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Felipe Dana / AP

The lead story of today's L.A. Times pulls together key threads on a vital debate that's getting too little attention ... "U.S. risks escalation in Mideast: As rout of Islamic State nears, Trump's lack of strategy may leave the door open for Iran and Russia," by Tracy Wilkinson, W.J. Hennigan and Mike Memoli:

  • What's happening now: "With American-backed ground forces poised to recapture Mosul in Iraq and Raqqah in Syria, Islamic State's de facto capitals, U.S. commanders are confident they soon will vanquish the militant group from its self-declared caliphate after three years of fighting."
  • What happened before: "Trump promised to announce in his first month in office a new strategy for defeating Islamic State. As president, he has promised for more than a month to hold a news conference to discuss the effort."
  • The problem: "He has yet to do either. But an intense debate is underway among the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House over the way forward."
  • The debate: "Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and national security advisor H.R. McMaster have signaled different priorities. The Pentagon argues that it only aims to defeat Islamic State and has no intention of being pulled into a conflict with Iran. Mattis ... has advocated 'de-confliction' zones that would essentially divvy up Syria and keep competing forces apart."
  • Why it matters ... Ilan Goldenberg, a former senior State Department official who now heads the Middle East program at the nonpartisan Center for a New American Security: "What I worry about is the muddled mess scenario ... When you start shooting down planes and running into each other, it quickly goes up the escalation ladder."

Go deeper

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening that it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: New documents released last week showed that Cuomo used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment. Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

Axios Visuals Deep Dive: Pandemic eating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A food revolution began pre-pandemic and COVID has only accelerated that. See how America's food industry is transforming, from farm to your table.