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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U.S. Supreme Court
9:58 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Justices Reject Oklahoma Plea To Restore Death Sentence

Credit Mark Fischer / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court has refused Oklahoma's plea to reinstate the death sentence for a man convicted of killing two people in 1994.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place a federal appeals court order granting a new sentencing hearing for Rocky Eugene Dodd.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Dodd's death sentence because seven relatives of Dodd's victims were allowed to call for the death penalty in their testimony during the sentencing phase of Dodd's trial.

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U.S. House
9:26 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Oklahoma Congressman Mullin Ethics Update Expected Today

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.)
Credit Congressman Markwayne Mullin

The House Ethics Committee is expected to release an update Monday in its review of Republican Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma.

Ethics Committee chairman Michael Conaway and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez said in February they had received a referral about Mullin from the Office of Congressional Ethics. The OCE is an outside organization that can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee. The committee has not disclosed the subject of the potential investigation.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Serve Moore's Spring Break Renews City Park, Restores Community Pride

University of Hartford students spend their spring break planting trees at Little River Park in Moore.
Credit Kate Carlton / Oklahoma Tornado Project

During spring break, most college kids escape school and work for a simpler life at the beach. But sometimes, groups of teenagers and 20-somethings venture away from the sand and into the dirt. 

One Oklahoma group has decided to use those students to revitalize areas of Moore affected by the May 20 tornado. 

Spending your spring break planting trees in a muddy park thousands of miles from your home may not sound like the most relaxing and rewarding way to spend a week. 18-year-old Tyler Lawson from Connecticut realizes he’s working a lot harder than many of his classmates.

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The Two-Way
6:17 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Ukraine Orders Its Troops Out Of Crimea As G-7 Meets On Crisis

President Obama tours the Rijksmusuem with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) and others ahead of the G-7 summit in The Hague, Netherlands, which is certain to focus on the situation in Crimea.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:12 pm

Ukraine announced the pullout of its troops from Crimea after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula and took control of the military bases there. The decision comes as President Obama arrived in the Netherlands on Monday for a summit of the G-7 group of industrialized nations that is certain to focus on discussion of the international crisis.

Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said Monday that the Defense Ministry has been ordered to redeploy Ukrainian servicemen from the Crimea to Ukraine's mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.

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Code Switch
11:33 am
Sun March 23, 2014

The Most Powerful Nerd In The Universe Is A Scientific Anomaly

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is remarkable, in part because he's a black astrophysicist — seemingly as elusive a phenomenon as the Higgs boson.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:41 pm

Neil deGrasse Tyson — astrophysicist, irreverent tweeter, vanquisher of Pluto, frequent Stephen Colbert foil — is America's "It" Nerd.

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Shots - Health News
8:30 am
Sun March 23, 2014

Doctors Say Don't Give Birth To Baby In A Tub, But Midwives Disagree

Proponents of water birth say it's easier on the mother and more peaceful for the baby.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 1:49 pm

Hospitals are increasingly giving women the option of going through labor or giving birth in a pool of warm water. Laboring in the tub is fine, the nation's obstetricians and pediatricians say, but there's not enough proof that it's safe to actually give birth in one.

The doctors' statement has raised eyebrows among nurse-midwives, who have been helping women deliver in water for decades in order to ease pain and speed delivery.

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The Two-Way
7:48 am
Sat March 22, 2014

More Satellite Images, But Still No Sure Sign Of Missing Jet

This satellite image, taken on March 18, has intensified the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. The image was released Saturday by Chinese authorities.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 3:05 pm

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. "The Object Was Not Sighted" Today Australian Authorities Say:

Aircraft searching the Indian Ocean on Saturday for any sign of a Malaysia Airlines jet that's been missing for two weeks did not spot the large object seen in a newly analyzed satellite image, Australia's Maritime Safety Authority reports.

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Indian Times
8:15 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Olympic Gold Turns Into A Lifetime Of Giving Back

Credit Billy Mills

When it was learned late last year that Tokyo was in the running to host the summer Olympics in 2020, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills was excited. Mills won a gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Mills, a member of the Ogalala Lakota Nation, remains the only American to win gold in the 10,000 meters track event, and his race was one of those historic upsets for the record books.

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Built by John D. Rockefeller
6:13 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Historic Winery Sold In Auction in Drumwright

Credit FreeWine / Flickr.com

More than 1,000 people from across the country came to Drumwright to bid on a historic winery and its contents.

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Originally built for Terry Nichols trial
4:26 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Basement Courtroom Back In Business After 15 Years

Judge Donald Easter
Credit Oklahoma County

Court is back in session in the basement of the Oklahoma County Detention Center in a courtroom that hasn't been used in nearly 15 years.

The courtroom was originally built in 1999 for the trial of Oklahoma City Bombing conspirator Terry Nichols. It's now being used by Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Easter. Easter hears cases of inmates who cannot be released until they pay what is owed to the court, or agree to a payment plan.

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