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Just days after members of the Taliban massacred 148 individuals—mostly children—at a school in Pakistan, the country’s military launched a campaign in the tribal region of the country, killing at least 77 militants. In the aftermath of the violence at the school, officials have also said that they plan on canceling a recent bail agreement for one of the individuals behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Justice officials in the country also announced that six convicted terrorists, will now receive the death penalty ... Discuss

News agencies are reporting a disturbing story out of Nigeria, where the military has sentenced 54 of its own soldiers to death, after they say the men refused to fight Islamic militant group Boko Haram. Officials found them guilty of mutiny, and they now could face a firing squad. The soldiers have denied the charge. Troops in the country have regularly complained of a shortage of weapons and supplies and feeling outmatched by Boko Haram, a brutal organization that has killed more than 2,000 people this year alone in their campaigns of mass murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and arson ... Discuss

The Death Penalty Information Center has released new findings that show capital punishment in America is on the decline. In 2014, 35 inmates were executed—that’s the lowest number in more than 20 years. Just for some context, in 1999, when executions were at their peak, 98 death-row inmates were executed. Courts also issued the fewest number of death sentences in nearly 40 years. Even though a majority of Americans still favor the death penalty, its approval rating is down to 59 percent from 70 percent in the '90s. Along with controversies surrounding the drugs used in the lethal injections, the center’s executive director told NBC that part of the decline is because so many death row inmates were later been found innocent: “The realization that mistakes have been made, that innocent people are still being freed, has made juries hesitant” ... Discuss

Yesterday, Taliban gunmen ambushed a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 145 people, 126 of whom were children. The awful details are emerging today, as Pakistan enters a three-day mourning period. The Taliban has said that they targeted the school because they wanted to stop the students from ever joining the Pakistani army and targeting militants.

Surviving students recounted the horrors of gunmen running through the hallways, shouting "God is great!" as they sprayed bullets and shouted instructions to each other about where children were hiding. Eventually, Pakistani soldiers reached the school and cornered the Taliban militants, who were eventually killed. It's unclear whether they were killed by the soldiers or took their own lives.

"Even the children are dying on the frontline in the war against terror," said Khawaja Asif, Pakistan's defense minister. "The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry." As the government begins to hunt down those who planned the attack, they lifted the country's moratorium on the death penalty ... Discuss

Brad and Dallas Woodhouse are two pundits (one Democrat, one Republican—a house divided) who were going at it tooth-and-nail on C-SPAN when the host turned the show over to a live call-in guest, as the show regularly does. But "Joy from Down South" had a lot more than just politics on her mind when she rang on live TV. “Oh God, it’s Mom,” Dallas said, as he and his brother suddenly looked supremely sheepish and the whole thing became an instant classic of live television.

“You’re right, I’m from Down South,” she said. “And I’m your MOTHER.”

Joy should be America's mother, after the parental warnings she unleashes on her two boys, encouraging them to resolve whatever arguments they might have right now. “I’m hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas," she says, sternly. "I would really like a peaceful Christmas." Let this be a lesson to her two boys and to all of us... Discuss

Every year, Webster takes it upon itself to come up with a Word of the Year, utilizing some mysterious alchemy that sets one word apart from the pack. This year, they selected a word based on its "significant increases in lookups this year over last on Merriam-Webster.com" and "spikes of concentrated interest." And that word is, drumroll ...culture.

[DJ Record scratch.]

Culture? Like, mankind's oldest sign of collective identity? Something that both predated and will outlast the wheel? That culture? Did it have a particularly good year that only the people of Merriam-Webster know about? Where did this alleged "spike of concentrated interest" come from? So many questions, but we don't get to choose the word of the year (The runner-up is "nostalgia" which also seems just about as old as time itself, but at least it's entered sort of a boom season, so that makes a little more sense). Congratulations, culture. Here's hoping for big things from you in 2015 ... Discuss

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