July 30, 2014
By Brian M. Downing

Denied their own state at the end of World War I as 
European powers divided up the Ottoman Empire, Kurds today are using the chaos of a dissolving Iraq to move toward greater autonomy, if not outright independence. A referendum on independence for the Kurdish region of Iraq is planned, and public enthusiasm for a complete break with Baghdad is high.
Emerging Kurdistan is New Player in Fractious Middle East
A rug made in the image of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani is viewed in a market in Erbil on July 3, 2014. Barzani asked members of Parliament this month to start making plans for an independence referendum. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Taking a Risk, US Ally Philippines Stands Up to China
July 30, 2014
The Philippines, a steadfast U.S. ally in East Asia, has taken a major role in confronting Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea. Manila has gone on a military spending spree and called for regional unity against Beijing, boosting American efforts to pull off its long-discussed “pivot” toward Asia.
Japan’s Plutonium Stockpile Stokes Regional Concerns
July 30, 2014
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to revise his nation’s long-standing self-defense policy, but even more alarming to leading foe China is Japan’s insistence on maintaining enough plutonium to produce thousands of nuclear bombs.
Shocking Child Migration Still Largely Unexplained
July 29, 2014
The number of unaccompanied children and teenagers from Central America attempting to enter the United States illegally has skyrocketed over the past nine months, creating a political and humanitarian shock wave that defies reasonable explanations. Fueled by false promises of amnesty and welfare in the United States, the massive migration has also been blamed on poverty and crime back home. But sources in Central America tell LIGNET that adults, not children, are most affected by such social ills associated with drug cartels.
Invasion Threat Looms as Putin’s Ukraine Strategy Crumbles
July 29, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine gambit suffered major setbacks this week by a successful Ukrainian army offensive against pro-Russian separatists and significant new sanctions by the European Union and the United States.

Venezuela’s Maduro Survives With Tacit US Support
July 29, 2014
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is clinging to power with backing from security forces, and the lack of U.S. sanctions over civil rights abuses will probably give him enough of a lifeline to continue hanging on unless major protests erupt.
Stranger Than Fiction: Airliner Disaster Prompts Russian Propaganda Machine
July 28, 2014
What are the odds of two commercial passenger jets of the same make and belonging to the same airline company both disappearing from the skies and radar screens under unknown circumstances and only months apart?
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