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According to reports, ISIS—or the Islamic State as they are now referring to themselves—has released a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven J. Sotloff. Two weeks ago, the brutal Islamic militant group that controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria posted a video online depicting the beheading of American James Foley. Both men were freelance journalist who were captured in Syria. In a statement, Sotloff’s family said they believe the video was real. In the latest video, a man with a British accent, who The New York Times says is the same masked individual from the James Foley video, appears and says, “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” before killing Sotloff. A week ago, Sotloff’s mother released a video, pleading with ISIS leaders to spare her son ... Discuss

Penn State junior Mary Krupa has been dubbed the campus "squirrel whisperer" after earning the trust of one of the college's many squirrels in residence. Mary has trained a squirrel she calls Sneezy to pose in dress-up clothes such as hats and sunglasses, even holding miniature props. Sneezy's Facebook page has almost seven times more likes than the school's own mascot, the Nittany Lion, provoking enough confusion to cause a German magazine to mistakenly report Sneezy as the school's mascot ...

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Apparently, Belgian photographer Bruno Brokken didn’t entirely think through the physics of his big idea for his Ice Bucket Challenge. Brokken had a plane dump nearly 400 gallons of water on him from a height of 22 feet. But, as the blog Flight Club points out, water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon, making the weight of water dumped on Brokken nearly the equivalent of that of a small car. Needless to say, he was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Brokken is not the first victim of crazy Ice Bucket Challenge one-upmanship—a few days ago, a Scottish teenager drowned in an incident suspected to be linked to the craze. Be careful out there, ice bucketers ...

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According to a devastating new U.N. report, nearly half of all Syrians have been displaced by the violence of the country’s ongoing civil war. As many as 6.5 million who have fled their homes are displaced within the country, and at least 3 million Syrians have left the country altogether. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement, "The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.”

The report, which is attempting to bring greater international awareness and intervention to the crisis, also outlined the dangers facing even those who are fleeing the war. "There are worrying signs too that the journey out of Syria is becoming tougher, with many people forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders. Refugees crossing the desert into eastern Jordan are being forced to pay smugglers hefty sums (ranging from $100 per person or more) to take them to safety” ... Discuss

A group of six individuals have filed a $40 million lawsuit against Ferguson, St. Louis County and several police officials for what they say was violations of their civil rights during the unrest that followed the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown. The plaintiffs detailed a series of “militaristic displays of force and weaponry," including being shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, beaten and arrested during demonstrations following the shooting of the black teen by a white police officer. The attorney who brought the case told Reuters, “This is a blatant example of how police handle African-Americans ... how it can go terribly, terribly wrong. You have a right to peaceful assembly" ... Discuss

A few months back, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faced widespread criticism for suspending running back Ray Rice for just two games following a domestic violence incident. In a letter to team owners obtained by ESPN, Goodell now admits, “I didn't get it right.” Surveillance camera footage after the incident showed the Baltimore Ravens player dragging his unconscious fiancée off an elevator following a dispute in which he violently assaulted her. Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

This week, after suspending Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon for an entire year for a repeat violation of the league’s marijuana policy, social media users once again took the NFL to task for its seeming double standard. In the new letter, Goodell wrote, “We clearly must do a better job of addressing [domestic violence and sexual assault] in the NFL. And we will.” He’s informed owners that according to the NFL’s new policy, players will be suspended for six games for their first offense and will face a lifetime ban from the sport if they perpetrate domestic violence or sexual violence ever again ... Discuss

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