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Jan. 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM
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Obama gives 'hopeful' inaugural address

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama took the oath of office Monday in the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol and told the thousands gathered on the Mall each time we swear in a new president we "witness the enduring strength of our Constitution."

The oath was delivered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and was followed by canon-fire to mark the event.

The oath was the fourth presidential pledge taken by Obama -- tying the record set by Franklin Delano Roosevent. In 2009, Roberts had to deliver the oath twice because of an error in the wording the first time and Obama had to take the official oath Sunday, the date mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Obama said every time a new president is sworn in, "we affirm the promise of our democracy" and "witness the enduring strength of our Constitution."

"While freedom is a gift from God, it must be securied by its people here on Earth," Obama said.

Obama said the Founding Fathers trusted that each generation would protect the republic.

Obama gave a brief overview of history, noting the end of slavery and the 20th century economic revolution. He also noted the necessity of protecting the weak.

"Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges," he said.

4 Taliban, 3 police die in Afghan battle

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- An attack on Afghan security forces ended in Kabul, with at least four attackers and three police officers dead after a 9-hour battle, officials said Monday.

At least four attackers stormed the headquarters of the Kabul Traffic Police and took up positions to fire on the Afghan Border Police, the Stars and Stripes reported.

Dozens of explosions from rocket-propelled grenades, a car bomb, suicide vests detonated by two attackers and automatic weapons fire followed, the Ministry of Interior said.

Afghan commandos were seen running along rooftops and witnesses reported seeing Norwegian special forces troops.

The International Security Assistance Force said some of its troops were involved in the fighting but no coalition forces were wounded or killed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Syrian interim gov't plan due in 10 days

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Proposals for an interim Syrian government will be drawn up within 10 days, opposition leaders said Monday.

After a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, opposition leaders named a five-person committee to consult with others before releasing a plan.

A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, formed in November, said the committee will consult with opposition forces, the Free Syrian Army and "friendly" countries before developing its proposals, Voice of America reported.

A statement issued by the coalition said the proposals would be drawn up within 10 days.

The coalition is recognized by more than 110 countries as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. It is calling for President Bashar Assad to step down.

The United Nations says at least 60,000 people have been killed since the civil war began in March 2011.

In Syria, the government accused rebels of attacking a key power line, leading to a power outage that affected Damascus, areas to the north and territory reaching south to the border with Jordan, The New York Times reported.

Man convicted in fatal S. Africa bombings

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The alleged leader of a Nigerian rebel group was convicted Monday in a South African court of involvement in bombings that killed 12 people, officials said.

Henry Okah was accused of being the mastermind behind two car bombings in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Oct. 1, 2010, in which 12 people were killed and 36 injured, Nigeria's Channel Television reported.

He was arrested the next day in South Africa.

Judge Neels Claasen found Okah guilty on 13 counts ranging from conspiracy to commit terrorism to detonating explosives.

Okah had denied charges by Nigerian officials that he was the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which had claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Claasen said testimony had shown Okah was the "leader, planner, funder [and] supplier" of the bombs.

Okah faces a minimum sentence of life in prison.

Winds bring bone-chilling temps to Midwest

CHICAGO, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Residents of the U.S. Midwest faced icy winds that caused power outages and windchills near 50 below zero Monday, officials said.

The coldest windchill temperatures were in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, NBC News reported.

The freezing weather was a particular threat to people left without heat and lights.

About 40,000 customers of Detroit's DTE Energy remained without power early Monday.

At one point, after the power went out Sunday, electricity was out for 120,000 customers.

Winds blowing across the unfrozen Great Lakes were expected to produce lake-effect snows from western Michigan to western New York, Accuweather.com said.

Residents of that region braced for the possibility of heavy snow, officials said.

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