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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Politics and Government
6:34 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

House Committee Approves Veteran Education Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An Oklahoma House committee has cleared a proposal to pay tuition and fees for veterans who became 100 percent disabled in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The benefit would also be available to their spouses and children as well as families of veterans killed in action.

The Higher Education Subcommittee approved the proposal Monday. It has already cleared the Senate and now heads to the full House for a vote.

Sen. Frank Simpson of Springer first introduced the bill and says it's intended to fill gaps in the federal G.I. Bill.

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The Salt
12:02 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Spanish Town To Host Its First Seder In More Than 500 Years

A view of the medieval town of Ribadavia, in Galicia, in the north of Spain.
José Antonio Gil Martínez/via Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 2:39 pm

Jews all over the world are gathering around dinner tables Monday night to celebrate the first night of Passover, one of the most important festivals of the Jewish calendar. And in the small, northern Spanish town of Ribadavia, Spanish, American and Israeli Jews are coming together to conduct the first Seder there in more than 500 years.

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Oklahoma Voices
11:56 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Despite Religious Differences, Faith Communities Support Each Other in Times of Disaster

Credit http://tvnweather.com/

Listen to the Rev. Mary Hughes Gaudreau discuss how faith communities came together to help in times of disaster.

Held together by a common goal to protect vulnerable disaster survivors and a deep commitment to respectful conversation, 50 diverse, non-profit and faith-based disaster response organizations found a way through divisive religious issues to develop national standards in disaster spiritual care.

The Rev. Mary Hughes Gaudreau speaks on the subject as part of the first Re-mind and Re-new conference at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.

The conference was designed to model ways of disagreeing, find common ground, stay in relationship and do important work together despite deep differences.

The Two-Way
11:40 am
Mon March 25, 2013

President's Pen Establishes New National Monuments

Kayak at Sunset San Juan Islands.
Mark B. Gardner San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:53 pm

President Obama on Monday designated five new national monuments, including one in Maryland dedicated to anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman and another setting aside Washington state's San Juan Islands.

"These sites honor the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country," President Obama said in a statement. "By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come."

Here's a list of the new dedications:

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Oklahoma Voices
11:17 am
Mon March 25, 2013

"Tornadapreneur" Reed Timmer Takes TV Show to Internet

Reed Timmer
Credit http://tvnweather.com

One of the nation’s most well-known storm chasers, Reed Timmer, is taking his work to the public after appearing for several years on the Discovery Channel.

To help pay for his new Internet-based series of programs, Timmer used social media and Kickstarter. The plan was a success, surpassing its initial $75,000 goal, now trying for a new “stretch goal” of $125,000 by Thursday.

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State Health
6:50 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Looking Ahead to Local Control of Tobacco Regulation

Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Last month, Gov. Mary Fallin announced her plans to support an initiative petition in 2014 to change the way tobacco is regulated in Oklahoma.

“A direct vote to the people is very new, and is a dramatic new tactic to repeal tobacco control preemption in Oklahoma,” said Michael Givel, a University of Oklahoma political scientist and the co-author of the upcoming book Heartland Tobacco War, out this summer.

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The Two-Way
5:32 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Spring Is Just A State Of Mind As Wintry Weather Wallops Much Of Nation

In St. Louis on Sunday the sliding — even without a sled — was good. The area got 6 to 12 inches of new snow over the weekend.
Bill Greenblatt UPI /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 8:49 am

The calendar says one thing, but the snow, slush and ice coating the nation from the Central Rockies through parts of the Midwest and on into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast say something else entirely.

Technically, it's spring.

In reality, winter still hasn't let go.

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Law
2:15 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Supreme Court Hears 'Pay To Delay' Pharmaceutical Case

The Supreme Court takes up a case Monday about whether brand-name drug manufacturers can pay generic drug manufacturers to keep generics off the market.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 8:39 am

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case worth billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies and American consumers. The issue is whether brand-name drug manufacturers may pay generic drug manufacturers to keep generics off the market. These payments — a form of settlement in patent litigation — began to blossom about a decade ago when the courts, for the first time, appeared to bless them.

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The Salt
10:59 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Backyard Chickens: Cute, Trendy Spreaders Of Salmonella

Backyard chickens can be a great hobby. They can also spread disease.
iStockphoto.com

Backyard chickens have become a coveted suburban accessory, one that packages cuteness, convenience and local food production in one fluffy feathered package.

But animal husbandry can be a nasty business, a fact that's often glossed over by poultry partisans like Martha Stewart and New Yorker writer Susan Orlean.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Syrian Opposition Leader Resigns In Frustration

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib took on the presidency of the Syrian National Council after it was formed in November.
AP

Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 2:55 pm

Update at 3:52 p.m. ET.: Kerry Reacts

Speaking in Baghdad, Secretary of State John Kerry responded to news of Khatib's resignation, saying it "is not a surprise."

"It's almost inevitable, in the transition of a group such as the opposition, for these kinds of changes to take place as it evolves," he said.

Here's more from his comments:

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