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Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:12 AM
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Deadly winter storm eyes central U.S.

AMARILLO, Texas, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A deadly blizzard that snarled traffic and dumped snow on the southern Plains headed for Kansas, Missouri and Illinois Tuesday, forecasters said.

The powerful storm system, which blanketed Amarillo, Texas, with 19 inches of snow, is the second powerful storm to move through the region in a week.

The National Weather Service said blizzard conditions were punishing the Central and Southern Plains states. Blizzard warnings were in effect from northern Texas through portions of western and central Oklahoma into southern Kansas.

"We are very concerned about this storm," Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday. "We believe it may be worse than the last one."

He extended an early state of emergency as the storm approached.

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb declared a state of emergency for 56 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.

"This is a very serious winter storm and we want Oklahomans to stay safe," he said.

Kansas election officials were scrambling to accommodate primary election voters in about 25 percent of the state's 105 counties, CNN said. Early voting hours were extended Monday.

Southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma experienced whiteout conditions along the state line.

Officials said one person died when a roof collapsed in Woodward, Okla., where 15 inches of snow fell.

GOP: No time for a 'road-show president'

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Republicans told President Obama to work with Congress to avert $85 billion in U.S. budget cuts instead of trumpeting about how bad the cuts will be.

"This is not time for a road-show president," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said at a news conference as Obama was to fly Tuesday to Newport News, Va., to highlight the effects of the cuts on the military-driven local economy.

Obama was to visit Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia's largest industrial employer, the White House said. Among the shipyard's projects is building aircraft carriers USS Gerald R. Ford and USS John F. Kennedy.

Obama was to deliver remarks at the shipyard about 1:05 p.m., the White House said.

McCarthy said instead of delivering remarks, Obama should "lead and work with us because we're willing to work with them to solve America's problems."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., whose state Obama was to visit, accused Obama of creating a "false choice" between passing tax increases and allowing the steep cuts to take effect Friday.

Gridlock as left squeaks past Berlusconi

ROME, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Italy's center-left bloc defeated ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the lower house but failed to win a majority in the Senate, results indicated Tuesday.

The apparent razor-thin victory of Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party coalition could make him prime minister and, at best, create a shaky coalition government, but would likely lead to political gridlock and possibly lead to a "hung Parliament," the BBC said.

A hung Parliament is when neither major political party or bloc of allied parties has an absolute majority of parliamentary seats.

The Interior Ministry said the election's margin of victory in both houses was less than 1 percent and in some cases less than 0.5 percent.

Control of both houses is needed to govern and a Berlusconi official said the election was "too close to call."

Tourists die in hot air balloon crash

LUXOR, Egypt, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Nineteen tourists were killed and two injured due to an explosion on a hot air balloon Tuesday near Luxor, Egyptian authorities said.

The accident was caused by a gas explosion, which sent the balloon plummeting about 1,000 feet to the ground, EgyNews said.

Two people, including the pilot, survived the accident and were taken to Luxor International Hospital, officials said.

The tourists who died are believed to be from Japan, Hong Kong, Britain and France, Egyptian media reports said.

Christopher Michel told Sky News he was in one of eight balloons flying in the area when the accident occurred.

Rodman, Globetrotters visit North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A delegation of 13 Harlem Globetrotters led by Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea Tuesday for a weeklong visit and planned exhibition games, officials said.

The group of basketball players was welcomed by several North Korean senior sports officials at the airport in Pyongyang, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

"All the players are so excited to visit the country, and it will be a great fun in interacting with the Korean people," Rodman told Xinhua.

The basketball players were invited to visit a month ago. It is the Harlem Globetrotters' 122nd stop on their current world tour, player Bull Bullard said.

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