Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post
- Administration debates stretching 9/11 law to go after new al-Qaeda offshoots--A new generation of al-Qaeda offshoots is forcing the Obama administration to examine whether the legal basis for its targeted killing program can be extended to militant groups with little or no connection to the organization responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. officials said. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, a joint resolution passed by Congress three days after the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has served as the legal foundation for U.S. counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda over the past decade, including ongoing drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen that have killed thousands of people, report Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung.
- A day after his death, Venezuela pays homage to Hugo Chavez--CARACAS, Venezuela — A vast crowd of red-clad Venezuelans filled the streets of the capital Wednesday to mourn President Hugo Chavez, as governments across Latin America began looking ahead to an election that will determine his successor and the direction of the South American energy giant. Chavez’s flag-draped coffin was slowly carried through the streets of Caracas over the course of the day, on a route winding toward the military academy where he started his career as a young cadet from a poor rural family. His body will lie in state there until his official burial on Friday, reports Juan Forero and Emilia Diaz.
WorldViews: Hugo Chavez’s legacy, in six charts
- Syrian rebel group claims 20 U.N. observers were being rescued, not kidnapped--GAZIANTEP, Turkey — A Syrian rebel group that claimed it had abducted a group of U.N. observers in the Golan Heights announced on Thursday that it had in fact rescued them from fighting in the area, and called on the United Nations to send a security convoy to pick them up. The announcement by the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade was posted on the same Facebook page that was used to publicize the abduction on Wednesday. A video in which the kidnappers warned that the observers would not be released until Syrian President Bashar al-Assad withdrew troops from the area had been deleted, suggesting that overnight negotiations to secure the groups’ release may be working, reports Liz Sly.
- In a Strasbourg mosque, the often-uneasy French mix with Muslim neighbors-- For Abdelrahman Binjalloun, a Moroccan-born pharmacist who doubles as a guide, the questions were routine. Since it was inaugurated in September after a three-decade controversy — and even while it was under construction — the Great Mosque of Strasbourg has become a tourist site, a destination for school excursions and a meeting place where often-uneasy French people come face to face with their increasingly numerous Muslim neighbors. Such coming together is not the norm in France, whose army has been dispatched to Mali to destroy bands of radical Islamists who hold 15 French citizens hostage. At home, the country’s Christian traditions have been rubbed the wrong way by a Muslim minority that is often so concentrated in certain suburban neighborhoods that veils are common and Arabic is more spoken than French, reports Edward Cody.
-House votes to avert shutdown as Obama looks for big deal--The House took its first step to avert a government shutdown as President Obama began a series of rare meetings with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, reviving chances for a long-term deal to reduce the federal deficit. In hopes of avoiding a crisis this month, the House approved a six-month spending bill that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The measure passed 267 to 151, with most Republicans supporting it and most Democrats voting against it, reports Rosalind S. Helderman and Philip Rucker.
- Paul’s filibuster in opposition to Brennan, drone policy ends after nearly 13 hours--One of the oldest and most storied traditions of the Senate made a sudden return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday when a junior senator seized control of the chamber with an hours-long filibuster involving rambling speeches aimed at blocking a vote on President Obama’s choice to lead the CIA. Led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) with help from other junior senators, the filibuster stretched nearly 13 hours — with the Senate adjourning at about 12:40 a.m. Thursday — and was aimed at drawing attention to deep concern on both sides of the aisle about the administration’s use of unmanned aerial drones in its fight against terrorists and whether the government would ever use them in the United States, reports Ed O’Keefe and Aaron Blake.
-The Fix: Rand Paul and the principle principle by Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan
Wonkblog: A great day for the filibuster, and for filibuster reform by Ezra Klein
- As talks on gun background checks falter, Sen. Schumer says he’ll move ahead--Continued disagreements over whether to keep records of private gun sales prompted Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to move ahead Wednesday without the support of the Democrats and Republicans he’s been meeting with for weeks in hopes of striking a deal to expand the national background check system, with limited exceptions. Schumer said he will reintroduce a proposal mandating background checks on all gun sales, private or commercial, on Thursday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where senators will begin debating and voting on legislation put forward in the months since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., report Ed O’Keefe and Sari Horwitz.
-The Root: How the Sequester Crosses the Color Line--As a result, billions in automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending took effect on March 1, after GOP members in Congress refused to negotiate on what economists are calling a "stupid" and "irresponsible" way to govern the world's largest economy. If unresolved, sequestration may cost upwards of 750,000 jobs and shave 1.25 percent off the nation's gross domestic product, making a double-dip recession all but certain. Who will this affect the most? Black, brown, poor and working-class families still struggling to find work and wrestling with unresolved mortgage debts. This is where the sequester crosses the color line. African Americans remain disproportionately unemployed and underemployed -- at a rate of 13.2 percent, nearly double the 6.8 percent unemployment rate of their white counterparts. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the issue was hotly debated, by Edward Wyckoff Williams.
- Paul Ryan, Patty Murray hold the keys to any budget deal--After two years of anxious, high-wire negotiations over the federal budget, an exhausted Washington is about to hand the mess back over to the experts: the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees. In the next few weeks, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will roll out competing proposals for taming the national debt. If lightning strikes, both sides hold out hope that a Ryan-Murray conference committee could become the forum for litigating the partisan dispute over taxes and spending. Especially if President Obama makes headway in his new outreach campaign to Republicans, a Ryan-Murray summit could produce the big deal that would let Congress avoid another nasty fight over the federal debt limit, which is once again looming in August, reports Lori Montgomery.
- New robots in the workplace: Job creators or job terminators?-- A wave of new robots, affordable and capable of accomplishing advanced human tasks, is being aimed at jobs that are high in the workforce hierarchy. The consequences of this leap in technology loom large for the American worker — and perhaps their managers, too. Back in the 1980s, when automated spray-painting and welding machines took hold in factories, some on the assembly line quickly discovered they had become obsolete. Today’s robots can do far more than their primitive, single-task ancestors. And there is a broad debate among economists, labor experts and companies over whether the trend will add good-paying jobs to the economy by helping firms run more efficiently or simply leave human workers out in the cold, reports Cecilia Kang.
- Attorney general says big banks’ size may inhibit prosecution--U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told lawmakers that some financial institutions have become “so large” that it makes it “difficult for us to prosecute them.” Holder’s admission bolsters criticisms that federal prosecutors are deeming some banks “too big to jail,” a charge that lawmakers and consumer advocates have routinely made in the wake of recent bank settlements. Although the government has issued record multimillion-dollar fines in these cases, critics say without criminal charges, the agreements amount to a slap on the wrist, reports Danielle Douglas.