Unemployment in Spain rose by 3.1 percent in January taking the nation’s total number of unemployed past the four million mark (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Catalunya headed the list of those regions where unemployment grew the most, with an additional 22,122 people losing their jobs here last month, a rise of 3.9 percent compared to December 2009. Overall, there are now 4,048,493 people without work in Spain, the highest number since records began in 1996. However, the rise in January 2010 was less than in January 2009, when 198,838 signed on as unemployed compared to 124,890 last month.
Three young women caused a gas leak in an Eixample building yesterday by stealing a gas metre (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). It seems that the three girls targeted the metre and connecting pipes because they hoped that they were made of copper, a metal that they could sell to make some money. When they managed to take off the apparatus, however, the exposed pipe caused a leak that could have resulted in an explosion. The building’s residents were understandably angered and concerned by the robbery, with comments such as “these crazy people don’t think about the consequences of their acts.”
The White House has announced that US President Barack Obama won’t attend the EU-US summit taking place in Madrid in May (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Hopes were high amongst the Spanish government that Obama would be able to visit Spainfor this event, and there were also steps taken by the Generalitat to encourage a stop-off in Barcelona. However, a spokesman for the President has said to the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal that there will be no change in Obama’s agenda plans to allow for the visit and that the trip had never been formally agreed or planned. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had hoped that an appearance by Obama would put a positive spin on the end of Spain’s six months presiding over the EU, which will finish in June—however, it now seems likely that the next meeting between Zapatero and Obama will take place in the autumn and, possibly, in Washington.
Also in the news: Exceptions proposed to later retirement age (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Seventy-five percent of Catalan cinemas closed yesterday in protest at planned law (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); U-turn by Reagrupament president who withdraws his resignation after less than 48 hours while four members who opposed him offer their resignation (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico)