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Weekly Roundup
Tunisia's Angel Investor, China's Face Mask Fail, and the Danger of Drinking Tea

Good evening, readers! We trust you’ve enjoyed your weekend, and that you’ve spent some time thinking up suitably devious pranks for Tuesday’s April Fool’s Day. While you gear up for the week ahead, take the time to look back on some of the stories you may have missed over the week behind:

A victory for counterinsurgency? In the wake of an extremely close presidential election, the Salvadoran military pledged to respect the electoral process. The vote was decided by razor-thin margins, leading to accusations of electoral fraud, but El Salvador may be the most successful example of American nation-building yet, warts and all.

Tunisia gets an angel investor. The North African country (the former site of Carthage) may rely on Rome, its ancient foe, for its very survival as a fledgling democratic state. If Italy is up to the task, the stability of the entire region could be strengthened.

When face masks fail. China’s horrific toxic air pollution has given birth to a new industry: face masks for the urbanites unfortunate enough to have to go out in the hazardous smog. There’s just one problem—a consumer watchdog group found that 3 out of every 4 masks tested didn’t adequately protect the user from harmful particulate matter.

US-Saudi relationship: too big to fail. President Obama was in Saudi Arabia this week, working through some substantial policy differences with one of his most important allies in the Middle East. The strategic interests of Riyadh and Washington have diverged in recent years, but a certain degree of mutual dependence means divorce is unlikely. Time for couples therapy.

Is it time to double down on NATO? Andrew A. Michta thinks so. Moscow’s grab of Crimea has put the West on the back foot, and Michta argues that deploying NATO troops across central and eastern Europe would help deter further Russian belligerence.

File this under good green news: China is well ahead of schedule on fracking. Though the environmental movement is loathe to hear it, this is a positive step towards mitigating climate change. To the extent that Chinese shale gas displaces the country’s voracious coal consumption, global emissions could come down.

Selling the kitchen sink. Detroit’s desperation knows no bounds, it seems, as the bankrupt city is now considering selling its sewer system. For once, this isn’t a problem of municipal mismanagement: nearly half of all the system’s users haven’t been paying their bills.

SWAT targets Kansas family for the crime of…drinking tea? Police tested the family’s garbage and incorrectly identified loose tea leaves as marijuana. And, in a move consonant with the ongoing militarization of America’s police forces, Leawood, Kansas’s finest raided the family’s home.

The test 44 US states flunked: a recent report assessing national health care price transparency painted a very grim portrait of our system. No test received an “A,” and even California—which in 2006 passed a price transparency law—failed. We need to increase transparency to bring down costs; let’s hope states start studying up.


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