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News Wrap: U.N. Fails to Access Iran’s Nuclear Sites

February 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Senate Democrats moved today to find a way to prevent the sequester, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect march first. They called for smaller reductions in farm subsidies and the Pentagon budget, plus a minimum 30 percent tax on million-dollar incomes. Republicans are expected to oppose the measure because of the tax increase.

House Speaker John Boehner said the burden is on President Obama to break the deadlock.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: The sequester, I don’t like it, and no one should like it, but the sequester is there because the president insisted that it be there. Where is the president’s plan to replace the sequester that he insisted upon?

HARI SREENIVASAN: White House officials warned that letting the across-the-board cuts take effect would be disastrous. For his part, the president traveled to Decatur, Ga., selling his plan to make pre-school available to all four-year-olds. Standing before a group of teachers, he joked that what works with preschoolers might work with Congress.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Maybe we need to bring the teachers up.

Every once in a while, have some quiet time, time-out.

HARI SREENIVASAN: If the sequester takes effect, it will mean $85 billion dollars in spending reductions over the next seven months, shared equally between defense and domestic programs.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg announced today he will not run again. The veteran Democrat is 89, and the oldest member of the Senate. He faced a likely primary challenge from Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Lautenberg said he will spend the final two years of his term trying to pass new gun safety laws, among other things.

U.N. inspectors have failed again to gain greater access to Iran’s nuclear sites. A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency returned home empty-handed today, after talks in Tehran. Meanwhile, Iran announced it’s installing a new generation of centrifuges to enrich uranium. And The Washington Post reported Iran tried a year ago to buy 100,000 specialized magnets for centrifuges. The U.S. and other nations say Iran means to build nuclear weapons. The Iranians say their program is for power generation.

Around the world today, people rallied to raise awareness of violence against women. The One Billion Rising campaign staged rallies, dances and vigils in dozens of major cities. The events were held to coincide with Valentine’s Day. The United Nations has estimated that one of every three women worldwide is raped or beaten in the course of a lifetime.

A new implantable device that restores some vision in the blind won approval today in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration agreed to allow use of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis. It uses electrodes in the retina that receives signals from a wireless camera on a pair of glasses. Initially, the device will help small numbers, but it may ultimately treat vision disorders in millions.

A longtime leader in American foods, Heinz, is being sold to a group that includes Warren Buffett. The $23.3 billion dollar deal announced today will make Heinz a privately held company. On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nine points to close at 13,973. The Nasdaq rose a point to close at 3,198.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.