorpe, Son of Jim Thorpe, Says Native American Olympics Was “Dad’s Dream”

William Thorpe, eldest living son of Jim Thorpe
Credit Susan Shannon

William Thorpe, Jim Thorpe’s oldest living son, sat on the reviewing stand with tribal chiefs and other dignitaries from the native world to watch as Native American athletes from 61 tribes from across the nation to participate in the opening ceremonies for the second annual Jim Thorpe Native American Games. 

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Indian Times
9:14 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

61 Tribes Represented at Jim Thorpe Native American Games in Oklahoma City

Basketball in the Abe Lemmons Arena on the OCU campus
Credit Susan Shannon

Native American athletes from 61 tribes from across the nation competed in the second annual Jim Thorpe Native American Games.  Athletes competed in activities such as basketball, golf, martial arts, wrestling and softball at several sports venues.

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The Two-Way
4:39 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Online Sales Cost Cities And Counties Billions In Taxes, Mayors Say

A chart shows estimated tax revenue losses due to online sales in 11 U.S. cities. Figures for 2013 are projections.
IHS Global Insight

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 4:53 pm

Online retail sales are cutting into tax revenue in counties and cities, according to a report issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday. They estimate the lost revenue for America's largest cities and counties came to about $2.8 billion for 2011 and 2012, combined.

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The Two-Way
2:16 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

James Comey Nominated To Be New FBI Director

President Obama speaks Friday during a news conference to announce his nomination of James Comey to become FBI director.
Win McNamee Getty Images

President Obama has formally nominated James Comey, a registered Republican and former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to become the next FBI director. If he's confirmed by the Senate, Comey will replace outgoing director Robert Mueller, who has held the post since 2001.

Comey is best-known for his actions in 2004 when he rushed to the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft to keep Bush aides from reauthorizing a warrantless-wiretapping program. Comey has described the incident as the most difficult night of his career.

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Science and Technology
12:49 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Supermoon To Dominate Weekend Sky

A "supermoon" rises in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2011.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The largest full moon of the year will grace the night sky Sunday as our nearest neighbor in space makes its closest approach.

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World Views
11:41 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Iran's New Leader Already Showing More Moderate Tone

Supporters of president-elect Hasan Rowhani in the streets of Tehran the day before the election - June 13, 2013
Credit Tabarez2 / Wikimedia Commons

A week after Iran's presidential election, a previously-recorded interview run on Iranian state TV Friday suggests president -elect Hasan Rowhani may strike a more moderate tone than his predecessor.

The broadcast appears to be intended to underline Rowhani's pledge to pursue greater openness over Iran's nuclear program.

"How much is going to change is really to be determined," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies. "The Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei) in Iran certainly is the ultimate power-holder, so the relationship that emerges between these two and how that will have an impact on the nuclear situation is really something still to be determined."

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World Views
10:15 am
Fri June 21, 2013

What Makes Brazil's Protests Different Than Turkey

Students and workers protest in Rio de Janeiro's city center - June 13, 2013
Credit Tanya Rego / Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons

Residents of Brazil's largest cities have awakened to streets that are still smoldering after a million protesters turned out overnight -- sometimes clashing violently with police during anti-government demonstrations.

"This seems to be seems to be somewhat of a surprise given that Brazil was an economic success story for the last decade or so," says Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies. "[It was] leading the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries in GDP and really doing quite well."

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Higher Education
9:10 am
Fri June 21, 2013

OU: Flat-Rate Tuition, No In-State Increase Next Year

Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

The University of Oklahoma says it will start offering students a flat-rate tuition and mandatory fees this fall.

OU President David Boren announced Thursday that full-time undergraduates taking between 12 and 21 credit hours per semester will pay a rate based on the university's current 15-credit hour rate for tuition and mandatory fees.

“Changing from a per-credit hour basis to a flat rate encourages all of our students to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time and get the best possible value for their tuition and fees dollar,” Boren said in a statement.

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