Shorter Question Everything
• PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Gunmen killed five female teachers and two other people on Tuesday in an ambush on a van carrying workers home from their jobs at a community center in northwest Pakistan, officials said. The van was transporting teachers and aid workers from the center in conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Two health workers, one man and one woman, were also killed and the driver was wounded. The attack was a reminder of the risks faced by educators and aid workers, especially women, in an area where Islamic militants often target women and girls trying to get an education. Many militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province oppose female education and have blown up schools and killed female educators as a way to discourage girls from getting an education.
• The House late Tuesday gave final approval to a Senate-backed bill that will let taxes rise for the richest Americans, shield the middle class from tax hikes and extend emergency unemployment benefits, ending Washington’s long drama over the “fiscal cliff.” The dramatic vote followed a wild day in which the critical measure was assumed for several hours to be headed for defeat because of widespread Republican objections. The vote was 257 to 167, with 85 Republicans joining with nearly all of the chamber’s Democrats. President Obama, whose vice president, Joe Biden, crafted the deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was preparing to address the nation.
• An enormous Shell Oil offshore drilling rig ran aground on an island in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday night after it broke free from tow ships in rough seas, officials said. The Kulluk is one of two rigs that Shell has used to drill test wells off the North Slope of Alaska as part of the company’s ambitious and expensive effort to open Arctic waters to oil production. The rig, the Kulluk, which was used for test drilling in the Arctic last summer, is carrying about 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid, the officials said. The 266-foot diameter rig ran aground on the east coast of Sitkalidak Island, an uninhabited island that is separated by the Sitkalidak Strait from the far larger Kodiak Island to the west. The nearest town, Old Harbor, is across the strait on Kodiak Island; it has a population of about 200 people.
• Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in an induced coma and on life support in a Havana hospital, sources told Spanish newspaper ABC. At the same time, Vice President Nicolas Maduro urged Venezuelans not to believe rumors about Chavez’s health. He told Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur Chavez was “aware of the complex and delicate situation he is going through” and said Chavez had “the same strength as always” when Maduro visited him the past few days.
• The family of a Turkish air force officer killed when his plane was shot down by Syria has filed a criminal complaint. Monday’s filing has triggered an investigation by the public prosecutor in Malatya, the Anatolian News Agency reported. The office has requested autopsy reports and other information. The family of Lt. Hasan Huseyin charges Turkish officials share responsibility for his death and that of his fellow-pilot, Capt. Gokhan Ertan. In the complaint, the family said the two men were deliberately sent on a dangerous mission.