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News Wrap: Unemployment in US dips to 7 percent

December 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Unemployment in the U.S. dipped to 7 percent in November, the lowest rate since 2008.  And employers added 203,000 jobs.  But the number of people actively looking for work remained near a 35-year low.  Paul Solman explores the data and the debate over long-term jobless benefits right after this news summary.

The jobs numbers touched off a rally on Wall Street.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 198 points to close at 16,020, breaking a five-day losing streak.  The Nasdaq rose 29 points to close at 4,062.  For the week, the Dow lost just under 0.5 percent; the Nasdaq rose 0.1 percent.

Snow and freezing rain fell from Texas up to Indiana today, posing an icy threat across the central U.S.  Roads in North Texas and Arkansas starting icing over late last night and continued today.  And some parts of the Midwest were forecast to get several inches of snow.  American Airlines, whose major hub is in Dallas, canceled 1,000 flights by this morning.

Britain and Northern Europe spent a second day coping with flooding and other damage from a powerful storm.  It triggered the biggest tidal surge in 60 years on the eastern English coast.  The surge pulled cliff-top homes into the North Sea, and caused severe flooding in many coastal communities.  In London, the River Thames Barrier was closed for the second time in as many days to protect against the flood.

Heavy smog descended on Shanghai, China, today, one of the worst bouts of pollution to hit the city since records were started last December.  Authorities reacted by pulling 30 percent of government vehicles off the road and banning fireworks and public sporting events.  Visibility was down to just 160 feet in some places, as people struggled to cope.

XUE ZHIYU, China (through translator):  I have difficulty in breathing.  I feel uncomfortable.  My throat felt funny after I went home.  I hate going outside.  It was fine in the subway, but the air quality is terrible outdoors.  Visibility is also bad, and so is my mood.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  The dirty air is being blamed on coal burning, car exhausts, factory pollution, and shifting weather patterns.

The international chemical weapons watchdog now says that all of Syria’s unfilled chemical munitions have been destroyed.  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that it has verified that the Assad regime did indeed destroy the empty weapons.  It also confirmed destruction of buildings at production facilities.

There was relative quiet across the capital city of the Central African Republic today, as hundreds of French troops began arriving.  A day earlier, at least 280 people died in heavy fighting between Christian militias and Muslim rebels.  Soldiers reached the city this morning, with the permission of the U.N. Security Council to use force.  The French contingent will eventually reach 1,200.

The embattled president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, met today with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the face of ongoing protests back home.  The demonstrations erupted after Ukraine’s leaders backed away from improving ties with the European Union.  Moscow wants Ukraine to join a trade bloc dominated by Russia instead.