Greetings readers! We trust you’ve had a refreshing weekend. Here’s a look back on the big stories you may have missed over the past week:The political equivalent of a demolition derby. That’s how TAI editor Adam Garfinkle describes the state of play in the the Middle East in the first of a four-part series on American foreign policy in the region. Adam examines our Syria policy in part 2, moves on to the “thorny problems” of Iran and Iraq in part 3, and concludes by taking a look at President Obama’s approach towards the region in part 4. There’s a lot here, so if you missed any of it earlier this week, take the time to read it today. It’s well worth your time.Where would you hide $4,000,000,000,000? According to some leaked documents, China’s Communist party leadership has stashed as much as $4 trillion in offshore accounts. The scale of corruption here boggles the mind.Under-built infostructure is undermining our economy. Any information economy worth its salt requires high-speed internet, but America has slipped down to ninth in the global rankings in that department. Building out a fiber-optic network can have big knock-on benefits for America’s economy.Cracks are spreading in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s adapt-or-die time for many retailers, as American consumers are increasingly ditching the tedium of a trip to the mall for the convenience of purchasing goods with a mouse click. The future of shopping is coming sooner than you might think, and the biggest beneficiary of this transition may be the environment.Middle East tuning in to Radio Beijing. China is flexing its soft power muscle in the Arab world with television and radio broadcasts. The ratings aren’t great, but Beijing hopes to use its niche audiences in the region as emissaries of its cultural outreach effort.Winter is coming for for-profit educators. One of the largest for-profit schools in the country—ITT Educational Services—has run afoul of federal regulators for its student lending practices. The student debt crisis spells big trouble for for-profit schools—and that may be good for students.Pakistani Taliban: Death to…polio vaccines? The Taliban is targeting polio workers in Pakistan, and has outlawed vaccinations in the country’s rural areas. As a result, polio cases rose by more than 63 percent last year. Pakistan is one of just three countries where this preventable disease remains endemic.Is a liberal arts degree worth the price? Liberal arts programs should both prepare students for the workforce and prepare them for thoughtful citizenship by exposing them to the best of what humanity has written and thought. But on both counts, higher education is failing.Brussels sounds the green retreat in its latest climate goals for 2030. Previous plans included targets for both emissions reductions and renewable energy production, but in the face of rising costs of solar and wind energy, the EU has ditched its green energy requirements for member states.