Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post  

-Morning Mix Headlines:  Colorado Symphony Orchestra embraces that Rocky Mountain high; Idaho veteran donates burial plot so fellow vet can be buried with same-sex spouse; Afghan couple cuts off nose, ears of cleric who allegedly raped their daughter; With U.S. Taco, company may have Día de Cultural Appropriation; Veterinarian accused of telling family ‘Sid’ was euthanized but then caging dog alive for blood; Rob Ford to ‘take a leave’ after another alleged crack-smoking video emerges; Hulu to redefine binge-watching with ads allowing you to order pizza while watching TV



- For Obama, trip shows his comfort and personal connections to Asia region--KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — During a working lunch here with top Malaysian officials last weekend, President Obama delved into the details of trade issues, nonproliferation efforts and the nuances of nasi goreng recipes in different Southeast Asian countries. The fact that Obama felt free to riff about fried rice preparations in the middle of a high-level diplomatic session speaks to an often overlooked part of his identity: His time spent in the region as a child, and his mother’s long residence there, makes Asia a central part of his life and personal history. While Obama often utters a few halting words in the language of the countries he visits, he tossed off Malaysian phrases with ease during a state dinner in Kuala Lumpur. By Juliet Eilperin


- U.S. officials say Syria is using remaining chemical weapons stockpile as leverage--The months-long effort to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program has ground to a halt because Syria is holding on to 27 tons of sarin precursor chemicals as leverage in a dispute with the international community over the future of facilities used to store the deadly agents, according to U.S. officials. Having turned over all but an estimated 8 percent of its chemical arsenal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Damascus missed a deadline Sunday to relinquish the remnants of its arsenal, which are stored in 16 containers in Damascus, U.S. officials said. By Ernesto Londoño and Greg Miller


- Iraqis go to polls amid conflict, security fears--RAMADI, Iraq — The trickle of voters made its way through the deserted streets, the city quiet except for the intermittent boom of mortar fire, a reminder that this is a country at war once more. About 12 million Iraqis voted Wednesday in the first elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a crucial test for democracy in Iraq amid fears that the western Sunni province of Anbar is slipping from the Shiite government’s grip as the army struggles to put down an insurgency. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term, launched a military offensive to crush hostile Sunni tribesmen and al-Qaeda-inspired militants in Anbar in January. By Loveday Morris


-Humanitarian aid situation in Syria deteriorating, United Nations warns--A U.N. Security Council resolution that passed with great fanfare nearly two months ago has done little to facilitate the shipment of humanitarian aid to a quarter of a million Syrians under siege in their country’s civil war, the top U.N. aid official said Wednesday. “Far from getting better, the situation is getting worse,” Valerie Amos, the undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, said after briefing the council. “All parties” in Syria are guilty of violating “the most fundamental human rights” of civilians and disregarding “the basic tenets of international law,” she said. By Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly





- Head of Pentagon intelligence agency forced out, officials say--The top two officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency said Wednesday that they will retire from those positions in the coming months, part of a leadership shake-up at an agency that is under pressure to trim budgets and shift focus after more than a decade of war, current and former U.S. officials said. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn is expected to end his tenure as DIA director this summer, about a year before he was scheduled to depart, according to officials who said Flynn faced pressure from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and others in recent months. His deputy, David Shedd, had been in his job since 2010. By Greg Miller and Adam Goldman


-The Fix: On issue after issue, voters favor Democrats. But that doesn’t mean they will vote for them.--The new Washington Post/ABC News poll published this week had little good news for Democrats. President Obama's approval ratings keep sinking, and as midterm elections have become increasingly nationalized, voters more and more use their opinions of the White House as a proxy for their opinions of their congressional and state elected officials. Strike one against Democrats. Even the Republicans who hate Republicans are voting Republican this year. Strike two. Seventy-one percent of Americans think the economy is not so good or poor. Views on the economy historically play a large role in predicting whether the party in the White House is doomed to fail or likely to prevail. Strike three for the Democrats. By Jaime Fuller


-Opinion by Dana Milbank: Harry Reid has a Koch problem--The time has come to stop the denial and to admit that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a Koch problem. More than 100 times on the Senate floor in the past few months, the Senate’s top Democrat has invoked Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into conservative causes and campaigns. After a brief respite during the Easter recess (during which time Reid turned his ire to the “domestic terrorists” who supported Cliven Bundy in Reid’s home state of Nevada) the senator has relapsed into a full-blown Koch habit.


-For White House reporter Lesley Clark, so close and yet so far--Reporter Lesley Clark once got close enough to President Obama at an international summit to notice that he was chewing gum. “I think it was that nicotine stuff,” she recalls. Okay, not exactly a major scoop. But the point, for White House reporters like Clark, is that such up-close glimpses of the president are rare. Outside of one of Obama’s irregular news conferences, and outside of official ceremonies, correspondents don’t see the president much, and almost never in ways in which he isn’t scripted, choreographed or otherwise camera-ready. By Paul Farhi



- Over four days, the Donald Sterling story led to seismic changes to Los Angeles basketball and the NBA--LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers were enjoying a rare day off, basking in the momentum from a playoff victory one night earlier and enjoying the comforts of a posh hotel near Union Square in San Francisco. There was no way to know that nearly 400 miles to the south, the team’s world was about to unravel. The tip came into TMZ’s Marina del Rey offices, and though the gossip Web site would not identify the source, by 10 p.m. Pacific Time — 1 a.m. Saturday on the East Coast — the scoop was posted online. By time the sun rose, basketball in Los Angeles had already reached a point of no return. By Rick Maese

PostPartisan: What Donald Sterling did right on race, by Jonathan Capehart


-For more states, execution means improvisation as drug supplies dwindle--Oklahoma’s bungled execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett on Tuesday was, in some ways, a medical experiment gone wrong. In recent years, as pharmaceutical companies have halted sales of drugs used in executions, as legal challenges have mounted and medical groups have vowed to ostracize doctors who participate in sanctioned killings, states have found themselves winging it when it comes to carrying out lethal injections. In their scramble to carry out death sentences, prison officials from different states have made secret handoffs of lethal-injection drugs. By Brady Dennis and Lena H. Sun



- U.S. economy stalled during the first quarter, but Fed, analysts retain their optimism--The U.S. economy hit the brakes again despite hopes that 2014 would be the breakout year for the recovery. According to government data released Wednesday, economic growth was stagnant during the first three months of the year. Gross domestic product — the measure of all goods and services the country produces — grew at a measly 0.1 percent annual rate, below even the most modest forecasts. That represents the slowest pace of growth since the nation was hanging off the “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012. With Washington’s budget battles resolved for now and no major federal spending cuts on deck, economists believed that would clear the way for the recovery to kick into second gear. By Ylan Q. Mui


-The Switch:  61 percent of people who knew about Heartbleed actually did something about it--The Heartbleed security issue was one of the worst security problems we've seen on the Internet in recent memory — a major flaw in the way that the majority of the Web secured sensitive data.  But after years of reports about security bugs and several months of hearing about major data breaches, the challenge was communicating just how serious it was to consumers. This time, the warnings seem to have worked, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. In a survey published Wednesday, the research group found that around 60 percent of American adults — and 64 percent of those online — were aware of the problem. By Hayley Tsukayama


-Questions and answers about the Pepco sale--Pepco said Wednesday it was being acquired by nuclear energy giant Exelon for about $6.8 billion in cash, a deal that could affect more than 2 million customers from Washington and its Maryland suburbs to the Delaware shore and New Jersey. Here’s what you need to know if you’re a Pepco customer...


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