Oklahoma murder suspect steals deputy's car, escapes
Shaun Bosse is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson.
June 26th, 2011
01:28 PM ET

Oklahoma murder suspect steals deputy's car, escapes

A manhunt was under way Sunday for an Oklahoma jail inmate who overpowered two deputies and stole one deputy's car, authorities said.

Shaun Bosse, 27, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson. He is accused of killing Katrina Griffin, 24, and her two children - Christian, 8, and Chastity, 6 - on July 23, according to CNN affiliate KOCO. Read more information about Bosse on a law enforcement web site.

Bosse stole a black 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix in his escape, said McClain County Undersheriff Bill Shobe. The car, which was newly purchased, has a paper tag, he said.

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Filed under: Oklahoma
June 19th, 2011
03:01 PM ET

7 states face extreme fire risk Sunday

Firefighters across the southwestern United States on Sunday could face some of the worst weather conditions of the season for battling blazes currently raging across the region.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for most of Arizona, all of New Mexico, much of north Texas and portions of Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Utah for Sunday. A red flag warning means weather conditions - mainly high heat, low humidity and strong winds - pose an extreme fire risk.

"The winds certainly will be very gusty and strong," said Ken Daniel, NWS meteorologist in Flagstaff, Arizona. "Any new fire starts would have the potential to have explosive growth."

Dozens of wildfires already are burning in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to InciWeb, an online interagency database that tracks fires, floods and other disasters.

Sunday's forecast calls for winds of 30 mph or more in some areas, with gusts of up to 50 mph, Daniel said.

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Filed under: Arizona • Colorado • Kansas • New Mexico • Oklahoma • Texas • Utah
SI.com: Mavs finish off Thunder for NBA Finals berth; Bulls must beat Heat
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki takes it to the hole Wednesday with four Thunder players in the lane. Nowitzki finished with 26 points.
May 26th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

SI.com: Mavs finish off Thunder for NBA Finals berth; Bulls must beat Heat

Led by Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks sealed the deal and sent the Thunder packing Wednesday night with a 100-96 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Though Oklahoma City won't get a shot at the title, it certainly didn't go down without a fight. As SI.com's Chris Mannix explains, the Thunder fought to a three-point lead going into halftime but ultimately were outmatched by a better, more experienced Dallas squad.

"Oklahoma City will learn from this experience," Mannix writes. "(Kevin) Durant will learn how to play through contact, how to not let players push him off his spot. (Kendrick) Perkins will shed 15 pounds and regain the mobility he lost dealing with multiple knee injuries. Serge Ibaka will take the lessons learned from defending Nowitzki, and Zach Randolph in the conference semis, and come back in the fall a better player. (James) Harden will be a year older, a year wiser and that syrupy shooting stroke of his isn't going anywhere."
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Filed under: Baseball • Basketball • NBA • Oklahoma • Sports • Tennis • Texas • U.S.
May 26th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

After the chaos: Digging through the damage, searching for the missing

Officials will release a list of 232 people officially reported missing or unaccounted for following the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri.

View the list (PDF)

"Our goal is to get that number to 0," Andrea Spillers, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety said Thursday. "We will dedicate as much state resources as needed, around-the-clock, to make sure all of those family members that have loved ones that cannot be found are connected."

Authorities urged residents who may have been reported unaccounted for to let officials know they are okay by calling following number: (417) 895-6868. Those needing to report someone missing to law enforcement should call (417) 659-5464.

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Oklahoma • Tornadoes • Weather
Hunkered in 'safe room,' Oklahoma family had no idea top floors were blown away
The Wood family's dog, Roxie, stands in front of the family's destroyed home.
May 25th, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Hunkered in 'safe room,' Oklahoma family had no idea top floors were blown away

After crawling and climbing over mangled wooden debris, a couch and a water heater blocking the staircase, we made it, to what used to be the second floor of Frank Wood's home in Piedmont, Oklahoma.

"This is it," Wood said, looking out over his 12-acre lot. "We used to have a beautiful view."

Frank Wood and his two children survived a direct hit on their home by a tornado that ripped across Oklahoma on Tuesday afternoon.

The Woods' home was originally three stories tall, but the top floor is nowhere to be found. Frank Wood's pickup truck is a mangled mess, sitting in a ditch 300 yards from the driveway.

