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Gunmen seize 170 hostages in Mali hotel

People run to flee from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, where assailants have taken hostages in a brazen assault involving grenades, November 20, 2015 (Credit: AP Images/Harouna Traore)Mali is a country in West Africa. A former French colony, it has been battling Islamic militants for years.

Now numerous reports indicate that gunmen have attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, taking 170 hostages and killing at least three. Malian special forces are responding at this hour; state television is reporting that eighty hostages have been freed.

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Ringleader of Paris attacks has been killed

Undated file photo from ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or Islamic State group or Daesh (Daech), shows Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud or Abou Omar Soussi who is suspected by French officials of being the man behind Paris terrorist attacks (Credit: Sipa via AP Images) The Paris massacre continues to dominate world news. CNN is reporting this morning that the suspected ringleader in the attacks has been killed. Lawmakers in France have approved a plan to extend by three months the state of emergency declared the night of the attacks. And China has now pledged to cooperate with the international community in fighting ISIS. Clearly, a global alliance will be needed to defeat this global threat.

But as this morning's New York Times notes, such an alliance against ISIS "may be easier said than done." For instance, the U.S. and Russia remain deeply divided over a host of issues, including Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Whether the powers can work together in a meaningful way remains to be seen.

But what politicians cannot do, the Spirit of God can.

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Charlie Sheen is HIV-positive

Charlie Sheen talks about his HIV-positive diagnosis with Matt Lauer (Credit: Today show)"I am here to admit that I am HIV-positive." With this admission on Tuesday's TODAY ShowCharlie Sheen hoped to "put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks, subtruths, and very harmful, mercurial stories that are threatening the health of many others, which couldn't be farther from the truth."

The story surfaced on Monday, when the National Enquirer reported that the actor had contracted the virus. The tabloid also claimed that Sheen had risked the lives of several sexual partners and others who didn't know he was infected, included his former wives.

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70 million prayed for Paris last weekend

Indian children light candles and offer prayers for victims of Friday’s attacks in Paris at a school in Jammu, India, November 16, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Channi Anand)"The whole world is a battlefield." That's how retired U.S. Colonel Anthony Shaffer, a former U.S. intelligence officer, describes the consequences of the Paris massacre. How does this tragedy change the global jihadist threat? How can Christians respond?

Col. Shaffer estimates that the Paris attacks cost ISIS less than $50,000 in total. They were perpetrated by a small number of militants who were already in place, used weapons they could obtain easily, and struck a confined urban area with limited security. The stadium, concert hall, and restaurants they targeted could not be defended easily. All contained many civilians with the potential of mass casualties.

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We are at war: 2 lessons from the Paris massacre

Flowers are set in a window shattered by a bullet at the Carillon cafe in Paris, France, two days after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions while French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay)"Friday's Paris strike is not just another in a growing cavalcade of terrorist assaults; instead it signals a tactical change in Islamic terrorist strategies—one that militants have been moving towards for years." Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald is right.

In 2008, coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai killed more than 175 people. They showed that a small number of suicidal jihadists with sufficient ammunition and preparation could devastate a confined urban area. Militants used the same strategy five years later in Nairobi, Kenya, killing sixty-seven people at a shopping mall.

Last month, a double suicide bombing at a peace rally in the Turkish capital killed more than 100 people. The day before the Paris massacre, a double suicide attack on a crowded urban area in Beirut, Lebanon killed more than forty. Authorities believe a jihadist arrested last week may have been planning a similar attack in Istanbul. Now we have seen the effectiveness of this barbaric strategy in Paris.

What do France, Turkey, and Lebanon have in common?

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