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Posted at 8:32 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Jobless rate, Sudan vote, long-distance love and Michael Caine

By Melissa Bell
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Primary school children and their teacher practice "songs of the new nation" at their school in Juba, Sudan. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

News to know:

National news: Unemployment rate drops

Although fewer jobs were added during the holiday rush -- only 113,000 as opposed to the expected 150,000 or more -- the unemployment rate did drop from 9.8 to 9.4 percent, taking us back to the lowest level since May 2009. It's seen as a sign of continuing economic growth.

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International news: Sudan vote to split nears

Expectations are running high in southern Sudan, just days before the vote on an independence referendum is slated to take place. The vote will likely usher in a division of Sudan, creating two countries out of the one that has been mired in war and civil unrest since the 1950s. George Clooney, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry and Kofi Annan are all in Sudan in anticipation of the vote.

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Post Pick: Linger on your pale blue ties

The one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on: pale blue ties. Manuel Roig-Franzia writes, "Theirs is a soothing choice for these unsettling times. A daiquiri ice color palette to replace another era's put-up-your-dukes reds. The warring parties may not be able to get along in conference committee (or on cable television), but they seem to be learning how to give the appearance that they can be simpatico in the dressing room."

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Trend piece: Young love buoyed by Skype

Slate's Jack Schafer may scold the New York Times for another trend story with dubious numbers to back it up, but this story resonates as it is fascinating to consider how the ties of Facebook and Skype have tightened high school bonds for students off to college. This story examines how high school romances have more than a fighting chance thanks to technology.

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Need to watch: Michael Caine does Michael Caine

By Melissa Bell  | January 7, 2011; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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