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Reuters World News Highlights at 0645 GMT, Feb 20

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Feb 20 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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BOSTON/SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc was recently attacked by hackers who infected Macintosh computers of some employees, the company said Tuesday in an unprecedented disclosure describing the widest known cyber attacks targeting Apple computers used by corporations.

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WASHINGTON - Three years after easing limits on corporate political donations in the Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider whether to lift caps on how much individuals may contribute to candidates.

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TOKYO - The government's sale of a $10 billion stake in Japan Tobacco Inc , the world's third-largest tobacco company, is expected to kick off within days after bankers met on Tuesday over deal details, sources close to the deal told Reuters.

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WASHINGTON - John Kerry will visit nine countries in Western Europe and the Middle East on his first trip as U.S. secretary of state to consult allies on topics including Syria's civil war, the State Department said on Tuesday.

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GENEVA - North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a debate at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take further steps after a nuclear test last week.

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama renewed pressure on congressional Republicans to head off budget cuts that are due to begin on March 1, staging a White House appearance with emergency workers to illustrate jobs he said were at risk.

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NEW DELHI - Major Indian trade unions have called for a two-day strike starting on Wednesday, as the beleaguered government prepares to present an austerity budget to parliament and weather a corruption scandal in a big arms deal.

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JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a first step in forming a new government on Tuesday, announcing a coalition deal with former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and naming her to handle efforts to renew stalled diplomacy with the Palestinians.

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BEIJING - Accusations by a U.S. computer security company that a secretive Chinese military unit is likely behind a series of hacking attacks are scientifically flawed and hence unreliable, China's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.

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PRETORIA - "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius put on his artificial legs and walked across his bedroom before firing four shots through a locked toilet door, killing his cowering girlfriend in cold blood, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

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PARIS/DAKAR - A French soldier and more than 20 Islamist rebels were killed during what appeared to be the first clashes in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range where militants have taken refuge in northern Mali, French officials said on Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Marine General John Allen, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan and was caught up but later cleared in the scandal that forced CIA chief David Petraeus to resign, said Tuesday he will retire and forgo his nomination to become NATO's supreme allied commander because of his wife's health.

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BRASILIA - President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday raised the monthly stipend of 2.5 million people living below the poverty line to make good on her promise to eradicate extreme poverty in Brazil, a nation with enormous income gaps between rich and poor.

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CARACAS - Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro would win a presidential vote should his boss Hugo Chavez's cancer force him out, according to the first survey this year on such a scenario in the South American OPEC nation.

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LOS ANGELES - Oscar nominees who don't end up with a coveted gold statuette at the Academy Awards on Sunday won't go home empty handed after all.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130220/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-0645-gmt-feb-20