Michele Kelemen

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is ill, the kingdom is facing the lowest oil prices in years (partly by choice) and it remains locked in a regional rivalry with Iran.

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The United Nations Children's Fund calls 2014 a devastating year for children, reporting that as many as 15 million young people are caught in conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Ukraine.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. David Roeder spent more than a year as one of 52 American hostages held by Iranian revolutionaries who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

"I spent 14 months of my life and getting beaten around and tortured and threats against my family and all those sorts of things," he says.

For many, he adds, the ordeal never ended.

"Quite frankly, I was one of the lucky ones," he says. "I think I'm ok. But there's an awful lot ... who are really hurting. Everything from post traumatic disorder-type depression, to age, of course."

As tensions mounted between Russia and the West over Ukraine back in March, a routine commercial flight had a close encounter with a Russian spy plane. The Scandinavian airliner had just taken off from Copenhagen on a flight to Rome when the pilots saw the Russian military aircraft in their path and had to maneuver around it.

This is one of the most dramatic examples of a growing number of close calls documented in a new report, "Dangerous Brinkmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014."

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