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Interactive Map: Religious Requirements on Heads of State Around the World

With Gaza in turmoil, on-going violence in Syria, and Iraq battling an Islamist insurgency, news of Lebanon's political gridlock understandably has fallen off the front page. But on Wednesday, Lebanese lawmakers failed to select a president for the eighth time. As part of Lebanon's complicated balancing act among its many sectarian groups, the president must be a Maronite Christian -- a requirement that isn't so uncommon.

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Under the Gun: Russia Ramps Up Defense Spending and Looks Inward

Lost amid the chaos of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a little-noticed development in the Western press about the Russian defense industry. Last week, the Russian cabinet signed off on a measure that would increase Russian defense spending to 21 percent of the country's overall budget by 2017, from 17.5 percent today. The spending hike still needs to be stamped by the Duma, the Russian legislature, but is virtually certain to be approved.

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Michael Bloomberg's Aerial Diplomacy

It's been described as a routine security precaution, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's decision to bar American carriers from flying to Israel after a Hamas rocket landed near the Tel Aviv airport has become the latest point of tension between Israel and the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the United States to lift the ban, and now former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is getting in on the act. He's currently on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv and would like to reassure the American public that there is no danger in flying to Israel.

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How the Polish Right Is Making Political Hay Out of MH17

"This Is How Putin Kills." That was the headline emblazoned Monday across the cover of the right-wing Polish magazine wSieci. The cover included two images, one from the crash site in eastern Ukraine of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and one immediately below of a jetliner engulfed in a fireball. A caption for the jetliner picture, all but certainly a digitally altered photograph, implied that it was the Polish government jet that crashed in Smolensk, Russia, on April 10, 2010, with 96 people on board, including the country's then-president, Lech Kaczynski. That crash is seared in the Polish national memory, and last week's events in eastern Ukraine are bringing back painful memories of that disaster -- and fueling long-standing conspiracy theories blaming Russia for the earlier crash.

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