With March 1 every year comes the promise of the upcoming first day of Spring, but this year, whole swaths of the the Midwest and South are spending the day engaged in a massive cleanup effort. The tornadoes that ripped through the regions on Wednesday killed at least 12 people in three states, focusing their fury on the towns of Harrisburg, Ill. and Branson, Mo.

A utility worker tries to free storm debris suspended in a power line in Branson, Mo., on Wednesday. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Jeff Rann, a Harrisburg resident, survived the tornado, only to find his father killed and his mother critically wounded after the twister flattened their duplex. His mother’s injuries also proved fatal. (AP) Darrell Osman, a Branson resident, raced to the home of his mother, arriving in time to speak with her just before she was taken to the hospital with severe injuries. She died shortly after. (AP)

Videos have emerged of the twisters, showing them rolling into Kansas around sunset Tuesday, over open country fields in Nebraska, and clearing out homes and churches across Missouri. (Time NewsFeed)

More of your morning links below:

Breakthroughs of the morning

North Korea agreed to a moratorium on its nuclear program Wednesday, in return for food air from the U.S. The only problem? It’s broken such promises in the past. (BlogPost)

Syria’s rebels are unifying their armed resistance to the government under a military bureau. The Syrian National Council said the bureau would help control the flow of weapons to avoid “chaos.” (BBC)

Unclaimed attacks of the morning

A bombing wounds 15 police officers in Turkey. The remote-controlled bomb was placed on a motorcycle. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. (AP)

Two soldiers were shot dead in Afghanistan Thursday, NATO said. Two gunmen fired “indiscriminately” — one of them apparently an Afghan soldier. A total of six NATO staff have now been killed since Korans were found burnt at one of its bases last week. (Global Post)

Important rulings of the morning

Egypt lifted a travel ban on U.S. NGO workers Wednesday. While the State Department said it could not confirm the news, Egyptian news outlets are reporting that a chartered plane is waiting at the airport for the Americans. (Al-Ahram)

Graphic smoking images are unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that they violate the companies' free-speech rights. (BusinessWeek)

Unlikely, but scary, possibility of the morning

Chance of catastrophic solar storm by 2020. The Earth has a roughly 12 percent chance of experiencing an “enormous megaflare erupting from the sun” in the next decade, a catastrophe from which could the world could need up to a decade to recover. (Wired)