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Explaining the Paris massacre

The Eiffel Tower illuminated in the French colors in honor of the victims of the attacks on Friday in Paris, November 16, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)"The whole world is a battlefield." So states retired U.S. Army Colonel Anthony Shaffer, a former U.S. intelligence officer, in response to the Paris massacre. What do Christians need to know about this crisis?

What has changed?

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald: "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." For many years, Western nations have been fighting jihadist organizations such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. How does the Paris massacre change this global reality?

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The world responds to Paris: how should we?

A couple look at the sails of the Sydney Opera House that are lit in the colors of the French flag following the terrorist attacks in Paris, Sydney, Australia, November 14, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus found that circumstances don't make a man, they only reveal him to himself. How he responds in the moment is the culmination of what he has made of and done with his previous moments. In the wake of last Friday's Paris attacks, varieties of responses have surfaced, revealing the make-up of certain figures in our cultural milieu.

John Oliver had a heated response. Host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," Oliver went on an expletive-laced tirade at the start of his show. "It's hardly been 48 hours and much is still unknown, but there are a few things we can say for certain," said Oliver Sunday on his show. "And this is when it actually helps to be on HBO, where those things can be said without restraint. After the many necessary and appropriate moments of silence, I'd like to offer you a moment of premium cable profanity."

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Russians caught doping: the power of groupthink

Russia's Mariya Savinova wins the Gold medal in the 800 meters athletics event in the London 2012 Olympics Games in London, UK on August 11, 2012 (Credit: AP Photo/ Henri Szwarc)In Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne suffers the indignity of bearing a mark due to her past indiscretions and a community's archaic statutes. With her highly intuitive daughter Pearl guiding her and buoying her spirits throughout the narrative, Hester's rebelliousness continually conflicts with the groupthink of this Puritan, hypocritical community. Her insightful questions and keen responses prod the status quo, slowly revealing the shallowness of the homogeneous group. Without her antagonistic voice, the community's behavior was justified.

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups by sports officials and track and field athletes, including Olympic medalists. This special report depicted a culture of systemic cheating, with secret services involved. It found that neither the All-Russia Athletics Federation (Araf), the Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada), nor the Russian Athletics Federation were complying with anti-doping procedures.

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Is China's new 'two child' policy too little too late?

A man and woman twirl a jump rope for a girl at a park in Beijing, October 31, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)News broke late last week that China would begin allowing couples to have two children, a dramatic change from the controversial "one child" policy it implemented in the 1970's. Back then, the nation was facing a potential crisis as its population was growing at an unsustainable rate. Since its inception, the Chinese government estimates that the rule prevented roughly 400 million births through forced abortions, sterilization, and large fines for those who violated the policy, helping to stabilize the country's economy for a number of years.

However, as so often happens, the solution simply created a new set of problems. As China's demographics continue to shift towards the elderly—20% of the population is projected to be 65 or older by 2035— the country simply lacks enough people to replace the workforce production lost as the nation's largest generations transition into retirement.

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Earthquake death toll in Middle East at 360 and rising

People rush an injured woman to a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, after a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake in northern Afghanistan rocked cities across South Asia, with strong tremors that were felt in Kabul, New Delhi and Islamabad and in the Pakistani capital, walls swayed back and forth and people poured out of office buildings in a panic, reciting verses from the Quran, October 26, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday afternoon. 360 have since been confirmed dead with another 1,800 injured and those figures continue to rise as governments on both sides of the border get a better grasp of the situation. It has proven difficult to accurately assess the damage as many of those hit hardest by the quake and subsequent aftershocks are in rural villages an hour or two from proper roads. A litany of landslides has further complicated matters, making many of those roads impassable.

Casualties are higher on the Pakistan side of the border as the regions there most affected by the earthquake were more densely populated than in Afghanistan. And if the current situation was not already sufficiently grim, snow has begun to fall as temperatures drop in many of the afflicted areas. Even those fortunate enough to still have homes to go back to are understandably hesitant to do so for fear of the structures collapsing in an aftershock or from previously inflicted damage. As a result, adequate shelter from the elements is as great a need as food, water, and other essentials. Four days of heavy rain have not made the situation any better.

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