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State and Regional News

    The humble pecan is being rebranded as more than just pie. Pecan growers and suppliers are hoping to sell U.S. consumers on the virtues of North America's only native nut as a hedge against a potential trade war with China, the pecan's largest export market. The pecan industry is also trying to crack the fast-growing snack-food industry. The retail value for packaged nuts, seeds and trail mix in the U.S. alone was $5.7 billion in 2012, and is forecast to rise to $7.5 billion by 2022, according to market researcher Euromonitor. The Fort Worth, Texas-based American Pecan Council, formed in the wake of a new federal marketing order that allows the industry to band together and assess fees for research and promotion, is a half-century in the making, said Jim Anthony, 80, the owner of a 14,000-acre pecan farm near Granbury, Texas. Anthony said that regional rivalries and turf wars across the 15-state pecan belt — stretching from the Carolinas to California — made such a union impossible until recently, when demand for pecans exploded in Asian markets. Until 2007, most U.S. pecans were consumed domestically, according to Daniel Zedan, president of Nature's Finest Foods, a marketing group. By 2009, China was buying about a third of the U.S. crop. The pecan is the only tree nut indigenous to North America, growers say. Sixteenth-century Spanish explore Cabeza de Vaca wrote about tasting the nut during his encounters with Native American tribes in South Texas. The name is French explorers' phonetic spelling of the native word 'pakan,' meaning hard-shelled nut. Facing growing competition from pecan producers in South Africa, Mexico and Australia, U.S. producers are also riding the wave of the Trump Administration's policies to promote American-made goods. Most American kids grow up with peanut butter but peanuts probably originated in South America. Almonds are native to Asia and pistachios to the Middle East. The pecan council is funding academic research to show that their nuts are just as nutritious. The council on Wednesday will debut a new logo: 'The American Pecan: The Original Supernut.' Rodney Myers, who manages operations at Anthony's pecan farm, credits the pecan's growing cache in China and elsewhere in Asia with its association to rustic Americana — 'the oilfield, cowboys, the Wild West — they associate all these things with the North American nut,' he said. China earlier this month released a list of American products that could face tariffs in retaliation for proposed U.S. tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Fresh and dried nuts — including the pecan — could be slapped with a 15-percent tariff, according to the list. To counter that risk, the pecan council is using some of the $8 million in production-based assessments it's collected since the marketing order was passed in 2016 to promote the versatility of the tree nut beyond pecan pie at Thanksgiving. While Chinese demand pushed up prices it also drove away American consumers. By January 2013, prices had dropped 50 percent from their peak in 2011, according to Zedan. U.S. growers and processers were finally able in 2016 to pass a marketing order to better control pecan production and prices. Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, federal marketing orders help producers and handlers standardize packaging, impose quality control and fund research, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees 28 other fruit, vegetable and specialty marketing orders, in addition to the pecan order. Critics charge that the orders interfere with the price signals of a free, unfettered private market. 'What you've created instead is a government-sanctioned cartel,' said Daren Bakst, an agricultural policy researcher at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Before the almond industry passed its own federal marketing order in 1950, fewer almonds than pecans were sold, according to pecan council chair Mike Adams, who cultivates 600 acres of pecan trees near Caldwell, Texas. Now, while almonds appear in everything from cereal to milk substitutes, Adams calls the pecan 'the forgotten nut.' 'We're so excited to have an identity, to break out of the pie shell,' said Molly Willis, a member of the council who owns an 80-acre pecan farm in Albany, Georgia, a supplement to her husband's family's peanut-processing business.
