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Week in Review

In news this week from Asia, China unveiled two new plans to combat its pollution problem, one involving tax credits for electric vehicles, and the other a commitment to name-and-shame its worst-polluting megacities. A large part of the smog hovering over China’s countryside comes from burning coal; China has aggressively looked to diversify its energy portfolio by investing in oil plays abroad, but it’s facing risks and resistance in Africa. Narendra Modi, the controversial star player of India’s most powerful opposition party, is facing an uphill battle to be liked as he contends for the office of the Prime Minister. The Taliban killed a top Pakistani general, shattering whatever faint hope there was for peace talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t sell his Eurasian dream, and his tenuous alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church looks to be fraying as well. Europe’s week wasn’t much better: Turkey is cooling fast on joining the EU, and while the euro crisis seems to have calmed, euroskepticism is alive and well on the continent. The Grey Lady painted a grim portrait of Germany’s failing green policies—its energiewende. But the EU has no plans to course-correct on green policy, and indeed seems to be doubling down: the EU climate commissioner insisted that green policies are the right policies, even if the science underpinning them is wrong. In France, François Hollande turned against his own tax plan.

US-Iran relations are warming up, but not everyone’s happy about it. The Obama administration is alienating Saudi Arabia by reaching out to Iran. Meanwhile, America’s Syria policy is helping Assad and al-Qaeda and hurting the rebels. Israel relieved suffering in Gaza, while Egypt intensified it.

In education news, the Atlantic profiled one solution to failing education: flipping the classroom. Meanwhile, colleges are doubling down on luxury housing, a move that is absolutely the wrong way to go about competing for students, while government programs blow air in to the student debt bubble. The American Bar Association released a report with an excellent idea for lowering legal costs: make it easier to become a lawyer. And this week in MOOCs, Coursera’s “signature track” program figured out how to monetize the distributed online education model, raking in over $1 million in revenue.

Obamacare’s best days may be behind it, and the White House is backpedalling, drastically rolling back expectations for the ACA. And the NYT shined a spotlight on the reform’s “revolving door” problem. We’re facing a looming dementia crisis that will require both technological advances and cultural shifts. And if that’s not enough to scare you, consider this: deadly antibiotic-resistant germs are wreaking havoc on American hospitals.

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