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Jan. 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM
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53 injured as ferry hits N.Y. pier

NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- At least 53 people were reported injured, seven seriously, in a ferry accident Wednesday at a pier in lower Manhattan.

Fire officials said the accident occurred about 8:50 a.m. at Pier 11 when a commuter ferry hit a dock, WCBS, New York, reported. WABC-TV, New York, reported a large gash was torn on the starboard side of the craft, which can carry 400 passengers.

The vessel, the Sea Streak Ferry, provides daily service between the pier and Atlantic Highlands and Conners Highlands, Moriches Daily reported.

"Nothing seemed like it was going to be out of the ordinary," passenger Chris Avore told WABC. "There was once or twice where I was talking with a colleague where we actually thought it was coming in a little hot near Brooklyn, where we're not used to seeing it. Then the next thing we knew, you feel the jolt and then everybody goes flying."

One man standing on the upper deck fell down a staircase, WABC said.

None of the injuries was believed life-threatening although several passengers were removed from the vessel on stretchers.

Obama's 2nd swearing-in lower key

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- This year's presidential inauguration will have less fanfare than in 2009, when Barack Obama made history as the first black U.S. president, observers said.

While fewer people traditionally turn out for a president's second swearing-in, it's unclear exactly how much smaller the crowd will be this year, CBS News reported Wednesday.

"2008, 2009 was very different, I think, for everyone because of the euphoria," said Hans Bruland, vice president and general manager of the tony Hay-Adams hotel in Washington. "With the election of an incumbent now ... it feels like a return to a normal cycle."

Still, interest has slowed enough that it has become "a little worrisome," Bruland said.

"Maybe because of the decision to cut back on the [inaugural] balls, there may be not as much interest," he said. "The whole debate with regard to the 'fiscal cliff' may have put off people."

This year's inaugural committee scheduled three days of events instead of four and only two official inaugural balls this year, compared with 10 four years ago.

Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 people are expected to trek to the National Mall Jan. 21 to watch the public inaugural ceremony, well below the approximately 1.8 million who watched Obama take the oath of office in January 2009, CBS said.

Wednesday, the Presidential Inauguration Committee named Richard Blanco the inaugural poet. He will appear at President Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony on Inauguration Day, Politico said.

Blanco will be the country's youngest Inaugural poet, as well as the first Hispanic and first member of the LGBT community to serve in the role, the committee said.

N. Korea: Enforcing pacts serves unity

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Implementation of existing agreements between Pyongyang and Seoul are key to ending the standoff between the countries, North Korean media said Wednesday.

Bringing an end to the running confrontations would be an important first step toward unification of the two Koreas, the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an article, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

If cooperation measures agreed to in 2000 and 2007 had been implemented, relations between the North and South would have improved greatly over the past five years, Rodong Sinmun said.

The article is seen by analysts as a message to the new Park Geun-hye administration in Seoul to adopt a softer attitude about unification.

Outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has taken a hard line against the North since two incidents in 2010 in which Pyongyang sank a South Korean naval vessel and shelled an island near the border. Some 50 people died in the incidents.

Boeing's 787 has safety glitch in Japan

UBE, Japan, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Officials said Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner has had three recent safety mishaps that have called the reliability of the company's newest jet into question.

The New York Times said the computer on board a 787 set to take off from Yamaguchi Ube airport in Japan showed problems with the aircraft's brakes Wednesday.

The Times said the passengers were transferred to a later flight.

A spokeswoman for All Nippon Airways said the problem was similar to the one that appeared when the airline first started flying the Dreamliners in 2011.

The Times said the issues come after a fuel leak forced a 787, operated by Japan Airlines, to return to its gate Tuesday before taking off.

Monday, a fire broke out on another Dreamliner in Boston, also operated by Japan Airlines. The Times said the fire took place after the plane landed and no one was injured.

The Dreamliner entered commercial service in 2011 and has had numerous malfunctions since then.

A spokesman for Japan Airlines said the company has no plans to change its order for more 787s.

Rare winter storm batters Israel, Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A winter storm packing high winds, heavy rain and snow continued to batter both Israel and Lebanon for the third day in a row Wednesday, forecasters said.

At least four deaths in Lebanon have been blamed on the storm that has triggered widespread power problems, property damage and severe flooding, The (Beirut) Daily Star reported.

In some regions of the country restoration of power was hampered by electricity workers who went on strike to protest bonus and allowance cuts in the latest budget.

South of Beirut emerged as one of the hardest-hit areas as the nearby Ghadir River burst its banks sending floodwaters into densely populated neighborhoods.

In Israel the storm paralyzed cities across the country, causing power outages and forcing the closure of major highways, Haaretz reported.

The Ayalon River near Tel Aviv flooded and police asked drivers to stay out of central Tel Aviv and to avoid driving if possible.

Palestinian rescue workers in the West Bank said the bodies of two women were found after their car was swept away by flooding in Tul Karm.

For Israel, the storm was the biggest in a decade.

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