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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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:02 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Oklahoma Chemical Company Settles With EPA And DEQ, Agrees To Pay Fines And Reduce Emissions

LSB Industries has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, which had accused the Oklahoma City-based chemical company of violating the federal Clean Air Act.

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Oklahoma Watch
11:24 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Study: Tide Of Oklahoma K-12 Students Will Keep Rising

A map showing how states stack up in terms of projected student growth.

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Oklahoma is expected to add 28,000 students by 2022, according to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics.

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The Two-Way
9:24 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Ukraine Says It's Preparing A Plan To Withdraw From Crimea

Armed men stood atop a chimney near Ukraine's naval headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Wednesday. They raised Russian flags after taking over much of the facility.
Vasily Fedosenko Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 7:25 pm

This post was last updated at 4:50 p.m.

A day after Russia claimed Crimea as its own, Ukraine's security chief said they were drawing up plans to withdraw troops and their families from the area.

The BBC reports Andriy Parubiy said during a press conference that Ukraine wanted to move the troops "quickly and efficiently" to mainland Ukraine and that they would also ask the United Nations to declare Crimea a demilitarized zone.

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State Capitol
9:22 am
Wed March 19, 2014

OU To Respond To Legislative Inquiry Into Nazi Looted Painting

Credit ana branca / Flickr Creative Commons

A representative of the University of Oklahomais scheduled to appear before a state House panel concerning a painting that a French family says was looted by the Nazis during World War II and is part of a campus art exhibit.

Lawmakers will discuss a lawsuit surrounding the 1886 oil painting by Camille Pissarro, entitled "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep," at Wednesday's meeting of the House Government Modernization and Accountability Committee.

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Parallels
6:35 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Borderland: A Journey Along The Changing Frontier

Dob Cunningham (right) and his friend Larry Johnson stand on the edge of Cunningham's 800-acre ranch in Quemado, Texas, which touches the Rio Grande. On the other side, Mexico.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:42 pm

My colleagues and I drove 2,428 miles and remained in the same place.

We gathered a team, rented a car, checked the batteries in our recorders and cameras. We moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. We crossed deserts, plains and mountains. But all the while, we were living in Borderland — zigzagging across the frontier between Mexico and the United States.

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All Tech Considered
3:57 am
Wed March 19, 2014

For Pro Sports, Public Relations Going High-Tech, Real Time

In the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center, 13 46-inch TV screens display charts, tweets and live races.
Michael Tomsic WFAE

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:28 am

Gone are the days of waiting for angry letters.

Social media allows the NFL, NASCAR and other pro sports leagues to hear from fans in real time. And that feedback has become so important, leagues have built what are essentially social media command centers to monitor trends and engage directly with fans.

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Sits at crossroads of I35 and I40
6:17 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lawmakers Tour Unfinished Museum

Credit American Indian Cultural Center And Museum

Oklahoma lawmakers have toured the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center & Museum in Oklahoma City as administrators urge passage of legislation to provide funding to complete the structure.

More than a dozen members of the House and Senate walked through the incomplete building Tuesday as museum director Blake Wade urged passage of the $40 million funding measure.

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Starts with Oklahoma roots
3:45 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Former Oklahoman, Now U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Releases Biography

Credit US Department of Labor / Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has written a book chronicling her life story, from her working-class roots in Oklahoma to a seat in the Senate representing Massachusetts.

The publisher describes "A Fighting Chance" as a look at the conflict between large institutions and the needs of everyday citizens.

The book details the Democrat's work in the Senate and her 2012 campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Brown. It also looks at her efforts to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Education
3:25 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Q&A: A Crash Course On Common Core

Cathy Cartier, a proponent of Common Core, teaches an English class at Affton High School in Missouri last month.
Christian Gooden MCT/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:50 pm

Confused about the Common Core State Standards? Join the club. That's not to say the new benchmarks in reading and math are good or bad, working smoothly or kicking up sparks as the wheels come off. It is simply an acknowledgement that, when the vast majority of U.S. states adopt a single set of educational standards all at roughly the same time, a little confusion is inevitable.

Below is a handy FAQ about Common Core. We'll continue answering your questions in the coming months. You can post them in the comments section, or on Twitter and Facebook using #commonq.

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Death Penalty
1:53 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Oklahoma Court Resets Executions Amid Drug Search

The main gate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Credit duggar11 / Flickr Creative Commons

An Oklahoma court has rescheduled executions set for this month so state prison officials have more time to find a supply of lethal drugs.

While two inmates had sued challenging Oklahoma's execution procedures, the Court of Criminal Appeals declared Tuesday that their request for a stay was moot because the prison system doesn't have enough drugs to execute them.

In their brief order, the judges moved Clayton Lockett's execution to April 22 and Charles Warner's to April 29. They had been set to die this week and next week.

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