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Tanks Mass At Syrian Town; Talks Reported In Yemen

Good morning.

The wildfires in northeast Arizona have now scorched an area twice the size of the city of Chicago and, as we reported earlier, it doesn't look like the flames will be under control anytime soon.

As for other stories making headlines this morning, they include:

-- Tanks Reportedly Massed At Syrian Town: NPR's Deborah Amos tells our Newscast Desk that the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour is now "almost empty," according to some of the few people still there. As she reported for us on Tuesday, that's where the government says about 120 members of its security forces were killed in recent days — and where a military campaign is expected to get going at any time. The BBC adds that "residents who stayed in the town have set up road-blocks in an attempt to stop security forces from entering." About 150 Syrian army tanks are said to be there.

-- Talks Said To Be Underway In Yemen; President Still In Saudi Arabia: According to the BBC, "Yemen's ruling party has opened talks with the country's main opposition coalition following the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment." Bloomberg News says that the opposition "is urging the vice president to formally declare he has assumed the duties of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is abroad recovering from injuries, to prevent him from returning to power." On Morning Edition, New York Times correspondent Neil MacFarquhar told host Renee Montagne that because Saleh left his powerful son and nephews behind to protect his interests, a stalemate continues.

-- "Germany Expecting More E. Coli Deaths": Reuters reports that "Germany expects the death toll from the E.coli outbreak to rise although the number of new infections from the virulent strain of bacteria that has killed 24 people is likely to drop, the government said on Wednesday."

-- "Democrats Ponder; Should Rep. Weiner Stay Or Go?" NPR's Andrea Seabrook says that Democrats are debating whether Rep. Anthony Weiner's political skills outweigh the potential damage he could inflict on the party after his admission that he sent lewd photos of himself to women, engaged in sexually charged exchanges with some of them via the Web, and then lied about it all.

-- Dallas Wins Game 4; NBA Finals Tied 2-2:With another late rally, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83 Tuesday night, evening the best-of-seven NBA finals at two games apiece.

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