Chatter: Syrians flee as battle rages in Aleppo




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Need to know:
The ongoing battle for Aleppo has triggered an exodus from Syria's second city, according to the United Nations.

The UN estimates that 200,000 people have fled in the past two days alone. Government troops have been engaged in a ground assault since Saturday, and rebels are answering them with guerilla war. Both sides claim to be winning; yet on the streets, according to activists, the fighting is only intensifying.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned today that the battle would prove "a nail in the coffin" of President Bashar al-Assad. Not before it makes many other coffins first.

Want to know:
How to win friends and influence people, the Mitt Romney edition: A: Claim you're related. B: Insult them. C: Insult their neighbors.

Having tried out A and B in Britain – to questionable effect – In Israel, Team Romney went with option C. The Republican nominee presumptive told Israelis they had a right to defend themselves against a nuclear-armed Iran; defense that apparently includes, according to Romney's senior foreign policy adviser, a preemptive and unilateral military strike.

He'll also throw in a US embassy in Jerusalem and unequivocal recognition of the city as Israel's capital. Not enough? Romney then pulled out D: Flattery, by reminding Jewish donors how much more economically successful they are than Palestinians and chalking that success down to "culture, and a few other things." Just a few.

Not surprisingly, Palestinians didn't appreciate Romney's tone. But then, their supporters don't live in swing states. 

Romney heads to his final overseas stop, Poland, later today.

Dull but important:
How would you explain the euro crisis to a child? In Greece, at least, you don't have to: the generation growing up under austerity already knows exactly what it means.

The wage cuts and tax increases imposed in an effort to reduce the country's debt have pushed many families under the bread line. Some estimates say as many as 35 percent of Greek children could be living in poverty.

There are reports of malnourished kids collapsing at school, and pupils skipping classes to get meals at charity shelters. GlobalPost reports from Athens on what it's like to grow up hungry.

Just because:
Three members of Russia's most excitingly named all-girl punk band, Pussy Riot, go on trial in Moscow today on charges of "hooliganism."

The women face up to seven years in jail for staging an unsanctioned musical protest in February, when, on the altar of Moscow's largest Russian Orthodox cathedral, they sang "Mother of God, Cast Putin Out!"

Their detention has drawn criticism at home and abroad, with activists, writers and rock stars calling for their release. But if the recent decision to deny bail is anything to go by, the Rioters shouldn't expect to find judges sympathetic to their cause. 

Strange but true:
Our Olympian of the day is Hamadou Djibo Issaka, better known as "The Sculling Sloth." 

The 35-year-old represented Niger in the men's individual rowing at London 2012, having taken up the sport just three months ago. He finished, well, last – but so very, very last that the crowd's hearts were won. Spectators had a full minute and 39 seconds to cheer Issaka to the finish line after everyone else had crossed it, with all the enthusiasm Brits reserve for the under-est of underdogs.

Issaka hopes to inspire other Nigeriens to row, he says; "We just have to wait for the boats to arrive."