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Reuters World News Highlights at 0415 GMT, Jan 08

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Jan 8 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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GUANGZHOU, China - Hundreds of supporters of one of China's
most liberal newspapers demonstrated outside its headquarters on
Monday, backing a strike by journalists against interference by
the provincial propaganda chief.

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SEOUL - Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt began a controversial
private mission to North Korea on Monday that will include an
effort to secure the release of an imprisoned American.

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BEIRUT - Fighting raged across Syria on Monday with clashes
reported just a few miles from where President Bashar al-Assad
had unveiled a "peace plan" that Syrians on both sides said
would do nothing to end the country's 21-month-old uprising.

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Monday nominated
former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next defense
secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the
CIA, potentially setting up at least one Senate confirmation
battle and establishing a tough tone to start his second term.

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ROME - Silvio Berlusconi withdrew as candidate for Italy's
premiership on Monday as the price of a pact with the
devolutionist Northern League that could prevent the formation
of a stable government after next month's election.

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MOSUL, Iraq - Iraqi troops fired in the air to disperse
Sunni Muslim protesters on Monday as more than two weeks of
unrest threatened to unravel Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki 's fragile cross-sectarian government.

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TOKYO - Japan will revise its defence policy and weapons
purchase plan by December, the Yomiuri newspaper said on
Tuesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new government grapples
with heightened tensions with neighbours China and North and
South Korea.

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NEW DELHI - Five men accused of raping and murdering an
Indian student were read the charges in a near-empty courtroom
on Monday after the judge cleared out lawyers for bickering over
whether the men deserved a defence.

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CARACAS - Venezuela's opposition has accused the government
of violating the constitution by proposing to delay
cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez's inauguration Thursday
for a new term amid growing uncertainty over the polarized OPEC
nation's political future.

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WASHINGTON - A decorated Vietnam veteran acutely aware of
the limits of military power, Chuck Hagel is likely to favor a
sizable drawdown in Afghanistan, more frugal spending at the
Pentagon and extreme caution when contemplating the use of force
in places like Iran or Syria.

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court will in late March hear
oral arguments in a pair of cases challenging laws that define
marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

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CENTENNIAL - The former graduate student accused of shooting
a dozen people to death at a Colorado movie theater last summer
sat impassively in court on Monday as police recounted the
nightmarish mix of blood, tear gas, screams and flashing strobe
lights they found in the darkened cinema.

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BRASILIA - Brazil faces the possibility of widespread energy
rationing for the first time since 2001, as a hot, dry summer
has deprived hydroelectric dams of needed water while boosting
power use to run air conditioners in sweltering cities.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE - A recent advisory by the Obama
administration warning that Americans were victims of murder and
kidnappings in Haiti could unfairly hurt efforts to get the
earthquake-crippled nation back on its feet, Haiti's government
officials said on Monday.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130108/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-0415-gmt-jan-08