3 men suspected of extortion are held

PHOENIX - Three men are in custody for allegedly extorting money from Phoenix businesses.

Authorities say Jason Ly, David Greenlee and Tuan Thamn Tran are being held on suspicion of theft by extortion with a weapon and participation in a criminal syndicate.

The Arizona Republic says the men may be part of a gang that targets businesses owned by Vietnamese-Americans.

Authorities say the three went into a nail salon and demanded the owners pay a $10,000 debt that had already been resolved.

Ly allegedly claimed the owners of the salon never paid for salon chairs that he had sold to them.

Court records show the three men are suspected of going into the business on two separate occasions, allegedly threatening to kill the owners and destroy their business.

Japan 787 probe finds 'thermal runaway'

TOKYO - An investigation into a lithium ion battery that overheated on a Boeing 787 flight in Japan last month found evidence of the same type of "thermal runaway" seen in a similar incident in Boston, officials said Tuesday.

The Japan Transportation Safety Board said CAT scans and other analysis found damage to all eight cells in the battery that overheated on the All Nippon Airways 787 on Jan. 16, which prompted an emergency landing and probes by both U.S. and Japanese aviation safety regulators.

They also found signs of short-circuiting and "thermal runaway," a chemical reaction in which rising temperature causes progressively hotter temperatures. U.S. investigators found similar evidence in the battery that caught fire last month on a Japan Airlines 787 parked in Boston.

Dec. home prices rose most in 6.5 years

U.S. home prices jumped by the most in 6 1/2 years in December, spurred by a low supply of available homes and rising demand.

Home prices rose 8.3 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to data Tuesday from CoreLogic, a real estate data provider. That is the biggest annual gain since May 2006. Prices rose last year in 46 of 50 states.

Arizona had the highest home price appreciation in December at 20.2 percent.

Feds accuse 18 of global credit fraud

NEWARK, N.J. - Eighteen people were charged in what may be one of the nation's largest credit-card fraud rings, a sprawling international scam that duped credit-rating agencies and used thousands of fake identities to steal at least $200 million, federal authorities said Tuesday.

The elaborate scheme involved improving fake cardholders' credit scores, allowing the scammers to borrow more money that they never repaid, investigators said.

Authorities described an intricate Jersey City-based con that began in 2007, operated in at least 28 states and wired money to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Romania, China and Japan.

The Associated Press