  • A poised and productive Ricky Rubio has been smiling and laughing, masterfully running Utah's offense in his matchup with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile, the reigning league MVP has been scowling, shoving, fouling, complaining and most of all — losing. It's fair to say Rubio has been more effective for the Jazz. The Rubio-Westbrook matchup mirrors what is happening throughout the NBA playoffs: The team that gets the best point guard play usually wins. Rubio's all-around success has the Jazz on the brink of advancing. Utah has a 3-1 lead on the Thunder and can finish the series Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. He summed up his play after Game 2, saying 'I did my job, looking for my teammates, and looking for my shot too when it was open. I just took what the game gave me and watched film and got better and we played as a team.' Maybe it is just that simple. Rubio is averaging 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 8 assists per game against Oklahoma City, all well above his regular season numbers. The 27-year-old is in the first playoff series of his seven-year career, yet he is playing like a seasoned veteran. Westbrook and the Thunder have tried to throw Rubio off his game, maybe to a fault. Westbrook has lost his focus at times. He is averaging 21.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists in the series, but he's shooting just 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3-point range. Rubio went for a triple-double in a Game 3 victory , the first playoff triple-double for the franchise since John Stockton had one in 2001. Westbrook said he'd shut down Rubio in Game 4. His efforts backfired — Rubio got more of Westbrook's attention, and the Thunder weren't as effective helping on Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, Utah's two best players. Westbrook was overly aggressive and had four fouls at halftime. The Jazz rolled 113-96 . Westbrook toned it down after the game. 'It wasn't about me or him,' he said. 'Let's get past that. We're done with that.' Looking around the playoffs, that's probably a good thing. How goes a team's point guard, so goes the team. New Orleans' Rajon Rondo and Philadelphia's Ben Simmons are among the point guards whose play has lifted their teams. That has been true in the matchup between Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Washington's John Wall. In Toronto's two wins, Lowry averaged 10.5 assists, but 6.5 in two losses. Wall averaged 27.5 points and 14 assists as Washington won two games to even the series. The 32-year-old Rondo appeared to be overmatched heading into the matchup with Portland's Damian Lillard but showed he is not past his prime. Rondo averaged 11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 13.3 assists to help the New Orleans sweep the Trail Blazers. Lillard averaged just 18.5 points in the series, eight below his regular-season average, and shot just 35 percent from the field. Philadelphia's Simmons has averaged 19.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists t help the 76ers take a 3-1 lead in their series against the Miami Heat. In Game 4, he had the first triple-double for a rookie in a playoff game since Magic Johnson in 1980. Miami's Goran Dragic is playing well, too — he's averaging 19.5 points and shooting 49 percent. But when Simmons has been special, the 76ers have won. Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe and Boston's Terry Rozier have gone back and forth on the court and in the media. Rozier dominated the first two games — both Boston wins — averaging 23 points on 47 percent shooting while Bledsoe averaged 10.5 points and shot 36 percent. Bledsoe won the next two matchups, and so did the Bucks. Bledsoe averaged 13 points on 50 percent shooting while Rozier averaged 9.5 points on 26 percent shooting. Rubio doesn't have to statistically out-perform Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double the past two seasons. For Rubio, the key has been not trying to do too much. Just be the team's floor general. On offense, he takes open shots and finds his teammates. On defense, he can take chances because the 7-foot-1 Gobert can erase most mistakes. 'That is our strength,' Rubio said. 'Play as a team and get a win.' One more Utah win and Oklahoma City's season is done. ___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP ___ Freelancer John Coon in Salt Lake City, Utah, contributed to this report. ___ For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • Republican legislative leaders have reached an agreement on a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year that increases overall spending by more than 10 percent and gives virtually all state agencies a boost in funding. The $7.6 million general appropriations bill is set to be considered in the full Senate on Wednesday and the House later this week. It includes nearly $500 million in new spending for public schools, an increase of nearly 20 percent for education that mostly funded teacher pay hikes and was the subject of statewide teacher walkouts. Most state agencies will see budget increases ranging from 2 percent to 6 percent, with some larger boosts in spending for the Department of Corrections, district attorneys and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state's Medicaid agency.
