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National Commentary

Could Scotland really break away from Britain?

WASHINGTON — We’re now a month away from a vote to determine whether Great Britain will have to continue on as not-quite-as-great Britain. On Sept. 18, Scots will head to the polls for a long-awaited independence referendum, and while the “no” camp — those opposing secession — continue leading in the polls, it’s still too close for comfort as far as London’s concerned.

War does nothing for your investment portfolio

One concern for investors is how markets keep powering higher despite all of the geopolitical turmoil: The grinding Syrian civil war that has spilled into Iraq, the clash between Israel and Gaza, the Crimea annexation and now the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

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Listen to East Europeans on Russia sanctions

The leaders of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic feel Western sanctions against Russia have gone a little too far. These people know the Soviet system better than anybody in the world outside Russia itself, and they recognize that sanctions are not going to work.

RedBlueAmerica: Are Americans superficial for mourning the deaths of celebrities?

The deaths this week of comedian-actor Robin Williams and actress Lauren Bacall unleashed an outpouring of grief across the country. The shocking circumstances of Williams’ death — suicide by hanging — sent his fans reeling. Even President Barack Obama released a statement on Monday, calling Williams “one of a kind.”

Ferguson is mostly black. Why is its government so white?

NEW YORK — Ferguson, Missouri, is a majority-black city governed mostly by whites. The mayor is white. The police chief is white. The police force is 94 percent white. Only one of its six city council members is black. These facts, as much as anything, have shaped the protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson, with a 67 percent black population, is a place where the largest community has little political voice.

Is the Islamic State exterminating the language of Jesus?

NEW YORK — Qaraqosh, Tel Kepe and Karamlesh are just three of the Iraqi towns on the Nineveh plains captured in early August by the Islamic State (IS), but they represent the last major concentration of Aramaic speakers in the world. Pushing northeast of Mosul towards Kurdistan, the jihadist army now occupies the ancient heart of Christian Iraq. According to U.N. officials, roughly 200,000 Christians fled their homes on the Nineveh plains on the night of Aug. 6, justifiably fearful that Islamic State fighters would expel them, kill them, or force them to convert. A local archbishop, Joseph Thomas, described the situation as “catastrophic, a crisis beyond imagination.”

Facebook: Talk politics and see how long your ‘friends’ last

Shortly after Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in 2009, a close Muslim friend I’d known since elementary school suddenly disappeared from my Facebook feed. She’d been excoriating Israel in her posts, and I’d said nothing. Then I posted a statistic showing the number of Hamas-fired missiles landing in southern Israel, where my husband has family. That same day, I noticed my friend had written “OMG!!” under my post. And then she was gone.