Open for debate. A Republican plan to filibuster proposed gun-control legislation in the Senate failed Thursday as Democrats lured enough legislators across the aisle to force a vote. Sixteen GOP senators voted with Democrats to bring the measure to the floor for debate. Despite their victory, Democrats still don’t know whether they have enough support to get the legislation approved. Even a bipartisan agreement on expanding background checks to include sales at gun shows and online might not be enough to secure the votes the package needs. And even if the Senate approves the measure, which also includes money for school safety programs and tougher penalties for illegal gun sales, the proposals have little chance of making it through the Republican-controlled House.
Condemning North Korea. During a meeting today in London, G8 ministers condemned North Korea’s continued talk of war. Representatives from the Group of Eight industrialized nations voiced support for the UN Security Council resolution threatening tougher sanctions on North Korea if the country conducts a missile launch scheduled for next week. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to South Korea after he leaves Britain. The ministers also discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria, although Russia’s support for President Bashar al-Assad prevented the group from making any strong statements of condemnation against the Syrian regime. The G8 called for more humanitarian aid for Syrian rebels but not for supplying them with arms.
Recall. Honda, Toyota, and several other carmakers are recalling about a dozen models after announcing a faulty passenger-side airbag could deploy with too much force and spray shrapnel into the car. The airbags, also used by Nissan, Mazda, and General Motors, were made by Japan’s Takata Corp. All of the 3 million cars covered under the recall were manufactured between 2000 and 2004. Although Honda representatives said the company knew of one crash where the airbag deployed with too much force, tearing its casing, it had no reports of injuries as a result.
Bright spots. While the stock market continues its historic climb, mortgage rates are nearing record lows. The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 3.43 percent. In November, the rate dipped to 3.31 percent, the lowest rate since 1971. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan fell to 2.65 percent, just slightly above November’s 2.63 percent record. Economists credit the low rates with helping to sustain the slow but steady recovery in the housing market. They’re also helping more Americans refinance and lower their payments.