The family survived because of a "safe room" built into the garage. Frank Wood rushed into the safe room and locked it.

Roxie, the Wood family

He says the room is so fortified that he had no idea how bad the damage was until he walked out and realized the top two floors of the house had been blown off.

As the family rushed into the safe room, they weren't able to grab their dog, Roxie. After the storm passed, the kids rushed out to find the tan boxer, but she was gone.

But Wednesday morning, Frank Wood finally got some good news. An oil rig worker almost two miles away had found Roxie wandering around in a field, unscathed except for a small scratch on a front leg.

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Filed under: Oklahoma • On the Ground • Tornadoes
Oklahoma declares state of emergency in 68 counties
May 25th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Oklahoma declares state of emergency in 68 counties

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency Wednesday in 68 Oklahoma counties due to tornadoes and severe weather.

Only nine counties in the state were not declared to be under a state of emergency.

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May 24th, 2011
09:48 PM ET

Tornadoes, storms kill 6 in Oklahoma, Kansas

[Updated at 10:31 p.m. ET] Severe weather's assault on middle America continued Tuesday, as tornadoes and thunderstorms claimed at least six lives in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Twisters also were brewing in Dallas and several northern Texas counties, according to the National Weather Service, with at least one reported on the ground.

Two motorists died when an uprooted tree slammed into their van in Stafford County, Kansas, according to the state adjutant general's office.

Canadian County, Oklahoma, Sheriff Randall Edwards told CNN a large tornado that crossed I-40 near El Reno destroyed residences and caused a gas leak at an energy plant west of the state capital.

Four people died in the county, said Cherokee Ballard, spokesperson for the state medical examiner.

Tuesday's storms come two days after a tornado killed at least 124 people in Joplin, Missouri, authorities said.

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Filed under: Oklahoma • Tornadoes • Weather
South gets a major buzz on every 13 years
The 13-year periodical cicada has big red bug-eyes to go with its orange legs and wing parts.
May 24th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

South gets a major buzz on every 13 years

The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.

Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.

The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST

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Horford, other NBA stars to donate $1,000 per point to Japan relief efforts
Al Horford, right, defends Derrick Rose in a March 11 game. Both men are lending their hoops skills to the Japan relief effort.
March 25th, 2011
02:44 PM ET

Horford, other NBA stars to donate $1,000 per point to Japan relief efforts

They say defense wins championships, but beginning Friday night, a handful of NBA stars can champion Japan by breaking down defenses.

For every point they score in select games this weekend, the players will donate a cool grand to Japan's relief efforts. Putting up points shouldn't be a tall order for the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, the Portland Trailblazers' LaMarcus Aldridge, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook or the Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford. Each has been averaging between 16 and 25 points all season.

JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards and Pau's little brother, Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, will also lend their marksmanship to the cause, and 13 other players will donate set amounts.

I caught up with Horford, from my hometown Hawks, after Friday's practice. Let this be a warning, New Jersey Nets: Horford says he's going "to try to be a little more aggressive" in Saturday night's game - and I'm sure you remember he dropped 24 on you when you visited the A-Town in December.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Basketball • California • District of Columbia • Earthquake • Georgia • Illinois • Japan • Natural Disasters • NBA • Oklahoma • Oregon • Sports • Tennessee • Tsunami • U.S. • World
March 11th, 2011
06:06 PM ET

Wildfires burning across Oklahoma prompt emergency declaration

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today declared a State of Emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties as more than two dozen wildfires spread across the state, causing evacuations.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all Oklahomans who have been impacted by these fires as well as our emergency responders in harms' way," Fallin said. "We know homes, as well as other property, have been lost and we will work to do everything we can to help Oklahomans during their time of need."

Under the Executive Order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.

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Filed under: Oklahoma • Weather
Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law
Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade last year in New York.
March 6th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," airs March 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been the epicenter of a months-long battle over the construction of a new mosque in the Nashville suburb. It's one example of many concerning Muslims in America, and how cities and communities are responding to efforts to build Islamic places of worship.

That battle got fiercer when two state lawmakers, one representing Murfreesboro, introduced legislation that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals. Many Muslims consider Sharia law to outline basic tenets of living a moral life. What is Sharia law?

