Deadly storm lashes north, grounds traffic

A powerful storm pummeled Europe with high winds and snow Thursday, killing at least seven people in three countries, grounding flights, halting trains, ripping roofs off buildings and flipping over trucks.

The Dutch national weather service recorded wind gusts of up to 87 mph in the southern port of Hook of Holland as the storm passed over.

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport briefly halted flights for an hour in the morning, and airline KLM scrapped more than 200 flights. Trains were halted across the nation and in Germany.

Falling trees killed two 62-year-old men in the Netherlands, a woman south of the Belgian capital of Brussels, a 59-year-old man camping in the German town of Emmerich and a firefighter in the German town of Bad Salzungen.

In Lippstadt, in western Germany, a driver died when he lost control of his van in strong winds and drove into oncoming traffic. In Germany's eastern state of Brandenburg, police said a gust of wind flipped a truck over a highway, killing the driver.

Social media in the Netherlands were flooded with images of people being blown from their bicycles, cargo containers falling off a ship and damage to buildings, including a roof that peeled off an apartment block in Rotterdam.

— Associated Press

Jordan, Israel near accord on guard crisis

Jordan and Israel appeared Thursday to be putting behind them a diplomatic crisis triggered by the killing last summer of two Jordanians by an Israeli Embassy guard.

A report by Jordan's state news agency, Petra, said Israel sent an official memorandum expressing "deep regret" over
the July shooting at Israel's embassy in Amman, offered compensation to the families of the victims and agreed to "follow up" with legal measures.

A statement from Israel's Foreign Ministry said Israel's embassy would resume full operations immediately. The statement said that the shooting incident is being examined and that a conclusion should be reached in the coming weeks. It did not mention compensation or an apology.

The shooting strained ties between the neighboring countries, which signed a peace agreement in 1994 and cooperate on security and energy issues, among others.

The easing of tensions came ahead of a visit by Vice President Pence to both countries, starting Sunday.

— Associated Press

Lawmakers take aim at anti-Semitism

Germany's lower house of Parliament on Thursday voted to step up efforts to combat anti-Semitism and called for the creation of a new government post to oversee the issue, backed by an independent panel of experts.

The proposal was jointly introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the center-left Social Democrats, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens.

The far-right Alternative for Germany party also voted for the measure, while the radical Left party voted against, citing what it called substantive deficiencies in the proposal.

Volker Kauder, head of the conservatives in Parliament, spoke in favor of the proposal given Germany's Nazi past and the murder of 6 million Jews during the Third Reich.

"We have a particular responsibility to ensure that anti-Semitism does not continue to grow in our country," he said.

Kauder also vowed to examine whether Germany could ban the burning of Israeli flags, following incidents in December during protests against a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

— Reuters

Bus fire kill dozens in Kazakhstan: Fifty-two people, all Uzbeks, were killed when a bus caught fire in central Kazakhstan, the country's Emergencies Ministry said. Only five of those on board survived the inferno that consumed the bus, which was en route from Uzbekistan to Russia. The fire was attributed to a probable short circuit.

Security forces move into Rio slums: Brazilian officials said more than 3,000 soldiers and military police officers moved into four big slums in Rio de Janeiro seeking to arrest drug traffickers and hunt for the men suspected of gunning down a police inspector last week. O Globo TV aired images of people being taken into custody, but authorities released no figures on detentions.

— From news services