Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post:

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post:



- North Korea sentences American on charges he tried to topple government--North Korea on Thursday sentenced a detained American to 15 years of “compulsory labor,” punishment for what Pyongyang describes as an attempt to overthrow its government. In a brief statement released by its state-run news agency, the North said the sentence for Kenneth Bae, a tour operator from Washington state, had been handed down by its Supreme Court on Tuesday. Bae’s punishment complicates the decision-making for Washington, which had been hoping to open talks with the North only if Pyongyang showed signs of curbing its weapons program. The North has detained six Americans since 2009, using them in some cases to leverage high-profile rescue trips from former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. By Chico Harlan


-OPINION by David Ignatius: Obama bets big on Syrian rebel leader

-OPINION by George F. Will: Obama is right on Syria


- Venezuelan opposition protests vote--CARACAS, Venezuela — Unable to force a sweeping review of last month’s disputed presidential election, opposition supporters marched in the streets Wednesday to demonstrate their fury at the ruling party’s efforts to blunt a recount. On International Workers’ Day, Venezuelans from both sides of the sharp political divide staged rallies, as is custom in Latin America. But in Caracas, the capital, and in the provinces, thousands of the government’s adversaries heeded the call of opposition leader Henrique Capriles to demand a complete audit of the April 14 vote.

By Emilia Diaz-Struck and Juan Forero


- In Indian mining town, the barons are back-- Until recently, this iron-ore mining district in southern India was a byword for cronyism and plunder. Now it represents redemption, though not everyone is cheering. It was steel that made Bellary a boomtown; steel sought by China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. As demand soared, prices leapt 15-fold. Indians who cut corners and mined illegally while the government looked away got rich, including a modern-day robber baron named Gali Janardhana Reddy, whose 60-room mansion stood out among his spoils. A government crackdown in 2011 shuttered the mines in the name of lawbreaking and corruption, and led to a prison sentence for Reddy, accused of treating Bellary like his private fiefdom. By Rama Lakshmi  





-SEC subpoenas firm, individuals in a case of leaked information--The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued subpoenas to a firm and individuals in connection with the leak last month of a federal funding decision that appeared to cause a surge in stock trading of several major health companies. The move deepens the government’s scrutiny of the growing “political intelligence” industry, which has been thriving on delivering valuable information from Washington to investors. This relatively new breed of companies capitalizes on the fact that decisions made in Washington — whether a regulator blocking a big merger or a lawmaker tweaking legislation — can create opportunities for stock traders to make money. By Tom Hamburger and Dina ElBoghdady


- Obama prods liberals to give-and-take on Senate immigration bill--President Obama is warning liberal supporters that their push to make changes in a comprehensive immigration bill could jeopardize the strategy of Senate leaders, who are aiming to win up to 70 votes for the measure. While much of Washington has focused on objections from Republicans, Obama and other Democrats have mounted a behind-the-scenes campaign in recent days aimed at mollifying advocates, who argue that an 844-page Senate bill excludes too many illegal immigrants and makes it too hard for the rest to become citizens. The efforts underscore the perilous path ahead for a comprehensive immigration deal, which is one of Obama’s top agenda items for his second term but faces mounting criticism from those on both the left and right. By David Nakamura Fix:

-The Fix: Why is immigration going so much better for Obama than the budget? By Zachary Goldfarb and Scott Clement


- Obama administration plans to appeal Plan B ruling--The Justice Department filed notice late Wednesday that it will challenge a federal court decision requiring the government to make emergency contraceptives available over the counter to women of all ages. The move came hours after the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives to women 15 and older. Previously, Plan B was available to teenagers younger than 17 only with a prescription. Older women had to request it from a pharmacist. The Obama administration also asked the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York to stay Judge Edward Korman’s early-April ruling, which is set to take effect Sunday. by Sarah Kliff


-OPINION by Dana Milbank: Mark Sanford’s comedy of errors



- Three arrested for allegedly helping suspect after Boston bombings--Two college friends of the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing were accused Wednesday of trying to cover up his involvement by removing evidence from his dorm room and a third was charged with lying to the FBI. They were identified as friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who has been charged with carrying out the bombing along with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. The younger brother was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where he became friends with the three people charged Wednesday. By Sari Horwitz


- Original ricin suspect was held despite evidence pointing to another man--TUPELO, Miss. — After keeping Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis in jail for a week, interrogating him while he was chained to a chair and turning his house upside down, federal authorities had no confession or physical evidence tying him to the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and other public officials. Investigators already had another man in their sights and, according to an FBI affidavit, were collecting physical evidence against this second suspect. It was beginning to look as if Curtis had been framed. By Kimberly Kindy



- Federal Reserve ponders possibility of increasing stimulus--The Federal Reserve on Wednesday broached the possibility of increasing its massive stimulus program if the economy weakens, suggesting it remains uncertain about the fate of the recovery. The Fed has been purchasing $85 billion in bonds a month in an effort to keep long-term interest rates low and stoke demand. The program is tied to improvement in the labor market, and officials had begun talking about tapering it off after several strong months of job growth this year. But after its two-day policy-setting meeting wrapped up Wednesday, the central bank explicitly stated for the first time that it could increase, as well as reduce, bond purchases “as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes.” By Ylan Q. Mui


- Fannie, Freddie agency nominee signals desire to preserve government-backed mortgages--President Obama nominated a long-term Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday to run the obscure but powerful agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, signaling the administration’s desire to preserve a substantial role for the government in the future of the housing market, people close to the White House said. The nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (N.C.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee who is popular with liberal groups, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency suggests that the administration would like to speed up the slow-going effort to determine the future of the taxpayer-backed mortgage giants. By Zachary A. Goldfarb


Copyright 2007