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who are backing the same bill in the Senate and House, describe Sharia law as dangerous to U.S. national security, according to the Tennessean newspaper. The bill grants Tennessee's attorney general the power to investigate complaints about anyone who might be practicing Sharia law.

The possible punishment for practicing Sharia law is 15 years behind bars.

Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson. Signs on the mosque property were vandalized with spray paint reading, "Not welcome." Two other proposed Islamic centers in Tennessee stoked much controversy last year.  A Crusaders' cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, next to the words, "Muslims go home." In Williamson County, not far from Murfreesboro, plans to build a mosque were quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly. The debate over a mosque near ground zero in New York is still raging. The U.S. Justice Department supports the Murfreesboro mosque.

Tennessee isn't the first state to consider anti-Sharia law legislation. Oklahoma passed a similar bill last year. This month Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley said he would support a bill that "maintains that U.S. law shall take precedence in U.S. courts," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tilley referenced a case, frequently cited in the debate concerning the Oklahoma law, in which a New Jersey judge relied on Islamic law to rule in a case involving domestic violence.

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Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
Gotta Watch: Chainsaw britches, pot for tots, history's jigsaw, Haiti's 'Earth ships'
An Oklahoma man is accused of trying to steal a chainsaw by shoving it down his pants.
February 23rd, 2011
10:51 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Chainsaw britches, pot for tots, history's jigsaw, Haiti's 'Earth ships'

The ol' cut and run - An Oklahoma man is accused of stuffing a chainsaw down his pants and running. Well, waddling is likely a better word. The best part about this absurd story is the repeated use of the term "britches" and the infamous local news standby – the old camera man re-enactment routine.

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Snow strands motorists, slows Globetrotters
Weather conditions were tricky for drivers on some Arkansas highways on Wednesday.
February 9th, 2011
08:58 PM ET

Snow strands motorists, slows Globetrotters

Wednesday's snow and frigid temperatures in parts of the central and southern United States were a cold slap in the face for states still trying to recover from last week's unusually strong snowstorm.

Here's how people in some of Wednesday's snow-hit states were dealing with the latest round of storms:

ARKANSAS

With northwestern Arkansas receiving up to 25 inches of snow Wednesday and the Little Rock area getting around 5 to 8 inches, police and Arkansas National Guard troops were busy trying to help motorists who became stranded on highways.

In northwestern Arkansas' Benton County, Gary McLennan spent part of Wednesday morning digging out his wife's SUV from a ditch the vehicle had entered, he told CNN affiliate KFSM. He said he previously had tried to persuade his wife not to go to work.

"I said, 'OK, you go, but don't call me when you get in the ditch because we will be on Channel 5 News,' that's the truth," McLennan said. "And I get a call saying, 'I made it to the gate.' She calls again, 'I made it to the Walmart,' and then she calls and says, I'm in the ditch,' and I said, 'OK.' "

Multiple media outlets reported jackknifed tractor-trailers on the state's highways. The storm caused many highway motorists to pause at rest stops. Among those taking a break Wednesday were the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, whose bus driver pulled over while trying to drive the club from Little Rock to a Wednesday night game in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Oklahoma • Texas • Weather • Winter weather
February 8th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

Plains and South brace for another winter storm

Snow began falling over Colorado and Kansas Tuesday as yet another round of winter weather began marching across the United States barely a week after a record-setting winter storm roared across the Midwest.

A powerful weather system poised over the Rockies is forecast to dump several feet of snow in the Mountain West and up to 10 inches in some parts of Oklahoma, forecasters said.

Much of Oklahoma is under a winter storm warning, but snow and sleet are predicted as far south as central Texas, with 2 to 4 inches expected to coat the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the National Weather Service said.

Later in the week, the system is expected to bring rain and snow to many areas of the Deep South before delivering a wintry mix along portions of the East Coast by Thursday.

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Filed under: Colorado • Kansas • Oklahoma • Texas • Weather • Winter weather
Drug shortage leads to condemned man receiving anesthetic for animals
December 16th, 2010
07:50 PM ET

Drug shortage leads to condemned man receiving anesthetic for animals

Oklahoma death row inmate John David Duty was executed Thursday using a drug commonly used to euthanize animals because of a nationwide shortage of the sedative normally employed in Oklahoma's lethal injections.

