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Mueller Report, ISIS Leader, Brexit: RAND Weekly Recap

May 3, 2019

This week, we discuss young adults using cannabis and nicotine/tobacco products together; whether the Mueller report will lead to better behavior from Russia; surprise medical bills; the emergence of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; a social worker turned RAND researcher; and what kind of Brexit the British people want.

Hands holding electronic vaping device and cigarettes, photo by AndreyPopov/Getty Images

Photo by AndreyPopov/Getty Images

Using Cannabis with Tobacco or Nicotine Is Linked to Heavier Use

More than a third of young adults report using cannabis and tobacco or nicotine products together. That's according to a new RAND study. Those who said they use the substances together—either by using one right after the other or by mixing them—tended to consume more marijuana and tobacco or nicotine. Our researchers also found that co-use of these products is linked to worse mental and physical health, as well as increased problematic behaviors, such as fighting, skipping school, or being fired. These findings highlight a unique public health challenge as more jurisdictions legalize cannabis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin, April 5, 2019

Photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via Reuters

After the Mueller Report: Will Russia Change Its Ways?

The Mueller report revealed much detail about Russia's malign activities. How might Moscow incur costs for its offenses? The United States could increase sanctions and more boldly challenge Russian interests, says RAND's William Courtney. But the Kremlin may still see bad behavior as a useful tool to undermine America's values and cohesion. “It's the perfect cost-effective, asymmetric weapon for the weak to use against the strong,” says Courtney.

An IV and an epidural machine with a pregnant woman lying on a hospital bed

Photo by Tyler Olson/Fotolia

A Tale of Two Deliveries

Friends and RAND researchers Erin Taylor and Layla Parast gave birth within weeks of one another. They had the same insurance, delivered at the same in-network hospital, and both received epidurals. But as they recently shared on the “Today” show, only Parast received a bill for anesthesiology. Why? Unbeknownst to her, Parast's anesthesiologist was out-of-network. The experience revealed that even patients who go out of their way to use an in-network facility can get a surprise bill. But it doesn't have to be that way.

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A bearded man appearing to be Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaks in a video released April 29, 2019, photo by Islamic State Group/Al Furqan Media Network/Reuters TV

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addresses his followers in a nearly 20-minute video released on April 29, 2019

Why Did ISIS's Leader Reappear?

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recently appeared on video for the first time in five years. There are many possible reasons for his emergence, says RAND's Colin Clarke. In the end, Baghdadi may have achieved his goals simply by showing his face. He proved he is alive; reasserted his leadership of a hobbled, yet not defeated, ISIS; and urged his followers to launch attacks.

Dionne Barnes-Proby in Tongva Park in Santa Monica, California, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Barnes-Proby's recent studies focus on juvenile justice, the foster care system, and workforce development programs for people with criminal records.

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

RAND's Dionne Barnes-Proby: A Champion for Children

As a high school student, RAND's Dionne Barnes-Proby was part of an effort to integrate schools. She was one of only a few minority students in her school, and she often didn't get the support she needed. This led her to a career dedicated to helping kids in need—first as a social worker and foster care case manager, and now as a social policy researcher. After nearly 20 years at RAND, Barnes-Proby's early experiences continue to motivate her.

Dice with UK and EU flags, and no deal and deal on sides, Photo by Rawf8/Getty Images

Photo by Rawf8/Getty Images

What Kind of Brexit Do Brits Want?

British Parliament remains in gridlock over Brexit. According to a recent survey conducted by RAND and other research partners, the public is also unsure about how the UK should leave the European Union. When Britons were asked to choose from four options—from remaining in the EU to leaving on World Trade Organization terms—there was no obvious winner. Given the British public's indecision, Parliament may not be so far off from the will of the people.

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