Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post  

-Morning Mix Headlines: Here’s Japan’s latest trend: ‘zentai’; Yahoo spends $58 million to fire its chief operating officer; Long Island Catholic high school expels four students after racial incidents; Wife of ‘Scandal’ star Columbus Short files for divorce again; Why are there so many dead pigs in China’s rivers?; A trailer for the abortion rom-com ‘Obvious Child’; Here’s the view from the latest ‘throwable’ camera contraption; Rapper Christ Bearer cuts off penis, attempts suicide



-Pro-Russian militants killed in clash at Ukraine port city--MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces engaged pro-Russian separatists Thursday in what appeared to be the most intense battle yet in the restive east, killing three militants and wounding 13 after what the Interior Ministry described as a siege on a military base in the southeastern city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. “A mob of 300 militants, wielding guns, Molotov cocktails and homemade explosives, attacked the Ukrainian military outpost in the city overnight,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement. The attack, he said, was repelled by National Guard and police in the city, he said. By Anthony Faiola

Ukraine prepared to offer autonomy to eastern regions if Russia pulls back troops, by Karen DeYoung  

In Ukraine, a crisis of bullets and economics, by Anthony Faiola  

Putin changes course, admits Russian troops were in Crimea before vote, by Kathy Lally


- Almost 300 missing in South Korean ferry disaster; death toll expected to rise--SEOUL — Emergency teams desperately searched an overturned and submerged ferry Thursday morning amid fears that scores of the nearly 300 missing passengers are still trapped in the vessel’s hard-to-reach corridors. In what could become South Korea’s deadliest maritime disaster in two decades, those on board — some eventually rescued, some not — sent frantic text messages to their loved ones, providing a glimpse of the terror as the ferry capsized Wednesday. By Yoonjung Seo and Chico Harlan


- Obama aims to reinvigorate Asia strategy--President Obama’s bid to focus U.S. attention on Asia has failed to meet the lofty expectations he set three years ago in a grand pronouncement that the new emphasis would become a pillar of his foreign policy. The result, as Obama prepares to travel to the region next week, has been a loss of confidence among some U.S. allies about the administration’s commitment at a time of escalating regional tensions. Relations between Japan and South Korea are at one of the lowest points since World War II, and China has provoked both with aggressive actions at sea despite a personal plea to Beijing from Vice President Biden in December. By David Nakamura


- Syrian opposition fighters obtain U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles--Syria’s opposition fighters have been supplied with U.S.-made antitank missiles, the first time a major American weapons system has appeared in rebel hands. It is unclear how the rebels obtained the wire-guided missiles, which are capable of penetrating heavy armor and fortifications and are standard in the U.S. military arsenal. The United States has sold them in the past to Turkey, among other countries, and the Pentagon approved the sale of 15,000 of the weapons to Saudi Arabia in December. Both countries aid Syrian opposition groups. By Karen DeYoung





- Democrats Hagan, Nunn and Grimes among big winners in Senate campaign fundraising--Donors gave big money to a trio of Democratic women running in battleground U.S. Senate races between January and March, a much-needed jolt of energy for Senate Democrats looking at an increasingly difficult path to holding their fragile majority in the midterm elections. By the end of Tuesday’s deadline for congressional candidates to submit first-quarter fundraising totals, Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Georgia’s Michelle Nunn and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes were three of the biggest standouts. They each outraised their Republican competition and brought in totals exceeding $2 million. By Sean Sullivan


- Rep. Vance McAllister kissed. Now can he make up with voters after the scandal?--In MONROE, La. — This is a story about passion and politics. And video. It’s about God, and it’s about sin. And it’s about ducks. It begins two days before Christmas last year. Just after 1:30 that afternoon, Vance McAllister, a first-time politician and a congressman for all of 32 days, paused as he left his district office in this northeast Louisiana city. Dressed casual-cool in a crinkly purple shirt, the married father of five leaned over and deeply kissed his office scheduler, a woman who also happened to be married to Heath Peacock, one of his friends and political supporters. Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock tilted her head and kissed him back. It did not look like a first kiss. By Manuel Roig-Franzia


-The Fix: For Republicans, super PACs are so last election cycle--When it strikes midnight on Federal Election Commission filing day, political nerds wait with bated breath for the numbers and expected transcendence to fall. In an age when horse race coverage depends on data to map out election cycles with increased precision, polls and campaign finance forms are among the best weapons the media has. By Jaime Fuller



2014 Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest: This year’s contest featured scenes from pop culture, news, sports, history and more—all starring those sugary little marshmallows. Popular themes included the Olympics, Miley Cyrus, the Oscars selfie and winter’s polar vortex. Check out the winners and finalists. *An image is available to use as a teaser with mandatory credit to The Washington Post and a link back to the feature. Please contact me if this is of interest.


- Trait by trait, plant scientists swiftly weed out bad seeds through marker-assisted breeding--Woodland, Calif. — Alan Krivanek, a tomato breeder for Monsanto, dons a white protective suit, wipes his feet on a mat of disinfectant and enters a greenhouse to survey 80,000 seedlings. He is armed with a spreadsheet that will tell him which ones are likely to resist a slew of diseases. The rest he will discard. Krivanek, 42, is part of a new generation of plant breeders who are transforming the 10,000-year history of plant selection. And their work has quietly become the cutting-edge technology among today’s major plant biotech companies. By Adrian Higgins



- Price transparency stinks in health care. Here’s how the industry wants to change that.--There's been much written in the past year about just how hard it is to get a simple price for a basic health-care procedure. The industry has heard the rumblings, and now it's responding. About two dozen industry stakeholders, including main lobbying groups for hospitals and health insurers, this morning are issuing new recommendations for how they can provide the cost of health-care services to patients. The focus on health-care price transparency — discussed in Steven Brill's 26,000-word opus on medical bills for Time last year — has intensified, not surprisingly, as people are picking up more of the tab for their health care. Employers are shifting more costs onto their workers, and many new health plans under Obamacare feature high out-of-pocket costs. By Jason Millman


- Is gulf cleanup over or not? BP and Coast Guard differ.--On Tuesday night, BP said that the “active cleanup” of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had been brought “to a close.” Later Tuesday night, the Coast Guard said the response to the spill isn’t over yet, “not by a long shot.” The dueling news releases came out just before the fourth anniversary of the April 20, 2010, blowout on BP’s Macondo well. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig caught fire and sank, 11 workers were killed and more than 4 million barrels of crude spilled into the gulf. BP, which has vowed to “make things right,” said it issued its press release because the Coast Guard ended “patrols and operations” along the final three miles of Louisiana shoreline, capping a four-year effort that BP said cost more than $14 billion. By Steven Mufson


- Yellen makes careful forecast on economy--In her first monetary policy speech as Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the nation’s economic recovery will be nearly complete within two years, but cautioned that the economy still needs the central bank’s support. The Fed’s own forecasts project that the unemployment rate will bottom out and inflation will pick up by the end of 2016, marking the first time in nearly a decade that the economy is running close to full steam. Still, Yellen noted those predictions are far from certain and argued that the Fed should remain flexible if conditions change. By Ylan Q. Mui


Copyright 2007