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News Wrap: CIA Secretly Aiding Syrian Rebels

March 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The CIA is secretly helping expand military aid shipments to Syrian rebel fighters. The New York Times reported today that the agency has assisted Turkey and several Arab states, increasing an airlift of weapons and equipment. The report said American agents are helping procure the weapons and helping to vet the various rebel factions to decide which ones should receive the help.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today over drug company efforts to delay the release of cheaper generic drugs. The Federal Trade Commission wants to stop the companies from paying generic drugmakers to withhold their products. Drugmakers insist the deals help them recoup huge investments and help avoid lengthy patent disputes. The FTC argues the move stifles competition and costs consumers billions of dollars each year.

A blanket of spring snow fell for much of the day on a swathe of Eastern states, after socking the Plains and the Midwest. The snowstorm dumped a mix of heavy wet snow and rain from Ohio to New Jersey. Travel in the Midwest was hit hard, with slick roads in Indiana causing a series of crashes. Springfield, Ill., set a record for this time of year, with 17 inches of snow.

There’s a new name on the list of U.S. senators who have decided to retire. It was widely reported today that Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota won’t seek reelection next year. Johnson survived a life-threatening brain hemorrhage in 2006, returned to the Senate in late 2007, and easily won reelection the following year. So far, seven senators, five Democrats and two Republicans have opted to retire.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Lewis died today. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Starting in 1948, Lewis spent most of his career with The New York Times. He won two Pulitzers for reporting and was a columnist from 1969 to 2001. He also won acclaim for “Gideon’s Trumpet,” a book about a petty thief whose case led to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Anthony Lewis was 85 years old.

Wall Street lost ground today, amid nagging concerns about Europe’s economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 64 points to close at 14,447. The Nasdaq fell more than nine points to close at 3,235. Meanwhile, the price of oil hit a five-week high, finishing well over $94 dollars a barrel in New York trading.

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