Return to Transcripts main page


David Cameron Testifies Before Leveson Inquiry; Egyptian Court Rules Political Isolation Law Unconstitutional

Aired June 14, 2012 - 16:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, HOST: Tonight, on Connect the World, the human cost of this euro crisis: mother's in Greece forced to give up their children. Whatever you think needs to be done, this is the reality for some.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

CLANCY: And meantime, it's the number Spain has been trying to avoid as it battles its own debt. We're going to show you why number seven is not so lucky.

Two rulings today dealing a blow to Egypt's revolution. We're going to get reaction from leading advocate for human rights there live from Cairo.

And new doping allegations pose the biggest challenge yet to this man, cycling superstar Lance Armstrong.

Austerity, bond yields, debt, it's sometimes easy to think the EuroZone crisis is all about those technical data points which have no immediate impact on our everyday lives. But if you've ever needed evidence at the real human suffering of this story, take a look here's a report from Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the youngest victims of Greece's economic despair, abandoned not through lack of love, but money. We gained access to this orphanage in Athens where care workers say they've witnessed a surge in the number of Greek families unable to feed and cloth their children.

STERGIOS SINFIOS, DIR, SOCIAL WORK, SOS CHILDREN'S VILLAGES GREECE: I think that it is the first time for us. And I'm working for SOS Villages since 1982. So the first time I see so many poor families ask for help for their own children.

CHANCE: Austerity and years of recession are literally breaking up families.

Of course there have always been orphans, children in care in Greece, but what's changed over the course of the past two years is this: previously children in care came from problem families, parents who were drug addicts or alcoholics, but over the past two years that's transformed dramatically. The vast majority now come from families who simply can't afford to look after their children.

Parents like Kassiani Papadopuolou, single mother, unemployed, and unable, she says, to care for her three children. We caught one of her rare visits.


CHANCE: Pleased to meet you. How are you?

PAPADOPUOLOU: Michaela (ph).

CHANCE: Hello Michaela (ph), good to see you.

Giving up this family, she told me, was painful. But in Greece's economic climate still her best option.

PAPADOPUOLOU (through translator): It's really difficult, really tragic for a true mother to leave her children, but when you understand they are not at fault and deserve a future, it's better to make a move like this than have them beside you without even a plate of food.

CHANCE: Who do you blame for putting you and your family in this situation? Do you blame the government? Do you blame the economic crisis? Who do you hold responsible?

PAPADOPUOLOU (through translator): For me, it's all those who govern. They all look out for themselves instead of the people. And the poor like us should be the responsibility of the state.

CHANCE: But this is the terrible social price of Greece's economic crisis. Even for its youngest, most vulnerable, the state can barely afford to care.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Athens.


CLANCY: That is an eye-opening report about the reality. And Matthew joins me now live from Athens. Mother in your report blames the country's politicians. They go to the polls this weekend in Greece again. Just how is this going to play out at the ballot box?

CHANCE: I think it's going to play out pretty dramatically. Remember that from a Greek point of view this election is not about whether banks will be repaid their money, it's not about really to a very large extent whether Greece will stay in the single currency the euro or not, it's all about people's standards of living. People in this country have seen their lifestyles almost literally drop off a precipice. We've seen economic situation deteriorate immensely. It's having a massive social impact.

And we've seen in that report just one aspect of that, the fact that so many parents are finding it hard to make ends meet. And it's on that basis that most Greeks are likely to vote in the elections coming up on Sunday, Jim.

CLANCY: What does that mean then for New Democracy, for the parties on the left and the right that were more or less benefiting from a protest vote the last time around?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, the short answer to that, Jim, is we don't really know. One of the things about the system here is that opinion polls for the last two weeks have been outlawed in Greece. So we haven't got a firm read on exactly where all the political parties are standing. But the expectation at the moment is that the country will still be pretty much divided right down the middle in terms of people that feel that that -- that the parties of the past, the traditional parties have let them down. They want a change. They want an end to these austerity measures, because they feel it's too much pain for them to endure.

