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Reuters World News Highlights at 0415 GMT, Jan 11

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Jan 11 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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BEIJING - When Xi Jinping became the new leader of China's Communist Party two months ago, hopes were high for reform in the giant nation. But despite what appears to be sensitive handling of a strike by journalists and a challenge to Beijing's tight control of the press, signs of change seem tentative.

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PARIS/ISTANBUL - A woman who helped found the Kurdish PKK rebel movement and two other women were found shot dead in Paris overnight after execution-style killings that cast a shadow over peace moves between Turkey and the guerrillas.

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CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remained on his sickbed in Cuba on Thursday while thousands of supporters rallied in his honor on the day he should have been sworn in for a new six-year term in the South American OPEC nation.

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BEIRUT - Syria denounced international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as "flagrantly biased" on Thursday, casting doubt on how long the U.N.-Arab League mediator can pursue his peace mission.

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PARIS - On the campaign trail, Francois Hollande pleased working-class voters with promises of a super-tax on millionaires and sought to reassure foreign investors with commitments to restore public finances and revive French industry.

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LONDON - An outspoken intervention by a senior U.S. official who said Britain should not leave the European Union opened up a new rift between Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy on Thursday.

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BELFAST - Northern Ireland's worst period of violence since a 1998 peace deal ended three decades of conflict has highlighted just how fragile that accord is and raised fears that the province cannot fully emerge from its bloody past.

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MOSCOW - Russia inaugurated on Thursday the first of a new class of submarine it will rely upon for decades as a bulwark of its strategic nuclear force and President Vladimir Putin pledged to strengthen the country's navy further.

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Peter Rudegeair and Sharon Begley - Junior Seau, the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker who killed himself last year, suffered from the same debilitating brain disease diagnosed in at least two other former NFL defensive players who also committed suicide, a study released on Thursday said.

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WASHINGTON - Vice President Joe Biden butted heads with the powerful National Rifle Association on Thursday in his drive to reduce U.S. gun violence, drawing complaints from the lobby group that the White House is trying to limit constitutionally protected gun rights.

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QUETTA - The death toll from a series of bombings in two Pakistani cities on Thursday, one of the bloodiest days in the country's history, has reached 114, police said Friday.

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BEVERLY HILLS - Steven Spielberg's tale of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to end slavery emerged as the front-runner for Oscar glory on Thursday, after Academy Awards voters snubbed four major filmmakers for the coveted best director trophy.

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BAMAKO - Mali asked for military help from France after residents of the strategic northern town of Konna said Islamist rebels drove out the Malian army on Thursday, the fiercest fighting since militants took control of the country's north nine months ago.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130111/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-0415-gmt-jan-11