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Carrie Lam that ignited the protests -- to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China for trial -- had been withdrawn.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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On hearing the State Department's George Kent and William Taylor describe President Donald Trump's withholding of military aid to Ukraine, The New York Times summarized and solemnly endorsed their testimony:

"What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn't simply the abuse of power by the President, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally, under constant assault by Russian forces."

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Some 100 members of an American Mormon community in northern Mexico, nine of whom -- women, children, toddlers -- were massacred a week ago on a lonely stretch of highway, just crossed over into Arizona.

Other family members who have lived there for decades will follow.

The atrocity was the work of one of the cartels battling for control of the drug traffic into the United States.

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Mike Scruggs