  • By now, LeBron James is usually getting some rest in the NBA playoffs. The Pacers are making him work much harder than he has in years. After splitting the first four games, Indiana and Cleveland will meet on Wednesday night in the critical Game 5 of a first-round series that has been unpredictable, uneven and for James, unusual. This first round hasn't been the norm for the three-time champion. While he's 12-0 in the opening round, before the Cavs dropped Game 1 to the Pacers at home, James had never lost a playoff opener. In fact, James came in with a 21-game winning streak in first-round games and this will be his first Game 5 in Round 1 since 2012 when he was with Miami. The Cavs and Pacers aren't the only ones in a tussle in the Eastern Conference as Washington and Toronto resume their series in Canada tied 2-2. Things aren't quite as tight In the West as Utah holds a 3-1 lead over a fraying Oklahoma City team, and Houston, which dropped 50 points in one quarter on Monday night, can eliminate Minnesota. Cleveland's 104-100 win in Game 4 brought relief to Cavs fans and James, who had been getting little offensive help from his teammates. A dependable No. 2 scoring option has been issue all season, primarily because Kyle Irving is no longer around to take pressure off James. But in Game 4 , Kyle Korver stepped up in the second half and knocked down four 3-pointers and the Cavs buckled down defensively in the closing minutes to avoid a 3-1 hole. 'We all know the narrative around us, it is what it is,' Korver said after practice on Tuesday. 'It's Bron and we're all trying to make it work for him.' James has been his usual self, averaging 32.5 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists in the series. But only Kevin Love (12.0), who has been slowed by a sprained left thumb, and J.R. Smith (10.0) are averaging double-digits for Cleveland. Some things to know for Wednesday's matchups: WIZARDS AT RAPTORS Series tied 2-2. Game 5, 7 p.m., NBATV NEED TO KNOW: The home team has won each game so far. The Wizards absolutely need at least one road victory, and they've been here before: Washington was eliminated a year ago in the second round against Boston after going 3-0 in at home and 0-4 in away games. KEEP AN EYE ON: Toronto's 3-point shooting. The Raptors attempted a season-low 18 shots from beyond the arc, making seven, in its Game 4 loss . They never took fewer than 21 in any regular-season game, and averaged 13.7 made 3s and 31 attempts in Games 1-3. PRESSURE IS ON: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. While Washington's All-Star backcourt duo of John Wall (26.8 points, 13 assists and 4.8 rebounds) and Bradley Beal (29.5 ppg the past two games) led the Wizards in Games 3 and 4, Toronto's counterparts have not been very efficient lately. Lowry is shooting 41.7 percent, and DeRozan is at 44 after going 10 for 29 in Game 4. INJURY UPDATE: Because of an injured right shoulder, Raptors PG Fred VanVleet has played a total of only three minutes in the series. PACERS AT CAVALIERS Series tied 2-2. Game 5, 7 p.m. TNT NEED TO KNOW: After scoring 32 points in the opener, Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has scored 18 and 17 in the past two games and is just 10 of 35 from the field. Cleveland has been blitzing and trapping Oladipo, forcing him to pass or rush his shot. KEEP AN EYE ON: Lance Stephenson. Indiana's always entertaining swingman baited James into a technical foul in Game 4, when he also wrapped up Cleveland's Jeff Green late in the game and spun him to the floor. PRESSURE IS ON: Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. While he's had to sort through injuries and battled his own health issues all season, he's been criticized for some decisions, including a reluctance to play forward Tristan Thompson in this series. If the Cavs go down 3-2 or are eliminated, look out. INJURY UPDATE: Cavaliers starting G George Hill (back spasms ) is questionable. He received injections but couldn't play in Game 4. JAZZ AT THUNDER Thunder lead 3-1. Game 5, 9:30 p.m. Central, NBA TV. NEED TO KNOW: Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell is averaging 27.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field. He's averaging 17.3 points in the second half and shooting 46 percent. He topped Karl Malone's rookie playoff record with 33 points in Game 4. 'I'm not trying to think about all that now,' he said. 'We have bigger things to worry about right now as a team.' KEEP AN EYE ON: Thunder F Carmelo Anthony. He's shooting 37 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. He was brought to the Thunder to take pressure off Thunder G Russell Westbrook, but his inability to make shots has only made things more difficult. PRESSURE IS ON: Westbrook. While averaging 21.