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
2:54 pm
Sat March 15, 2014

Russia Vetoes U.N. Security Council Resolution On Crimea

Russia has vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would invalidate Sunday's referendum in Crimea. In Moscow, demonstrators and military veterans march in support of the Kremlin Saturday; nearby, a large march was held to protest Russia's policies.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:54 pm

One day before Crimea holds a referendum on leaving Ukraine, Russia has vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution to affirm Ukraine's sovereignty and national borders. The measure would have declared the referendum in Crimea invalid.

Russia, a permanent member of the council, was the sole vote against the resolution, which had the support of 13 countries attending Saturday's emergency meeting. China abstained from voting.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports for our Newscast unit:

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The Two-Way
9:07 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Prime Minister: 'Deliberate Action' Disabled Missing Jet's Systems

A woman reads messages for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Saturday.
Lai Seng Sin AP

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 7:51 am

Malaysia's prime minister says he is now certain that someone disabled the communication systems on the passenger jet that disappeared last week with 239 people aboard.

The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flew more than six and a half hours after its last communication with air traffic control, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference early Saturday.

"These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," he said.

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Struck the engine
6:15 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Birds Force Plane Back To Tulsa International Airport

Credit liberalmind1012 / Flickr.com

A flight from Tulsa, Okla., to Dallas was forced to turn around after the plane apparently struck one or more birds.

The American Airlines jet returned to Tulsa International Airport on Friday morning after the captain declared an emergency shortly after takeoff.

American Airlines spokesman Kent Powell says Flight 1491 was bound for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. He says it headed back to Tulsa shortly after takeoff around 10:30 a.m.

Powell says the Boeing 757 carried 185 passengers and a crew of seven.

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Says it's only 1 percent of student's time
3:54 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Superintendent Barresi Defending Number Of Tests Students Take

Credit timiewisnm / Flickr.com

Oklahoma Superintendent Janet Barresi is defending the number of tests that Oklahoma students must take, which she says accounts for less than 1 percent of a student's time during a school year.

In her weekly column on Friday, Barresi says that while she agrees teachers and students should spend less time worrying about tests, she wanted to "clear up some myths."

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World Views
1:59 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Landis: On Syria Anniversary, Very Little To Be Optimistic About

A crowd gathers outside London's National Gallery in Trafalgar Square Thursday for a vigil to mark the third anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war.
Credit Andy Armstrong / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend marks three years since the first mass protests in Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa lit kindling of unrest in Syria that eventually ignited a full-scale civil war.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and the author of the widely-read blog Syria Comment, says countries in the region and the United States now view the Syrian crisis as a counterterrorism problem.

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World Views
12:50 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

To Understand Russia's Interest In Crimea, Start With Catherine The Great

Allegory of Catherine the Great’s Victory over the Turks and Tatars
Credit Stefano Torelli, 1772, Oil On Canvas / Wikimedia Commons

Talks in London about Ukraine between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up Friday, but the country’s top two diplomats say there’s “no common” vision between Russia and the United States.

“It’s not just about power and access to the base,” says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Historically, there’s much more to this story.”

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The Two-Way
10:27 am
Fri March 14, 2014

No Breakthrough In Talks About Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their talks Friday in London. Afterward, they reported no breakthroughs on finding a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
Brendan Smialowski AP

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 3:11 pm

This post has been updated.

Update at 12:45 ET: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came away from talks Friday in London saying they had not come any closer to an agreement about how to end the crisis in Ukraine.

Lavrov told reporters after the two men met that Russia intends to "respect the choice of the Crimean people" — who will vote Sunday on whether to join the Russian Federation. That was a sign that Russia may indeed move to annex the region if Crimeans indicate that's their wish.

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State Capitol
10:14 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Oklahoma House's No. 2 Not Seeking Re-election

State Rep. Mike Jackson (R-Enid)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

An Enid Republican who currently serves as the Number 2 leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives says he won't run for another term in office.

Representative Mike Jackson said Thursday the current term will be his last representing House District 40.

Jackson currently serves as the Speaker Pro Tem, the Number 2 leadership position in the House. He lost the race to become speaker of the House earlier this session to Representative Jeff Hickman of Fairview. The two men were seeking to replace former Speaker T.W. Shannon, who resigned as he runs for U.S. Senate.

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The Two-Way
8:54 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Missing Jet Reportedly Kept Sending Signals For 5 1/2 Hours

At Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Friday, a woman writes on a banner full of messages about the 239 missing passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Edgar Su Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 11:14 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Frank Langfitt reports

Update at 10:20 a.m. ET: After Flight MH370 Disappeared, It Kept Telling Satellites 'I'm Awake':

Communications satellites continued to receive signals from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane for at least 5 1/2 hours after it disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand, a source familiar with the investigation tells NPR's Frank Langfitt.

Frank, reporting from Shanghai, writes that:

"Flight MH370's last known communication came after 1 o'clock last Saturday morning, local time, according to Malaysian officials.

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Travel
8:11 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Spring Break Travel Delays Possible At OKC, Tulsa Airports

A concourse at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
Credit Ragesoss / Creative Commons

Officials at Will Rogers World Airport inOklahoma City and at Tulsa International Airport say airlines are expected to be busy through the weekend because of students who are out on spring break.

Passengers are advised to arrive at least 90 minutes before their flight — especially for flights scheduled to depart before 8 a.m.

Officials also note that many airlines now close flight check-in, both online and at the ticket counter, 25-30 minutes prior to departure to ensure on-time departures.

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