And on the other hand, there are a whole group of voters that were as well that maybe did vote as a protest for the far left parties, the anti- austerity parties in the past that they think it's just too risky to turn their back on the austerity measures and to turn their back on the euro.

But, you know, what proportions of the electorate vote for which side. We just don't know at the moment. It looks pretty divided.

CLANCY: Matthew Chance there with us live from Athens. Matthew as always thank you. Great reporting.

If the desperation that Matthew described there in Greece, it's stark yes. Spain, looking on anxiously. Today they're borrowing costs hit that level that forced Greece and other European countries to request a bailout.

Al Goodman is there live in Madrid. Talk us through today's significant developments.


Well, for the first time since Spain has been in the euro that borrowing costs for the 10-year bond that's considered the reference went up just over the 7 percent. And that set off the alarm bells, because that's the point at which the analysts say that a country may not be able to finance itself, because the financing gets to be too expensive. You are basically just paying back your interest you're not paying back you're principle.

But let's roll it back, because that -- the basic nerves here in Spain are due to a bailout plan, a more limited bailout plan. Not for the whole country, but just for the Spanish bank. It was announced last weekend. Europe said they would provide up to 100 billion euros to the beleaguered Spanish bank. The problem is that Spain hasn't said how much they want. And no one knows what the conditions are and that's what's caused all the nervousness in the markets in this day driving that up to that 7 percent.

So as this is swirling around, the economy administer came out. He said everybody calm down. And then very remarkably this afternoon in a paper that's close to the government some details about what Spain's plans to ask of Europe starting to emerge. And those details from that report and other reports indicate it might be 60 to 70 billion euros that they may be asking for -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. How does it -- we saw in Matthew Chance's report how it plays out in the human sense. Is Spain somewhat of a mirror of that?

GOODMAN: It is, because there have been a series -- months of austerity cuts across this country as Spain has been trying to get its budget deficit down to meet the European target. So last week we were with a young Spanish man. He's got a degree in nursing. He's an x-ray technician. He's going to move to Norway to get a job. There are indications that thousands of Spaniards, especially young Spaniards are moving out of the country because there just aren't the jobs here.

The Red Cross in Spain is distributing food to Spanish nationals for the first time. Previously, it's distributed food to immigrants here from Latin America, Eastern Europe, North Africa. But now they have a special campaign to raise money to distribute food right here in this country.

And take another example, Madrid area public service doctors from the public health care system have announced they're about to go on strike because their salaries have been cut. They said, look, we didn't cause this crisis. We are paying for it. We're going on strike. This list goes on and on and on.

CLANCY: Al, are there some in Spain who would like to see the government set aside some money in the European Union, get a little stimulus into the economy, get some jobs?

GOODMAN: There has been a huge rising tide of criticism against the conservative government that was swept to power last November promising to fix the economy. The conservative prime minister has been very much aligned with Chancellor Merkel of Germany in that austerity was the way to get out of the crisis. But now with the election just north of here of Hollande as president of France who has been saying you need a mix of austerity and some stimulus to get things growing, the government is starting to make those kind of statements that maybe some growth policies would be good as well.

Because remember this is the Europe high 24 percent unemployment overall here, more than 50 percent unemployment for Spaniards who are under 25 years old. It is a dire situation -- Jim.

CLANCY: Al Goodman reporting there from Madrid live. Thank you.

Still to come right here on Connect the World, a dramatic political shake-up in Egypt just two days before the presidential runoff vote. We're going to see why some critics say this is a military coup.

The defending champions up against the men in green. Will Spanish flair win out? Or can the Irish pull off an upset?

All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


CLANCY: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Jim Clancy. Wherever you are, welcome back.

Many Egyptians stunned, even outraged by what they consider to be a major blow to their fledgling democracy. A court ruling today effectively dissolved parliament just six months after it was finally elected handing legislative powers now to the military. Islamists dominated that parliament, but one Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker says all Egyptians are the ones who stand to lose this time.


