In light of the ongoing battle for Mosul and the recent bombing of a school in Syria that killed twenty-six civilians, mostly children, it becomes evident that the actors behind the violence and turmoil must be removed from the conflict before there can be sustained efforts to achieve lasting stability in the region, a senior State Department official said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on October 27.

Anne W. Patterson, assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said “some of the violence is going to get worse before it gets better, but we have to focus on the defeat of ISIS first.” She was referring to the terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

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Moldova will hold a historic presidential election on October 30 that could determine whether this country of less than three million tilts toward Europe or Russia.

It is Moldova’s first presidential election in twenty years in which voters will get to directly decide the outcome. In March, a court ruled unconstitutional a revision of the constitution in 2000 that called for indirect election of the president through parliament. Under the revised presidential election process, if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote on October 30, a runoff will be held between the top two vote getters on November 13.

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Major geopolitical players such as China, India, the United States, and the European Union have committed to cut emissions, but it is equally important to mobilize private sector investment in this effort, Jonathan Pershing, the US special envoy for climate change, said at the Atlantic Council on October 25.

“Climate change is a problem that actually does have solutions,” Pershing said, but these solutions require collaboration across borders.

“Driven by this threat, the global community is beginning to rise to the challenge,” he added.

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Since the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine's leaders have repeatedly committed themselves to fighting graft. Former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised that all corrupt officials would be prosecuted, current Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman vowed an "intolerance of corruption," and President Petro Poroshenko campaigned as a reformer who would "wipe the country clean” of endemic graft.

Despite these promises, however, activists warn that Ukraine's political class is currently aiming to systematically roll back key reforms.

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The national security challenge posed in the Arctic by the growing presence of Russia and China as well as climate change makes it imperative for the United States to develop the strategic infrastructure needed to play a key leadership role, while maintaining safety and security in the region, said a senior White House official.

According to Amy Pope, deputy homeland security adviser and deputy assistant to US President Barack Obama at the National Security Council, “it was clear that with a rapidly changing climate we needed to put in a leadership structure to guide US activity in the region.” The United States must prepare to engage other countries in a coordinated way in the region, she said at the Atlantic Council on October 25.

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In December 2015, the anticorruption watchdog Transparency International warned that Ukraine’s defense sector faces “a high risk of corruption.” TI named the country’s opaque procurement process as the highest-risk area for corruption. Assessing the defense spheres of NATO members and partner states, TI gave Ukraine a D on an A to F scale, primarily for its lack of transparency.

Fortunately, this problem has not gone unaddressed. At the behest of the Ukrainian government, the RAND Corporation studied Ukraine’s defense sector. Its findings, “Security Sector Reform of Ukraine,” were issued a year ago but published only recently. In response, this summer the Ukrainian government adopted a comprehensive reform program for the defense and security sector, the Strategic Defense Bulletin. Relying mostly on the recommendations presented in the RAND study, the document is a road map for the defense sector’s overhaul, covering the overall architecture of the security sector, the structure of defense institutions, the use of resources, cybersecurity, and cooperation with global partners. The bulletin is in line with NATO standards, and received positive feedback at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July.

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The most disputed point about the Minsk agreements has been whether to hold local elections in the Donbas before Ukraine regains control of its border with Russia, or after. Ukraine has insisted that security and the return of the border should precede elections, while pro-Russian separatists and Moscow have been pushing for the opposite, as agreed to in Minsk. At the time of Minsk II, Kyiv found itself at a disadvantage in the negotiations since it had been enduring an offensive on the city of Debaltseve and suffered an assault on Mariupol.

Russia has been violating the terms of Minsk, which led Kyiv to postpone constitutional reform and argue for the reverse sequence: security and border control first, then local elections.

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In the rush to produce cost-effective connected devices, not enough focus has been placed on security measures. The cost of such inattention became evident on October 21 when hackers exploited vulnerabilities in hundreds of thousands of everyday devices, including baby monitors and cameras, to cripple the Internet. This attack was merely a sign of things to come, said a cybersecurity expert at the Atlantic Council.

“This [cyberattack] is essentially in part fueled because the economics are such that we want these technologies, we want them fast to market, we want them inexpensive, so many of these devices have incredibly low margins, [and] have no security [measures],” said Joshua Corman, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative.

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Health care in Ukraine has not worked in the past—not for hospitals, clinics, doctors or nurses, and most important, not for the Ukrainian people, regardless of where they live or work, unless they are fortunate enough to pay under the table to receive the most basic care.

Entrenched, bureaucratic, and corrupt interests, wielding a combination of bribes, private pharmaceutical deals, and indifference, contribute to a system in which the public’s basic health needs are unmet. The result is relatively high levels of disease and injury compared to former communist Central European countries and the industrialized West. A system perceived as providing free health care is, in fact, underfinanced by the state and is not at all free for those who desire sustained treatment for illness and injury.

In the past, the Ministry of Health has been seen as complicit with this broken health care system: at best, looking the other way to ignore inefficiency and corruption; at worst, participating in the system’s incompetence and lack of results.

But change is already underway.

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Tensions between the United States and the Philippines—a former US colony with which Washington has had a mutual defense treaty since 1951—have put a question mark over the future of the relationship and are being watched warily by countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Noting that the US-Philippines treaty alliance has been a “foundation for stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region,” Jamie Metzl, a nonresident senior fellow for technology and national security in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said: “Many other countries in Asia, especially those fearful of Chinese aggression, are watching what happens in the Philippines and looking at how that might change the balance of power in the South China Sea.”

“For countries like Vietnam, that are for good reason extremely fearful of China’s behavior, Philippines’ actions could well encourage them to strengthen their relationship with the United States as a way of rebalancing Asia,” he added.

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