KWAME HOLMAN: Car bombers have struck again in Iraq, this time killing at least 57 people. The attacks today were the latest in a new wave of Shiite-Sunni violence. The first targets were markets near the city of Baquba in a suburb north of Baghdad and in the city of Tuz Khormato. Later, bombs went off in Mosul aimed at police stations.
The Obama administration could decide this week whether it’s time to ship arms to rebels in Syria. Top U.S. officials began meeting today to consider the question. And Secretary of State John Kerry put off a trip to the Middle East to take part in the sessions.
White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t say which way the president is leaning.
JAY CARNEY, White House Press Spokesman: The president has made clear, I have made clear that all options remain on the table in terms of Syria, and — although he has also said that he doesn’t foresee a circumstance that would involve American boots on the ground. But options — he insists that all options be available to him, and he is constantly reviewing them.
KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S. is under growing pressure to act, despite concerns that weapons would end up in the hands of extremists. That’s because Syrian government troops have been retaking key areas, with the help of Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon. Last week, they captured the town of Qusayr, and now the city of Homs appears to be next on the target list.
The world’s carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high last year. The International Energy Agency reported today that release of the greenhouse gas rose more than one percent. Emissions from the U.S. and Europe actually fell, but those reductions were canceled by China’s growing carbon dioxide footprint. Emissions from China were up more than 3.5 percent.
In South Africa, former President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized in Pretoria for a third day. Doctors said he’s in serious, but stable condition with a recurring lung infection. Members of his family could be seen arriving at the hospital where he’s being treated. It’s the fourth time he’s been hospitalized since December. Mandela is 94 years old.
Jury selection began today in Sanford, Fla., in the murder trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. He’s accused of killing an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Feb. 2012. The case has drawn national attention. Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense. Martin’s family and prosecutors say Martin was a victim of racial profiling.
The U.S. Senate moved today to pass a new five-year farm bill. It would cost almost $100 billion dollars a year and make small cuts in food stamps, which account for 80 percent of the bill’s cost. The House could take up its version of the bill later this month. Republican leaders there are pushing for much larger cuts in food stamps.
President Obama has nominated Jason Furman to chair his Council of Economic Advisers. Furman is a longtime presidential adviser on tax policy. The president said today he never forgets he’s fighting for the middle class.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nine points, to close at 15,238. The Nasdaq rose four points to close at 3,473.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.