ABDULMAWGOUD DARDERY, EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: It's a (inaudible) Freedom and Justice party and the Muslim Brotherhood, it is now an Egyptian problem. So the majority of Egyptians are angry and not happy with that decision. And they're calling for an end for the military rule and the beginning of true democracy.


CLANCY: The court also struck down a law that would have barred Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafik from contesting this weekend's presidential runoff. We'll have much, much more on this story coming up ahead and a live report from Cairo.

I'm going to take a moment now, take a look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.

Former billionaire banker Allen Stanford sentenced to 110 years in prison. He defrauded investors of $7 billion in a long running Ponzi scheme. His sentence is less than a 150 year term handed to former NASDAQ boss Bernie Madoff for a similar crime.

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived on her first visit to Europe in 25 years. As part of her trip she will collect the Nobel Peace Prize that she won all the way back in 1992. She began her 17 day tour with a speech at the International Labor Organization in Geneva reiterating her commitment to reform and democracy in her home country.


AUNG SAN SUU KYI, MYANMAR PARLIAMENT MEMBER: The National League for Democracy has repeatedly emphasized the need for rule of law and an end to ethnic conflict in our country. And if these basic requirements are met, the foundation for a healthy social, political and economy growth can not be laid down.


CLANCY: The Falkland Islands marking 30 years since the end of war with Argentina commemorating the military and civilian lives lost at a ceremony in Port Stanley. Meantime, Argentina's president is set to address a decolonization committee at the United Nations in New York reasserting her country's claim to sovereignty over what they call the Malvinas Islands.

Well we're going to take a short break right now, but when we come back the ethics inquiry in Britain, that has the country's prime minister defending his relationship with the press.


CLANCY: You're watching Connect the World live from the CNN Center. Welcome back. I'm Jim Clancy.

The British prime minister have given evidence in the UK press ethics inquiry in London. David Cameron telling the court self regulation of the press was not working, but it's his personal connections with the press that are raising all the eyebrows. Let's get more from Dan Rivers.


DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Leveson witness list is like a who's who of British society: film stars, powerful media barons, spin doctors, and major politicians past and present. Now it was the turn of the man who helped set up the sprawling inquiry, Prime Minister David Cameron in the hot seat and looking red-faced amid questions about his friendship with former CEO of News International Rebekah Brooks.

CAMERON: We probably didn't see them more than on average once every six weeks.

RIVERS: But it was this text message from Rebekah Brook to David Cameron that was most embarrassing. It reads "let's discuss over country supper soon." It goes on, "I'm so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend, but because professionally we're definitely in this together."

JAY: What was your understanding of that?

CAMERON: The Sun wanted to make sure it was helping the Conservative Party put its best foot forward with the policies we were announcing, the speech I was going to make and all the rest of it. And I think that's what that means.

RIVERS: Cameron and Brooks both have weekend retreats in neighboring villages in Oxfordshire. Cameron denying any grand bargain was hatched over country suppers here or anywhere.

CAMERON: There was no overt deal for support, there was no covert deal, there was no nods and winks. There was a conservative politician, me, trying to win over newspapers, trying to win over television, trying to win over (inaudible), but not trading policies for that support.

RIVERS: On Wednesday, Rebekah Brooks appeared in court, charged with attempting to cover up the extent to phone hacking at the news of the world. 24 hours later, David Cameron's close relationship with her was under the microscope. Awkward say some, but not fatal.

STEVE HEWLETT, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: We haven't got the scandal. I mean, the point is wherever you look you see things that don't smell very good, that don't look very good you think that can't be right, you know it doesn't quite pass the smell test as it were, but actually the inquiry has failed yet to get to what you might call the smoking gun.

RIVERS: And then there was the embarrassing issue of former Murdoch tabloid editor Andy Coulson being appointed as David Cameron's communications director. The prime minister admitted it was difficult, but was reassured that Coulson knew nothing about the extent of phone hacking.

