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CONNECT THE WORLD

One Month Until London 2012; Interview with Dan Ritterband; Reaching Consensus on Policy in Europe; Interview with Jean-Marc Illouz; Queen Elizabeth Shakes A Hand in Northern Ireland; Syrian Violence Up; Nora Ephron Died at 7

Aired June 27, 2012 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, the Olympic Rings tower over London, marking one month until the start of the biggest sporting event on Earth.

I'm Becky Anderson live from the heart of England's capital for this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, it's been seven years in the making. Tonight, we'll ask whether London is finally ready.

And we'll speak to a first time Olympian shooting for gold in the city where she was born.

Also this evening, an historic moment once unthinkable -- a handshake which symbolizes a new era for Northern Ireland.

And with the final in their sights, the reigning champions, Spain, take on Portugal as we speak in a Euro 2012 showdown.

Welcome to an iconic London landmark. Tower Bridge behind me as we mark one month until the firing gun for London 2012. The rings are up at that moment. That's because Tower Bridge has been up, the boats passing underneath it. There will be backed down and we'll be speaking to Dan Ritterband, a key member of London's 2012 committee here.

First, though, a report from Alex Thomas on the final countdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An iconic symbol crowns an iconic landmark. Tilt doubt that London is being transformed into an Olympic city.

The giant rings, each about the size of a double decker bus, were suspended from Tower Bridge to mark the one month countdown to the Games.

BORIS JOHNSON, LONDON MAYOR: To -- the same people, I think Pierre de Coubertin said that they symbolize the five Olympic virtues of athleticism, competition, sportsmanship, poverty, chastity -- I can't remember what they were -- what they were, really. But they were there -- it was that kind of thing.

But for me, what they stand for is the hoops we've had to go through to get London ready.

THOMAS: And the next 30 days will be a challenge. More than 60 percent of competition venues are temporary and still need to be erected. But LOCOG chairman, Seb Coe, says London will be ready come July the 27th.

SEB COE, CHAIRMAN, LONDON 2012: If you look at somewhere like the Mall, that's our largest venue. We're still building a 15,000 seat -- a venue, a temporary venue with -- we're putting seating into the Mall itself for the race sports and the marathons. We've got that the triathlon that touches the bottom of the Mall.

So there's a lot of work still to do, but, yes, we will have it done in time.

THOMAS: While the last month is crunch time for Olympic officials, London has been seeing shades of the Olympic spirit for some time. Last year, another set of giant rings was erected at Saint Pancras Station, which is where Games fans will take the javelin train directly to the Olympic Park.

The one month countdown was also marked by a performance inside the station by children from the London Chamber Orchestra to celebrate the cultural Olympiad, a festival of the arts designed to promote the creative industries across London.

CHRISTOPHER WARREN-GREEN, CONDUCTOR: We did this project evening in Brazil. And there was one young kid who was nine years old. And he was a very dangerous bus gang leader. He wondered into the project and he no longer wants to rob buses, he just wants to play a saxophone. That's the power of music. That's what the power of education and the power of music in education.

THOMAS: Meanwhile, the Olympic Torch is midway through a 70-day journey round the UK.

But who will light the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony remains a closely guarded secret. It will be revealed in 30 days time.

Alex Thomas, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, it may be a closely guarded secret, but I know a man who knows. He's with me.

Dan Ritterband is the communications director on the Mers (ph) Olympic team.

This is friendly media, so tell me, who's going to light that flame?

Dan Ritterband

I couldn't possibly tell you that. We can't ruin all the surprises.

ANDERSON: What else can't you tell me tonight?

DAN RITTERBAND, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MERS (ph) OLYMPIC TEAM: Well, there's lots I can't tell you. There's quite a bit I can tell you.

ANDERSON: All right.

RITTERBAND: We've -- obviously, we've got that the large rings that were unveiled today. And that's the start of the mayor's program, work together with LOCOG, to make the whole city come alive in time for the 27th -- the opening ceremony in a month.

ANDERSON: Thirty days to go. We're in the final stretch.

Are you ready?

RITTERBAND: Absolutely. It's been -- it's been seven years in the making, as you say. You know, we've got a lot to get done in the last month, but it's, as we say, it's like dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

ANDERSON: Not least at the temporary stadiums, of course.

RITTERBAND: There's a lot going on. I mean there's obviously the -- the park, which is now in security lockdown is locked down. But then there's the other venues right across town, as well, in our parks. You know, the venues are going up around the Serpentine for the, you know, for the various events going on there.

So, yes, it's -- it's all coming together now.

ANDERSON: Stick with me, Dan.

Thank you for that, for the time being.

All these Olympic venues pop up. They look spectacular for the games, get beamed all over the world.

