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
7:44 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Weakened Arthur Heads Up U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Arthur brought strong winds and heavy surf to Highway 64 in Nags Head, N.C., on Thursday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 5, 2014 12:00 pm

Updated at 9:34 a.m.

Hurricane Arthur weakened to a Category 1 storm on Independence Day after hitting the coast of North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center said Arthur packed maximum sustained winds of nearly 90 mph as it moved offshore. The center predicted the storm would weaken in the next 48 hours.

"Arthur is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone tonight or Saturday," the center said.

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Pauls Valley
7:13 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Spitting Watermelon Seeds A July 4th Tradition In Pauls Valley

Credit K.R. Harsha / Flickr Creative Commons

For some Americans, the Independence Day holiday is all about celebrating the country's history through good food, good friends and good fireworks.

In Pauls Valley, July 4 is also about watermelon seeds — spitting them, actually.

The south-central Oklahoma city of 6,000 is once again hosting the annual World Championship Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest to see who can use their saliva to propel the fruit's seeds the farthest.

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The Protojournalist
7:12 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Bored On The Fourth Of July? Try These Movies

A promotional image for Jaws.
Universal The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 6:03 am

Cinema sites abound with lists such as Top 10 Movies ForThe Fourth Of July from Forbes and 12 Patriotic Movies by the Los Angeles Times. After all, Hollywood knows that Americans love to celebrate American celebrations.

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An In-Depth Report Coming Monday
9:00 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Oklahoma AG Says School Shelter Petition Meets Law

Take Shelter Oklahoma working on their first petition drive.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office says the ballot title of an initiative petition to build storm shelters in public schools complies with state law.

Pruitt's office had five days from the date the petition was filed to make any changes needed to the ballot title. The office submitted a letter to the Secretary of State's Office Thursday that says the ballot title for State Question 774 complies with applicable laws.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
6:36 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

High-Rate Disposal Wells Could Have Triggered Oklahoma Earthquakes, New Study Suggests

The "Chambers" disposal well in southeast Oklahoma City.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

This year, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes than California. There is a growing body of scientific research that suggests oil and gas production is fueling this increase in seismic activity.

new paper published today in the journal Science, suggests a small number of wastewater wells used in drilling operations could be responsible for many of the quakes.

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Republican Party continues to grow
5:43 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Democrats Still Have More Registered Voters Than Republicans In Oklahoma

Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr.com

Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in Oklahoma, but the latest statistics show the GOP continues to close the gap.

Figures through June 30 and released Thursday by the Oklahoma Election Board show that 44.3 percent of the state's nearly 2 million registered voters were Democrats, compared to 43.4 percent Republicans. Independents make up about 12.3 percent of the electorate.

The total number of registered voters in Oklahoma increased by more than 15,000 since January, and now stands at 1,994,365.

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OneSix8
10:33 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With Independence Day Festivities

Credit OKCPhilharmonic.org

Friday marks 238 years since the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. Grab the lawn chairs, watermelon, Kool-Aid and blankets because central Oklahoma celebrates the Fourth of July with festivals and fireworks in several locations.

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic hosts its annual Red, White and Boom in the Entertainment Plaza at State Fair Park Thursday, July 3.

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Planet Money
9:55 am
Thu July 3, 2014

How Every U.S. State Has Fared Since The Recession, In 1 Graph

Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 9:35 am

This spring, the U.S. finally gained back all the jobs that were lost during the recession. In other words, the number of jobs in the country is now higher than it was back in January 2008, at the beginning of the recession.

But the jobs are different — and they're in different places. In a handful of states, there are lots more jobs than there used to be. But in many others, there are still far fewer jobs than there were before the recession.

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The Two-Way
7:38 am
Thu July 3, 2014

U.S. Added 288,000 Jobs In June, Labor Department Says

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 12:27 pm

Analysts' expectations of continued growth in the jobs report for June were surpassed by federal data issued this morning, as the Labor Department says U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs last month. The government released the numbers one day early because of the July 4 holiday.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET: 288,000 Jobs Added

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent," the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

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Shots - Health News
6:45 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Chikun-What? A New Mosquito-Borne Virus Lands In The U.S.

Sick with chikungunya, Karla Sepulveda, 5, waits in a public hospital with her grandmother in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, on May 15. The Caribbean nation has reported more than 100,000 cases this year.
Ezequiel Abiu Lopez AP

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 10:14 am

Pediatrician Jennifer Halverson will never forget her 36th birthday.

The St. Paul native was volunteering at a maternity clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She felt great — she went to her job that day and then out to dinner with friends.

But when she got home and went to sleep that night in May, something didn't feel right.

"Then I woke up at 3 in the morning," she says, "and what struck me the most was that my shoulders were on fire. It was like I was being stabbed in both shoulders."

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