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Ill-fitting Trains, Czeched Momentum, and the Rise of the Master's Degree

Good afternoon, TAI readers! We hope your Memorial Day holiday is going well so far, whether you’re relaxing at home or exploring new places this long weekend. Take the time to look back on what you may have missed in the past week:

Momentum for a European energy union got Czeched. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk floated the idea that Europe should negotiate a single price for its oil and gas from suppliers (namely, Russia), but in a position paper released this week the Czech government came out against it. Putin will want more news like this.

Speaking of news Putin likes to see, Russia and China finally inked a gas deal more than a decade in the making, and worth a whopping $400 billion. With its normally pliant European customers growing increasingly restive after the Crimean annexation, Moscow is looking east to peddle its hydrocarbons.

France ordered 2,000 trains that won’t fit most of its stations. We’ve all ordered something that’s the wrong size before, but have probably been able to return the item. Not so France, however, which will have to reconfigure the majority of its stations to accommodate 2,000 new trains that are too wide to ride through.

There’s oil in them thar British hills! The British Geological Survey estimates that the UK has between 2.2 and 8.6 billion barrels of crude trapped in a shale formation in southern England, but local opposition remains intractable. The government has a plan, though: drill anyway.

The Thai coup-that-wasn’t-a-coup turned out to be a coup. Thailand’s army chief declared martial law, after violent clashes between the country’s yellow shirts and red shirts threatened to escalate. In many ways this coup wasn’t surprising, but it won’t change anything about the country’s intractable political divisions.

Parenthood…at any price. The contentious culture war issue of the “gestational carrier” for hire is pitting Catholics and feminists against Evangelicals and gay rights advocates. Christopher White takes a closer look at these strange bedfellows.

European foreign policy faces a big test in who it chooses to replace Catherine Ashton as the EU’s foreign policy chief. This is an opportunity to pick a strong figure to help solidify the bloc’s policy aspirations, and Europe’s heads of state can’t afford to let it pass by.

A bloc divided…may be the best way to describe the European Union at the moment. Andrew Michta walks us through the competing interests—from corporate concerns to regional security issues to “postmodern publics”—that have an impact on Europe’s response to Russia. The U.S. could help clear up the confusion, Michta writes.

The devil went down to Georgia. While the U.S. and Europe wrangle with their response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Moscow is moving to export its Orthodox-Nationalist ideology to its small southern neighbor, Georgia. Michael Cecire notes that criticism of Tblisi’s pro-West consensus is growing louder.

The rise of the Master’s degree: Fully eight percent of Americans hold a Master’s degree, the same percentage of the population that held bachelor’s degrees fifty years ago. The higher education bubble is real, and it’s still growing.

Will America’s future be whiter than we think? Between 2000 and 2010, millions of Hispanic-origin Americans changed their self-identification to white. This phenomenon isn’t new; Jews, Italians, and other European immigrants were also once thought of as “non-white.”

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