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News Wrap: UN Adopts Global Arms Trade Treaty

April 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.N. General Assembly adopted the first-ever treaty on global arms trade today. It was overwhelmingly approved 154-3, with Iran, North Korea, and Syria voting against it; 23 countries abstained, including China and Russia.

It will require nations that ratify the pact to regulate the transfer of conventional arms from light weapons to combat aircraft. They will also have to ensure those weapons won’t be used to commit acts of terror or organized crime. Supporters hope that will make the estimated $60 billion arms trade more transparent.

Unemployment in the Eurozone hit a record 12 percent for the month of February. It’s the first time the rate has been that high since the euro currency was created in 1999; 12 percent unemployment translates to more than 19 million people out of work across the 17-nation Eurozone. The figures also came out before the recent economic crisis in Cyprus.

President Obama asked Congress to invest $100 million dollars next year to help unlock the mysteries of the human brain. The so-called Brain Initiative Project would map brain functions, with the hopes of eventually finding cures for disorders like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. The president unveiled the plan before a group of scientists at the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Think about what we could do once we do crack this code. Imagine if no family had to feel helpless watching a loved one disappear behind the mask of Parkinson’s or struggle in the grip of epilepsy. Imagine if we could reverse traumatic brain injury or PTSD for our veterans who are coming home.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House is slated to release President Obama’s budget next week. The president has maintained that investment in education and research are critical, even in the face of spending cuts.

The Arkansas attorney general is opening an investigation into an ExxonMobil crude oil pipeline that ruptured last week. Exxon has been asked to keep all documents and information related to the spill and cleanup efforts. The spill, about 20 miles northeast of Little Rock, forced 22 residents to evacuate their homes as crude oil bubbled up onto their properties from the pipeline. Exxon has agreed to cooperate with any investigation, and the pipeline remains shut.

March was the best month for U.S. auto sales in at least six years. Ford and General Motors each reported their sales rose about 6 percent, and Chrysler posted five percent gains. Nissan had its best showing in company history, with sales up one percent. Low interest rates and new models helped drive the sales, but another factor was the need to replace older cars. The average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is more than 11 years.

Those auto sales reports drove the Dow Jones industrial average to another record high on Wall Street today. It gained 89 points to close at 14,662. The Nasdaq rose more than 15 points to close above 3,254.

Subaru announced a recall of 200,000 of its all-wheel-drive vehicles to fix a brake problem. It affects the Legacy and Outback models from the years 2005 to 2009. Salt used on icy roads in the winter could cause their brake lines to rust and leak fluid. That could result in longer vehicle stopping distances and increase the risk of a crash. So far, no accidents have been reported.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Margaret.