Pentobarbital is an anesthetizing drug widely used to euthanize dogs, cats and other animals. Duty, who was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. CT, is believed to be the first condemned inmate to be executed using pentobarbital as part of the three-drug cocktail.

Lawyers for Duty, who was sentenced to die for strangling his cellmate with a shoelace, claimed that pentobarbital is risky and unproven in humans.

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Filed under: Death Penalty • Oklahoma
Thursday's intriguing people
December 16th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Grace Mugabe

The first lady of Zimbabwe has filed a defamation suit demanding $15 million from a newspaper that quoted a 2008 diplomatic cable alleging she profited from the illegal diamond trade.

The Standard, a Harare-based Sunday newspaper, this week quoted WikiLeaks-released U.S. cables saying rumors that Mugabe and Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, were profiting off of the diamonds are true.

In short, the paper alleged the cables show that Gono made thousands of dollars each month off diamond dealing and funneled money to Mugabe, her sister-in-law and members of Zimbabwe’s ruling party.

“The diamonds that are sold to regime members and elites are sold for freshly printed Zimbabwean notes issued by the (Reserve Bank),” The Standard quoted British mining executive Andrew Cranswick as saying in a 2008 document.

According to Britain’s The Guardian, the Marange district of Zimbabwe has been the “scene of a frenzied diamond rush in recent years.”

In court papers, Mugabe called the allegations printed in The Standard false and malicious and said they damaged her credibility, Al-Jazeera reported.

“Whatever it prints is regarded as gospel truth by those people in Zimbabwe and abroad,” the network quoted court documents as saying.

Mugabe, in the past, has been the subject of media reports questioning her lavish tastes as first lady of a country where inflation has soared and a majority of citizens live below the poverty line.

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November 3rd, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Law professor: Ban on Sharia law 'a mess'

Oklahoma's new ban on Islamic law poses potential legal hurdles.

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved a measure that bans the application of Islamic law and orders judges in the state to rely only on federal law when deciding cases. State Rep. Rex Duncan, a Republican, was the primary author of the measure, which amends that state constitution.

Watch how the ballot initiative's author and others feel about the ban

For months, legal experts had lambasted the initiative as biased toward a religion and potentially harmful to local businesses that engage in commerce with international companies. It also presents potential constitutional law problems, experts say. Is Oklahoma's state constitution now in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ... "?

There has never been a previous case in the state in which Sharia law was applied, said Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tepker called the passage of the measure "a mess" with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.

"Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don't cry," he said. "I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn't that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren't going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin."

What is Sharia law, and how is it defined in the ban?

Businesses that engage with international companies may also find the ban is a stumbling block, Tepker said. The ban also requires all state business to be conducted in English.

Duncan has said he knew of no precedent in the state's history in which a judge applied Sharia law. But he backed the measure, he told reporters, as a "pre-emptive strike."

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Filed under: Oklahoma • Politics
November 2nd, 2010
09:54 PM ET

Oklahoma governorship changes to Republican

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Mary Fallin has defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins in the race for governor, CNN projects. Democratic Gov. Brad Henry is term-limited.

Georgia Republican incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson has won re-election to a second term as senator, CNN projects, beating out Democratic nominee Michael Thurmond. Projections are based on CNN analysis of exit poll data.

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Filed under: Elections • Florida • Georgia • Maryland • Oklahoma • Politics • South Dakota • Tennessee
November 2nd, 2010
09:11 PM ET

Republicans win congressional seats in Virginia, Florida, Indiana

Virginia Republican Robert Hurt has defeated freshman Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Perriello in the race for the 5th Congressional District, CNN projects.

Florida Republican Dan Webster has defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Alan Grayson in the race for the 8th Congressional District, CNN projects.

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Filed under: Elections • Florida • Indiana • Oklahoma • Politics • Tennessee • Virginia
October 13th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

4.3 quake jolts Oklahoma

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake struck central Oklahoma on Wednesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, but officials said no significant damage or injuries had been reported.

"At first I thought it could be an explosion," said Capt. Tom Easley, of the Norman, Oklahoma, police. "You think of the worst possible scenario."

Posters on the website of CNN affiliate KOCO in Oklahoma City reported feeling the temblor in numerous locations.
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