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Morning Briefing: Hello, John? This is Barack ...

This Nov. 16, 2012 file photo shows President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

A summary of what you need to know today, compiled by The Globe's news desk on Dec. 12, 2012

Watch out Tweets, there's a new guy in town

OK, it probably won't go down in history as the most compelling 27 words ever published, but @pontifex made history today as the first Pope Tweeter. "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart." Who can argue with that?

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North Korea springs surprise rocket launch

North Korea has forced itself back on the world's agenda with what appears to be the successful launch of a long-range missile. The launch – which comes after last April's failed attempt – has drawn widespread condemnation and renewed tensions in the region over North Korea's nuclear program. The launch is expected to give a boost to hawks contesting key elections in Japan and South Korea, The Globe's China correspondent Mark MacKinnon writes.

U.S. recognizes Syrian opposition

The United States has recognized the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, a move it is hoped will put more pressure on Bashar al-Assad to step down. Canada, which has yet to announce whether it will take a similar step, has joined other countries in warning Syria of the consequences of using chemical weapons. The U.S. announcement comes as more than 100 countries gather in Morocco today to discuss the Syria crisis.

F-35 report expected today

An independent report by KPMG on the costs of the now-maligned F-35 fighter jet program is expected to be made public today. A series of leaks last week suggested that the ballooning full price of ownership of 65 F-35 fighters would add up to more than $40-billion over the lifetime of the aircraft. On Friday, The Globe reported that the federal government is shopping around for alternatives to the Lockheed Martin warplanes.

Hello John? This is Barack ...

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President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have been burning up the phone lines again as the leaders try to chart a compromise and avoid the "fiscal cliff" less than three weeks away. The two men spoke on the phone Tuesday night, with few details emerging over the Republican's response to a new offer presented by the President on a call on Monday. The two men also met face-to-face Sunday in the Oval Office in hopes of breaking the deadlock over tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in 2013.

Top secret hockey talks begin

OK, one more time. Player and owners will face off again – this time in a secret location – in an effort to save what is left of the season. The talks, to include two federal U.S. mediators, are the first since last Thursday when hints of a deal were crushed when the league rejected an offer by the players.

No, no, no, no, yes

Give the Brits marks for persistence. In this interview with The Globe's Boyd Erman, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney gave a fascinating inside account of Britain's dogged, and ultimately successful, courtship of him to lead their central bank. Mr Carney rejected a number of overtures before agreeing to lead the Bank of England bank for a five-year term.

Canada and Israel sign foreign-aid pact

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Canada and Israel have signed an agreement to work together on international development and aid projects. The deal comes as Israel faces increasing isolation on the world stage, The Globe's Kim Mackrael reports.

Indian music legend Ravi Shankar dies

Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar died yesterday at the age of 92. Labelled the "godfather of world music" by Beatle George Harrison, Mr. Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers discover classical Indian music.

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