In case you missed them, here are five must-read CBCNews.ca stories from the past week.

Soldiers, sex and the CIA

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Canada and abroad columnist Brian Stewart.

Some of the most-read coverage on CBCNews.ca this week surrounded the resignation of former U.S. army general David Petraeus as director of the CIA after revelations of his extramarital affair. There was no end of speculation about how the controversy would affect the career of one of the most celebrated military personalities in the United States. But looking back at Petraeus's track record, columnist Brian Stewart points out that the man's almost mythical status is based largely on a number of reported accomplishments that, on close examination, are little more than myth themselves.

What must Canada's military sacrifice?

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay talk with a special operations member of the Canadian Forces during Operation Nanook on Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., Aug. 24. (Adrian Wyld/Pool/Reuters)

The promise of shrinking budgets in the years ahead is leading to questions about what kind of military Canada will have. Defence spending has been increasing by about $1 billion annually under the Harper government, but those days have come to an end and the military is now facing up to $2.5 billion in cuts. In a speech after his appointment as the new head of Canada's armed forces earlier this month, Gen. Tom Lawson acknowledged that the military would "have to stay within a budget that will be tighter than what we had expected," after what he described as "a wonderful new period where we've had a chance to refurbish many of our capabilities." Scott Taylor, editor at Esprit de Corps magazine, says the military must "sacrifice something — whether it's capability, or whether it's manpower, something's going to have to go."

China's ghost city

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Residential homes line a deserted street in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. (David Gray/Reuters)

China was the centre of attention this week as the Chinese Communist Party orchestrated a changeover of power at the meeting of the 18th National Party Congress in Beijing. Xi Jinping was named China’s general secretary and chairman of the military commission, and will formally take over as president next year, succeeding Hu Jintao. Xi faces the mammoth task of managing the world's most populous nation – a job that hasn't been going smoothly in some parts of the country.

CBC News correspondent Adrienne Arsenault went to the so-called "ghost city" of Ordos in Inner Mongolia to get a first-hand look at some of the difficulties China has been having when it comes to planning economic and social growth on a massive scale.

RCMP overhaul

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Michael Kempa, criminologist

The RCMP has been dogged by controversies ranging from the actions of officers to how the force is managed. In an open letter written to Canadians on May 28, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he is "trying to run a modern police force with a discipline system that was current 25 years ago." Bill C-42, making its way through Parliament now, promises to overhaul the RCMP by making individual police officers more accountable. Known as the Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act, it will empower Paulson and a revamped complaints commission to toss out those officers Paulson has called "rotten apples." Criminologist Michael Kempa takes a hard look at what it's likely going to take to turn the RCMP around.

Syrian opposition

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A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft artillery weapon during an air strike in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on Nov. 13. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)

High-level delegates from around the world met with the Syrian opposition coalition in London Friday, marking what some say is a turning point in the civil war. Formed on Nov. 11 in Doha, Qatar, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces represents about 90 per cent of the Syrian opposition groups and factions, and it hopes to bring under its authority the 150 or more armed committees fighting against the Assad regime. It has been recognized by France and Turkey, and Friday's meeting is "the beginning of an important shift on the part of the United States and its European allies to a more hands-on approach to help the opposition put its act together," according to Fawaz Gerges, who heads the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Poltical Science (LSE).

And this week's oddity:

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Stephen Colbert takes aim at Windsor, Winnipeg and the CBC on his satirical Comedy Central late-night show The Colbert Report. (CBC)

Where would you stick a thermometer to take the Earth's temperature? American comedian Stephen Colbert drew fire when he suggested in his latest book, America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't, that Windsor, Ont., is the "Earth’s rectum." In response to the Canadian coverage and reaction to his statement, he proceeded to drag Winnipeg and the CBC into the debate on his show, The Colbert Report.