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists, he's only shooting 37 percent, 21 on 3s. Westbrook normally attacks with reckless abandon, but 7-foot-1 Jazz center Rudy Gobert is making that tougher. INTRIGUING MATCHUP: Thunder F Paul George vs. Jazz F Joe Ingles. George has been solid, averaging 27.3 points. But his focus has drifted and he has got caught up in some of Ingles' agitating tactics. George was the aggressor in Game 4 , at one point shoving Ingles and getting a technical. TIMBERWOLVES AT ROCKETS Rockets lead 3-1. Game 5, 9:30 p.m., TNT. NEED TO KNOW: Timberwolves might still be reeling from the 50-point third quarter the Rockets posted to turn a tight Game 4 into a rout . Minnesota actually outshot Houston for the third straight game, but only turned that into one victory. 'Everybody will look at the 50 points that we scored in the quarter, but it was our defense,' said Chris Paul, who had 15 of his 25 points over those torrid 12 minutes. KEEP AN EYE ON: Rockets sixth man Eric Gordon. After shooting just 11 for 39 over the first three games, he scored a series-high 18 in Game 4. He hit four 3s, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the third to fulfill the 50-point quarter goal the Rockets have been trying to reach for two years under coach Mike D'Antoni. PRESSURE IS ON: Wolves G Jimmy Butler. While the Rockets were running away in the third, Butler forced some shots in a frantic attempt to keep up. The team's best defender must also try to figure out how to better disrupt the high ball screens the Rockets set on Harden to set up those frequent 3s. INJURY UPDATE: Wolves PG Jeff Teague dislocated his right pinky finger in Game 4 and struggled with two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 28 minutes with four fouls and three turnovers. ___ AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich, Cliff Brunt and Dave Campbell contributed to this report. ___ For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • Authorities say suspects in the 1999 shooting deaths of an Oklahoma couple and the abduction of their 16-year-old daughter and her friend 'bragged' about photographing the girls while they were bound. Sixty-six-year-old Ronnie Dean Busick was charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder in the killing of Danny and Kathy Freeman of Craig County, and the disappearance of teenagers Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman. Oklahoma officials say two other suspects have died. According to an affidavit, unnamed witnesses interviewed by investigators said the suspects abducted the girls, and that they had seen photos of them. Authorities believe the teenagers were eventually killed and might be buried in a pit in northeastern Oklahoma. Lauria Bible's mother, Lorene Bible, says she believes 'somebody knows where these girls are.
  • Tens of thousands of Arizona teachers are poised to walk off the job this week to demand more funding for public education, an unprecedented action in this conservative state without many union protections. Educators who are among the lowest-paid in the U.S. have organized weeks of protests seeking raises and a boost in overall school funding, culminating in a vote for the first-ever statewide strike. It comes despite a plan from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to increase teacher pay 20 percent by 2020. Teachers are concerned about a lack of stable funding and a failure to address other demands. A grass-roots teachers group mobilized the #RedforEd campaign, with backing from the Arizona Education Association, the largest teacher membership group. But the association lacks the power to collectively bargain with school districts or require mandatory participation in this right-to-work state. That has led to a disparity across school districts in how to handle the walkout and could lead to fallout for Arizona educators. Here's a look at what's happening: WHAT'S A WALKOUT AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN? A walkout is a job action that can be used as a protest, and teachers plan to launch it statewide Thursday, with no end date set. With 78 percent of roughly 57,000 educators voting in favor last week, tens of thousands of teachers are expected to participate. Many are expected to attend a rally at the state Capitol. Their participation could have consequences. Some states, like New York, prohibit strikes outright, but Arizona's situation is less clear. The education association has warned its 20,000 members about a 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion saying a statewide strike would be illegal under common law and participants could lose their teaching credentials. No school district has said they would fire educators who strike or revoke teaching certificates. Teachers in some districts have been advised to take personal leave time to participate. WHAT ARE THE DEMANDS? The one that received the most attention is a 20 percent raise for teachers who earn an average of $47,218 annually, compared with a national average of $58,353, according to 2016 data from the National Education Association. They also want yearly raises until their salaries reach the national average and competitive wages for classified staffers. Another demand is a return to pre-Great Recession spending levels, which would be roughly a $1 billion increase annually. Part of that includes the goal of driving down class sizes to a 23:1 ratio. The fifth demand is a freeze on tax cuts until spending on each student reaches the national