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Must Reads of the Week: Polio in Syria, Putin's Olympics, the AUMF, and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
January 24, 2014

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"Patients' Costs Skyrocket; Specialists' Incomes Soar"
By Elisabeth Rosenthal
New York Times

"Doctors' charges—and the incentives they reflect—are a major factor in the nation's $2.7 trillion medical bill. Payments to doctors in the United States, who make far more than their counterparts in other developed countries, account for 20 percent of American health care expenses, second only to hospital costs."

Activist health workers administer a polio vaccination to a child in Aleppo January 5, 2014.

"Syria's Polio Epidemic: The Suppressed Truth"
By Annie Sparrow
New York Review of Books

"The UN's current polio vaccination program—sponsored by UNICEF and delivered in UN-financed convoys and flights—is fully orchestrated by the Syrian government, and in opposition-held areas, it is dependent for administration on volunteers from the government-dominated Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). SARC's president, Abdul Rahman Attar, is closely tied to the government, and even has his own pharmaceutical company, which has influenced the preference given to regime territory in the administration of polio vaccines during these last three years."

"60 Words and a War Without End"
By Gregory D. Johnsen
BuzzFeed

"Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here's how it came to be, and what it's since come to mean."

"World Report 2014"
Human Rights Watch

"In the 667-page world report, its 24th annual review of human rights practices around the world, Human Rights Watch summarizes major issues in more than 90 countries."

"Putin's Olympic Fever Dream"
By Steven Lee Myers
New York Times Magazine

"The megaproject has returned — another Soviet legacy pursued by the singular will of Vladimir Putin, who seems incapable of escaping the ideas that nurtured him from youth. The Olympics in Sochi are often called Putin's games, a profligate investment to prove to the world Russia's resurrection, a personal validation of his 14 years — and counting — as the country's paramount ruler."

"The Federal Budget and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2014"
By Stephen McInerney and Cole Bockenfeld
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

"U.S. support for democracy, governance, and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa is needed now as much as ever. This report aims to examine the degree and nature of that support, by way of the federal budget and appropriations process. It aims to analyze and assess the approach of the U.S. administration and Congress to budgets, spending, and foreign assistance, and to draw conclusions regarding broader priorities and thinking in terms of U.S. policy against the backdrop of dramatic political changes across the Arab world."

"Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China's Elite"
By Marina Walker Guevara, Gerard Ryle, Alexa Olesen, Mar Cabra, Michael Hudson, and Christoph Giesen
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

"The data illustrates the outsized dependency of the world's second largest economy on tiny islands thousands of miles away. As the country has moved from an insular communist system to a socialist/capitalist hybrid, China has become a leading market for offshore havens that peddle secrecy, tax shelters and streamlined international deal making."

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