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

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

A truly awful story is developing in Pakistan, where authorities say that Taliban gunmen raided a school, opened fire and killed at least 126 people. According to reports, most of them were children between the ages of 12 and 16. More than 100 others have been injured. At this point, there are conflicting reports about how many were killed during the attack and how many Taliban militants were involved.

Military forces engaged in a gunfight with the militants and said four of the attackers have been killed. Numerous explosions were heard during the attack on the school, and suicide bombers may have also been involved. The raid on the military-run school comes just months after another “splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban” killed 81 people at a Christian Sunday School. Taliban spokesmen have said that the brutal attacks—which target innocent civilians—are revenge for military offensive campaigns against militants in the country ... Discuss

A gunman is currently holding an unknown number of hostages at a café in Sydney, Australia, hours after seizing the business in one of the city’s busiest areas. At least five of the hostages managed to escape. Though all of his exact motivations are not clear, the gunman has reportedly demanded an ISIS flag, and early into the seize, forced hostages to hold a different flag that read “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God” in Arabic. The gunman has reportedly released a video, demanding to speak with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the phone, and also claiming to have planted bombs around the city. Australia is one of several nations taking part in a coalition fighting the spread of the Islamic militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a statement telling residents, "Our thoughts and prayers must above all go out to the individuals who are caught up in this,” but also urging them to continue their day-to-day lives as normal, as police work to free the remaining hostages ...

[Update] Police have identified the gunman as Haron Monis, a 49-year-old man who has, in the past, been charged with being an accessory to his ex-wife's murder.

[Update 2] Details are still coming in, but a video on the ground shows that police in Sydney have stormed a café were a gunman had taken numerous hostages. Early reports say at least one person has been shot.

[Update 3] Police have confirmed that the siege is over, but we are still waiting on confirmation for casualties. Discuss

Time magazine has named international “Ebola Fighters” as their 2014 Person of the Year, recognizing their “tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving.” The health care workers who fought the Ebola outbreak in West Africa were among eight somewhat controversial finalists chosen by the magazine for the title.

Along with collective groups like the members of the Ferguson protest movement and the international Ebola caregivers, the list primarily consisted of business and political leaders—some of whom are pretty polarizing: Russian President Vladimir Putin (noted for, among other things, his role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and overseeing the controversial Sochi Olympics in 2014), Apple CEO Tim Cook, President of the Iraqi Kurdish Region Masoud Barzani (“who has deftly threaded the region’s push for independence with the ongoing fight against [ISIS]”), NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell (who has come under fire for his handling of domestic abuse by players), CEO of Chinese commerce site Alibaba, Jack Ma and Taylor Swift (for pulling her music from Spotify) ... Discuss

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Canon Andrew White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” said that Christianity in Iraq is in danger of being eradicated by ISIS. White, who is the leader of Iraq’s only Anglican Church, is now in the U.K., forced to flee after ISIS placed a $57 million bounty on his life. As the story notes, his fears are backed up by recent surveys that show just how dramatically Christianity has declined in the country under the persecution of ISIS: “In 1991 there were 1.5m Christians in Iraq. Today there may be as few as 300,000.” White told the paper:

We are their biggest target. Us and the Yazidis. Christians can’t live safely in any area of Iraq. They don’t believe they have any future there … People [in the West] are not waking up and listening to the reality of what is going on. It is a life-and-death situation, and it is the life and death of our people. Here we are sitting in green country England where many people go to church on Sunday. But it’s a different world. Their biggest question is: ‘Should I have fish or chicken for lunch?’

White says he wants to one day return to Baghdad, but hopes people in the West see how desperate the situation has become for the victims of ISIS: “These are our people. We are Christians. And so are they” ... Discuss