The overwhelming impression from David Cameron's evidence is of a man whose personal and professional life has blurred when it came to relations with Rupert Murdoch's media empire. They seemed to be an almost constant contact with those who were close to Rupert Murdoch. Then it seemed vital, now post phone hacking is seemed almost reckless.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


CLANCY: Well, the British prime minister announced the need for a press ethics inquiry, it's unlikely that he saw himself explaining his own personal relationships with those captains of the media. The Leveson inquiry was set up in July 2011 following the exposure of alleged criminal activity and phone hacking at News of the World.

Lord Justice Leveson himself said the focus of the inquiry would be the culture, practices and ethics of the press, add some context to the public, police, and the politicians. And it's the politicians relationships that are proving the most controversial. As Leveson questions how much influence the British press have had on ministers and of the ministers' policies or decisions have been swayed.

Well, joining me now from London is media commentator and former deputy editor of the News of the World, the newspaper that's been at the very heart of these investigations, Paul Connew.

Paul, thanks so much for joining us.


CLANCY: Take us back. If you were still the deputy editor there how would you write the headline today?

CONNEW: I think an uncomfortable session for Mr. Cameron. In fact, I think the cringing note of that text exchange from Rebekah Brooks will be the thing that sticks in the mind of perhaps the craw of the British public. People have been likening this week to, you know, Leveson inquiry being the hottest ticket in town in London, hotter than any West End stage production. And if David Cameron was the man behind the product he must be feeling that he was in the role of Aladdin who rubbed the lamp and let an uncontrollable genie out of it.

CLANCY: Well, no mention here of the health issues. Maybe something for the medical section. I mean, here is a man that apparent -- you know, 20 times he couldn't remember. And we're talking about some of the key events.

CONNEW: Yes. Those of us who actually have been professional Leveson watchers call it the Leveson syndrome. It's when bright and seemingly helpful people are happy remembering trivialities in great detail, but on crunch issues they have a remarkable tendency towards early Alzheimers.

CLANCY: Well, let's get to the heart of the matter, though, do you see anything fundamentally wrong with the relationship between British politicians and the press?

CONNEW: I think -- I think one of the issues here, an inquiry that began into media ethics -- maybe they were still in the dock, or elements of it are still in the dock, but they've been joined there by both the police and politicians. And I think the British public are getting an insight they never expected. And for David Cameron, the difficulty is that this coincides with a worsening economic crisis, with a collapse in his opinion poll ratings, various crucial U turns on their recent budget, and I just think this could actually stick with him with the possibility of close friends and associates in fact ending up on criminal trial, even going into jail. And all this in the buildup to the next general election. I think, you know, could be potentially fatal.

CLANCY: Yeah, OK, it's a political issue and I can see that, Paul, but you know bottom line we're being told that somehow this inquiry is going to change the rules, change the morals, change the relationships between politicians and the press. I think we need a reality check here don't we?

CONNEW: I think you're absolutely right. I think Lord Leveson is looking more and more frustrated because I think he's getting the impression whatever he recommends may have difficulty getting through Parliament. I think one of the most striking things today away from the sexier issues of sex and Rebekah Brooks was the fact that when it came to being asked about his own suggestions for -- for what Lord Leveson might wish to recommend, David Cameron seems surprisingly ill prepared. He didn't -- compared to other leading politicians, including both recent prime ministers and current cabinet ministers he actually seemed to have few suggests -- very, very wooly. And I think Leveson himself looked surprised at the lack of an input or a lack of contribution from the prime minister on that. After all he was the man who actually set up this inquiry in the first place.

But of course that only compounds the impression that he's headed up in panic because of the Andy Coulson issue and the public reaction to the phone hacking scandal as a self protection mechanism that's somewhat backfired.

CLANCY: Paul Connew who sees panic out there in the eyes of some of the people testifying before the Leveson inquiry. Thank you, Paul, appreciate your insights.

CONNEW: My Pleasure.

