"Jaw-jaw is better than war-war," is attributed, wrongly, say some historians, to Winston Churchill. Still, the words lately came to mind.

While last week ended with a hopeful U.S.-Iranian prisoner exchange that was hailed by President Donald Trump -- "Thank you to Iran for a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together" -- a few days earlier, the week produced more ominous news.

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 The "Our diversity is our strength!" Party is starting to look rather monochromatic in its upper echelons these days.

The four leading candidates for its presidential nomination -- Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg -- are all white.

The six candidates who have qualified for the Dec. 19 debate -- the front four, plus Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer -- are all white.

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At first glance, it would appear that five months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had produced a stunning triumph.
By September, the proposal of city leader Carrie Lam that ignited the protests -- to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China for trial -- had been withdrawn.
And though the protesters' demands escalated along with their tactics, from marches to mass civil disobedience, Molotov cocktails, riots and attacks on police, Chinese troops remained confined to their barracks.

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A week from now, the 29 member states of "the most successful alliance in history" will meet to celebrate its 70th anniversary. Yet all is not well within NATO.

Instead of a "summit," the gathering, on the outskirts of London, has been cut to two days. Why the shortened agenda?

Among the reasons, apprehension that President Donald Trump might use the occasion to disrupt alliance comity by again berating the Europeans for freeloading on the U.S. defense budget. 

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When the wildfires of California broke out across the Golden State, many were the causes given.

Negligence by campers. Falling power lines. Arson. A dried-out land. Climate change. Failure to manage forests, prune trees and clear debris, leaving fuel for blazes ignited. Abnormally high winds spreading the flames. Too many fires for first responders to handle.

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Mike Scruggs