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Week in Review

News out of Asia was grim this week: a massacre and the slowest growth in a decade in India; Chinese hacking; and the battle lines between friends and rivals coming into sharper focus in Asia’s Game of Thrones.

Europe didn’t fare much better. A horrific slashing in London put the UK in crisis mode over the possibility that radical extremism is spreading among the country’s sizable Muslim minority. The 2014 Olympics in Sochi might break world records for corruption, if allegations that the Kremlin pocketed $30 billion in funds for the games turn out to be true. Protests in Turkey over the weekend have turned violent, shining an international light on both the anger and the vitality of contemporary Turkey. But there were blue skies somewhere in Europe—in Greece of all places—where there are signs of an economic recovery.

President Obama might want to move on from the global war on terror, but news out of Libya this week proved that the conflict isn’t quite done with us. As Libya disintegrates, the Obama administration is doubling down on caution. The big news from Syria was the as-yet uncertain arrival of new advanced missile launchers, which were made in Russia, bought by Butcher Assad’s regime, and might be bombed by Israel. What could go wrong?

It was a bad week for solar energy too; cheap Chinese solar panels are sparking an EU civil war, the result of ill-thought out government subsidies to the industry. Some of those panels are made from low-quality materials and many aren’t lasting as long as they should, sparking a crisis in confidence in solar’s quality. Other technologies are faring better. In Israel, desalination plants are providing the country with much-needed fresh water, much to the chagrin of Malthusians. And fracking is only getting safer as bigger companies get in the mix. That’s good news, because the US shale boom is deepening divisions in OPEC, the kind of rent-seeking cartel the world would be better off without.

Stanley McChrystal had an eloquent call for universal national service in the WSJ this week. In education news, student debt delinquency hit a grim milestone, rising to an all-time high. States are offering plans to help parents save for college, but maybe instead of finding ways to make the exorbitantly high price of college tolerable, we should focus on ways to bring that cost down. If higher ed doesn’t start to embrace innovation, it’s going to continue to lose ground to the stiff competition it’s getting from abroad.

Obamacare supporters cheered news out of California last week that the ACA would lower insurance premiums, but it looks like those savings may not benefit as many patients as promised. ACA supporters weren’t backing down, and looked to spin the California story into a positive by cooking the books. Health care is broken, but there are some encouraging signs out there. For example, telemedicine will allow more care to more people for less money. And a doctor in Maine is pioneering a new care model by refusing to accept insurance at his practice, instead charging a fixed price for his services. That’s what real health care reform looks like.

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  • Luke Lea

    I misread “universal national health service.” Now there’s an idea. You have a choice between the army or a hospital.

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