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Posted at 12:07 PM ET, 07/08/2011

Lunchline: I see you skipping out of work

I was lucky enough to have parents who took me around the globe to see various places and cultures before I was even old enough to drive. When I was in high school, my dad went to live in South Africa to start the first U.S. Peace Corps program there since the end of apartheid. He talked about it at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival last week. Cool guy.

Beachgoers at Ocean City. (Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)
There's a pretty good chance that by the time you read this, you'll have already planned your office escape for the day, if you're even there at all. It's commonly understood in this town that Friday afternoon is the best time to slide something into the news cycle, because most people have started their weekends early. And come summertime, this practice is in full effect. A new survey by the Corporate Executive Board shows that nearly half of personnel directors at Fortune 500 said they were operating on a compressed workweek. The Post's Marc Fisher reports.

Metro's Barbara J. Richardson in the new operator booth of the system's new 7000 rail series cars. (Mark Gail - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Don't look now, but Metro has brand-new rail cars! Sort of. Okay, they're just prototypes, but it's something. The new 7000 series rail cars aren't anywhere close to being installed in the system, or even built, but WMATA at least knows what it wants and is ready to order them. The new cars will be fitted with digital "destination screens" designed to better help riders know where they are within the system, and would eliminate the drab color scheme that's been in use for years. The Post's Dana Hedgpeth reports on the new models, but I must admit, those orange/brown/red seats are going to be hard for me to let go of.

The conservative movement in Maryland is not dead. Opponents of the state's rather liberal new law giving illegal immigrants the opportunity to receive in-state tuition got a win yesterday. A petition launched to block the law and bring it to statewide referendum was recognized by the Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday. The Post's Aaron C. Davis reports on the ruling that is likely to draw appeals and scrutiny from liberals questioning the validity of the signatures.

I remember the days when D.C. police would give you a pair of Timberlands, no questions asked, if you turned in an illegal gun at a give-back event. Now, after gun-rights advocates managed to get the city's long-standing handgun ban overturned, the city itself could end up as the conduit for residents looking to purchase a firearm. Council member Phil Mendelson is proposing a system that would allow the District to effectively become a gun dealer. The Post's Mike DeBonis explains why such legislation might be necessary.

Nationals center fielder Roger Bernadina (2) looks into the outfield after getting the last out of the game Thursday. The Nats lost 10-9, after giving up a 7-0 lead in the third inning. (Toni L. Sandys - WASHINGTON POST)
The Nationals suffered their ugliest loss of the Davey Johnson era last night. The boys blew an eight-run lead to the lowly Cubs, and then tied the game up, only to eventually fall 10-9 to the lovable losers. It was particularly crushing because the team was looking for a sweep before its last series ahead of the All-Star break. The Post's Adam Kilgore chronicles the loss. Also, our old friend Chico Harlan wrote a story about baseball for the first time in a while.

Extra Bites

• When the world found out that Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid was hacking into people's cellphones to gain scoops, including those of the deceased, folks were reasonably outraged. Now, Slate's Jeremy Singer-Vine is wondering: Could that happen in the U.S.?

• South Sudan plans to secede from the north tomorrow, and U.N. photographer Tim McKulka offers a visual essay for Foreign Policy of the nation's people on the eve of its division.

• Ladies, if this happens to you, it's time to clean out your purse. Stay safe this weekend, kids.

Check out my daily Lunchline Live chats at noon, or anytime on my Facebook fan page. You can also drop me a line at

By  |  12:07 PM ET, 07/08/2011

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