CLANCY: Well, still to come right here on Connect the World, after all the sacrifices of the revolution a lot of Egyptians tonight saying we're back to square one. What new court rulings could mean for the future of Egyptian democracy.

And he's the biggest name in cycling, now Lance Armstrong faces one of his biggest challenges yet: clearing his own name.


CLANCY: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and all around the world. I'm Jim Clancy, and I share with you the latest world headlines from CNN.

There is outrage in Egypt over what some are calling a military coup. Just two days before the presidential runoff election, a court effectively dissolved Parliament today, handing legislative power to the military.

UN monitors finally managed to get to the Syrian time of Al-Haffa. They say the town appears deserted, but signs of heavy fighting are everywhere. Government forces pushed rebels from Al-Haffa on Wednesday.

Spain's borrowing costs rising to the highest level since the euro was created. Interest on its ten-year government bonds climbing above the 7 percent level many say is unsustainable. This comes a day after Spain's credit rating was slashed by Moody's.

David Cameron says British politicians have become too close to the journalists. The British prime minister testified before the committee investigating media ethics Thursday. He admitted trying to win over the media, but insisted he was not trading policies for political support.

In two short days, months of democratic progress in Egypt appear to have been unraveled. First, there was yesterday's decree allowing the military to detain civilians. And now, today, two court rulings have thrown the entire political system into -- there's only one word for it -- chaos. Let's get right to Ben Wedeman in Cairo and get details. Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, looking in the streets behind me, it doesn't really look like chaos, but certainly this scene outside the constitutional court in southern Cairo did look to be exactly that.

When the protesters who were there, just a few hundred outside the court, heard that first that the court had decided that the so-called political isolation law, which would have banned any public figures from -- or senior figures from the Mubarak regime from holding senior public office, they decided that that law was constitutional, allowing Ahmed Shafik, one of the two presidential contenders, to go ahead and contest the election. That caused some anger.

And then, of course, when they declared that Parliament was invalid and was to be dissolved because of irregularities during the election, that really set off anger.

Now, the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the parliament, and this is a real body blow to the Brotherhood, which was looking forward to not only dominating Parliament, but they also have their contender in the presidential elections, Mohamed Morsi, who won more votes than any other candidate. So, they were hoping to dominate both of those, the executive and the legislative.

And now, it appears that both of those are no longer within the reach of the Brotherhood. Jim?

CLANCY: Well, the Brotherhood obviously the most popular political party there, but some people would say look, they put forward this -- the peace and justice party, the freedom and justice party, but these were really religious candidates being fielded by a religious party, and that's the basis of the high court's decision, isn't it?

WEDEMAN: No, no. Actually, the high court's decision had to do with the fact that, according to parliamentary rules, two thirds of the seats in parliament go to political parties, one third to go individuals. But that third, those individuals, many of them were affiliated with political parties, including the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood.

So, it wasn't actually upon that basis, but many Egyptians who are opposed to the introduction of religion in politics applauded this decision, many of them feeling that this was a victory against the Muslim Brotherhood at a time when there is growing fear -- or there was growing fear that they would dominate Parliament, would get the presidency, and were also dominating the so-called constituent assembly, the assembly which will be charged with forming -- or rather drafting a constitution.

Now, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over from Hosni Mubarak, has legislative power, executive power. They have a friendly judiciary, and they say they will name the 100 members of the constituent assembly, so they will have a very strong influence on Egypt's next constitution.

So, it really does allow SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, broad powers across the political spectrum. Jim?

CLANCY: Ben Wedeman reporting to us there, live from Cairo. Ben, thank you.

With social media playing a huge role in Egypt's revolution, prominent activists are venting their frustration out on Twitter or Facebook, and I'm going to share with you some of what they're saying.

Gigi Ibrahim insists, "I won't lose hope. The fight is not over, and we must fight stronger than ever. We are the resistance!"

This from Hassam Bahgat: "Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup. We'd be outraged if we weren't so exhausted."

Mona Eltahawy tweeted this: "Military rule has continued under SCAF, but Egypt has changed forever. I remain optimistic. Our fight is long, and Egypt will be free."

