Chatter: Polio workers shot dead in Pakistan




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Need to know:
Five people were shot dead in Pakistan today as they helped vaccinate children against polio.

The five women, all Pakistani nationals, were killed in coordinated attacks across Karachi. They were all volunteers in the World Health Organization's nationwide drive to eradicate polio via immunisation, a drive which has now been suspended in the Karachi area.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the killings. But the obvious suspects are the Taliban, who have previously threatened anyone involved in the "infidel" campaign against polio, which is endemic in Pakistan. Whoever it was is responsible not only for five murders, but for increasing thousands of children's risk of catching a crippling disease that we know can be prevented.

Want to know:
Children in Newtown, Connecticut, are back in school today for the first time since Friday's mass shooting.

The classrooms of Sandy Hook Elementary, of course, remain closed. Two of their former occupants were buried yesterday; more funerals will be held today.

While Newtown mourns, in Washington, President Barack Obama has begun at least talking about how to control guns. A working group led by VP Joe Biden will be tasked with proposing ways to begin reducing the thousands of shooting deaths and injuries that occur in the US each year.

It is, as the White House says, "a complex problem that will require a complex solution." Here's how other countries dealt with it in the wake of their own tragedies. And here's what they make of America's latest one.

Dull but important:
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has been re-elected as the head of the governing African National Congress party.

It's hardly a surprise. Zuma's only challenger was Kgalema Motlanthe, who until last week was the president's deputy. It was big news he even ran; it would have taken a huge upset for him to win.

As it was, Zuma was returned by a landslide. He'll head the ANC, alongside new deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, for five more years. And he who leads the ANC, almost inevitably leads South Africa.

Just because:
If anyone should be guaranteed a place in the Vatican's good books, you'd think it would be nuns.

But no. It seems that American nuns, known for their progressive leadership, are feeling Rome pull tighter on the reins. Inspired by the call for a modern and engaged church preached at the Second Vatican Council, the sisters have for years led missions to some of the poorest and most desperate corners of the world – places where they often find themselves up against strict Catholic doctrine on birth control, homosexuality and other thorny issues.

Now, 50 years after Vatican II, their gospel of social justice has brought them into a standoff with the church's conservative male hierarchy. In a special series, GlobalPost reports on what theologians are calling "a new inquisition."

Strange but true:
Finally, an end – though not a happy one – to the mystery of what killed Egypt's last pharaoh, 3,000 years ago.

The first ever scans of King Ramesses III's mummy have revealed that his throat was slit. They can't confirm who did it, though: scholars suggest it could have been members of his harem, or was it his son Pentaware in the palace library with a dagger?

Stay tuned for more revelations – in, oh, another few millenia – as part of what has to be the world's slowest-moving whodunnit.