Today’s top world news from The Washington Post.

Today’s top world news from The Washington Post.


-British cardinal’s resignation underscores challenge to Catholic Church’s moral authority-- When Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled his plan to legalize same-sex marriage last year, Britain’s highest Roman Catholic cleric took to the national pulpit. Cardinal Keith O’Brien decried a “tyranny of tolerance,” calling gay marriage “grotesque” and saying no secular government had the moral authority to legalize such unions. On Monday, O’Brien, one of the church’s most strident voices against homosexuality, abruptly stepped down amid allegations of “intimate” acts with priests. His fall underscored perhaps the greatest challenge for the Roman Catholic hierarchy as it moves to elect a new pope: regaining its own moral authority. Nowhere is that more true than here in Europe, the continent where the global church is losing the most ground. By Anthony Faiola


- Vatican shifts tone on cardinals linked to sex scandals-- Before the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican circled the wagons around cardinals ensnared in sex abuse scandals. As the church prepares to pick Benedict’s successor, those embattled cardinals increasingly find themselves under the wagon wheels. In a wide-ranging news conference on Monday, the Vatican struck a markedly blase tone when asked about the decision by British Cardinal Keith O’Brien not to attend the conclave to elect the next pope. Hours earlier, the Vatican had accepted O’Brien’s immediate resignation over sexual harassment accusations. Whereas the Vatican made clear in 2005 that disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston was expected to report to the Sistine Chapel, on Monday it said it had nothing to do with O’Brien’s announcement. In other words, he was on his own. By Jason Horowitz


- Japanese politician wants to boost the national birthrate by banning abortion-- Japan’s low birthrate is a big problem for the country. First, it means that there are fewer working-age Japanese taxpayers for every Japanese retiree, over-burdening retirement and health care programs. Second, it means that the country’s workforce is shrinking rapidly, making the overall economy less productive. Seiko Noda, a legislator in Japan’s house of representatives since 1993, has worked on the birthrate issue for years. She’s not an obscure figure, having served in several cabinet positions. But her newest proposal is a little unusual and maybe a bit of a stretch. If we want people to have more babies, she argues in Japan’s most-read newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, the country should just ban abortion. By Max Fisher



- GOP pushes back on Obama sequester warnings, says he should seek deal-- Republicans on Monday rejected President Obama’s high-pressure push to avert a series of budget cuts called the sequester, saying that Obama is engaged in scare tactics and political campaigning when he should be seeking a deal. “This is not time for a road-show president,” Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said at a news conference with other House Republicans. “This is time to look for someone who will lead and work with us, because we’re willing to work with them to solve America’s problems.” The lawmakers criticized Obama for a planned trip Tuesday to Newport News, Va., where he will highlight the impact of the cuts on the military-driven local economy. A trio of GOP governors also said Obama is hyping the problem. By David A. Fahrenthold and David Nakamura

THE POST’S VIEW: Sequester offers President Obama a time to lead--

FACTCHECKER: Spin and counterspin in the sequester debate--  By Glenn Kessler

In Newport News shipyard, looming budget cuts create anxiety and anger-- By Michael Laris


- Spending cuts represent moment of truth for tea party-- Since the day they were swept to power more than two years ago, the tea party’s legions in Washington have made dramatic federal spending cuts the centerpiece of an economic message that has dominated the national debate. Now they’re about to get what they want. Deep reductions in domestic and defense spending are set to begin Friday in a process known as sequestration, which will make progress toward the tea party’s goal of shrinking the government. What unfolds over the following months will be a high-stakes test of whether significant cuts in spending will help or hurt the economy — and the Republican Party’s brand. The cuts, worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years, are slated to become reality after a period when the tea party — a movement, represented by a group of Republicans elected in 2010, whose goal is to radically cut the government — has struggled to have a lasting impact on Washington. By Zachary A. Goldfarb


- In Oklahoma, tiny airport attracts federal money, but few planes-- Along a country road in southern Oklahoma, there is a place that doesn’t make sense. It is an airport without passengers. Or, for that matter, planes. This is Lake Murray State Park Airport, one of the least busy of the nation’s 3,300-plus public airfields. In an entire week here, there might be one landing and one takeoff — often so pilots can use the bathroom. Or none at all. Visiting pilots are warned to watch out for deer on the runway. So why is it still open? Mostly, because the U.S. government insists on sending it money. Every year, Oklahoma is allotted $150,000 in federal funding because of this place, the result of a grant program established 13 years ago, in Congress’s golden age of pork. By David A. Fahrenthold


- Sotomayor chides prosecutor for ‘racially charged’ question-- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused a Texas federal prosecutor Monday of tapping into a “deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice” in his questioning of a black man facing a drug charge. The justices did not accept Bongani Charles Calhoun’s request that the court review his conviction, but Sotomayor appended a scathing statement to make sure that the court’s denial would not be seen as a signal of “tolerance of a federal prosecutor’s racially charged remark.” Sotomayor did not name Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam L. Ponder in her statement, but she denounced his questioning of Calhoun, who maintained in court that he did not know that the friends with whom he was traveling were planning a drug deal. By Robert Barnes


- Americans anxious about retirement-- Even as the economy slowly improves, the vast majority of Americans remain deeply worried about their ability to achieve a secure retirement, according to a new survey. The poll, to be released by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) at a conference on Tuesday, found that 55 percent of Americans are “very concerned” that the current economic conditions are harming their retirement prospects. An additional 30 percent reported being “somewhat concerned” about their ability to retire. The level of anxiety Americans feel about their preparation for retirement has continued to peak in the recession’s aftermath, a finding that the poll’s sponsors said highlights the need for policymakers to bolster the nation’s retirement programs. By Michael Fletcher


- Mobile device connections growing quickly-- Sometime this year, the world will cross a threshold: There will be more mobile device connections than there are humans. That doesn’t mean every soul on the planet will have a cell phone. But data released Monday by GSMA, an association of cell operators whose Mobile World Congress just opened for a four-day run in Barcelona, shows the total number of mobile connections surging to 7.4 billion this year, up from 6.8 billion in 2012. The world population sits at about 7.1 billion, and is growing far more slowly. Part of the rise in mobile connections results from customers having more than one at a time. The average user of mobile services — there were 3.2 billion worldwide last year — had at least two connections, according to Monday’s report by GSMA. By Craig Timberg


-ON LEADERSHIP: Yahoo’s perplexing work-from-home ban-- The last organization you might expect to stop its workers from telecommuting is a Silicon Valley tech company. But according to the Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher, Yahoo is doing just that. Yes, an Internet giant, whose success depends on seizing the future of the Web, has told its employees they can no longer work remotely from their home computers. There is painful irony in a Web company that touts its mobile strategy at the same time that its HR chief calls it critical for all employees be “physically together.”The company memo does permit using one’s judgment on the occasional need to “stay home for the cable guy.” Still, the overall impression the memo seems to leave is of a nearly blanket ban on working remotely. Even more painful than the irony could end up being employees’ reaction to such a move. By Jena McGregor


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