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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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