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.
[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.FULL STORY
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
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.
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.FULL STORY
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.FULL STORY
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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."
A chimpanzee in an Oklahoma zoo escaped from his exhibit on Monday, but was coaxed back to safety with no reported injuries, said a zoo spokeswoman.
The male chimp was found in a dry moat, meant to separate the animals from the zoo's visitors. It was not immediately clear how he broke out of his habitat.
The Haskell County, Oklahoma, Commission has 10 years to pay
attorneys' fees of $199,000 after it was forced to remove an 8-foot-tall Ten
A man whose car stalled in a road covered by rushing water drowned in Lawton, Oklahoma, on Monday night, a county spokesman said Tuesday.
Miguel Lopez, 50, got swept away into a creek after he exited his vehicle and tried to push it through the moving water,
Comanche County Public Information Officer Chris Killmer said. His death is the first reported in the flash flooding that struck Oklahoma on Monday.
Portions of Lawton, which is about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, received 6-7 inches of rain over a 12-hour period as thunderstorms battered central Oklahoma. Comanche County is one of 59 Oklahoma counties covered by a state of emergency issued by the governor's office.
[Updated at 12:50 p.m.] Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said Monday that neighborhoods are being evacuated because of high waters.
[Posted at 11:39 a.m.] The Oklahoma City area was dealing with vicious flash-flooding and scattered power outages Monday after what CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras called "backbuilding thunderstorms," a series of heavy rain cores without intermittent periods of let-up.
Oklahoma's governor Tuesday declared states of emergency in 56 counties following a string of tornadoes and severe storms that swept through the area the day before.