Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

-Britain’s top Catholic cleric resigns after accusations of inappropriate behavior- Pope Benedict XVI on Monday accepted the immediate resignation of Britain’s highest-ranking Roman Catholic cleric, effectively forcing Cardinal Keith O’Brien to step down a day after allegations surfaced that he had engaged in inappropriate behavior with priests. The resignation adds to a major scandal for the church, engulfing one of its most strident conservatives and influential clerics just weeks before the conclave to select a successor to Benedict, who unexpectedly announced his retirement on Feb. 11, reports Anthony Faiola.


-For China’s Catholics, new pope brings hope- Of the long list of problems the next pope will inherit once the white smoke rises in Rome, few on the diplomatic front can rival the bitter, in­trac­table relationship between the Vatican and the Chinese government. The two powers have long battled for control over Catholics in China, but the situation has worsened in the past two years to the lowest point in decades. Bishops touted by the government have been excommunicated by the pope. Meanwhile, China’s government has called the Vatican “unreasonable and rude” and stepped up its surveillance and detention of Catholics who remain loyal to the pope in illegal underground churches, reports William Wan.


-Karzai orders U.S. Special Operations forces out of key Afghan province- Afghan President Ha­mid Karzai on Sunday ordered all U.S. Special Operations forces to leave a strategically important province in two weeks, alleging that they had been involved in the torture and murder of “innocent people.” Karzai’s blunt statement, which did not provide specific evidence or cite judicial determinations, also demanded an immediate halt to Special Operations activity in the province, Wardak, which lies southwest of Kabul and has been contested by Taliban fighters and other insurgents, report Richard Leiby and Ernesto Londono.



-White House releases state-by-state breakdown of sequester’s effects- The White House on Sunday detailed how the deep spending cuts set to begin this week would affect programs in every state and the District, as President Obama launched a last-ditch effort to pressure congressional Republicans to compromise on a way to stop the across-the-board cuts. But while Republicans and Democrats were set to introduce dueling legislative proposals this week to avert the Friday start of the spending cuts, known as the sequester, neither side expected the measures to get enough support to pass Congress, report Zachary A. Goldfarb and Paul Kane.


-Sequestration affecting congressional hiring, Rep. Goodlatte says- The Obama administration has been warning for months that millions of federal employees could face furloughs and potential layoffs if forced budget cuts go into effect this Friday as slated. But the cuts, totaling roughly $85 billion, also apply to congressional budgets. So how are lawmakers planning to cut back, if necessary? For House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the solution appears to be keeping some jobs unfilled, just in case, reports Ed O’Keefe.


-The Fix: Obama’s legacy likely to be determined by upcoming battles- President Obama’s legacy ultimately could be determined over the next few months by a series of showdowns — both with Republicans and, potentially, with fellow Democrats. Guns. Immigration. Climate change. Debt and spending. The matters that Obama is either moving on or has promised to move on are the sorts of big issues that the two parties (and their presidents) have tangled with for decades and for which no easy solutions present themselves, reports Chris Cillizza.



The GOP Revival must go beyond joining Twitter- There seems to be a desire to blame Republicans’ electoral difficulties and the Romney campaign’s loss on technological failings. I wish this were the problem, because it would be relatively easy to fix. But it’s not. The “tech gap” is being pushed by some as a larger indication of the issue of Republicans being seen as old and out of date. The latest piling on was a piece by my old Austin pal Robert Draper in the New York Times magazine. Draper breathlessly reports that there are young, technology-focused Republican operatives who feel that the Republican Party should be doing more (which we should) and that, horrors of horrors, I chose not to tweet during the campaign. (For the record, I’ve had a Twitter account since shortly after the service launched and follow it perhaps a bit too obsessively,) writes Stuart Stevens, lead strategist of Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign.



-Capital Business: Corporate wellness programs increasingly rely on competitions and team challenges- During a doctor’s appointment last year, Sal Alvarez got some discouraging news. His cholesterol had ticked up, his blood pressure was higher, and his physician wanted to put him on more medicine to control those conditions. Those results made Alvarez newly determined to get his health on a better track. And so he turned to a wellness program offered by his employer, Discovery Communications. Each year, the Silver Spring-based company holds a voluntary, 16-week competition in which participants divide into teams and vie to walk the most steps. They use an online platform called Global Corporate Challenge to log their progress and compare it to their rivals’ numbers. If competitors do other workouts, such as swimming or biking, the system will calculate how many steps those activities are worth, reports Sarah Halzack.


-White House estimate spells out tough rough for Washington region economy- In the Washington region, hub of the federal government, the upcoming automatic spending cuts the Obama administration detailed Sunday would strike a tough blow, with nearly 150,000 civilian Defense Department employees facing furloughs and an estimated average loss of $7,500 in pay. Under sequestration, which is days away if a deal cannot be reached, funding for elementary and secondary education across the region would be slashed by $29 million, jeopardizing nearly 400 teacher and aide positions. Nearly 6,000 fewer children would be vaccinated for such diseases as measles, mumps and whooping cough. More than 31,000 fewer tests for HIV would be provided, and funds for local meals for seniors would be cut by nearly $2.3 million, reports Donna St. George.


-Military is required to justify using animals in medic training after pressure from activists- The war between animal activists and the Pentagon has raged for decades. You could say there’s been a fair amount of collateral damage: thousands of goats and pigs have been mutilated, though the military argues the animals have not died in vain. So it’s no surprise the animal rights camp is salivating over the blow it’s about to inflict on the enemy. This week, by order of Congress, the Pentagon must present lawmakers with a written plan to phase out “live tissue training,” military speak for slaying animals to teach combat medics how to treat severed limbs and gunshot wounds, reports Ernesto Londono.


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