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10 things you need to know today: December 7, 2012
November jobs gains beat expectations, Egypt's opposition mulls a call for dialogue, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama: Talking once again.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama: Talking once again. Getty Images

1. NOVEMBER JOBS GAINS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS
The Labor Department reported Friday that American employers added 146,000 jobs in November, exceeding expectations and pushing the unemployment rate down, from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent, the lowest rate since December 2008. Stock futures had been slightly lower ahead of the news, as investors braced for what they thought would be mildly disappointing numbers, but futures markets rallied after the report was released. Economists had expected the government to say the economy added just 93,000 jobs in November, down from a gain of 171,000 the month before, according to a Reuters survey. Hurricane Sandy has been blamed for a hiring slowdown in the Northeast, but it turned out to be a minor factor. If the figures had come in as forecast, the unemployment rate would have remained at 7.9 percent. [Associated Press]

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2. EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION MULLS MORSI'S DIALOGUE OFFER
Egypt's opposition is meeting Friday to consider President Mohamed Morsi's call for a "national dialogue" on the country's deepening political crisis. Morsi made his offer on TV Thursday night after two days of violent clashes between his Islamist supporters and protesters left seven people dead and hundreds wounded. Morsi, speaking from the heavily guarded presidential palace, said he wanted to heal the rift over his Nov. 22 decree giving him sweeping, unchecked power, but vowed to press forward with a Dec. 15 referendum on an Islamist-backed constitution. Morsi blamed the violence on "infiltrators" inside the opposition paid to create trouble with "thuggery" and "terrorism." The harsh words triggered calls for more protests from some in the largely secular opposition. President Obama called Morsi Thursday night to express his "deep concern," and urge leaders on all sides to make it clear that "violence is unacceptable." [Washington Post]
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3. QUAKE TRIGGERS TSUNAMI WARNING IN JAPAN
A powerful offshore earthquake triggered a small, three-foot tsunami in northeast Japan on Friday, jarring the nerves of a nation still recovering from a devastating temblor and 30-foot tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people in 2011. There were no reports of damage, but the 7.3 quake was strong enough to rattle buildings in Tokyo, nearly 300 miles away. Officials in Miyagi, which suffered some of the worst destruction in the 2011 disaster, closed roads and suspended some rail service. [CNN]
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4. OBAMA, BOEHNER RESUME FISCAL CLIFF TALKS
President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have resumed private negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff, after a week of delivering highly publicized opening bids for a budget deal. "Lines of communication are open," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, tells The Wall Street Journal. The two sides ostensibly remain far apart, with Obama unwilling to withdraw his demand that the deal include a tax hike for the wealthy. Boehner, for his part, has demanded far more spending cuts than Obama. [Wall Street Journal]
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5. EXILED HAMAS LEADER VISITS GAZA
The exiled political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, is celebrating the group's 25th anniversary by making his first trip to the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has controlled Gaza since 2007. In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in the region, Meshal is entering Gaza from Egypt, where a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, is now serving as president following last year's ouster of Hosni Mubarak. In a statement, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called Meshal's visit — his first to Palestinian territory since he left the West Bank in 1967 — "a fruit of the victory of the resistance over the occupation." [New York Times]
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6. NORTH KOREAN LEADER CRACKS DOWN AHEAD OF MISSILE LAUNCH
South Korean officials say Kim Jong Un, the untested young leader in neighboring communist North Korea, is using an imminent rocket launch to strengthen his hold on power and justify a crackdown on dissent. "There is a large-scale witch-hunt going on," a senior official in South Korea's presidential office said Friday. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan have condemned the missile launch, scheduled for between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, but Kim needs a successful show of force to bolster his image internally because his rise to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, is not going as smoothly as planned, the official said. [Reuters]
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7. MCAFEE RETURNED FROM HOSPITAL TO GUATEMALA JAIL
Software pioneer John McAfee's deportation to Belize for questioning in a murder case was delayed on Thursday, after he was rushed to a police hospital in neighboring Guatemala. McAfee's lawyers said he was being treated for heart troubles, but later said he had suffered a nervous breakdown. McAfee was back in jail on Friday, as his lawyers waged a last-minute fight to block his transfer to Belize. McAfee went into hiding and slipped over the border into Guatemala after police came to ask him about the death of his neighbor — who had complained about McAfee's barking dogs and was found dead two days after four of McAfee's dogs were poisoned. [CNN]
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8. 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING TOPPED $2 BILLION
Federal election officials released the final 2012 presidential election spending tallies on Thursday, showing that the campaign passed the $2 billion mark in its final weeks. That made the contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney the most expensive in American history. The total for Team Obama: $1.123 billion; and for Team Romney: $1.019 billion. "And that," says Politico, "doesn't include an explosion of late advertising funded by last-minute checks from mega-donors like Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner, whose emergence as political forces may be the enduring legacy of 2012." Adelson and his wife pumped $40 million into conservative super PACs in the last weeks before the vote, pushing their total disclosed contributions close to $90 million. [Politico]
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9. ZIMMERMAN SUES NBC NEWS OVER EDITED 911 TAPE
George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit against NBC News on Thursday, accusing the network of trying to make him sound racist by editing his 911 call the night he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In NBC's version of the recording, Zimmerman says, seemingly without prompting, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." NBC edited out the words of the 911 dispatcher, who asked Zimmerman whether the unfamiliar person he was following in his Florida neighborhood was "black, white, or Hispanic." In the suit, Zimmerman says that NBC News saw the case "not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain." NBC, which fired three people over the matter, denied intentionally portraying Zimmerman unfairly. [Washington Post]
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10. STEPHEN BALDWIN ACCUSED OF FAILING TO PAY TAXES
New York police arrested actor Stephen Baldwin on Thursday, and charged him with failing to pay state taxes for three years. Authorities say Baldwin, the youngest of the four Baldwin acting brothers, piled up a debt of $350,000 in taxes and penalties owed in 2008, 2009, and 2010. If convicted, Baldwin could face up to four years in prison, but his lawyer said there was no reason to arrest him, because he's working with tax officials to resolve the matter. "Mr. Baldwin did not commit any crimes," defense lawyer Russell Yankwitt said. [Associated Press]

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