average. A May 2017 report from the National Education Association says per-pupil spending in Arizona was $8,296, compared with $12,572 nationally. HOW ARE THE GOVERNOR AND LAWMAKERS RESPONDING? Ducey has offered teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020 and pledged to see his proposal through despite concerns by lawmakers of his own party. He vetoed 10 Republican measures recently to push the Legislature to send him a budget with the pay increase. Ducey's plan relies on higher-than-expected state revenue. Republican legislative leaders have expressed concern about where the money might come from and are negotiating the plan this week. WHAT DOES THE WALKOUT MEAN FOR SCHOOLS, TEACHERS AND PARENTS? The state's nearly 200 public school districts can try to keep schools open or can close them down. Districts were still determining their plans, but the state's largest district in suburban Phoenix and many others have warned parents they will shut down at least Thursday and Friday. Schools could be open if enough teachers, staff or administrators show up. Many parents will have to make child care plans. Community groups have opened registration for day camps, while some stay-at-home parents are volunteering to watch others' children. Local parent-teacher associations also are putting together food boxes for kids who rely on free breakfast and lunch at school. Hourly workers like custodians might not get paid if their schools close, but they would get a paycheck if the days are made up at the end of the school year. WHAT'S HAPPENED IN OTHER STATES? The Arizona campaign took inspiration from West Virginia, where teachers went on strike and got a raise. The movement also spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and most recently Colorado, where over a dozen school districts are closing Thursday and Friday because of planned teacher protests. Arizona has seen a unique blend of grass-roots uprising, with help from the teachers association. Unions mobilized teachers in other states, though they also had little collective bargaining power with districts. Like Arizona, Oklahoma is a right-to-work state, where teachers spent two weeks on strike, even after money was approved for teacher raises and more school funding. West Virginia officials said a strike was illegal, but the nine-day action led to a 5 percent pay increase, much lower than what Arizona teachers have been offered.
  • After seven months, the NCAA's Commission on College Basketball has completed its work and is ready to issue a report Wednesday on how to fix the sport. Here's what happens next: —Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present the commission's report to university presidents of the NCAA board of governors and Division I board of directors on Wednesday at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. —The boards will convene after the presentation to consider adoption of all, parts or none of the commission's recommendations. Adoption is a small step toward implementation. —If adopted, the boards will then direct the Division I Council, a group mostly composed of athletic directors, to craft legislation to implement the proposals. —NCAA President Mark Emmert has said the council has already begun creating subcommittees to work on legislation in particular areas the commission is expected to address, such as the NBA's so-called one-and-done rule, enforcement of rules and the relationship between players and agents. —Legislation is expected to be presented back to the board by August so reform can be implemented before the next basketball season begins. ___ For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • For the first time in more than three years, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will have a new starting quarterback. Mason Rudolph started 41 games for the Cowboys and left with many of the most significant school records. Taylor Cornelius appears ready to step in. The 6-foot-6, 232-pound senior has taken control of the position during the spring. 'He's doing really well,' Gundy said. 'He's been around here forever and his strength is his knowledge of our offense. He throws the ball around pretty well and he has nice size. The only thing we don't know is how well he'll handle playing in games.' Though Cornelius has only passed for 220 yards and rushed for 108 in his career, the transition has been seamless. He knows much of his work will go beyond throwing the ball. 'I am trying to be a bigger role model and a leader for this group because I am the older guy,' he said. 'So those have been big things for me this spring.' Keondre Wudtee and John Kolar are the other quarterbacks in the mix. But Cornelius has been solid through the spring, which culminates with the April 28 spring game. REPLACING WASHINGTON Washington was the Biletnikoff Award winner last season, and Marcell Ateman gained more than 1,100 yards receiving. Though both are gone, the Cowboys are still loaded at that spot, with Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner and Tyron Johnson still around. McCleskey has 152 career receptions and 15 touchdowns. Stoner caught 44 passes as a freshman last season. Johnson, a junior, was a five-star prospect coming out of high school who finally will have the stage. 