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Militants occupied a popular hotel in the city of Bamako, the capital of Mali, on Nov. 20, holding at least 170 people hostage for nearly 24 hours. The militants killed 22 people and injured 14 before Mali security forces, with the assistance of visiting foreign soldiers from the US and France, recaptured the hotel. Two militants were killed and two more were detained.

Two Islamist groups claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials could not confirm either claim.

The US Department of State warns of the risk of traveling to Kenya. Those considering traveling there should be aware of recently heightened threats of terrorism and of the high rate of violent crime in some areas. 

Attacks by grenades and improvised explosive devices have occurred throughout Kenya. In 2014 and 2015, the Mombasa area had at least eight such attacks. The US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats from al-Qaeda and its affiliate al-Shabaab aimed at Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area.  

In response to the growing threat of ISIL, or Daesh, and other terrorist organizations, the US Department of State released a Worldwide Travel Alert on Nov. 23 warning that multiple countries and sites could become targets of terrorism. 

The alert is in effect until Feb. 24, 2016, during which time the Department recommends that travelers (1) monitor media and information sources local to the travel destination, (2) be prepared for additional security and screenings, (3) stay in touch with family members and ensure they know how to reach the travelers and (4) follow the instructions...

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For the month of October 2015, a record number of migrants, 218,394, entered Europe across the Mediterranean Sea, emigrating from North Africa or the Middle East. The vast majority, 210,000, entered Europe through Greece. The total number of migrants in October was nearly equal to the number of migrants who arrived in Europe in all of 2014. 

In all of 2015, nearly 750,000 migrants and refugees made their way to Europe, mostly to escape conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Somalia. Many made the crossing in perilous conditions. As of press time, an estimated 3,440 people had died in the...

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 In Indonesia, more than 121,000 fires, primarily on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, burned more than 1.7 million hectares of forest and jungle from September through October 2015. Most were set illegally by farmers and agricultural companies to clear land. 

The fires created unhealthy air conditions in Indonesia as well as in neighboring Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Air conditions caused by the fires were blamed for the deaths of 10 people and for causing respiratory problems in more than 500,000 others in the region.

On Nov. 3, fires on the slopes...

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Record-breaking rains in late November and early December caused flooding in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Throughout the state, at least 260 people were killed, with more than 12,000 stranded and in need of rescue. 

In Chennai, a city of 6.7 million, flooding shut down power to most of the city and closed the airport and main rail station. 

A dam retaining wastewater from an iron mine in Minas Gerais state in southeastern Brazil broke on Nov. 6, spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of water and mud into local valleys. At least 13 people were killed and more than 500 homes were destroyed. Additionally, the water is believed to have contained toxins from the mining operation. 

Flooding occurred up to four miles away from the dam site. The water eventually entered the Rio Doce before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

Two other dams located at the same mine were damaged during this incident and, as of press time,...

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Torrential rains in late November caused extensive flooding in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, killing at least nine people. In Saudi Arabia, flooding occurred in the capital, Riyadh, as well as in Jeddah and Medina. In Qatar, 3.13 inches of rain fell in the capital, Doha, on Nov. 25, more than the nation’s yearly average of 1.97 inches. 

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