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One of three Americans held in North Korea has been freed and returned to the United States. Jeffrey Fowle had been detained in the reclusive country for five months after officials say he intentionally left a Bible while visiting a club in the country as part of a tourist visit. All religious activity is tightly controlled in North Korea and the act was seen as a serious crime.

CNN interviewed Fowle during his detention, who admitted to the “covert act and a violation of tourists' rules,” though the network said the interview process was tightly controlled by North Korean officials. The State Department seemed to be a little baffled by the sudden move by North Korea, telling the media, “we'll let the North Koreans speak for themselves about why they decided to do this, why now.” Two Americans—including missionary Kenneth Bae—are still imprisoned there, and the White House said they’ve been given no new news about their legal status ... Discuss

Piotr Naskrecki is a entomologist and photographer at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology but, after his recent encounter with a giant spider, he'll probably look into another field, or maybe another planet. Yes, Naskrecki says he was taking a walk in Guyana when he heard something scuttling underfoot. He turned his light on it, expecting to see a small mammal but instead, "couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," That's because human eyes were never meant to rest upon the South American Goliath birdeater—a spider that measures one foot across, with a body the size of your fist and two-inch fangs. Yes. This is not a nightmare. This is real life, and there is no waking up from it.

Naskrecki says that the spider's bite doesn't have enough venom to kill you, but why would anyone even want to go on living after something like that? ... Discuss

An interesting legal wrinkle in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has drawn the national microscope after Donald and Evelyn Knapp—two ordained ministers who run a wedding chapel called the Hitching Post—moved for a temporary restraining order to be brought against an antidiscrimination ordinance.

Essentially, Idaho has banned discrimination against same-sex couples. That ordinance makes an exception for religious institutions like churches, but the Hitching Post is a for-profit business—which means the Knapps could be committing a misdemeanor by refusing to marry same-sex couples. “If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation,” Warren Wilson with the Coeur d’Alene City Attorney’s Office said.

The Knapps are saying such a law is unconstitutional—and most law experts seem to agree with them. Eugene Volokh, who teaches free speech law, religious freedom law and church-state relations law at UCLA, writes in The Washington Post that "Whatever interests there may be in equal access to jobs, to education, or even in most public accommodations, I don’t see how there would be a “compelling” government interest in preventing discrimination in the provision of ceremonies, especially ceremonies conducted by ministers in chapels" ... Discuss

Following a firestorm of controversy, officials in Houston have revised a subpoena issued to several pastors seeking to find out if they made statements related to recently-passed legislation. However, the details of the revisions are still drawing some questions from critics of the move.

Here’s how it all started: A few months ago, Houston’s City Council passed “H.E.R.O.”, an anti-discrimination ordinance that contained specific protections for members of the LGBT community. A handful of local religious leaders objected to elements of the measure, and several groups sought to repeal H.E.R.O. More than 50,000 signatures were collected to have the repeal included on a ballot. After the city attorney determined that a portion of the signatures were invalid (even though only 17,000 were required), they were disregarded out, and the people who collected them sued the city. In response, Houston officials issued a subpoena to five pastors to see if they improperly instructed congregants to collect signatures. It sought, “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuals, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Critics of the subpoena called it an infringement on religious liberty and an attack on free speech. The city however, said that their intention was simply in response to the lawsuit, and was issued to determine if pastors had acted illegally by getting church members to collect signatures. On Friday, the subpoena was revised, nixing the word “sermon” and narrowing the overall scope to require, “All speeches or presentations related to HERO or the Petition prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” Critics of the move, however, still appear to be unsatisfied with subpoena’s revision ... Discuss

New reports of violence by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram have tragically raised doubts as to whether the militants will release the more than 200 schoolgirls they kidnapped back in April. Last week, the Nigerian government said that they had reached a ceasefire deal, and Boko Haram leaders had agreed to free the girls whose abduction gained international attention and started the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Over the course of the last four days—including the same day the ceasefire was announced—Boko Haram militants reportedly attacked several towns, sparking new rounds of fighting with the military. The violence casts doubts over the Islamists' initial promise to release the girls as part of a ceasefire agreement. For months Boko Haram has wage a brutal campaign of violence in northern Nigeria which has even spilled in to neighboring countries, killing hundreds. The Islamic terrorist group has raided villages, burned Christian churches, targeted fellow Muslims whom they disagree with, kidnapped children, car-bombed urban areas and indiscriminately murdered civilians. The kidnapping of the girls—and threats to sell them into sex slavery—sparked international outrage and military intelligence aid from several countries, including the United States. Despite the attention and international efforts, little has been done to stop Boko Haram’s on-going terrorism or to actually secure the release of the girls ... Discuss

In an open letter she read on the BBC, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pleaded for assistance as her country continues to battle the spread of the Ebola virus, saying, "It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves." The Liberian president said, “Ebola is not just a health crisis. Across West Africa a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe." According to recent estimates, 9,000 people have been infected with the potentially deadly virus—almost all of them in West Africa. So far, Ebola has killed 4,500, though that number continues to grow. The BBC says that despite an international call to raise $988 million for aid groups and UN agencies, just $377 million has been donated ... Discuss

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