'We're pretty good,' Johnson said. 'We're going to fly under the radar. A lot of people will think we're not that good because we lost some big targets to the draft, but that's how it goes. We reloaded and we have a lot of talented receivers that have to get on the same page as the quarterbacks and learn the plays.' OFFENSIVE LINE All-Big 12 pick Marcus Keyes is back, but the Cowboys need to fill spots left by Zack Crabtree (46 career starts), Brad Lundblade (41) and Aaron Cochran (29). Arlington Hambright, a junior college transfer, bears watching. Right guard Larry Williams is trying to get a sixth year of eligibility, but a decision has not been made. He was lost early last season with an ankle injury. CHUBA HUBBARD There's been some hype about Hubbard. The Canadian came to Oklahoma State as a raw prospect who redshirted last season, but now looks like he might be able to steal some carries from returning all-conference pick Justice Hill and his talented backups, J.D. King and LD Brown. 'We like where Chuba (Hubbard) is at,' Gundy said. 'Hubbard has never played in a game, so we don't know, but I'm fairly confident that we have four guys who can play at this level.' HILL'S HANDS Justice Hill has proven he can run with the ball — he has 2,609 yards rushing in two seasons at Oklahoma State. Now, his role as a receiver will be expanded. He caught 31 passes for 190 yards last season. 'You have to learn the whole route tree, the combinations, reading safeties,' he said. 'It's something new, something I need to work on. So it has been fun this spring, just getting to learn this system and learning a different position.' DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR The Cowboys return nine defensive starters, but they'll play for a new coordinator in Jim Knowles. He was defensive coordinator at Duke for eight years before joining the Oklahoma State staff and was head coach at Cornell from 2004-2009. 'Watching him coach and his approach has me very encouraged with the relationship he's built with the team on that side of the ball,' Gundy said. 'He's highly intelligent, he has a unique way of developing relationships with players and I'm encouraged by that part of the game.' ___ Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Ongoing drought and wildfires have cattle ranchers in at least five Southwestern U.S. states scrambling for hay or pastureland, while others are selling off some of their herds. Extreme and exceptional drought conditions have contributed to wildfires in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, delaying the growth of or destroying grass and wheat used to feed cattle in spring. 'Finding hay out here in this part of the state is next to impossible,' according to rancher Darrel Shepherd of Custer, Oklahoma, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of Oklahoma City. 'Pastureland is really hard to find right now ... the wheat, with the drought and all, the wheat is no good.' Northwestern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Panhandle — nearly 20 percent of the state — are rated in exceptional drought, the most severe category. Exceptional drought is also reported in parts of the Texas Panhandle, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and in Utah and Arizona. Federal agriculture officials in New Mexico said ranchers may not have feed to maintain their herd sizes and that some are already trimming their herds, while farmers along the Rio Grande are bracing for less water to irrigate their crops. In northwestern Oklahoma, two large wildfires that burned about 545 square miles (1412 sq. kilometers) destroyed pastures, but rains this past weekend helped firefighters bring the flames under control and began the process of restoring grassland. 'This last weekend was a godsend ... not enough to erase the drought,' said Oklahoma State University agricultural economist Derrell Peel. 'But it's a first step and the time of year is right for the grass to green up in the next few weeks.' Rains are needed to continue through at least the beginning of June in order to prevent Oklahoma ranchers from being faced with downsizing herds, Peel said, but even if that happens, he doesn't expect any impact on the price of beef. 'I don't think this area is big enough,' Peel said. 'We're still seeing an increase in beef production' nationwide. Both Shepherd and Woods County Extension Agent Greg Highfill said ranchers in surrounding states are donating as much hay as possible to help keep livestock fed. 'Because of the drought there isn't as much extra hay to be donated as in other years,' according to Shepherd. 'People are being very generous and giving what extra hay they have.' Shepherd said he doesn't know where the hay is coming from, but is thankful for what has been provided. 'There's a lot of hay from out of state being shipped in. We don't have all we need but we're getting more in each day,' he said. 'You just can't thank those people enough.' ___ Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque contributed to this report.
