Election returns weaken Netanyahu — In a stunning setback, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line bloc fared worse than expected in a parliamentary election Tuesday, exit polls showed, possibly forcing the incumbent Israeli leader to invite surprisingly strong moderate rivals into his government and soften his line toward the Palestinians. TV exit polls showed the hard-liners with about 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament, a bare majority, and the counts could change as actual votes are tallied. The unofficial TV results had Netanyahu winning only 31 seats, though he combined his Likud Party with the far-right Yisrael Beitenu for the voting. Running separately four years ago, the two won 42 seats. He expected to increase that total by running together, but the combined list’s poll results dipped steadily throughout the three-month campaign.
British grandmother sentenced to death — An Indonesian court sentenced a British grandmother to death on Tuesday for smuggling cocaine worth $2.5 million in her suitcase onto the resort island of Bali — even though prosecutors had sought only a 15-year sentence. Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, wept when judges handed down the sentence and declined to speak to reporters on her way back to prison, covering her face with a floral scarf. Sandiford’s lawyer said she would appeal, a process that can take several years. A verdict is expected in the trial of Sandiford’s alleged accomplice, Briton Julian Anthony Pounder, next Tuesday.
IRS suspends tax-preparer regulation —The Internal Revenue Service has suspended its regulation of tax-return preparers in response to a federal court ruling that said the agency lacked authority to run the program. Hundreds of thousands of tax-return preparers as a result won’t have to register with the federal government, pass a competency test or meet continuing-education requirements. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington invalidated the regulations in a decision Jan. 18 and enjoined the IRS from enforcing them.
Fight leads to gunfire at college —A fight between two people led to a shooting at a Texas community college, where a maintenance man was caught in the crossfire and wounded, officials said. One of the people involved in the fight had a student ID for Lone Star College in Houston, and both people were wounded and hospitalized, Harris County Sheriff’s Maj. Armando Tello said. A fourth person also was taken to a hospital for a medical condition, he said. The two people involved in the fight are considered people of interest, Tello said.
Japan tries to calm island dispute — A member of Japan’s coalition government arrived Tuesday in Beijing, carrying a letter for the head of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, from the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to try to help calm the escalating dispute between the two countries over contested islands in the East China Sea, Japanese officials said. Separately, the Philippines announced Tuesday that it would formally challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea before a United Nations tribunal that oversees the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Frozen soda becomes road hazard — Everyone knows soda can be bad for your teeth. Sometimes, it can apparently threaten the morning commute, too. Police say two tractor-trailers, one of them carrying 2-liter bottles of soda collided on a highway outside Reading, Pa., around 12:40 a.m. Tuesday. Hundreds of gallons of sugary drink spilled onto the highway and froze in the frigid early morning temperatures and the resulting slick conditions caused authorities to shut down the highway for more than five hours. Traffic was detoured until the road reopened shortly after 6 a.m.