Today’s top foreign news from The Washington Post:

Today’s top foreign news from The Washington Post:


- U.S. weapons reaching Syrian rebels-- The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war. The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus last month. By Ernesto Londoño and Greg Miller

U.S. ties in Persian Gulf at risk as Obama allows space for Russian-Syrian plan By Loveday Morris


- Pakistan, India spar in Kashmir in worst border violence in years, sparking fears of bloodshed-- After a decade of relative quiet, Indian and Pakistan troops are shelling each other with vigor again along their disputed border, raising tension between the nuclear-armed nations and forcing hundreds of villagers to flee. Many fear there is worse to come. As the American military withdraws from Afghanistan, some Pakistan-based militants who had been fighting there have pledged to turn their attention to the Kashmir border region — and their old foe, India. Already, there are signs that militant activity is on the rise in this area, with graffiti appearing saying “Welcome Taliban.” In recent days, the disputed border that separates much of the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan has turned into a virtual war zone. A month of cease-fire violations by both sides has resulted in the deaths of at least 11 soldiers and two Pakistani civilians and the wounding of several residents. By Annie Gowen


- Satellite images suggest North Korea restarted small nuclear reactor, U.S. institute says-- Recent satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has restarted a small nuclear reactor, allowing the secretive nation to potentially bolster its stockpile of plutonium for weapons, a U.S. research institute said Thursday. The North had said five months ago that it would restart key operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facility “without delay.” The report from the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies indicates that it is quietly going ahead with that pledge — and facing few apparent problems in firing up a reactor mothballed for six years. Commercial satellite images from Aug. 31 show two plumes of white steam rising from a turbine building adjacent to the reactor. That steam is an essential byproduct of the reactor’s operation, and its venting suggests the “electrical generating system is about to come online,” the report said. By Chico Harlan


-India mandates increase in charitable giving by corporations; critics fear government control-- When the charitable foundation of a leading Indian conglomerate tried to set up free schools for rural children, it endured boundless red tape and the wrath of cane-wielding villagers worried about losing their land. Seven years later, Bharti Enterprises’ charitable foundation has overcome those obstacles and is running 254 schools across India. But now, a strict law enacted by the Indian government will force corporations such as Bharti to do such projects — and perhaps much more. For example, one of the firm’s most important units, Bharti Airtel, will have to spend almost four times as much on its social development programs, from its current $4 million to $15 million. The corporate responsibility law — which applies to both foreign and domestic companies — requires that all firms that generate profits of about $78 million or more annually in the country spend at least 2 percent of those earnings on community development projects. By Rama Lakshmi



- Obama’s tough task: Getting Americans to care about chemical weapons use in Syria-- As President Obama has made the case for U.S. military intervention in Syria, his most starkly emotional appeal has focused on images of dead and wounded kids. He pointed to such imagery in his address to the nation Tuesday night, describing “a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk” after an alleged sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children. “On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons,” the president said. “I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor.” Obama’s raw language was in many ways similar to the words he used in the wake of a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last winter, and was aimed at stirring a nation’s collective conscience to action in a faraway place. By David Nakamura

-WORLD VIEWS: This is the speech Obama would give on Syria if he were brutally honest-- Here’s what Obama might have said if he’d taken a couple of truth pills before walking up to the podium. By Max Fisher


- House Republican leaders delay vote on new budget bill until next week-- With a government shutdown looming in less than three weeks, Republican House leaders conceded Wednesday that they have yet to muster enough votes to approve a plan to keep federal agencies open. A vote on the measure, set for Thursday, was postponed until at least next week after conservatives balked, demanding that any deal to fund the government include a provision to cut off funding for President Obama’s signature health-care initiative. Unless Congress acts, the government will shut down Oct. 1. The Treasury also faces a potential default as soon as Oct. 18, according to independent estimates. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he wants to avoid a shutdown and a default. But deep divisions within Republican ranks have left Boehner scrambling for a strategy that the vast majority of his caucus would embrace. By Paul Kane


-D.C. executive linked to secret 2008 aid to Hillary Clinton-- The D.C. businessman at the center of an ongoing city corruption investigation secretly spent more than a half-million dollars on get-out-the-vote efforts for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court documents filed Wednesday. Jeffrey E. Thompson, a former city contractor who allegedly financed a secret campaign for then-mayoral candidate Vincent C. Gray (D) in 2010, financed an independent effort to reach urban voters on behalf of Clinton in Texas and at least three other states during the 2008 Democratic primaries, according to the interviews and documents. Thompson allegedly paid Troy White, a New York marketing executive, more than $608,000 to hire “street teams” to distribute posters, stickers and yard signs beginning in February 2008 to help raise Clinton’s profile during her primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama, according to the documents and interviews with several people familiar with the investigation. By Ann E. Marimow and Philip Rucker



- After Nasdaq disruption, regulators are urged to rethink decades-old technology-- The software that recently malfunctioned and disrupted trading of Nasdaq-listed stocks was born from a decades-old government mandate, and market experts say it is time for federal regulators to rethink the technology and address its unintended consequences. The software will be a central topic when the Securities and Exchange Commission meets with the heads of the nation’s exchanges in Washington on Thursday to discuss how to avoid a repeat of the Nasdaq fiasco that unfolded Aug. 22. The exchange halted trading on all its stocks for more than three hours that day, citing problems with the technology it uses to distribute price quotes for all Nasdaq stocks to the public. The technology has been a source of controversy since its creation in 1975, and market structure experts say the SEC should seize the moment to scrutinize the role of an antiquated software system in a market now dominated by high-speed traders. By Dina ElBoghdady


- Phone companies want the FCC out of the Internet business-- As phone companies retool their businesses for the Internet, they are calling on Washington to liberate them from their longtime overseer, the Federal Communications Commission. Led by high-profile former regulators and lawmakers, telecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband businesses to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC. On Thursday, Jon Leibowitz, the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, will lobby House Republican and Democratic staff on behalf of those firms, urging lawmakers to take away some privacy powers from the FCC. Earlier this week, Verizon Communications asked a federal appeals court to overturn FCC rules that require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet services. By Cecilia Kang


-WONKBLOG: After 7-hour meeting, it’s on: Richmond sticks with its plan to seize mortgages through eminent domain-- After a marathon hearing that wrapped up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the City Council of Richmond, Calif., voted to allow the use of eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages, becoming the first city in the nation to take such a concrete step toward the novel and risky strategy for helping people avoid foreclosure. The night of impassioned debate — featuring six feuding council members, a mayor firmly committed to the plan, and several dozen speeches from the public — showed the power of litigation to sow doubt, and the power of personal stories to stir hearts. Also on display: The challenge of public participation in a complicated new process that’s very hard to understand and very easy to mischaracterize. By Lydia DePillis


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