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Nicholas Winton: courage and greatness make a hero

Have you discovered the incredible, inspiring true story of 'Britain's Schindler', Sir Nicholas Winton? See how one ordinary man changed the lives of millions around the world in the award-winning film NICKY'S FAMILY (Credit: PA Wire URN:23445558/Press Association via AP Images)When courage and greatness collide, they form a hero. Courage is the enduring quality of knowing what not to fear, and gives strength to persevere through uncertainty. Greatness is available to all but achieved by a few. It is the quality of a person that understands their unique characteristics. Through diligent and sacrificial practice, these qualities are honed from a good shape to a great form. Formed in the dark, away from the spotlight, and shunning the spotlight when it comes, the hero does the extraordinary because they see it as ordinary.

On Wednesday, the world lost a hero. Nicholas Winton, the Briton who saved 669 Jewish children in Czechoslovakia before World War II, died at 106.  Born in 1909 to Jewish parents, Nicholas was a 29-year-old stockbroker when his world collided with the larger world.

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NSA allegedly spied on French presidents

 French President Francois Hollande is surrouded by Secretary of State for Parliamentary Relations Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve, Senate President Gerard Larcher, during an emergency meeting he hosted after reports of US spying on French presidents, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on June 24, 2015 (Credit: AP/Sipa/David Niviere)On Wednesday, French officials called on the U.S. ambassador in order to explain allegations of spying on French leaders. Dating from 2006 to 2012, Wikileaks released what it said was communications that reveal eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on three former French Presidents. Current President Francois Hollande said it is "unacceptable." In response to the leaks, he convened emergency meetings with high-level officials.

These latest revelations of NSA spying come amidst previous allegations of similar behavior. Two years ago, Wikileaks published material that revealed the NSA had been eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. These documents exposed phone conversations with allies and her significant utilization of text messages.  Embarrassed by the exposure, President Obama ordered a review of surveillance practices among allies and an immediate halt of spying on leaders of ally countries.

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Ramadan: what you need to know

Lieutenant Asif I. Balbale, the chaplain for Assault Amphibian School Battalion at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendelton, California, prays by himself at the Afghan Cultural Center aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, August 17, 2011, Afghanistan (Credit: United States Marines/Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Chandler) Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims, began this past Wednesday evening and will continue until July 17th. It's considered the holiest month because Muslim tradition teaches that the Qur'an was revealed around this time of the year to the prophet Muhammad in 610 CE.

So for the next 28 days, most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims will be fasting from dawn to dusk. Each day will end with an evening meal called the Iftar, which traditionally begins by eating a date or something else sweet. The meal is often shared with neighbors and friends or taken at the local mosque with the rest of the community.

The basic goal of the fast is the purification of one's mind and body while also increasing one's patience and generosity towards others. The Arabic word for fasting (sawm) literally means "to refrain." As such, it refers not only to food and drink but also to things like smoking, gossip, and foul language. It is a far more holistic understanding of fasting than we are perhaps accustomed to.

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