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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 31, 2023

DOJ Orders Oklahoma Bank To Invest In Minority Neighborhoods

The U.S. Department of Justice is proposing a consent order on a Collinsville bank to resolve allegations of past lending discrimination.

American Bank of Oklahoma is accused of redlining and keeping non-white people out of majority white parts of Tulsa because of their race.

As part of their settlement with the DOJ, the bank will invest more than $1 million to increase credit opportunities in neighborhoods that aren’t majority white.

Bank officials are accused of denying loans to people living in mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including the area around Greenwood.

Federal investigators also uncovered internal emails denigrating minorities and immigrants. Some even included racial slurs. The bank denies the allegations, but is agreeing to resolve the matter to “avoid the cost and distraction of protracted litigation.”

Nationwide Analysis Of Water Wells Shows Groundwater Decline In Oklahoma

A New York Times analysis of nearly 85,000 water wells across the United States shows underground aquifers are being depleted across much of the country. Here's what the study found in Oklahoma.

Water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer that lies under the Oklahoma panhandle began a steady decline in the late 1970s that’s continued through today.

But in the rest of the state, aquifer levels were mostly rising until the aughts, when they too started on negative trajectories, according to the New York Times’s data investigation.

Many of Oklahoma’s monitoring wells hit all-time recorded lows in the past decade. That’s due in part to overuse. Demand on aquifers has grown as droughts have shrunk the availability of water in rivers and lakes.

In parts of Oklahoma where no one has calculated aquifer yields, a standard groundwater permit allows a landowner to withdraw enough to cover their entire property in two feet of water each year. And that’s only for use beyond domestic needs, which don’t require a permit.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations In Oklahoma

Across the country COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing, but what about here in Oklahoma?

According to the latest CDC data, Oklahoma is seeing a slight increase in hospitalizations, with 96 new hospital admissions the week of Aug. 19.

The state is still in the “stable” category. Meanwhile, other nearby states have seen “substantial increases”, according to the CDC.

Oklahoma's wastewater testing shows the virus is showing up more frequently but so far is still in very low concentrations.

Seminole County Commissioners Appoint Temporary Sheriff

Following the resignation of their former sheriff, the Seminole County commissioners have appointed a temporary replacement.

Seminole Nation Lighthorse Police Sergeant Anthony Louie has been appointed as the interim sheriff of Seminole County. He will fill the position until the next election cycle.

Shannon Smith announced his resignation last week amid an investigation by the Attorney General’s office and accusations that he misappropriated funds from the Seminole County Sheriff Deputy Association Fund.

Smith’s resignation, along with not seeking employment in law enforcement for two years and paying more than $2,500 in restitution are part of an agreement with the state to not press charges against him.

Undersheriff Matt Healy also announced his resignation last week. His replacement has not yet been appointed.

'Killers Of The Flower Moon' Posters

Free up some space on your wall. Apple Original Films is releasing two movie posters that will advertise the film Killers of the Flower Moon when it starts playing in theaters this fall.

The new key art features Lily Gladstone and Leonardo Di Caprio prominently in one. And Robert De Niro, who plays William Hale alongside Gladstone who plays Molly Burkhart in another.

The film will be in wide release in theaters around the world on Friday, Oct. 20.

The film directed by Martin Scorsese is based on the non-fiction book by David Grann about the Osage murders that began in the 1920s.

Killers of the Flower Moon premiered at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival and has already garnered buzz from critics and people in Osage County -- where it was filmed -- alike.

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