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July 15, 2014

On Monday, somebody shot down a Ukrainian military An-26 transport plane carrying food and water to Ukrainian troops trying to rout the pro-Moscow separatists gathered in their strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk. The separatists claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane and said they captured four crew members, but Ukraine reportedly says it has "undisputed proof" that Russia was involved.

The airplane was flying at more than 21,000 feet, Ukraine says, putting it out of the reach of the shoulder-fired rockets the separatists have used so far. Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said that the plane had been "downed by another, more powerful missile that probably was launched from the territory of the Russian Federation," either from a surface-to-air system or a Russian jet. Russia, for its part, is threatening Ukraine with "irreversible consequences" for an artillery round that fell in Russian territory, killing a civilian.

NATO says that Russia has been slowly increasing its troop levels near the Ukraine border, with up to 12,000 troops in the area, from about 1,000 in mid-June. The U.S. is also accusing Russia of sending heavy weapons and military personnel to help lead the separatists in their battle against Kiev. "While Russia says it seeks peace, its actions do not match its rhetoric," the U.S. government said in a statement. Peter Weber

11:05 a.m. ET

Hundreds of activists stormed Iraq's parliament building Saturday in support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had accused Iraqi politicians of corruption, CBS News reports.

The demonstrators climbed over blast walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the countries ministries and foreign embassies, after parliament couldn't reach quorum to hold a session. The protesters broke furniture, chanted, and waved Iraqi flags.

For months, protesters have been demanding Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi take more steps to fight corruption. The capital announced a state of emergency amid the protests Saturday. Julie Kliegman

10:28 a.m. ET
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San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr released nine pages of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers Friday and ordered all offers to undergo anti-bias training, The New York Times reports.

"We have nothing to hide," Suhr said of his 2,000-member force. "These are the actions of a few."

The messages, which disparaged blacks, Latinos, South Asians, and LGBT people, were found as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.

The department is under federal investigation for the 2015 fatal shooting of Mario Woods, a black man. Julie Kliegman

9:33 a.m. ET
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The head of an evangelical legal organization has pledged to carry a gun into Target's bathrooms to defend against transgender women. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver is calling for a boycott of the retail chain after it announced that it will allow patrons to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, The Huffington Post reports. Staver tweeted the following:

Staver later claimed she always brings guns into public restrooms. The Week Staff

8:32 a.m. ET
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A Copycat Art Scratcher (approximately $190) is expensive as scratching posts go, but buying one a month is "a lot cheaper than your cat destroying an actual priceless piece of artwork," says Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo. Dutch designer Erik Stehmann had lost only an embroidered painting to his pets' claws when he decided he might be able to rechannel their artistic interests and did so by reproducing famous paintings on embroidered twine. A replica of the Mona Lisa will be the first scratchboard offered when the product begins shipping in May. Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring will soon follow. The Week Staff

8:07 a.m. ET
Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images

Syria called local truces Friday, but put no end to the violence in Aleppo deemed "monstrous" by the United Nations, Reuters reports.

The death toll from a Wednesday airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital has risen to at least 50 people. On Friday, rebel forces reportedly fired mortar rounds into a mosque, killing at least 15 people. More than 200 people have been killed in Aleppo in the last week by pro-government and rebel forces, The Washington Post reports.

Peace talks aimed at establishing a cease-fire recently collapsed. Julie Kliegman

7:37 a.m. ET
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A friend of alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal officials and withholding information about the attack. Joey Meek faces up to eight years in prison and $500,000 in fines, The New York Times reports.

He agreed to testify against Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine black people in a Bible study at a Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June. Roof had claimed to have been planning the attack more than six months in advance, Meek said.

The race-related shooting renewed debate that led South Carolina to remove its Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. Julie Kliegman

April 29, 2016
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Actor Will Ferrell has reportedly nixed plans to play Ronald Reagan in a comedy about the late president's dementia, just days after it was announced he had signed on to star. Ferrell's spokesperson now says he was never officially attached to the project. "While it is by no means an 'Alzheimers comedy,' as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project," his spokesperson said.

Shortly after news of the film broke, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis penned an open letter expressing her disappointment. "Perhaps if you knew more," Davis wrote, "you would not find the subject humorous." Becca Stanek

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