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Reuters World News Highlights 2200 GMT Nov 6

Tuesday, 6 Nov 2012 | 10:00 PM ET

TOP STORIES

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CLEVELAND/CHICAGO - President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney battled down to the wire on Tuesday, mounting a last-minute Election Day drive to get their supporters to the polls in a handful of states that will decide the winner in a neck-and-neck race for the White House.

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JEDDAH/AMMAN - Deadly explosions struck a Damascus district housing members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect and gunmen killed the brother of the speaker of parliament, as violence escalated in the capital.

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BEIJING - China's outgoing leader and his likely successor are pushing the ruling Communist Party to adopt a more democratic process this month for choosing a new leadership, sources said, in an attempt to boost its flagging legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

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MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin fired Russia's defence minister over corruption allegations on Tuesday, the latest twist in an unfolding saga of power, money and suspected adultery at the heart of the Kremlin.

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PARIS - France is to grant 20 billion euros in annual tax credits to companies as a way of lowering labour costs, in a tougher-than-expected response to calls from business leaders to reverse decades of industrial decline.

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ATHENS - Hundreds of thousands of Greeks began a crippling 48-hour strike on Tuesday to protest against a new round of wage and pension cuts that parliament is expected to approve by a narrow margin.

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LONDON - The fourth quarter has so far brought no improvement in the fortunes of most of Europe's economies, which now risk shrinking more than previously expected, gloomy data showed on Tuesday.

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JERUSALEM - Israel has announced plans to press ahead with construction of 1,213 homes on annexed West Bank land, defying international opposition to its settlement policies.

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ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a step towards extending his powers on Tuesday after his ruling AK Party presented a proposal to parliament for setting up a presidential system.

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KIEV - Ukraine's outgoing parliament ordered re-runs in five electoral districts on Tuesday, overriding complaints by the opposition which says President Viktor Yanukovich's party is trying to rob them of seats won national polls late last month.