Today’s top world news from The Washington Post:

Today’s top world news from The Washington Post:


-U.S. weighs military support for France’s campaign against Mali militants--The Obama administration is considering significant military backing for France’s drive against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mali, but its support for a major ally could test U.S. legal boundaries and stretch counterterrorism resources in a murky new conflict.  The United States is already providing surveillance and other intelligence help to France and may soon offer military support such as transport or refueling planes, according to U.S. officials, who stressed that any assistance would stop short of sending American combat forces to the volatile West African nation, report Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock.


-Helicopter crash ignites blaze in central London--A helicopter crashed into a building site in a bustling quarter of central London around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, igniting a massive blaze that claimed two lives and snarled rush-hour traffic in western Europe’s biggest city.  At least nine people were hospitalized with injuries, reports Anthony Faiola.


-Attack on Afghan intelligence agency kills 2 employees--Six attackers launched a deadly assault on the headquarters of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency on Wednesday, according to Afghan officials. At least two agency employees were killed, and more than 30 civilians were injured. Wednesday’s attack, despite causing limited fatalities, raised questions about insurgents’ ongoing ability to penetrate the so-called “Kabul security zone,” report Kevin Sieff and Sayed Salahuddin.


-In French malaise, a broader source of risk--As France’s socialist government raised taxes on the wealthy and threatened to nationalize a steel plant last year, neighboring Spain reveled in the news that exports were rising and several auto plants would be expanded by their owners, reports Howard Schneider.




-Obama to announce most expansive gun-control agenda in generations--President Obama on Wednesday will formally announce the most aggressive and expansive national gun-control agenda in generations as he presses Congress to mandate background checks for all firearms buyers and prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, reports Philip Rucker.

-The FIX: How President Obama’s executive orders on guns might doom a big bill


-OPINION by Ruth Marcus: Got those second-inauguration blues--Perhaps the sense of letdown is unavoidable. The second time is never as exciting. A presidency on the doorstep of a first term is promise unmarred by performance. A reelected president arrives with baggage and scars to weigh against the stirring words of an inaugural address.  Still, the gap between thrill and deflation feels particularly yawning this year. Not because Obama had a failed first term — he didn’t, not in my assessment and not, I think, by any objective measure.

-For many presidential inaugurations, the second time is not the charm by Monica Hesse


-House approves Hurricane Sandy relief package--The House on Tuesday approved about $50 billion in relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, a package designed to speed aid to devastated communities in New York and New Jersey and a vote that provided an early test of the resolve of GOP deficit hawks.  The package was adopted on a 241 to 180 vote, on the strength of support from Democrats, as well as 49 Republicans, many of them representing communities hit hard by the Oct. 29 storm, reports Rosalind Helderman.


-Citing Rubio’s ideas on immigration reform, White House sees hope for bipartisan deal--The Obama administration suggested Tuesday that there are signs that bipartisan cooperation might be possible on immigration reform, in light of some new ideas being championed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).  White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Rubio’s proposals to offer more visas to highly skilled tech workers and potentially provide legal status and citizenship to many of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants “bode wellfor a productive, bipartisan debate,” report David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez.


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