  • College basketball played an entire season amid a federal corruption investigation that magnified long-simmering troubles within the sport, from shady agent dealings to concerns over athletes who'd rather go straight to the pros. Now it's time to hear new ideas on how to fix the complex, wide-ranging problems. On Wednesday morning, the commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will present its proposed reforms to university presidents of the NCAA Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. And that starts what could be a complicated process in getting changes adopted and implemented for next season. 'I expect the proposals will be strong,' NCAA president Mark Emmert told The Associated Press. 'They'll certainly break with the status quo. That's their charge and their mission. That's what we need. 'I think it's going to be a very good day for college sports,' he said. That would be welcome, considering there has been no shortage of bad days in recent months. The Commission on College Basketball formed in October , a few weeks after federal prosecutors announced they had charged 10 men — including assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn, USC and Oklahoma State along with a top Adidas executive — in a fraud and bribery scandal. The case involves hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged bribes and kickbacks designed to influence recruits on choosing a school, agent or apparel company. And it has entangled schools such as Kansas, North Carolina State , Louisville and Miami , among others, though prosecutors withdrew a criminal complaint in Feburary against one of the defendants, a youth hoops program director. Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said that case has put college sports in the position of reacting instead of proactively heading off yet-to-emerge problems. 'Sometimes unfortunately that's what it takes,' Swofford told the AP. 'You'd like to think that collectively the basketball world could've seen this coming and had the foresight to get out ahead of it. But that's not reality. Organizations and people, we all sometimes need wake-up calls. And I see this as a wake-up call, and therefore an opportunity.' One the Rice commission wants to seize. It was charged with finding ways to reform and modernize rules, including looking at the NCAA's relationship with the NBA, youth leagues, apparel companies and agents. It was also set to review an enforcement process that frequently takes years to resolve complicated cases of potentially major rules violations. The commission features several prominent names in the sport, including former NBA stars Grant Hill and David Robinson, former Georgetown coach John Thompson III, retired college coach Mike Montgomery and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. 'The stage is set, certainly, given what's happened with law enforcement and what we've seen in media reports around men's basketball at the collegiate level,' Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey told the AP. 'You involve Condoleezza Rice because you want an impactful outcome.' After Rice presents Wednesday morning, the boards will meet to consider adopting the commission's recommendations, either fully or in part. The next stop would be the Division I Council, a group mostly made up of athletic directors, to craft legislation for implementation. Emmert said the council is already forming subgroups to deal with the targeted areas the commission is expected to address, with the goal of having legislation ready to be presented by August in time for next season. Swofford, for one, said he'd prefer to end the one-and-done model of top NBA prospects arriving in college for one-year pit stops before turning professional, though that would also take agreement from the NBA. Swofford prefers a model similar to baseball by allowing high schoolers to go straight to the pros but require players who enter college to spend two years there. He'd also like to see the NBA-run G League become a stronger developmental option for athletes who don't want to come to college, a path recently chosen by former Syracuse recruit and McDonald's All-American Darius Bazley. Regardless, Swofford said, changes must be broad-based because 'I don't think there's a silver bullet here' to fix everything. And he expects the commission to offer 'substantive' findings. 'If we can't react to something like this in a way that brings significant improvement to the system and to what we're doing, shame on us,' Swofford said. ___ AP College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York and AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report. ___ More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
  • A huge four-alarm fire broke out in New York City's Bronx borough early Tuesday, blazing through businesses in Fordham. >> Read more trending news 
  • Can’t wait until you get home to open that package you ordered? You’re in luck: Amazon announced Tuesday that it is now offering in-car package delivery.  >> Read more trending news 
  • Investigators in Broken Arrow need your help tracking down a missing woman.   It’s believed she could be in serious trouble.   In a press release, police say Justin Korf forcibly took Morgan Rower out of her home during a domestic dispute.  The scene reportedly happened at a residence on North 30th Street last night around 9:30 p.m. “The most recent information we have describes Morgan as a 29-year-old white female, approximately 5'2' and 102lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes,” police said in the release. “The suspect is described as a 36-year-old white male, 6’2” and 175lbs, with brown hair and hazel eyes.” His vehicle is said to be a white 1999 Dodge Durango bearing Oklahoma license plate BAX210.  Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to call the Broken Arrow Police Department at at 918-259-8400.          
