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
8:56 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Book News: Geithner Writing 'Behind The Scenes' Story Of The Financial Crisis

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's new book promises to give us the inside dope about reaction to the financial crisis.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
7:53 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Gasoline Pushed Consumer Prices Up Sharply In February

Handles on a gas pump in Brooklyn.
Jonathan Fickies Landov

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 9:05 am

Consumer prices jumped 0.7 percent in February from January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The increase was fueled by a 9.1 percent surge in gasoline prices. Gas prices alone accounted for about two-thirds of the overall rise, MarketWatch says.

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The Two-Way
7:37 am
Fri March 15, 2013

More Problems Aboard Carnival Cruise Ships

The Carnival Dream docked in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, in December 2010.
Andy Newman AP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 12:53 pm

For the past month, management at Carnival Cruise Lines has been in a nearly constant state of damage control.

In the past week alone, three of the cruise line's giant floating playgrounds have experienced embarrassing malfunctions that have at least inconvenienced, if not angered, many passengers.

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The Two-Way
7:06 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Son's Coming Out Leads Sen. Portman To Reverse On Same-Sex Marriage

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Justin Lane EPA /Landov

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 12:40 pm

Saying that he has reconsidered the issue in the two years since learning that his son is gay, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced Thursday that he no longer opposes same-sex marriage.

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The Two-Way
6:36 am
Fri March 15, 2013

'Over A Year Or So' Before Iran Could Develop Nuclear Weapon, Obama Says

President Obama on Wednesday at the Organizing for Action dinner in Washington, D.C.
Aude Guerrucci DPA /LANDOV

Putting a more specific estimate that he has in the past on the issue of how long it might take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, President Obama has told Israel's Channel 2 TV that it could happen in "over a year or so" if efforts to dissuade Iran do not succeed.

The president also said that while he wants to resolve the issue diplomatically, he is keeping "all options on the table."

For its part, Iran has long said its nuclear program is only aimed a peaceful uses for that energy source.

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StoryCorps
5:52 am
Fri March 15, 2013

A 'Good Enough' Dad And His Special Son

Tim Harris (right) and his father, Keith, visited StoryCorps in their hometown of Albuquerque, N.M.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 9:53 am

In Albuquerque, N.M., there's a restaurant called Tim's Place. It's named after Tim Harris, a young man with Down syndrome who started the business in 2010 with help from his dad, Keith.

Six days a week, Tim greets each customer at the door. He calls it the world's friendliest restaurant.

The day Tim's Place opened "felt awesome," Tim, 27, tells his father on a visit to StoryCorps. "I wanted to own a restaurant ever since I was a kid. That was my dream."

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Politics
5:15 am
Fri March 15, 2013

CPAC Kicks Off With Sobering Message For GOP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 5:31 am

The Conservative Political Action Conference is drawing a huge crowd of politicians, activists and Republican presidential hopefuls, all looking to break the Republican Party's recent string of presidential election losses. It kicked off Thursday with speeches by two young senators interested in the White House — Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Planet Money
5:10 am
Fri March 15, 2013

A Surprisingly Uncontroversial Program That Gives Money To Poor People

William Thomas Cain Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 8:58 am

Last year, a federal program called the Earned Income Tax Credit took about $60 billion from wealthier Americans and gave it to the working poor. And here's the surprising thing: This redistribution of wealth has been embraced by every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.

"This program worked," says Richard Burkhauser, an economist at Cornell University and the American Enterprise Institute. "And there's not a hell of a lot of these programs where you can see the tremendous change in the behavior of people in exactly the way that all of us hoped it would happen."

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NPR Story
4:44 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Vladimir Putin Hobknobs With ... Steven Seagal

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 5:44 am

First, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted citizenship to French actor Gerard Depardieu. Now, Putin is hobnobbing with the actor Steven Seagal. The star of Under Siege toured a new sports facility with Putin, who used the occasion to call for reviving a Soviet-era fitness program in which kids threw javelins, learned to ski and fired guns.

NPR Story
4:41 am
Fri March 15, 2013

106-Year-Old Woman Finally Gets Her High School Diploma

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 5:42 am

Reba Williams of Columbus, Ohio, finished her last class back in 1925. But the 106-year-old didn't receive her high school diploma until Wednesday. Her daughter told the Mansfield News-Journal that young Reba, who was a good student for all 12 years, was headstrong. She refused to read a book assigned by her teacher that she'd already read and didn't like.

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