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Week in Review

The government shutdown was, for obvious reasons, the biggest news this week. The disruption gave the chattering classes plenty to talk about, but had us wondering if the whole thing matters at all. The real concern for Congress will be addressing the debt ceiling.

In news out of Asia this week, the big chill between Japan and China got frostier as the region’s leaders prepared to sit down for talks at this weekend’s APEC summit. In Burma, sectarian clashes killed 4 ahead of a presidential visit. And while the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan made nice and shook hands ahead of a summit in NYC, violence erupted along the countries’ de facto border in Kashmir; peace between India and Pakistan remains elusive.

In news that should outrage us all, Europe is still trying to outlaw Judaism and Islam. We could be seeing the final death of Silvio Berlusconi’s tumultuous political career, though given his history we’re not willing to fully count him out quite yet. Britain will pay the price for not fracking this winter; taking advantage of its sizable shale reserves could bring energy prices down in the years to come. And the chief executive of Germany’s largest utility warned that the country’s misguided green energy revolution—its energiewende—is chasing German industry to shale-rich America.

On the domestic front, Bard College reinvented its admissions process by offering an alternative to SATs and GPAs: research papers. A would-be criticism of America’s charter schools was debunked, as a new study showed that these schools are giving special education students a fair shake. And the student debt crisis hit an ignominious milestone: ten percent of recent grads with outstanding loans have defaulted on their debt.

Obamacare launched this week, providing us with a good opportunity to take a deep breath and ask: now what? This week’s rollout was unsurprisingly rough, marred by technical glitches that prevented people from signing up for the new federal health care exchanges. And while many government programs are gasping for air under the current government shutdown, the ACA is coming out a winner. The NYT did the single payer pivot, but the better piece of Obamacare journalism we read came from Megan McArdle, who reminded us that the debate needs both sanity and balance.

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