  • For the second time in a week, late decisions by a pair of GOP Senators provided the margin of victory for a nominee of President Donald Trump, as after fears of a rare confirmation rebuke, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday got in line behind the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, setting up a vote later this week for his confirmation in the full Senate. The key votes were delivered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – who last week made a late switch to help salvage the nomination of Mr. Trump’s choice to run NASA – and by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had talked for weeks that he would never vote to shift the CIA Director over to the post of Secretary of State. But after a late lobbying effort by President Trump, Paul stuck with the White House on Pompeo. Per source w/ knowledge: @POTUS called @RandPaul multiple times today. This may be the clearest personal role @POTUS has had in changing the outcome of a vote. (Pompeo.) — Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) April 23, 2018 “I have changed my mind,” Paul said at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Back in March when the President fired Rex Tillerson from the Secretary of State’s job, Paul had made clear he was not going to vote for Pompeo, worried the CIA chief was too set on excessively using U.S. military force around the world. Labeling Pompeo a “neocon,” Paul had said at the time that he would not vote for the CIA chief, worried that Pompeo was too much like the Republican Party that strongly backed with war in Iraq on Saddam Hussein. “I simply cannot support Pompeo’s nomination to be our chief diplomat,” the Kentucky Republican made clear. But after talks with Pompeo and the President, Paul gave in. The late changes saved the GOP from an embarrassing foreign policy setback for the President – at a time when he is hosting the French President, and will later in the week receive the German Chancellor. “He is extremely qualified for the position,” the President’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued for Pompeo, as she joined GOP Senators in reminding Democrats of the bipartisan votes for past Secretaries of State. “John Kerry was confirmed 94-3. Hillary Clinton was confirmed 94-2. Condoleezza Rice was confirmed 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed unanimously by voice vote,” Sanders told reporters. The turn of events came hours after the President had blasted Democrats for delaying many of his nominees, by stretching out debate time on the Senate floor, leaving little time for work on legislation. Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018 While the President accurately nicked the Democrats for slow-walking many nominations on the Senate floor, certain high-profile choices like Pompeo, Jim Bridenstine for NASA, and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell have been held up in the Senate not because of Democrats – but because of a lack of unity among Republicans. For example, Grenell’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor back on January 18. While Democrats did object to action in March, there has been no effort by Senate Republicans to hold a vote – which likely means there aren’t fifty votes for his nomination. When Monday began, that was in question for Pompeo as well, but the support of Paul, Flake, and a handful of Democrats, means the President will get his Secretary of State. “The President deserves to have a Secretary of State that agrees with him or her, in general, on a foreign policy direction,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as he argued for Pompeo’s approval. There was a bit of irony, as Rubio last week had been one of the holdouts on the President choice to run NASA – a reminder, that with a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, and the absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republicans can’t afford to lose more than one vote on anything in the U.S. Senate.
  • A website ranks the number of fatal DUI crashes around the U-S, and the news for Oklahoma is not good. The site ValuePenguin says we have the 10th highest rate of fatal alcohol-related wrecks with nearly 5 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. Montana, ranked number one, has just over 8 per 100,000. North Dakota, South Carolina, Alabama, and New Mexico round out the top 5. New York had the least number of fatal DUI crashes with just 1.4 per 100,000. They say there's one fatal DUI wreck every 50 minutes in the U.S. You can read more about the story here.