TIME Education

Oklahoma University Frat Members Learned Racist Song at National SAE Event

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.
Nick Oxford—AP The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.

Frat members refuse to say where they learned the song

The University of Oklahoma says it has determined that fraternity members learned a racist chant at a national event organized by Sigma Alpha Epsilon four years ago — and it wants to know what the leaders are doing about it.

OU President David Boren is expected to announce the results of the school’s investigation into the disgraceful episode at 1 p.m. CT Friday, but revealed some findings in a letter to the frat’s executive director.

“The chant was learned by local chapter members while attending a national leadership cruise sponsored by by the national SAE organizations four years ago,” Boren wrote…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

Witness the Deadly Tornadoes That Hit Oklahoma

Tornadoes ripped through large portions of Oklahoma on Wednesday, marking the start of tornado season. The storm killed at least one person and left scores with damaged homes and tens of thousands of households with no power

TIME weather

Oklahoma Governor Declares State of Emergency After Deadly Tornadoes

First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.
Matt Barnard—Tulsa World/AP First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.

Tornado season has arrived

Oklahoma’s governor declared a state of emergency for 25 counties Thursday, a day after severe weather whipped through large swathes of state, resulting in one death and widespread power outages.

Governor Mary Fallin announced the declaration in the city of Moore, after touring a stricken elementary school, according to NBC News. No students or staff were injured at the school, which was closed when the tornado hit.

“It’s hard to believe that two years later, we’re back at a Moore public school, surveying damage,” Fallin said. “I am very thankful that this school did not sustain damage during school hours.”

Outside Tulsa, a tornado cut through a mobile home park in the suburbs of Sand Springs Wednesday night, killing at least one person and injuring three others.

“Right now, rescue efforts are continuing and officers are aiding the injured and helping those who need immediate medical care,” Shannon Clark, with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN. “It’s very tough conditions right now — very touch and go. The conditions my people are working in right now are deplorable at best.”

Further south, near Oklahoma City, officials reported that another tornado touched down outside the town of Moore, overturning vehicles, uprooting trees and injuring at least three people. However, no deaths were reported in the area.

Thousands of Oklahoma residents were without power early Thursday as officials mobilized rescue efforts.

Read next: Doctors Can’t Explain Why People in Kazakhstan Are Falling Asleep For Days

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

Oklahoma Teenager Gets Life in Prison for Role in Shooting of Australian Athlete

Michael Jones
AP This undated booking file photo provided by the Stephens County Okla., Sheriffs Department shows Michael Dewayne Jones, of Duncan, Okla.

Michael DeWayne Jones pleaded guilty to driving the car from which his friend shot Christopher Lane apparently at random

An Oklahoma teenager was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to his involvement in the 2013 shooting that killed an Australian baseball player in Duncan, Okla.

High school dropout Michael DeWayne Jones, 19, admitted driving the car from which his friend, Chancey Allen Luna, shot Christopher Lane, The Oklahoman reported.

Lane, a 22-year-old rising senior from Melbourne at East Central University in nearby Ada, was in Duncan visiting his girlfriend and was out for a jog when Luna shot him in the back.

“I saw Chancey shoot the jogger,” said Jones in his statement. “I believe that Mr. Lane died as a result of me driving my car while Chancey Luna fired the revolver at him.”

Jones also tendered an emotional apology to Lane’s girlfriend, Sarah Harper, who was in the courtroom with her parents. He said he was “truly sorry” for their loss and hoped they would forgive him. “I pray for you all daily,” he said.

Jones’ guilty plea was part of an agreement that reduced his charge from first-degree to second-degree murder, making him eligible for parole in 36 years. The Associated Press reported that as part of the plea deal, Jones will not testify against Luna, whose trial is set to begin next month.

TIME weather

Expect More Bad Weather in the Southern U.S. and Rockies on Monday

An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015
Billy Hefton—AP An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015

Motorists should prepare for hazardous travel conditions

The Rocky Mountains and Southern Plains are in for snowy and icy conditions Monday as a winter storm continues to move across the region.

Multiple accidents have already been attributed to the storm, with injuries being reported in Utah and Kansas, according to the Weather Channel. Motorists should continue to take utmost caution.

Those planning on catching a flight may want to double-check the status of their bookings. Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport canceled about half of the flights scheduled for Monday after already grounding around 160 flights on Sunday. Denver International canceled more than 330 flights over weekend, according to Denver’s Channel 7 News.

Meanwhile, schools in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama have announced cancellations or delays of classes due to weather concerns.

Read next: 7 Reasons to Love This Freezing Weather

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Why Oklahoma Schools Are Changing U.S. History Classes

This week, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill aimed at replacing the AP U.S. History curriculum. Bill sponsor Rep. Dan Fisher claims the current curriculum only teaches “what is bad about America.”

For more on this developing story, watch the latest #KnowRightNow.

TIME Courts

Supreme Court Delays Executions for 3 Oklahoma Inmates

The Supreme Court
James P. Blair—Getty Images

State is temporarily barred from using controversial sedative

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed the execution of three Oklahoma death row inmates who are part of a case that could decide the future of lethal injections nationwide.

The court’s order prevents Oklahoma from using the sedative midazolam to execute Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole, who are challenging the state’s current lethal injection protocol. The trio claims that the use of midazolam, which has been criticized by some anesthesiologists as not properly inducing unconsciousness, violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Glossip, who was convicted of having his boss murdered, was set to be executed Thursday. Grant, who was convicted of stabbing a co-worker to death, was scheduled to be executed in February. And Cole, handed a death sentence for killing his 9-month-old daughter, was initially set to be executed in March.

