Fiscal cliff — President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner sought an elusive compromise Tuesday to prevent economy-damaging tax increases on the middle class at year’s end, conferring by phone after a secretive exchange of proposals. Details were sparse and evidence of significant progress scarcer still, although officials said the president had offered to reduce his initial demand for $1.6 trillion in higher tax revenue over a decade to $1.4 trillion. There was no indication he was relenting on his insistence — strongly opposed by most Republicans — that tax rates rise at upper incomes.
Michigan — As chants of angry protesters filled the Capitol, Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to right-to-work legislation, dealing a devastating and once-unthinkable defeat to organized labor in a state that has been a bastion of the movement for generations. The state where the United Auto Workers was founded and labor has long been a political titan will join 23 others with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.
Syria — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country’s legitimate representative, in an attempt to intensify the pressure on President Bashar Assad to give up his nearly two-year-long bloody struggle to stay in power. It marks a new phase of U.S. engagement in a bitter conflict that has claimed at least 40,000 lives, threatened to destabilize the region and defied all outside attempts to end it.
Egypt — Most Egyptian judges rejected any role Tuesday in overseeing the country’s constitutional referendum, a move likely to cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the disputed charter. The nation’s worst crisis since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster nearly two years ago also forced the government to put off a crucial deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan, shattering any hope for recovery of the country’s ailing economy anytime soon. On one side of the divide is President Mohammed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood and their ultra-conservative Islamist allies, against an opposition camp of liberals, leftists and Christians who contend the draft charter restricts freedoms and gives Islamists vast influence over the running of the country.
Concealed weapons — In a major victory for gun rights advocates, a federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois — the only remaining state where carrying concealed weapons is entirely illegal — and gave lawmakers 180 days to write a law that legalizes it. In overturning a lower court decision, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban was unconstitutional and suggested a law legalizing concealed carry is long overdue in a state where gun advocates had vowed to challenge the ban on every front.
Mali — Soldiers arrested Mali’s prime minister and forced him to resign before dawn on Tuesday, showing that the military remains the real power in this troubled West African nation despite handing back authority to civilians after a coup in March. The prime minister’s ouster comes as the United Nations considers backing a military intervention in Mali, a once-stable country now in constant turmoil. By late Tuesday, a new prime minister had been named, but the developments drew international rebuke and raised questions about the viability of the military operation, which would use the country’s military to try to take back Mali’s north from Islamic extremists.
Treatment for Mandela — Former President Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized since Saturday, has had a recurrence of a lung infection and is responding to treatment, the office of South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, announced Tuesday. It was the first indication of Mandela’s medical condition since he was flown to Pretoria and taken to the hospital for unspecified tests over the weekend. It is his second hospitalization this year; in February, he was checked into a hospital for tests to address a chronic stomach complaint, the government said at the time.
Chavez recovering — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was recovering in Cuba on Tuesday after an operation targeting an aggressive cancer that has defied multiple treatments and has prompted the socialist leader to name a political successor. Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke on Venezuelan television after the surgery, saying that “it’s been a complex operation." He indicated that the surgery lasted more than six hours and said it was completed “correctly and successfully." Maduro, who was designated by the president on Saturday as his preferred political heir, made the announcement in Caracas flanked by other Chavez aides and military commanders.
— From wire reports