News Wrap: U.S. Thanksgiving travel nears pre-pandemic levels

In our news wrap Wednesday, millions of Americans were on the move as Thanksgiving travel neared pre-pandemic levels, despite higher gas prices and a new surge in COVID-19 infections. U.S. unemployment claims are at their lowest since 1969, and inflation at its highest since 1990. Three major parties have agreed to form a coalition government in Germany, two months after national elections.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The U.S. economy has turned out striking new numbers, with unemployment claims at their lowest since 1969 and inflation at its highest since 1990.

    The Labor Department reported today that first-time applications for jobless benefits fell to 199,000 last week, and the Commerce Department found consumer prices rose 5 percent in October from one year earlier. The higher prices contributed to a rise in consumer spending, up 1.3 percent last month.

    The European Union warned today that a record new rise in COVID cases is threatening the bloc's economic recovery. A number of European governments have reimposed restrictions. And the World Health Organization says vaccines have given people a false sense of security.

  • Dr. Michael J. Ryan, World Health Organization:

    Even in the midst of a very, very strong resurgence in cases and even in the midst of some of those countries under huge pressure in their health systems, we are seeing pre-pandemic levels of social mixing, gatherings and many other things. And the reality is, the virus will continue to transmit intensely in that environment.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Austria went into lockdown mode this week, and Slovakia approved its own lockdown today. France will announce new restrictions tomorrow.

    At least 31 migrants died today trying to sail from France to Britain. Their boat sank off the English Channel off Calais. Four suspected traffickers were arrested later. This was the deadliest such incident yet. Attempted channel crossings by people fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere have grown sharply this year.

    In Germany, three major parties have agreed to form a coalition government two months after national elections. Olaf Scholz, leader of the center-left Social Democrats, will become chancellor. That will end Angela Merkel's 16 years as chancellor, leading the major center-right party. The coalition also includes the pro-business Free Democrats and the environmentalist Greens.

    Sweden's first female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, resigned today just hours after she was appointed to the post. She won parliamentary approval today as prime minister, then lost a budget vote. With that, her coalition partner, the Greens, quit the minority government, and Andersson stepped down.

  • Magdalena Andersson, Leader, Social Democratic Party (through translator):

    Although the parliamentary base appears to be unchanged when it comes to the government, it ought to be tested by Parliament anew. For me, it's a question of respect.

    But I also don't want to lead a government where there could be reasons to question its legitimacy.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Andersson said she is still interested in leading a one-party government run by her center-left Social Democrats.

    Back in this country, millions of Americans were on the move today, as Thanksgiving travel neared pre-pandemic levels. That's despite higher gas prices and a new surge in COVID-19 infections. Lines of people were seen at airports in Houston, Miami, New York, and elsewhere, and highways were full. The travel group AAA estimated well over 50 million people headed out for the holiday.

    President Biden, meanwhile, has tapped Shalanda Young to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget. She has been serving as acting director. If confirmed by the Senate, Young would be the first Black woman to lead the Budget Office on a permanent basis.

    And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nine points to close at 35804. The Nasdaq rose 70 points, and the S&P 500 added 10.

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