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Weekly Roundup
The Crimean Wake-up Call, Germany's Green Nightmare, and a Rare Health Care Win

Good afternoon, TAI readers! We trust you’re settling in to March nicely. As you enjoy the end of your weekend, take the time to look back on some of the important stories you may have missed over the past week.

For obvious reasons, we’ll start with a handful of pieces on the still-developing crisis in Ukraine:

Putin smashes Washington’s cocoon with his invasion of Crimea. Few in the West anticipated Russia’s aggressive move, and many in the media were actively playing down the chances of military intervention just moments before Russian boots hit the ground. That failure reflects a provincial, ethnocentric perspective that pervades the American foreign policy apparatus.

Obama caught flat footed…again. Putin is taking advantage of what he sees as a defect in the President’s way of thinking—a “realist” perspective that insists that there are win-win solutions to be had in geopolitics. Putin sees the world much differently, and success in Crimea will feed his disdain for Western thinking, and embolden him to pursue new fronts.

So, should Washington join Putin in seeing this as a zero-sum contest? An asymmetry of interests informs the West’s response to Russian maneuverings in Ukraine, but while there are limits to what the American people will support by way of a new intervention abroad, Washington needs to make Ukraine a bigger priority.

The turmoil in Crimea is just one of many challenges Ukraine now faces. 10 challenges, to be exact, ranging from its tenuous grasp on institutional legitimacy to the pending prosecution of members of the former Yanukovych regime.

But news wasn’t only happening in Ukraine this week:

Venezuela is burning. The socialist government is barely holding the country together: the economy is tanking, dissent is being ruthlessly put down, and protestors are choking its streets. As the protest movement has grown, so has its list of grievances, but they’re still fighting an uphill battle.

No more Mr. Fat Guy. In a big win for health care—a development that’s been increasingly hard to come by these days—childhood obesity dropped a whopping 43 percent over the past decade. Obesity and diabetes put a tremendous strain on U.S. health care; cutting down obesity is vital not just to the health of Americans, but also to the health of our health care system.

Germany’s green dream turns in to a nightmare from which it can’t wake up. Two new reports released last week outlined the near-complete failings of the country’s energiewende. Berlin has managed to cut the country’s global competitiveness without measurably boosting energy innovation.

Japan rewrites history. An Abe-appointed panel is set to revisit the country’s 1993 apology to the “comfort women” it forced in to sex slavery during World War II. This isn’t going over well in a part of the world where neighbors are already on somewhat poor terms.

Dreaming of blue skies in Beijing. It’s that time of year again—winter’s cold has Chinese coal-fired power plants working overtime to heat homes, and that means a whole lot of toxic smog for the country’s megacities. Beijing is taking this more seriously than ever, but it needs to pursue three long-term steps if it wants to get to the root of the problem.

Partitioning California isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It’s unlikely to happen—not anytime soon, at least—but breaking the country’s most populous state would likely benefit most Californians, and the democratic process, to boot.

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