World Wrap

Euro zone unemployment hits record high

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
April 30, 2013

The euro zone’s jobless rate reaches an all-time high, the Dutch queen abdicates, and aid workers struggle to get food to Syria. Today is Tuesday, April 30, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

People wait for an employment office to open in Badalona, near Barcelona, April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Euro zone’s high unemployment, low inflation could affect ECB decisions. Unemployment in the euro zone hit a record high of 12.1 percent, leaving 19.2 million people without jobs and suggesting that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates when it meets on Thursday. Euro zone inflation fell to a three-year low, increasing expectations of a longer recession In Europe:

EU leaders are already trying to shift away from the budget cuts that have dominated the response to the debt crisis since 2009, and the data will raise the specter of deflation as companies slash prices to entice shoppers. But the European Commission, which polices countries’ debts and deficits, defended its insistence on sustainable public accounts that many economists blame for deepening the two-year recession, saying it had “no austerity dogma.”

Spain’s economy shrank for the seventh straight quarter,  and France and Germany’s economies also weakened, but markets responded well to the resolution of Italy’s political stalemate.

Dutch queen leaves the throne. After reigning for 33 years, Queen Beatrix abdicated her position this morning, handing over the monarchy to her son Willem-Alexander, the first Dutch king since 1890. The mood in Amsterdam was jubilant as people gathered in the streets to celebrate the appointment of Alexander, 46, and his Argentine wife Maxima:

The couple are expected to bring a less formal touch to the monarchy. Willem-Alexander is a water management specialist, a useful expertise in a country where much of the land is below sea level, and Maxima campaigns for the poor to have better access to financial services. The throne was stripped of its political influence by an act of parliament last year, and the monarch no longer appoints the mediator who conducts exploratory talks when forming government coalitions.

The revelry will include a nearly 1-million-person strong street party. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte hoped the celebrations will help lighten the mood in a country hit by recession and possibly have a positive economic impact. Some 78 percent of the Dutch support the monarchy.

Running the gauntlet in Syria. Matthew Hollingworth, head of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Syria operation, said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide food to Syria’s hungry:

Hollingworth said in an interview last week that WFP is trying to feed 2.5 million people every month inside Syria – a tenth of the population – and a million outside, in a conflict that has left 70,000 dead. He says his organization will need to almost double the number of people it reaches by the end of the year. “It’s no secret that the conflict is intensifying, or has been intensifying over the last month,” said the WFP’s deputy regional emergency coordinator. “The two parties of the conflict are digging in.”

Hollingworth adds that food rations intended for one family of five are often being shared by three families, and that some host-family homes are bursting at the seams. “You’ll find 10,15, 20 people living in one room,” he said. Meanwhile, Syria’s wealthy continue relatively normal lives as conditions worsen throughout the country and violence intensifies in Damascus.

Nota bene: Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons at protesters in Bangladesh today, injuring around 20 as hope of finding more survivors of Wednesday’s building collapse fades.

Standouts:

Lethal fog of war - Bioterror expert Leonard A. Cole warns that accepting sarin use by Assad’s forces could weaken the taboo on chemical weaponry. (Reuters)

Electoral booty - The Pirate Party won big in Iceland’s recent elections. (The Associated Press)

Bad kitty - Botswana’s president received stitches after being scratched in the face by a cheetah. (BBC)

End of the Gandhis - In India, the fate of the Gandhi political dynasty lies with the mysterious Rahul Gandhi. (Foreign Policy)

More trash, please - Oslo’s garbage shortage is a serious problem. (The New York Times)

From the File:

  • How the Bank of Japan staged its big bang
  • Pope accepts Peres’ invitation to Israel
  • Roadside bomb kills three NATO soldiers in Afghan south
  • Pakistani court bars ex-president from elections for life
  • Gunmen surround Libyan justice ministry

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