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March 22, 2013 at 5:32 PM
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FAA lists 149 towers slated for closing

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration released a list Friday of 149 control towers at small airports across the United States that are to be closed to save money.

The FAA said all of the towers are staffed by contracting companies, The Wall Street Journal reported. All are at airports with fewer than 10,000 commercial arrivals and departures every year.

The agency is losing $637 million in the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

The FAA had originally planned to close 189 towers but cut the list by 40 after comment from airports.

Officials said 24 of the towers are at airports that are likely to get flights diverted from nearby major airports or are in areas with critical airspace, and 16 are funded under a separate congressional mandate.

The closings are expected to begin April 7 and last for a month.

Netanyahu apologizes for 2010 deaths

JERUSALEM, March 22 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized Friday to Turkey for the 2010 deaths of nine Turkish nationals on a Gaza relief flotilla.

Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent about half an hour on the telephone during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel, U.S. officials said. Obama joined the conversation at one point.

Erdogan accepted the apology, officials said, and Netanyahu's acknowledgement of "operational mistakes" during Israel's stopping of the flotilla in 2010.

Netanyahu made the call from a trailer at the airport shortly before Obama's departure, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation," Netanyahu's office said in a statement said.

Turkey has long been one of Israel's few allies in the Middle East but the deaths in 2010 after Israeli forces boarded the boats strained the two countries' relationship.

Obama arrives in Jordan after Israel visit

JERUSALEM, March 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Jordan Friday after a visit to Israel that included with a stop Friday at the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem.

Jordanian King Abdullah II and his son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, greeted Obama on his arrival at al-Hummar Palace in Amman. Obama shook hands with the king and prince and was overheard explaining he arrived an hour late because of a dust storm.

In addition to his visit to the Holocaust memorial, Obama visited the graves of Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, and Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister who was assassinated in 1995 after signing the Oslo Accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, The Washington Post reported. Obama laid stones on both graves.

He also visited Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

At Yad Vashem, Obama said Friday bigotry and hatred have no place in a civilized world.

"Nothing equals the wrenching power of this sacred place ... ," Obama said. "We could come here a thousand times, and each time our hearts would break."

The memorial is a reminder that people are faced with the choice to "succumb to our worst instincts or to summon the better angels of our nature," Obama said.

"For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism. None of that has a place in the civilized world -- not in the classrooms of children; not in the corridors of power. And let us never forget the link between the two. For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate. So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding and compassion that we hope others have for them," Obama said.

Jordan, a country of 6.5 million people, has taken in more than 360,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war -- with the number expected to rise to 1 million by the end of the year, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said this month.

Syrian refugees enter Jordan at an average 1,200 people daily, officials say, but nearly 2,000 crossed the border into the country Tuesday and more than 1,700 more entered Wednesday, the official Petra News Agency reported Thursday.

More than 100,000 refugees are living in the overcrowded desert Zaatari camp, which was opened near the Jordan-Syria border last July and where security and crime problems are growing, Jordanian officials say.

Jordan's al-Ghad newspaper noted Friday while Obama and Abdullah were expected to discuss the refugee crisis, Obama had no plans to visit any refugee camps, which are straining the nation's resources.

Jordan is seen by U.S. officials as possibly playing a role in Middle East peace efforts because of its normalized relations with Israel. Abdullah's father, King Hussein, signed a peace treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.

Snow, wind, rain disrupt Ireland, Britain

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, March 22 (UPI) -- A snowstorm and windstorm left 44,000 residents of Northern Ireland without electricity Friday, canceled school and closed Belfast's airport.

Damage to the electrical network Thursday and Friday was concentrated in the southern and eastern areas of the country, operator Northern Ireland Electricity said.

Snow drifts of up to 15.7 inches were reported, The Belfast Telegraph said, and the Roads Service reported 300 employees in 130 trucks were on stand-by Thursday to salt roads.

"Most routes have been salted three times overnight, with snow plowing necessary on many routes," a Road Service spokesman said Friday.

The snow was expected to disrupt travel across northern parts of the United Kingdom, while the national weather office has issued 15 flood warnings in the southwest, the BBC reported.

Torrential overnight rain caused the partial collapse of a home in the southern England area of Cornwall that had been caught in a landslide. Rescue workers are searching for a woman who resided in the building, which had been converted into apartments.

In northern regions of England and in Scotland, as much as 16 inches of snow was expected. Snow was predicted to continue over the weekend.

Heavy snowfall in Scotland this week made driving dangerous and led to the closing of more than 100 schools.

The combination of high winds, rain and snow could create a "real witches brew" for drivers, said Darron Burness, head of operations for the British motoring association AA.

Met Office forecaster Andrew Sibley said March was set to be the coldest in decades, with no sign of spring.

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