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Weekly Roundup
People Power, Belgian Euthanasia For Minors, and the ACA Fail Fractal

As we wrap up our first week of the new site, here is a roundup of some of the important articles you may have missed this week:

American atrophy. In the upcoming edition of The American Interest—the print copies should be reaching subscribers right now—Francis Fukuyama has a must-read essay on the decay of America’s political institutions. If you haven’t had a chance to get to it yet, do yourself a favor and go read it now. We’ll wait for you.

Power to the people? Protests in Ukraine have captivated the media in a way that the actual run-up to Kiev’s vote on whether or not to join the EU just did not. The demonstrations reached a fever pitch early in the week, prompting fears of a harsh, violent crackdown from the regime. But President Yanukovich, perhaps fearful of the backlash such an effort might inspire, backed down, while the protesters were further buoyed by the support of Ukraine’s leading churches. Yanukovich indicated that he might be willing to move towards the EU—fulfilling the wishes of Kiev’s protesters—if the price is right. That impulse, to auction off his country’s future to the highest bidder, isn’t entirely out of character; his government reportedly siphons as much as $8 to $10 billion from the budget every year to pad the pockets of the “Yanukovich family.”

Russia’s Resurgence. Moscow’s not just angling for advantage in Ukraine, however. Putin has much broader ambitions. Michael Weiss’s essay provides a very colorful and engaging roundup of the state of play in the Middle East, and shows how Putin is exploiting the vacuum left behind by Obama’s increasingly distant approach to the region.

Speaking of policy vacuums, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of coherent plan in place to deal with the more assertive and self-confident Kurdish politics sprouting up across the Middle East. The status quo is increasingly untenable for all the major players involved, Ofra Bengio argues, but the United States appears to have no strategy in place, one way or another.

Belgium’s culture of death. Belgium’s Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children. The bill’s passage demonstrated the wide political and cultural ramifications of allowing mercy killing for adults in a country where the legalization of the practice kicked off a euthanasia epidemic.

Canada’s Arctic land grabCanada made waves in the increasingly ice-free waters of the Arctic circle this week, extending its claim in the region by 1.2 million square kilometers. One of the world’s last land rushes is underway in Santa’s stomping grounds, and the region’s vast as-yet untapped reserves of oil and gas make this more than just a fight for bragging rights.

A “new Middle East”? Mexico made a huge step towards joining the North American energy boom this week when its legislature approved reforms that will allow foreign investment in its oil and gas industry. Pemex, the country’s state-owned oil monopoly, has gotten very good at squandering the country’s energy potential in recent years. New blood is welcome, and will be especially useful in opening the taps on Mexico’s shale oil and shale gas.

Pope of the YearPope Francis won Time‘s Person of the Year award, beating out Butcher Assad and Miley Cyrus for the privilege of joining you, dear reader, as a recipient of the coveted title. Time‘s write-up had the familiar breathless exhortations of the Pope’s dressed-down style, but also included many of his accomplishments that are arguably more important but certainly less familiar.

The ACA’s fail fractal—more and more trouble the deeper you go. For one, deductible shock has arrived: many Americans see that they will pay higher deductibles under Obamacare and they’re not happy about it. For another, troubling implementation problems keep surfacing: Californians were outraged when they discovered that their state’s exchange provided insurers with data mined from residents without asking for permission. And at the same time, federal exchanges are failing to provide insurers with the data they need to process new applicants. In the midst of all of this, however, polls are in flux, perhaps giving the Obama administration some hope that they’ll muddle through despite the bumpy road.

Fear the Airpocalpyse. Air pollution chokes, blinds, and even kills, but China’s state media wants citizens to look on the bright side of smog: it can hide cities from incoming missiles, and even boost urbanites’ sense of humor. But that same smog that boosts missile defense also makes it difficult for pilots to navigate, which prompted Beijing to start actively seeking ace pilots to land planes in the city’s smog-shrouded airports.

Finally, here’s a photo of Ukrainian protesters donning the war paint:


© Getty Images

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