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Reuters World News Highlights at 2100 GMT, Jan 09

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TOP STORIES

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NEW YORK - A high-speed commuter ferry carrying hundreds of passengers crashed into a pier near Wall Street during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, injuring 57 people, one critically, authorities said.

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BEIRUT - Syrians believe 40 years of Assad family rule is too long, the international mediator for Syria said, the closest he has come to calling directly for President Bashar al-Assad to quit.

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JAMMU, India - India denounced Pakistan on Wednesday over a firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the nuclear-armed rivals both appeared determined to prevent the clash escalating into a full diplomatic crisis.

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CARACAS - Venezuela's top court endorsed the postponement of Hugo Chavez's inauguration this week and ruled on Wednesday that the cancer-stricken president and his deputy would continue in their roles, despite a cacophony of opposition complaints.

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KABUL - Afghan lawmakers said on Wednesday disaster and civil war would follow if Washington pushed ahead with a suggestion to withdraw all its troops from the country after 2014.

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is "determined to take action" against gun violence and is considering executive orders aimed preventing attacks like last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will nominate White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be his next Treasury secretary, choosing a budget expert and close confidant to spearhead tough fiscal fights with Congress over the U.S. deficit.

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BAGHDAD - Opponents of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday demanded he appear before parliament for questioning in a second attempt to force a vote of no confidence, as the Shi'ite leader faced Sunni Muslim protests.

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CAIRO/GAZA - Separate meetings between Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and the leaders of Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Cairo on Wednesday yielded no signs of progress towards healing their five-year feud.

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ROME - Silvio Berlusconi has little chance of destabilising a centre-left government after Italy's February election and outgoing premier Mario Monti is the most likely to become kingmaker, one of Italy's top experts on voting trends said on Wednesday.

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DE DOORNS - South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at striking farm workers who blocked a highway in the grape-growing Western Cape on Wednesday, the first clashes of a year likely to be marked by fractious labour relations.

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No one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, with all-time home run leader Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens snubbed over suspicion they used performance enhancing drugs.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130109/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-2100-gmt-jan-09