Mahmoud Salem said it this way, very simply: "Checkmate."

Want to get some reaction, now, from an activist who campaigns for civil freedoms and democracy. CNN has named Dalia Ziada as one of the Arab world's top agents of change. She's executive director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. She joins us now from Cairo on the line.

Dalia, thanks so much for being with us. Let me just begin by asking you, you are a liberal, an Egyptian liberal. Are you somewhat satisfied, pleased that this has been such a setback to the religious parties?

DALIA ZIADA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IBN KHALDUN CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (via telephone): Yes, hello. First of all, I thank you for having me. Actually, I think what's happened today is really disappointing, and signs of how the sick the political scene in Egypt, but still, it's not the end of the world, as everyone is trying to portray it.

We have in the past, let's say, two weeks, we have gone through several shocks, starting with the results of the presidential election, the very disappointing results, and then with the verdict against Mubarak and his imperious minister of interior, who told the minister of interior.

And today was the verdict about -- that is, about the parliament and the verdict about the political isolation law. So --

CLANCY: Are -- Dalia, if you aren't concerned about it, who do you think the military is going to put in place in your lower house, then?

ZIADA: The military will remain here forever. They are not planning to go anytime soon, and frankly speaking, they will not go unless they are forced to do so. And to force them to leave power, we have to offer an alternative as seven groups or liberal groups.

Until this moment, we are not organized. And we don't have the tools that will force them to leave power. So until then, they will remain there. And I think -- and I've been saying this from the very beginning -- it's really a big mistake that we did not start our fight towards this democracy was making a constitution. This is the very first step. Otherwise, we are just wasting our time, you know?

CLANCY: Well, you have a very calm view of this. You are a liberal, there, in Egypt. But the people who voted for these Muslim Brotherhood candidates, and I'm going to call them that, they don't live there in Egypt, they weren't in Tahrir Square, and they are not liberals.

Are they -- with no appeal possible, this was the high court that made the decision -- with no appeal possible, will the appeal be in the streets around Egypt?

ZIADA: Yes. But although I'm absolutely against the Muslim Brotherhood and I'm somehow satisfied that the parliament that was including the majority of Muslim Brotherhood, I am happy now that finally they are getting out of power somehow.

But at the same moment, we have to see them as part of our -- as port of the political scene in Egypt. We are not separate, we are not -- we are the same part of Egypt, and we should know how to contain them rather than rejecting them or kicking them off sides.

CLANCY: All right.

ZIADA: It's true they did not want to contest when they were in power, but we should be better than who they are.

CLANCY: Dalia Ziada, I want to thank you very much for being with us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

ZIADA: Thank you.

CLANCY: All right. Alex Thomas going to join us in just a moment with the latest from the European championship. Spain facing a crucial game in Group C as they try to defend the crown in a game that ended just moments ago. Details coming up.


CLANCY: The defending champions Spain drew their opening round Euro 2012 match against Italy. Well, they're off to a much better start in their second match against Ireland. Alex Thomas joins us now with more from Thursday's action. Alex, what's the latest?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a big shock, Jim, when the defending European champions Spain only drew that opening match, because they're the world champions as well, don't forget, with a team littered with stars from clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Let's show you what happened in Group C. The two matches taking place today, Spain 4, Ireland nil, that's a full-time score, it's just finished in the last few minutes. You can see the goal scorers there. Let's take a look at some of the statistics.

An overwhelming display by Spain, 70 percent possession, 14 shots to just 4 from the Republic of Ireland, two of those goals from Fernando Torres, who leaps onto that leading scorers chart. The Chelsea striker much criticized this season, but really finding his feet yet again.

If we go back to the schedule, we can see that the other Group C match was Italy 1, Croatia 1. Italy took the lead in that, and just watch what happens when they scored, if we listen to this press conference from the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti.


