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
2:56 pm
Sat March 8, 2014

Malaysian Jetliner Has Been Missing For More Than 24 Hours; Search Goes On

Family members arrive at a hotel for loved ones of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines jet in Beijing Sunday. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.
Vincent Thian AP

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 7:40 am

This post continues to be updated.

An international search is underway for a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that's been missing for more than 24 hours. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard when it took off from Kuala Lumpur early Saturday on a flight bound for Beijing.

A regular inspection of the missing Boeing 777-200 found no technical problems 10 days ago, reports China's state-run Xinhua news agency, citing a Malaysia Airlines spokesman.

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Parallels
8:11 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Russia's Goal In Ukraine: Three Scenarios

A Ukrainian protester stands at a memorial for the people killed in clashes at Kiev's Independence Square, on March 1. The focus of Ukraine's crisis is now in Crimea, where Russian forces are effectively in control.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 4:39 am

Russia has effectively taken control of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula without a shot fired in anger. Now a larger question looms: What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal in Ukraine?

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Indian Times
8:27 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Citizen Potawatomi Nation To Host Intergenerational Breast Cancer Awareness Day

Cara Thomas (left) and Dr. Eleni Tolma
Credit Susan Shannon

Native American women are the most likely to put off getting a mammogram, according to research by Dr. Eleni Tolma, associate professor at the college of public health at the OU Health Sciences Center.

“When I came to Oklahoma back in 2002, I wanted to find out what I could do in terms of breast cancer, I was always interested in women's health issues,” Tolma, who is also the lead researcher for the Native Women Health Project, said.

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New DOC Director reviewing policies
6:13 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

No Cameras Or Recording Equipment Allowed In Oklahoma's Prisons

Credit Danny Choo / Flickr.com

Oklahoma's Department of Corrections has temporarily banned news media from bringing cameras or any recording equipment inside its prisons.

The Tulsa World reports that DOC officials notified the newspaper this week that requests to bring photographers inside prisons for two interviews had been denied. They instead said a reporter would be allowed to conduct the interviews, so long as no recording equipment was brought into the facility.

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Will be demolished for office building
4:16 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

No More Appeals For Stage Center

Credit Preservation Oklahoma

The executive director of a historic preservation nonprofit says he will not appeal a decision to demolish a historic downtown theater complex.

Preservation Oklahoma executive director David Pettyjohn says he's disappointed the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment voted to sustain the decision by the Downtown Design Review Committee to demolish the Stage Center, but he won't appeal the decision.

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World Views
3:03 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

'Enough Unrest To Go Around': Updates On Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris, France, on Wednesday.
Credit U.S. Department of State / Flickr Creative Commons

Stuck In The Middle With Ukraine

The United States and the European Union differed this week in their response to Russia’s role in the crisis in Ukraine.

While Washington is imposing sanctions and strongly criticizing Moscow, the EU has taken softer measures.

As University of Oklahoma political scientist Paul Goode explained two weeks ago, Western media are eager to portray the crisis as a “Cold War 2.0.”

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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

MasterCard, Visa Team Up To Improve Payment Security

Visa and MasterCard have formed an industry-wide group to improve payment security.
Damien Meyer AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 1:48 pm

Credit-card rivals Visa and MasterCard said Friday they have formed an industry-wide group aimed at improving payment security in the wake of a number of breaches that compromised customers' data.

"The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security," Visa President Ryan McInerney said in the statement.

According to Reuters:

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The Two-Way
9:23 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Russian Lawmakers Welcome Separatist Steps By Crimea

Vladimir Konstantinov (in purple tie) is the speaker of Crimea's parliament. He was welcomed with flowers Friday during his meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament. She is at the far right of this photo.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:22 am

One day after President Obama condemned steps taken by Crimea's parliament to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, Russian lawmakers are welcoming such a move by Crimean separatists.

"Russia's parliament gave its defiant support Friday to Crimean lawmakers who want to see their region split from Ukraine and join Russia," CNN reports from Moscow.

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Native American
9:20 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Gov. Fallin's Daughter Drawing Criticism For Native American Headdress

The Pink Pony response to the headdress controversy.
Credit Pink Pony Music / Facebook

The daughter of the governor of Oklahoma is defending herself after she posted a photo wearing a Native American headdress on social media sites.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Gov. Mary Fallin's daughter, Christina Fallin, says that with age, she feels a "deeper and deeper connection to the Native American culture."

The 26-year-old posted a photo of herself on her Instagram account and the Facebook page for her band on Thursday evening.

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The Two-Way
7:08 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Jobless Rate Ticks Up, But Job Growth Is Better Than Expected

The scene at a job fair for veterans earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:14 am

This post has been updated.

The nation's unemployment rate edged up to 6.7 percent in February from 6.6 percent the month before, but employers added more jobs than expected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

According to BLS, the number of jobs on public and private payrolls grew by 175,000 last month — about 25,000 more than economists had expected.

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