JIHADISTS ATTACK MALI HOTEL
Ten gunmen screaming "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greater") stormed the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel this morning in the Mali capital of Bamako, initially taking at least 140 guests and 30 staff members hostage, Reuters reports. Eighty hostages have since been freed, but citing an unnamed UN official, CNN reports that at least three people have been killed in the attack, two Malians and a French national. Some hostages who were able to recite verses of the Koran were reportedly freed. A police assault is currently underway. Follow the latest updates on the BBC live blog.
EU LEADERS CONSIDER TIGHTER BORDERS
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/LaPresse/ZUMA
EU interior ministers are holding emergency talks about Europe's border security today, with France's Bernard Cazeneuve urging the bloc to "wake up, organise itself and defend itself," France 24 reports. Details of how last Friday's attacks in Paris were prepared as well as their aftermath revealed major security failures in the open-border Schengen Area. At least some of the terrorists were able to travel to and from Syria unnoticed, even those with an outstanding international arrest warrant such as mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a police raid yesterday. The leaders are expected to agree to tighter controls for Schengen's external borders. According to Politico, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are also considering forming a mini-Schengen of their own.
- Security footage has emerged showing Abaaoud in a Paris Metro station after Friday night's attacks, not far from where one the cars used for the attacks was found. Read more from Reuters.
- According to Le Monde, body parts belonging to a third person, a woman, have been found in the rubble left after Wednesday's police operation in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. Investigators also found a passport belonging to Hasna Ait Boulahcen, Abaaoud's cousin, who blew herself up during the raid.
- The French military reports that French Army applications have tripled since Friday's attacks.
- On the Syrian front, Kuwait's Interior Ministry announced the country's security agencies had busted an international cell that was sending air defense systems and funds to ISIS. Some of the weaponry was coming from Ukraine and transported to Syria via Turkey, Al Jazeera reports.
- Turkish authorities, meanwhile, said they had seized two tons of the powerful amphetamine Captagon, or 11 million pills, near the Syrian border, AFP reports. The drug is a significant source of revenue and often dubbed as the drug of choice for jihadists. A recent report in The Washington Postexplained that it allows fighters to "stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon."
- Take a look at the covers of weekly news magazines around the world being published today, a week after the attacks.
ON THIS DAY
International justice was born 70 years ago today at the biggest trial in history, in Nuremberg. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.
U.S. VOTES TO TOUGHEN REFUGEE SCREENING
The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to increase screening mechanisms for Syrian and Iraqi refugees who want to enter the country, with 289 votes in favor and 137 against, The Hillreports. The vote came amid fears that terrorists could enter the U.S. posing as refugees, with the Obama administration planning to welcome 10,000 asylum seekers. The newspaper reports that last-minute lobbying against the bill actually had the reverse effect on many Democrats.
Miners in Botswana have discovered the world's second-largest. gem-quality diamond, a 1,111-carat stone that an expert told AFP has "the potential to be one very expensive diamond." It is second only to the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond found in South Africa in 1905. It was later separated into nine stones, some of which are part of the British Crown Jewels.
NEW CASE OF EBOLA IN LIBERIA
The World Health Organization announced this morning a confirmed new case of Ebola in Liberia, which was declared free of the virus in September.
The power of "Big Tobacco" in a state-run industry in China is surprisingly similar to the hold that U.S. cigarette makers long enjoyed. Indeed, Chinese anti-smoking advocates are decades behind Western counterparts, Caixin reports. "According to a recent WHO project report, China has more than 300 million smokers. That is nearly a quarter of its population. Each year over 1.4 million Chinese smokers die of tobacco-related diseases while more than 100,000 people are killed by second-hand smoke. Not only is China the world's largest tobacco manufacturer and has the largest number of smokers, smoking still exists in 70% of workplaces and 82% of restaurants, while tobacco ads are omnipresent in Chinese people's daily lives."
Read the full article, Why China Has So Many Smokers: Tobacco Lobby, Chinese-Style.
ISRAELI SPY RELEASED FROM U.S. JAIL
Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted and sentenced to life in prison for spying on behalf of Israel, has been released after spending 30 years in jail. But he won't be allowed to leave the country and move to Israel as he requested, The New York Timesreports.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SALMON TO HIT U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved the sale and consumption of salmon genetically modified to grow faster, making it the first genetically altered animal declared safe to eat, NBC News reports. Environmental groups have denounced the decision, saying that "frankenfish" shouldn't be approved. The FDA also said the genetically modified salmon wouldn't be labeled differently from naturally grown fish.
NEW ZEALAND FLAG REFERENDUM
New Zealand voters have begun receiving voting papers to say which of the four proposed flags they'd like to see replace their current one. Kiwis have less than a month to return their votes, and will later be asked to choose between the prefered alternative and the old flag, which is often confused with that of neighboring island Australia. But according to the New Zealand Herald and Prime Minister John Key, most people still prefer the original.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
There is another dimension, one where the Beatles recorded a 13th album called Everyday Chemistry. Or at least that's what this story says.