MARIO MONTI, PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY (through translator): France and Italy can give the biggest contribution --


MONTI (through translator): Of course, there is a football match on, Mr. President. To give the maximum contribution in hope that there is a solid, harmonious European house.


THOMAS: Standing alongside the new French president, Francois Hollande, I don't know if he's a football fan, but he certainly smiled at Monti being interrupted by an Italian goal, where they conceded an equalizer for Croatia, so that group very much in the balance, Jim.

CLANCY: What is the latest? I'm sure everybody, even the people that are watching Euro 2012 are turning to one another and asking, what about the Lance Armstrong investigation?

THOMAS: Yes, another huge sporting story. The record seven-times Tour de France champion who's been dogged by allegations that he took illegal drugs to set all those records throughout his career. He's always denied them, and he denies these latest allegations, too. He keeps pointing out that he's taken more than 500 drugs tests and never tested positive once.

But what's different this time is that the allegations come from the US Anti-Doping Agency, and they have the power to strip those titles off Lance Armstrong, and already he can't now compete in any triathlons, which is the sport he's taken up since retiring from cycling.

So, it's going to be very serious. Armstrong's reacted very defensively, and the legal process will now take its due course, Jim.

CLANCY: Well --

THOMAS: Actually, before we throw it back to you, Jim -- I do apologize -- we're going to -- we're sort of time, we're straight over to San Francisco and join my colleague Patrick Snell, who's going to give us an update on the opening day of the second major of the golf season, the US Open. Patrick, over to you.



SNELL: Exactly. Welcome back to the Olympic Club here. It's been an exhilarating first day's play already at golf's second major. Let me first of all bring you up to date with Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods, of course, looking for his first major in four years when he won the US Open at San Diego.

He had a very, very impressive first round. Because it's not easy out here, and he showed what a class act he can be when there's a major at stake. He finished his first round a short while ago, 69, that's one under par.

He's one under par for the championship, and he's trying to end, Alex, his longest majorless drought in his professional history, as I say, four calendar years, and that's 11 majors so far and counting, so he's desperate to snap that.

Of course, Tiger finishing his round sub par, that's the first sub par round in seven attempts at majors, would you believe? So, he's ended that particular miserable streak by his own very high standards.

He's won twice, already, of course, on the US PGA tour this year, so the signs are there that he's pretty much back to his best, but the big question has always been, can he do it at the majors? Let's hear now from Woods, his reflections on his first round, the three-time US Open champion talking after round one.


TIGER WOODS, FIRST ROUND -1, 69: Well, I was just trying to execute my game plan. That's all I was trying to do today, and I did that. And made a couple changes out there because the wind had shifted and the fairways were faster.

And so, it was -- we knew it was going to quick as the week progressed, but we didn't think it was going to happen overnight.


SNELL: Good old Tiger, never gives too much away, does he? In terms of his mindset. But look, he's won two US Opens before, Alex, in the golden state of California back in 2000 --


SNELL: -- 2008, Torrey Pines. Will this be the third? A quick word on his playing partners, as well. So much hype surrounding Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. They both had miserable rounds, Lefty at six over, Bubba at eight over, Alex.

THOMAS: The very unforgettable Patrick Snell. Don't worry, he's not caged up. That netting means he's probably at the end of the driving range, that's my guess. More from Patrick in "World Sport" in around three quarters of an hour's time, Jim. Back to you.

CLANCY: All right, Alex. Hey, listen, thanks a lot for that. And the poor defending champ out there in San Francisco, down -- last time I looked, Rory was in 79th place. All right, we'll be watching "World Sport" for both of you guys. Thanks.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD, and when we come back, water, water everywhere. Our Eye on Georgia series continues with a closer look at how this country is making the most of its natural resource.


CLANCY: Eye on Georgia, tonight we're going to share with you a closer look at Georgia's hydroelectric industry. It's helping to shine a light on some of the country's flourishing cities, that's for sure. CNN's Diana Magnay visits the dam working to bring about the Georgian Renaissance.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of Georgia's most precious assets lies high in the Caucuses mountains. Georgia has no oil or gas of its own, but it does have plenty of water.

