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Weekly Roundup
New Site, African Plight, and Ukrainian Knife Fight

What a week it’s been for the blog. As you’ve no doubt noticed, we’ve rolled out a new website design, and along with the cosmetic changes have made some structural ones as well. Via Meadia can now be found on The American Interest‘s homepage. Here’s Walter Russell Mead’s note on the changes. We’re very excited about what’s to come, but we’re also looking for feedback from our readers. There’s a ‘contact us’ icon in the upper right of the site. Let us know what you think!

Here are some posts you might’ve missed this week:

China, Iran, and Russia are having a great year. By capitalizing on the mistakes of the US, the EU, Japan, and their affiliates—what we’ll call the Maritime Association—the group of revisionist countries has been able to make opportunistic gains, and the longer the Maritime powers go on ignoring this new threat, the harder the eventual course correct will be to pull off.

In Germany, green subsidies are becoming a kind of welfare for farmers. To kick-start its fledgling renewable energy industry, Berlin guaranteed solar and wind energy producers an above-market-value, long-term rate for their trouble. This feed-in tariff, as it’s called, has many farmers shifting away from cultivating crops or livestock to tending solar and wind farms. They’re being handsomely rewarded for their efforts, but the costs are being passed along to the rest of the German public in the form of higher electricity bills. One might say that this is an unsustainable approach to energy.

The President’s speech on inequality fell flat. President Obama tried to shift the media’s focus away from Obamacare with a speech about inequality, but there were some flaws in logic and some glaring omissions in his treatment of the very real problem, not least of which was a failure to mention the positive effect that strong marriages, stable families, and robust church communities can have on income mobility.

One of our writers witnessed terror firsthand in Pakistan. Saim Saeed, a regular contributor to the blog, was at his newspaper’s office in Karachi when gunmen lobbed grenades and shot at his building. It’s a sobering reminder of the dangers Pakistani journalists face, but as Saim soberly wrote, in Pakistan, “[o]utrage is a spent emotion.”

Africa’s God wars are showing no signs of slowing down. Boko Haram attacked military installations in northern Nigeria, and in so doing sent a clear signal that they aren’t cowed, as the Nigerian government has been claiming. One soldier described the recent attack as “really, really bad,” a sentiment familiar to many of the victims of Africa’s God wars.

The NYT got dazed and confused about health care. A pair of pieces—one which purported to show that the ACA was costing less than expected, the other lamenting the fact that health care is getting more expensive—taken together exposed an intelligentsia with a feeble grip on what’s really ailing our health care system. We don’t need more federal tinkering to fix this problem; making prices more transparent and innovating on new care delivery methods would be much better places to start.

Bouncer, Marxist, Reformer, Pope. No, that’s not the title for John le Carré’s new book (at least as far as we know). Rather, it’s a description of media darling Pope Francis, whose clandestine trips to help Rome’s poor made headlines this week, as did his former occupation as a bouncer for a Buenos Aires bar (OK, this is starting to sound more like le Carré). But his recently released Evangelii Gaudium was even more interesting for its economic commentary and reflections on papal authority.

Advantage: Russia. That was the run of play in Ukraine this week, as various media outlets reflected on Kiev’s abrupt yet not entirely surprising decision to break off free trade and association talks with the EU. Brussels brought a baguette to the Ukrainian knife fight, and the result was a massive victory for Putin and Moscow. But massive protests of President Yanukovych’s decision were a reminder that this story is far from over.

And finally, for our Photo of the Week, here’s Nelson Mandela as a young boxer. RIP.

A young Nelson Mandela

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

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