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Assad Is America's Strange Bedfellow and the Price Is 190,000 Dead

With its decision to bomb Islamic State militants in Iraq and funnel aid to the fragile Iraqi government in Baghdad, the United States has found itself with a set of strange bedfellows. Russia has been giving outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fighter jets for use against the extremists. Tehran has ramped up its military assistance to Baghdad. And in the strangest of bedfellows, Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad has been carrying out a sustained series of airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside both Iraq and Syria, in some ways doing Washington's work for it.

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Did China Just Re-Enact the Famous 'Birdie' Scene From 'Top Gun' With U.S. Plane?

Early in Top Gun, that monument to American military supremacy and fighter-jock guilt, Maverick and Goose encounter a pair of hostile MiGs. In an attempt to avoid an armed encounter and to scare off the (presumably) Soviet fighters, Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, executes one of the most famous aerial maneuvers in film history. While inverted, he approaches the MiG from above, drops down to a perilously close distance, and flips the bird to his opponent. Naturally, the MiG immediately bugs out.

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No Graffiti For You! Donetsk Rebels Are Holding Captive City’s Guerrilla Artist

Earlier this summer, mysterious, surrealist, and deeply irreverent art began appearing on the streets of Donetsk. The graffiti and wooden cutouts openly mocked the city's pro-Russian rebels, depicting them as devils. A graffiti portrait of the rebel leader, Igor Strelkov, urged him to commit suicide. The rebels did not take kindly to the art. Sergey Zakharov, the artist behind the project, has disappeared. His friends and family say that he is a prisoner of the Donetsk People's Republic, as the putative leaders of the breakaway regions call their new "country."

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State's Contracting in Ebola-Plagued Countries Under Scrutiny

Whether the United States is convening an unprecedented summit with heads of state, responding to a terrifying Ebola epidemic, or working with governments to battle Boko Haram, its diplomatic relationships with African countries have perhaps never been more central to its foreign policy. That makes the latest audit published by the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the State Department particularly worrisome.

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