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U.S. grounds entire F-35 fleet pending engine inspections

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said it had grounded the entire fleet of 97 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets until completion of additional inspections of the warplane's single engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. The Pentagon's F-35 program office, Air Force and Navy issued directives on Thursday ordering the suspension of all F-35 flights after a June 23 fire on an Air Force F-35A jet at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The Pentagon said U.S. and industry officials had not pinpointed the cause of the fire, which occurred as a pilot was preparing for takeoff.

North Carolina's outer banks to take full force of hurricane Arthur

By Chris Keane HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C, (Reuters) - The first hurricane of the Atlantic season gained strength on Thursday as it spun toward the North Carolina coast on the verge of Category 2 status, forcing thousands of vacationers to scrap their July Fourth holiday plans amid evacuation orders. Hurricane Arthur was about 35 miles (55 km) south of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour), U.S. forecasters said. The shift in the track would bring the strongest winds inland over eastern North Carolina, affecting coastal towns such as Morehead City, as well as the U.S. Marine corps base at Camp Lejeune. Arthur would be the first hurricane to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey in October 2012 and caused $70 billion estimated damage.

Obama under pressure to visit US-Mexico border

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is facing mounting calls from Republicans to take a firsthand look at the immigration emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, putting him on the spot concerning what he has called the "humanitarian crisis" of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children flooding in from Central America.

Veteran dies waiting for ambulance at N.M. VA hospital

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria, 500 yards from the emergency room, died after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.

Russian burger chain takes over McDonald's in Crimea

Crimean fans of McDonald's have plenty to chew on after a Russian burger chain said on Thursday it was taking over the US food giant's restaurants in the annexed peninsula. "A RusBurger restaurant will open in the place of an old McDonald's" in Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, an executive of the Russian chain told AFP. McDonald's has removed the addresses of its Crimean restaurants from its website but hasn't indicated for how long it would cease operations there. The Russian director of Burger King, McDonald's fierce rival, announced in April his chain was eying up the firm's Crimean real estate, although this was later denied by a Burger King spokesperson in the United States.

World War II hero and Olympian Louis Zamperini dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Louis Zamperini, an Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, has died. He was 97.

Indian officials: 50 nurses taken from Iraqi hospital

By Sruthi Gottipati NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nearly 50 Indian nurses from the southern state of Kerala have been taken against their will from a hospital in the militant-controlled city of Tikrit in Iraq, India's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. At a briefing with reporters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin declined to say who had ordered the nurses to leave the hospital or where they were taken. "This is a situation where lives are at stake." A senior aide to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who spoke to the nurses on Thursday, told Reuters that militants had forced the nurses to vacate the hospital and board two buses. Most of the nurses are from the south Indian state of Kerala.

Ohio man stole dead mom's Social Security for 33 years

(Reuters) - An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he collected more than $230,000 in Social Security benefits intended for his mother for 33 years after she died. Frank Pospisil admitted in U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday that he had stolen his mother's Social Security survivor benefits totaling $230,479 since she died in 1981, according to federal court documents. Two attorneys listed for Pospisil did not return calls seeking comment on Thursday.

Data: Some SeaWorld mammals survive longer in captivity

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Since the release of a highly-critical documentary last year, SeaWorld Entertainment has been condemned by animal rights activists distressed over the condition of its killer whales. But annual survival rates for some of the most common marine mammals — including killer whales — at SeaWorld's three parks are near the top of all U.S. parks and aquariums, an analysis of five decades of federal data by The Associated Press showed.

Composer Williams to debut new arrangement of U.S. anthem

WASHINGTON (AP) — American composer-conductor John Williams is debuting a new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner," featuring choirs, trumpets, an orchestra and cannons on the National Mall for the nation's birthday.