Today’s top world news from The Washington Post

Today’s top world news from The Washington Post


- Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq is recasting itself as a political player-- The Iranian-backed Shiite group responsible for most of the attacks against U.S. forces in the final years of the Iraq war is busily reinventing itself as a political organization in ways that could enhance Iran’s influence in post-American Iraq — and perhaps beyond. In recent months, Asaib Ahl al-Haq — the League of the Righteous — has been rapidly expanding its presence across Iraq, trumpeting the role the once-shadowy group says it played in forcing the departure of U.S. troops with its bomb attacks against American targets. By Liz Sly


- Report ties 100-plus cyber attacks on U.S. computers to Chinese military-- A U.S. security firm has tied more than a hundred cyber attacks on U.S. corporations to China’s military, according to a report released Tuesday. The 60-page study by investigators at the Alexandria-based Mandiant security firm presents one of the most comprehensive and detailed analysis to date tracing corporate cyber espionage to the doorstep of Chinese military facilities. And it calls into question China’s repeated denials that its military is engaged in such activities. The document, first reported by the New York Times, draws on data Mandiant collected from 147 attacks during seven years it traced back to a single group it designated “APT1,” a group Mandiant has now identified as a military unit within the 2nd bureau of China’s People’s Liberation Army General Staff Department’s 3rd Department, going by the designation “Unit 61398.” The Chinese military has repeatedly denounced such accusations. By William Wan


- In India’s remote northeast, civilians challenge rape, killing by security forces-- Tens of thousands of Indian troops are deployed to these remote borderlands, their mission to fight a decades-long armed separatist rebellion. But for years, residents here have alleged that security forces have also waged a separate war of rape and murder of civilians, one they continue with impunity because federal law virtually prohibits the prosecution of soldiers in conflict zones. Now, 1,500 miles away in the capital of New Delhi, there is a new demand to change that. A committee established last month in the wake of mass protests over a gruesome gang rape recommended that the law be reexamined. At the very least, the Justice Verma Committee said, soldiers accused of rape should be tried under civilian law. But the government has dragged its feet. Although it implemented many of the committee’s suggestions for new protections for women in an emergency ordinance passed this month, the recommendation to curb the armed forces’ immunity was set aside. The government said it was reluctant to tell the army what to do. By Simon Denyer



- Obama using new political freedom to tackle domestic agenda-- In a gym usually home to the Hyde Park Academy Thunderbirds, President Obama spoke about his own home late last week — and the trouble it faces. He warned students and teachers that the fragility of families, the easy violence of guns, and a threatened education system are failing Chicago’s South Side, where he once worked as a community organizer and began his family. Change “requires us reflecting internally about who we are and what we believe in,” he told the rows of uniformed students lining the blue breeze-block walls in bleachers. “And facing up to our own fears and insecurities, and admitting when we’re wrong.” More than he ever did in his first term, Obama is describing the country as he believes it should be, not the one it has been for much of the past decade. It is an inspirational technique of the community organizer and of the upstart national candidate he once was. By Scott Wilson


- Obama to press for sequester fix-- President Obama will seek to inject fresh urgency on Tuesday morning into discussions over how to avoid deep, automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending that are set to take effect in 10 days. The White House statement said the jobs of emergency personnel who would appear at Tuesday’s event could be in jeopardy if the sequester takes effect. The appearance in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, scheduled for 10:45 a.m., will come as Washington appears increasingly resigned to allowing the sequester to go ahead. The White House statement said the jobs of emergency personnel who would appear at Tuesday’s event could be in jeopardy if the sequester takes effect. By Zachary A. Goldfarb


- Other countries court skilled immigrants frustrated by U.S. visa laws-- Much of the immigration debate in Washington has centered on the 11 million undocumented migrants in the country. But, from the halls of MIT to the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, business and academic leaders are more focused on what they call an even greater threat to the U.S. economy: immigration laws that chase away highly skilled foreigners educated in U.S. universities, often with degrees funded by U.S. taxpayers. While other countries are actively recruiting foreign-born U.S. graduates, the United States has strict limits on visas for highly skilled workers that often put them on waiting lists of many years. And unlike Canada and other countries, the United States offers no specific visa for young entrepreneurs like Bajpayee and Narayan who want to start a business in America. By Kevin Sullivan


-GUNS IN AMERICA: Weapons made with 3-D printers could test gun-control efforts-- Twenty minutes into his State of the Union address last week, President Obama entered the realm of uber-geekery — three-dimensional printing. The magical devices capable of printing prosthetics, violins and even aircraft parts have the potential, the president said, “to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” Forty miles away from the Capitol, in Glen Burnie, Md., Travis Lerol is proving Obama’s point — with guns. In a spare bedroom, where an AR-15 rifle leans against the wall, Lerol is using a 3-D printer no larger than an espresso machine to make plastic rifle parts and ammunition magazines in between tea sets and chess pieces. The parts print, layer over layer, creating objects like an ink-jet printer etches words. The 30-year-old software engineer said he has no plans to print anything outlawed by the government. But like many other gun owners, he is nervous that the push for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre will infringe on his Second Amendment rights. Three-dimensional printers offer a potentially easy way around restrictions and registrations — a source of growing consternation among gun-control advocates and some allies in Congress. By Michael S. Rosenwald

VIDEO: Printing a gun at home:


- Will higher taxes on the rich derail California’s economic comeback?-- If there’s anyplace in the country where rising tax rates should choke off an economic recovery, it’s California. On top of the federal tax hikes that kicked in last month, the state has just raised income taxes on its wealthiest residents to the highest levels in the nation, a move that conservatives warn will drive millionaires and their companies to other states, taking jobs and growth with them. The increases come as California’s economy continues a remarkable turnaround. A year ago, the state was a mess, with double-digit unemployment, a bottoming-out housing market and scary budget deficits. Now, hiring is up faster than the national average, and the housing market is regaining strength. Even the state budget is back in the black. What happens to the economy here over the next year will be a case study for policymakers in Washington, who are paralyzed by similar questions of taxation and growth. The early indications, in California, point toward an outcome you might not expect. By Jim Tankersley


-WONKBLOG: Big tobacco and anti-cancer activists agree: Health provision goes too far-- Big tobacco companies and anti-cancer activists are standing in opposition to a part of the Affordable Care Act that allows insurance companies to charge smokers 50 percent more than patients who do not use tobacco. Cigarette makers such as Altria say the policy amounts to discrimination against smokers. The American Cancer Society, meanwhile, worries that the high surcharges could make health insurance unaffordable to cigarette smokers, who are disproportionately low income. “We’re anti-smoking, not anti-smoker,” said David Woodmansee, the cancer society’s associate director for state and local campaigns. Unlike other groups that have failed to get a divided Congress to kill parts of President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, these unusual partners could have a shot at success: They can take the battle to individual states, which have the authority to bar health insurers from considering tobacco use in setting subscriber premiums. By Sarah Kliff


- SEC Chairman Elisse Walter presses her agenda, says she’s more than a caretaker-- Anyone who tracks the Securities and Exchange Commission already knows that President Obama wants New York attorney Mary Jo White to be the agency’s next leader. But the person currently holding that position has no intention of simply keeping the seat warm until the White House pick gets there. In fact, that’s the reason the word “acting” does not appear before SEC Chairman Elisse Walter’s title, even though she may hold the job for only a few more months. “I made it clear to everyone that I wasn’t interested in being a caretaker,” Walter said. “I wasn’t going to just switch the lights on in the morning and off at the end of the day. If I was going to be chairman, I was going to be chairman.” By Dina Elboghdady


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