The massive Enguri Dam was constructed by the Soviets. It was started in the 1960s and took 25 years to complete and now supplies a third of Georgia's energy needs.

Joni Chania started work here as a structural engineer in 1977 and worked his way up to general manager.

JONI CHANIA, GENERAL MANAGER, ENGURI DAM (through translator): When the dam was started in the 1960s, it was very experimental because the Soviets had no experience building something like this. That's why it's so big and so wide.

I've worked here for 33 years and every day when I come here, I feel like I'm looking at it for the first time.

MAGNAY: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dam fell into a state of disrepair. Supply was unreliable. When the dam shut down after yet another technology failure, the lights in Tbilisi would go out.

These days, that's hard to imagine. Drive through the Georgian capital at night and every feature, every monument is ablaze of florescent light. Tbilisi keen to show itself and its country under the flashbulb of modernity.

But residents remember the days after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the power industry was privatized, when corruption and decay festered inside the country's utilities infrastructure and the Georgian people were thrown back into a kind of dark age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it was terrible! Terrible! Dark, dirty city. It was terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd wake up morning, dark. Evening, dark. We can have electricity just a couple of hours, and we could just charge our batteries.

MAGNAY: In 1999, the EU and World Bank promised a fresh cash injection to revitalize the Enguri Dam. Chania says he's proud that his dam is once again a source that Georgia can rely on after its $25 million renovation program.

MAGNAY (on camera): I really do feel as though I am standing beside the mother of all dams. The sheer force of that water is quite astonishing.

And in this very mountainous country, it's a resource that Georgia wants to harness. It wants to double the amount of power it produces from hydro by 2015. It wants to build 15 new hydroelectric power plants so that it can meet its own needs and sell to its neighbors.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Two hours east of Enguri, along rivers churning with melting spring water, we meet a small group of Chinese geologists. They're an advance party for the infrastructure giants SINOHYDRO, which has built half the dams in China and will build another here at Tsageri.

So far, you see just the sign, but in five year's time, imagine a hydro power plant here, the biggest built in Georgia since Enguri.

YAO JIANSONG, SINOHYDRO (through translator): SINOHYDRO is famous for building dams all around the world. This is nothing new for us.

MAGNAY: The Georgian government claims it's still using less than a fifth of its hydro power potential and is busily courting further foreign investment to boost its renewable sector. Georgia used to rely heavily on gas imported from Russia. Now, it meets close to all its energy needs through its own hydroelectric power, with clean energy as an export commodity, a key engine for growth.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Tbilisi, Georgia.


CLANCY: And our Eye on Georgia series finishes up tomorrow by looking at the country's flowering fashion industry, mixing the modern and the traditional, Georgian fashion is on the rise, looking to make a splash on the international stage.

All right, time for the Parting Shots. And we've got a great Parting Shots for you tonight. It's called no risk, no reward. Well, at least that's what these wise guys were thinking when they tried to rob a truck. Not any truck, a moving truck.

See the guy climbing out of the sunroof there? It's an audacious heist on a Romanian highway. It was captured by a police helicopter. Now, the car pulls up behind the truck, and you saw the two guys got out there, climbed onto the hood. What they are doing is they pulled up so close they can open up the rear doors of that truck, one man holding onto the other man's legs, there.

See that? They are scoping it all out. Now, he just pulls it up, and again, from the police helicopter. The team is really well-versed. What they're really doing is they're casing this truck. Is there anything inside worth stealing?

Well, they appear to have a change of heart. Maybe he didn't like what he saw or perhaps the risk was too great with that police helicopter overhead, but in the end, they gave it all up and backed away. He does take a peek inside, though. Maybe he just didn't like what there was on offer.

Well, there's a couple of thieves casing the place. A moving truck, never saw anybody try to do that before. But that's part of our world tonight.

I'm Jim Clancy. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for being with us. The world headlines are up in just a minute after this short break.