A building severely damaged by an airstrike in Aleppo City, Syria. Photo: OCHA/Gemma Connell

The Last Days of Aleppo

The conflict has reached a grim turning point. “Thousands of people were sent fleeing for their lives on Monday as rebel fighters lost a large stretch of territory in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to government forces, in what could prove a turning point in the conflict, both militarily and psychologically. Residents described desperate scenes of people being killed by shells as they searched for shelter after their homes came under the heaviest bombardment yet in years of airstrikes and shelling that have destroyed entire neighborhoods of the rebel-held half of the divided city, once Syria’s largest and an industrial hub. At least 4,000 people have fled from the rebel-held eastern districts to the government-controlled western side of the city and have been registered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Jibreen, a neighborhood there, Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the United Nations office for humanitarian affairs, said on Monday.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/2gzyEBl)

Zika Messes With Texas…Texas reported its first home-grown case of Zika virus infection Monday — making it the second U.S. state with mosquitoes spreading the virus. It’s a long-feared development but not a surprising one. Like Florida, South Texas is home to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that spread Zika and also hosts many travelers to and from countries where the virus has been spreading. ‘The patient is a Cameron County resident who is not pregnant and who was confirmed last week by lab test to have been infected. She reported no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika virus transmission and no other risk factors,’ the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement.” (NBC http://nbcnews.to/2gzDEpj)

Zuma on the Ropes…”South African President Jacob Zuma was expected to survive a no confidence vote at a meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (ANC) extended into Monday night, despite media reports of at least three cabinet ministers turning against him. Zuma’s presidency has been plagued by accusations of corruption and the nation’s anti-graft watchdog this month asked for a judge to investigate alleged influence-peddling by a wealthy family Zuma has called his friends. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing. One senior ANC official, who asked to remain anonymous, said Zuma would probably survive the latest attempt to dislodge him by the growing number of ANC figures unhappy with his leadership.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/2gzBgz6)

Security Council to vote on North Korea Sanctions…Can a new round of international sanctions on North Korea do the trick? Three months after North Korea last tested a nuclear weapon, the Security Council is again poised to sanction the regime in a vote on Wednesday.” (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2gzC9Yk)