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Jan. 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM
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Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded worldwide

CHICAGO, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Regulators around the world, following the lead of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration officials, ordered all Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded Thursday.

The action came after the new state-of-the-art jets experienced a series of troubling incidents, including leakage of engine oil, a fire, breakage of the outer glass in the cockpit windshield and potential problems with its lithium-ion batteries.

The European Aviation Safety Agency announced that it was adopting the FAA's directive issued Wednesday ordering all 787s be taken out of service, the Los Angeles Times reported.

EASA spokesman Jeremie Teahan said the action was taken "to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the European fleet."

The decision affects two 787s used by the Polish airline LOT.

Observers said the move ratchets up pressure on Boeing, which has maintained its new passenger jet is safe while promising to work with the FAA to resolve any concerns.

In Japan, the Transportation Ministry issued a formal order Thursday to ground all 787s indefinitely until concerns about the aircraft's battery systems are resolved, The New York Times reported. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines voluntarily grounded their 787s Wednesday.

Capriles demands Chavez prove he's alive

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on President Hugo Chavez to prove he's alive and in charge by showing himself and talking to Venezuela.

"If the president can sign decrees, I call on him to show himself," Capriles said at his gubernatorial inauguration after Chavez's signature appeared in the government's official gazette affirming the appointment of former Vice President Elias Jaua as Venezuela's new foreign minister.

Jaua -- who lost to Capriles in December to be governor of Miranda, one of the country's most populous states -- was appointed foreign minister Tuesday by Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

Capriles called on Chavez -- who hasn't been seen in public since a Dec. 11 surgery in Havana to treat a recurring cancer -- to "speak to Venezuela and say what's going on in this government because what there is in Venezuela today is a 'mis-government.'"

Capriles, 40, has said the government has been paralyzed due to uncertainty over Chavez's health.

NRA: WH gun rights 'war' to be met in kind

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's gun-control proposals amount to a war against the gun lobby that will be met in kind, the National Rifle Association chief said.

"All bets are off when a president really wants to go to war with you," NRA President David Keene told ABC News. "We're gonna be there and we're gonna fight it."

Obama Wednesday announced plans to introduce legislation and work with members of a divided Congress to develop bills to implement as much of his proposal package as possible.

The package includes a ban on new assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines and expanded criminal background checks to include all gun sales, closing a longstanding loophole letting buyers avoid such checks by purchasing weapons at gun shows or from private sellers.

An assault weapon is typically a semiautomatic firearm having features similar to those of a military firearm. A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm.

Obama also proposed tougher gun-trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons in the United States.

In addition, Obama signed 23 executive orders, which he can do on his own authority, without congressional approval.

Foreclosure activity declined in 2012

IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. homes in the process of foreclosure dropped 3 percent in 2012 from the previous year, online marketplace RealtyTrac said Thursday.

The decline is modest compared with the decline from 2010. From the 2.9 million properties involved in foreclosures in 2010, filings have dropped by 36 percent, the firm said.

Including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, there were a total of 2,304,941 foreclosure filings reported on 1,836,634 U.S. properties in 2012, RealtyTrac said.

With those numbers, 1.39 percent of all housing units -- one out of every 72 -- were involved in a foreclosure filing in the year, a drop from 1.45 percent in 2011 and from 2.23 percent in 2010.

With many filings derailed by the foreclosure mills controversy that surfaced in 2010, states that require a judicial review for a bank repossession were still catching up with a backlog of foreclosures. As such, in 2012, foreclosure activity increased in 25 states from 2011 -- 20 of which require judicial reviews. In New Jersey, foreclosures increased by 55 percent in the year. In Florida, they rose by 53 percent.

Three car blasts kill 14 people in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Three car bomb exploded in Iraq Thursday, killing at least 14 people and wounding 43 others, security officials said.

A car bomb explosion near a sports stadium in Iraq's Babel province Thursday killed seven people and wounded 18 more, mostly civilians, security officials said.

Security officials said the car bomb was detonated near the stadium in a shopping area, IraqiNews.com reported.

Provincial police said at least seven people died and more than 25 were wounded in two car bomb explosions in a town in Salahudin province north of Baghdad, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The first blast occurred when a car bomb detonated in al-Dujail, about 37 miles north of Baghdad, a security official said. Soon after, a second car bomb detonated, targeting first responders and civilians at the scene of the first explosion, the official said.

The capital of the Sunni-dominated Salahudin province is Tikrit, hometown of former despot Saddam Hussein.

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