MORE: Justices Will Review Use of Midazolam as Execution Drug

Because the Supreme Court’s order specifically prevents Oklahoma from executing the men with midazolam, it’s possible but unlikely that the state will try to use a different drug to carry out their death sentence before the court rules in their case.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last week, making it the first time the court will consider whether a specific method of capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment since Baze v. Rees in 2008. That decision upheld Kentucky’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. Since then, drug shortages have forced states to use different drugs, including midazolam.

All eyes have been on Oklahoma’s execution protocol since last April, when the lethal injection of a convicted killer went awry. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of June.

Read more: Ohio Abandons Controversial Drug Execution Cocktail

TIME Crime

Oklahoma Executes First Inmate Since Botched Lethal Injection in April

Oklahoma Execution
Sue Ogrocki—AP The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., Oct. 9, 2014.

Thursday's execution came shortly after the Supreme Court rejected his legal team's appeal

Charles Warner was executed on Thursday night after the Supreme Court declined in a 5-4 ruling to intervene, making him the first death-row inmate to be put to death there since a botched lethal injection in April forced the state to reform its execution standards.

The execution of Warner, who was convicted for the 1997 sexual assault and murder of an 11-month-old, had been set for 6 p.m. CST, but was delayed while officials could learn the court’s ruling. After that came in, the Associated Press reports, prison officials said he was declared dead at 7:28 p.m., local time.

Warner’s execution had originally been scheduled after that of Clayton Lockett, who was convicted of kidnapping and burying alive Stephanie Neiman in 1999. But officials scrapped it after Lockett’s lethal injection went awry.

Executioners took 51 minutes to locate one of Lockett’s veins and then failed to insert the IVs properly, allowing drugs to leak into the inmate’s surrounding tissues. According to witness accounts, Lockett writhed on the gurney for roughly 45 minutes. An autopsy showed he died of a heart attack.

MORE: Oklahoma Inmate Felt ‘Liquid Fire’ During Execution, Doctor Says

Lockett’s execution triggered a moratorium on lethal injections in Oklahoma. The state instituted changes to its drug protocol, increased training for executioners and remodeled its execution chamber.

For Warner’s lethal injection, state executioners will be using new equipment that will help prevent improper IV placement. Prison officials are also allowed to postpone an execution if there are problems in the first hour. And the dosage of midazolam, one of the drugs used that has been routinely criticized as not strong enough to adequately put an inmate to sleep, has been increased.

Warner’s legal team went to the high court for a last-minute stay after a federal court in Oklahoma City rejected the appeal, and then a federal appeals court in Denver did the same. An execution in Florida that used the same method occurred just before Warner’s following a temporary hold due to a similar case mulled by the justices.

Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented in Thursday’s ruling, with the latter writing:

I am deeply troubled by this evidence suggesting that midazolam cannot constitutionally be used as the first drug in a three-drug lethal injection protocol. It is true that we give deference to the district courts. But at some point we must question their findings of fact, unless we are to abdicate our role of ensuring that no clear error has been committed. We should review such findings with added care when what is at issue is the risk of the need- less infliction of severe pain. Here, given the evidence before the District Court, I struggle to see how its decision to credit the testimony of a single purported expert can be supported given the substantial body of conflicting empirical and anecdotal evidence.

I believe that we should have granted petitioners’ application for stay. The questions before us are especially important now, given States’ increasing reliance on new and scientifically untested methods of execution. Petitioners have committed horrific crimes, and should be punished. But the Eighth Amendment guarantees that no one should be subjected to an execution that causes searing, unnecessary pain before death. I hope that our failure to act today does not portend our unwillingness to consider these questions.

Read next: 25 Secret Minutes Inside Oklahoma’s Execution Chamber

TIME Oklahoma

Oklahoma Legislator Proposes Hoodie Ban

Similar bans already exist in some places around the country

Oklahoma could join a list of states where it is illegal to wear a hoodie in public, if a state senator’s proposed bill goes through.

Republican state senator Don Barrington has authored a bill to ban wearing a mask, hood or other face-covering in order to hide one’s identity in a public space, Oklahoma’s Channel 6 reports. The measure includes exceptions for holidays and special events like Halloween and religious beliefs.

Similar laws are already on the books in 10 states around the country, including Florida, California, New York and Washington, DC.

Proponents say hoodie bans help deter crime by preventing people from hiding their identity while entering a store or other public space, but critics of the measure argue that such laws restrict free expression and exacerbate problems with racial profiling in communities of color.

[Channel 6]

TIME Healthcare

Nonprofit Hospitals Seize Low-Income Patients’ Wages

An investigation reveals the ongoing struggles of people too poor to afford health insurance but no poor enough to qualify for Medicaid

Many hospitals in the U.S. receive tax breaks in exchange for the community service of providing care to those who cannot afford to pay. But hospitals in at least five states employ aggressive debt collectors to garnish the wages of low-income patients with unpaid debts, a ProPublica/NPR investigation revealed Friday.

Hospitals in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama and Missouri pass debts along to for-profit collection agencies. People affected tend to be those who earn too much to qualify for assistance in states that rejected the Medicaid expansion in President Barack Obama’s health care law, but not enough to purchase health care on their own. The cost of health care services for the uninsured tend to be significantly higher than for people with health insurance.

Read more at ProPublica

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