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Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM   |   Comments

Plains residents brace for another storm

WICHITA, Kan., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Many roads, schools and government offices were closed Monday in Central Plains states, which braced for a storm with heavy snow and high winds.

National Weather Service meteorologists warned the storm could bring potentially "life threatening" and "crippling" blizzard conditions portions of southeast Kansas, northwest Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.

A storm system late last week brought snow, sleet and rain to 20 states.

Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport in Texas was closed until at least noon on Monday, CNN reported.

A huge swath of the nation -- including Chicago, where 3 to 5 inches of snow and sleet are expected Tuesday -- prepared for snow and rain was forecast for parts of the Southeast.

In San Antonio and Junction, Texas, the storm that brought snow farther north produced damaging winds, hail and an isolated tornado as thunderstorms race eastward to Houston and Lake Charles, La.

Other tornadoes were possible in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and Georgia, the weather service said.


WH details 'sequester' cuts for each state

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Looming automatic federal budget cuts would devastate programs in every U.S. state, the White House said, a prediction Republicans said was a scare tactic.

"Ohio will lose approximately $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk," the White House said in a report Sunday about the effects of across-the-board federal domestic and military spending cuts set to be automatically triggered Friday and run through the end of the fiscal year in September unless Congress intervenes.

"In Georgia, around 4,180 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $286,000.

"Pennsylvania could lose up to $271,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,000 fewer victims being served. In Texas, approximately 52,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $274.8 million in total," the report said.

The White House's projected consequences of the cuts, known in Washington as the sequester or sequestration, are part of an administration campaign to pressure congressional Republicans to agree to what the White House calls a "balanced plan."

The White House plan includes some domestic program cuts, benefit program savings and additional tax revenue collected from some corporations and high-income people.

Republicans say any plan that would collect more taxes is dead in the water.


Park sworn-in as S. Korea's president

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Park Geun-hye was sworn-in as South Korea's new president Monday, becoming the first woman to lead the country.

Park said she would work to reinvigorate South Korea's economy and warned North Korea against pursuing its nuclear ambitions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"As president of the Republic of Korea, I will live up to the will of the people by achieving economic rejuvenation, the happiness of the people, and the flourishing of our culture," Park said told the tens of thousands of people who filled the National Assembly plaza in Seoul to hear her inaugural address.

"I will do my utmost to build a Republic of Korea that is prosperous and where happiness is felt by all Koreans."

"North Korea's recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself. I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development."

Park, 61, is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated 34 years ago.


Cuba: After Raul Castro is a 52-year-old

HAVANA, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Cuban leader Raul Castro, who said the five-year term he has just begun will be his last, has a man 29 years his junior poised to succeed him.

Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, 52, an electrical engineer and former minister of higher education, is now first in the line of succession, Castro said Sunday.

Diaz-Canel's selection "represents a definitive step in the configuration of the future leadership of the nation," Castro, 81, told lawmakers at a conference of legislative leaders in Havana Sunday.

Arturo Lopez Levy, a former analyst with the Cuban government, told The New York Times the new vice president is considered a technocrat and described him as a "regional czar whose power is discrete but tangible."

"He was a senior Communist Party official for Villa Clara and Holguin provinces, where there were important openings with foreign investment in tourism," Lopez Levy said, adding Diaz-Canel often functioned as an intermediary between the central government and the military.

"In that sense, he will face the challenge and opportunity to prepare a smooth landing for a new type of civil-military relationship in the future," Lopez Levy said.

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