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A terrorist group too violent for al-Qaeda?

Free Syrian Army fighters in Raqqa, in north-central Syria, on Friday. In mid-August, extremists from ISIS drove an FSA unit from the city (Credit: Reuters) Have you heard of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?  They were formed in April 2013 out of al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Iraq, and have since become a major player in the Syrian rebellion.

Western observers are not sure of the group's size, but believe that it includes thousands of fighters, including many foreign jihadists.  Non-Syrians apparently constitute a majority of ISIS's elite fighters and are disproportionately represented in its leadership.  It gained control of the city of Raqqa in March 2013 and is active in a number of northern towns close to the Turkish border.  Wherever the group gains power, it is known for beheading enemies and oppressing the population with its rigid legalism.

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Nelson Mandela: 'I am the captain of my soul'

Nelson Mandela listens to the State of The Nation address being delivered by the current President Jacob Zuma at Parliament in Cape Town, June 3, 2009 (Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings)Nelson Mandela's birth name was "Rolihlahla," which means "troublemaker."  When he started school, his first teacher gave him the English name "Nelson."  He had no idea why she chose that name for him.

Here's what she may have had in mind: "Nelson" originally meant "son of Neil."  After Lord Nelson defeated Napoleon's fleet in the pivotal 1805 Battle of Trafalgar (a conflict in which the famous British admiral was killed), "Nelson" was commonly given to children in his honor.  Perhaps Mandela's teacher saw him not as a "troublemaker" but as a "sacrificial victor."

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UK man uses Twitter to summarize the Bible

Chris Juby holding the Bible he used to summarize and tweet each chapter of the Bible (Credit: Chris Juby) There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. Last month a U.K. worship leader completed his three-and-a-half year project posting a summary of every single one of these chapters on Twitter. Each summary had to fit the Twitter post guidelines which allow for only 140 total characters in each tweet.

Chris Juby, the 30 year-old man who undertook this daunting task, posted one chapter summary a day until he finished with Revelation 22. He summarized it: "Rev22: The river of life flows from the throne of God. 'Behold, I am coming soon. I am the beginning and the end." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!'" His Twitter account, @biblesummary, had nearly 30,000 followers by the time the project ended. Juby's summaries have been retweeted almost 19,000 times and his website had 636,555 hits over the course of the project.

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Google Earth leads lost boy home after 25 years

A video screen grab from a video directed, shot and edited by Henry Chen and Ssongee Yang and produced by Stephen Higgins and Google, showing Saroo Brierly, separated from his birth mother for 25 years, as she kisses him on the cheek in his birth home in  Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India (Credit: Google/Henry Chen/Ssongee Yang/Stephen Higgins) Many of us rely on Google Maps to help us find our way home from an unfamiliar location. For Saroo Brierley, though, Google's map services helped him find his home and family he had not seen in 25 years.

Until he was five years old, Saroo lived in India with his mother, two brothers and a little sister. His father had abandoned the family, so Saroo's oldest brother, nine-year-old Guddu, took on the responsibility of providing for his family. Guddu spent his time searching the floors of passenger trains for coins, sometimes spending days away from his family while he searched.

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Three lessons Protestants can learn from Pope Francis

Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washing the feet of a unidentified woman on Holy Thursday at the Buenos Aires' Sarda maternity hospital on March 24, 2005 (Credit: Reuters/Tony Gomez-Dyn)"Hello, Anna," said the voice at the other end of the line.  "This is Pope Francis."

Anna Romano, a 35-year-old woman in Rome, learned last June that she was pregnant.  Her fiancé urged her to have an abortion.  When she learned that he was married with a family of his own, she ended their relationship.  In July, she wrote in desperation to Pope Francis.

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