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10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2013
Venezuela mourns Hugo Chavez, the papal election process begins, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
A woman holds a portrait of the late President Hugo Chavez during a ceremony at in Barinas, Venezuela, on March 8.
A woman holds a portrait of the late President Hugo Chavez during a ceremony at in Barinas, Venezuela, on March 8. AP Photo/Esteban Felix

1. UNEMPLOYMENT AT LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2008
The Labor Department on Friday reported that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February, bringing the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in January. The jobless rate is now at its lowest level since December 2008 — before Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term as president. The report was almost uniformly positive, greatly outpaced analysts' expectations, and bolstered optimism that the labor market could finally escape the years-long pattern of plodding improvement that has so far characterized the economic recovery. "It's an outstanding report," says TD Bank Group economist Craig Alexander. "Not only are the headlines good but the details are good as well." [The Week]
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2. CHAVEZ REMEMBERED AT STAR-STUDDED STATE FUNERAL
An A-list crowd of prominent Venezuelan celebrities gathered in Caracas on Friday to mourn their deceased president, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday at the age of 58. Thirty-two heads of state, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were also in attendance to pay their respects. Following the ceremony, Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's vice president, was sworn in as interim president. [CNN]
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3. CARDINALS WILL BEGIN CONCLAVE TO ELECT NEW POPE
Rome's Catholic cardinals voted Friday to begin the conclave — or secret election — of a new pope on Tuesday. All cardinals under the age of 80 are permitted to vote during the closed-door process. While there is so far no clear favorite, most recent conclaves have decided on a new pope within two days. [CNN]
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4. SOUTH DAKOTA SIGNS LAW ALLOWING TEACHERS TO CARRY GUNS IN CLASS
Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill into law on Friday that will allow teachers in South Dakota to carry guns in the classroom. While other states have provisions in their gun laws that make it possible for teachers to carry guns in class, South Dakota appears to be the first state to create a law explicitly for this reason. About two dozen states have proposed similar bills since the deadly shootings in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but all of them have stalled. Supporters of the South Dakota law say it's important for the state, where some schools are too far from emergency responders. Opponents say the measure was rushed and doesn't make children safer. [New York Times]
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5. GOOGLE SLASHES JOBS AT MOTOROLA
Google is laying off 1,200 employees at its Motorola Mobility unit. The cuts amount to 10 percent of the Motorola workforce. The internet search giant had already eliminated 4,000 Motorola jobs when it acquired the company in August. The latest move reinforces the impression some had that Google was more interested in Motorola's patents than its products. Motorola staffers got the latest news in a company email saying that "our costs are too high, we're operating in markets where we're not competitive and we're losing money." [Wall Street Journal]
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6. CHINA'S EXPORTS SURGE UNEXPECTEDLY
New data from China showed that the country's exports jumped by 21.8 percent in February, crushing expectations. Analysts had expected a single-digit increase. The surge could be a sign of strengthening global demand. Offsetting the news: China's imports were surprisingly weak, falling 15 percent from a year earlier. On balance, analysts said, the data at least suggest that the world's second biggest economy is continuing on the path to recovery in 2013, after finishing strong in 2012. [Associated PressReuters]
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7. PAST DECADE RANKS AMONG THE HOTTEST
A study published in the journal Science suggests that average global temperatures were higher in the past decade than they've been over most of the past 11,300 years. The decade 2000-2009 was one of the warmest since modern record-keeping began, but global mean temperatures didn't breach the levels of the early Holocene period, which they are now on track to do. If the scientists' forecasts are correct, the planet will be warmer in 2100 than it has been for 11,300 years. [Wall Street Journal]
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8. WRIGLEY'S TO DEBUT CAFFEINATED CHEWING GUM
Wrigley's, the world's largest chewing gum company, is set to debut its Alert Energy Caffeine Gum at convenience stores next month. Each piece of gum will contain about half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. The company has addressed the inevitable health concerns surrounding its product by stating that Alert Energy is marketed to adults ages 25 and older, adding that each package contains a warning label that says the gum is "not recommended for children or persons sensitive to caffeine." [Wall Street Journal]
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9. DOZENS SICKENED AT 'WORLD'S TOP' RESTAURANT
More than 60 people fell ill in February after dining at Copenhagen's Noma restaurant, which was rated the world's best restaurant from 2010-2012 by Restaurant Magazine. The sickened patrons suffered from vomiting and diarrhea during a five-day period, health officials said. It's unclear what caused the outbreak, but reports say the source may have been a sick kitchen employee. The managers of Noma have apologized. Noma charges up to $260 for a meal — without drinks — and reservations often must be made months in advance. [BBC]
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10. BIEBER LASHES OUT AT PHOTOGRAPHER
Hours after getting treatment at a hospital for apparent breathing problems, 19-year-old singer Justin Bieber was captured on camera lunging at a photographer. The teen had fallen ill during a Thursday concert in London and was rushed to a hospital after finishing his show. On Friday, before getting into a car, Bieber's bodyguard restrained him when the young singer became angry and tried to push away a paparazzo. "Sometimes when people r shoving cameras in your face all day and yelling the worst thing possible at u...well I'm human," Bieber tweeted after the incident. [E Online]

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