Then what?

Sixty percent of these stadia, remember, are temporary.

Phil Han takes a look at what host cities want to avoid at all costs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London.

(APPLAUSE)

Since that announcement in 2005, Olympic venues have been sprouting all over London. The question is, after the Games are over, how will these facilities be used?

What they don't want is a white elephant, something that has plagued many host cities before.

Montreal, 1976 -- costs for the Olympic Stadium there spiraled out of control, even bankrupting the city.

Seoul, 1988 -- the stadium there hasn't hosted a global event since.

Even Beijing in 2008, the much celebrated Bird's Nest Stadium hasn't been used for any events that have drawn crowds on the scale of the Olympics.

London 2012 has found a way around this by building the most temporary venues for any Olympics. The Aquatic Center will see its capacity shrink from 17,500 to just over 3,000.

But the key for London is the number of temporary venues. The basketball arena that will house more than 12,000 spectators will be completely torn down after the Games. Equestrian sports that are being held in Greenwich Park will see 23,000 seats put in. But once the Games are over, the centuries-old park will return to the way it was.

And historic Horse Guards Parade next to Buckingham Palace will be turned into an artificial beach for the volleyball. Even one of the world's busiest airports, Heathrow, he had a temporary terminal built to help get athletes through immigration.

Fingers crossed, they make it to the Olympic Stadium on July 27th.

Phil Han, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Seeing that (INAUDIBLE) they get to the stadium, Dan Ritterband, communications director on -- of the mayor's Olympic team is still with me.

As the rings come down once again, it's going to be an exciting night. Now we've got a live show going on later on.

RITTERBAND: It is.

ANDERSON: Tell us about that.

RITTERBAND: It's the first of the celebrations. This really is the - - the start of the -- the Look program, which we're going to have going right across the city, which is going to involve mascots, light shows, outdoor artals -- outdoor art performances, you know, all sorts. There's going to be a lot of stuff going on in the city.

ANDERSON: Phil referring there to Heathrow having a -- a temporary terminal ready for the athletes coming through and then they'll, of course, have to get into the Strathville, which is in the east of London.

RITTERBAND: Yes.

ANDERSON: Transport in London can be notoriously bad. And I know for many of our viewers who may be thinking about coming to London for the Olympics, that will be troubling to them. Certainly people in London are worried about the transport -- the potential transport mess.

Put our minds at rest.

RITTERBAND: Well, I would like to say it definitely won't be a mess. You know, there's been a lot of work and a lot of planning gone into this. You know, the IOC, they -- they also had concerns.

But London is used to running really big events, you know. A few weeks ago, we had the Jubilee. We had, you know, one-and-a-half million people out on the streets.

So, whilst, yes, we are serious that the -- that there, you know, there will be a lot more people, we're quite confident that we can make it work.

ANDERSON: Dan, the other issue that people are concerned about is, of course, security. The head of the intelligence services here, MI5, said only in the past 24 hours that he cannot actually guarantee security for the Games. There's always a risk.

What do you say?

RITTERBAND: Of course, there's always a risk. You know, it was the - - it was the day we found out we won the Games, 7/7, was when we had the terrible atrocities here in London. And we are always at a heightened state of security and on alert.

So, you know, we have to make sure that everyone has a really safe and enjoyable time. And, again, our planning is -- will -- will have to, you know, it will work. It will have to work.

ANDERSON: Twenty thousand security men and women on the streets of London for the 2012 Games.

RITTERBAND: Plus volunteers. There will be some military, as well. There's -- you know, there will be a full complement to start. There's one thing the mayor will not compromise on and that's the security of people coming here.

ANDERSON: Thank you for that for the time being.

We're going to take a very short break.

You will be back with me as we move through this hour.

All right, still to come tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Revelations from one of the world's sprinting greats. That's coming up in the show.

And no summit is this quick or easy -- solutions from Germany's chancellor. EU leaders stake out their positions on the eve of a crucial financial summit.

And it's the battle of Iberia, a Portugal and Spain go head-to-head for a place in the final of Euro 2012. That match ongoing as we speak.

That and much more when CONNECT THE WORLD continues.

This is a special show for you tonight.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: CONNECT THE WORLD -- a special show with me, Becky Anderson, to welcome you back.

Well, the world's markets will be keeping a close eye on the critical European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday. But expectations are low as leaders remain divided on how to resolve the two year Euro crisis.

Well, French President Francois Hollande favors the idea of pooling Europe's debt.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has steadfastly opposed that suggestion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The mistakes of the past cannot be allowed to happen again. To politically force single interest rates by means of Eurobonds, which already have not worked on the markets, would be repeating an old mistake and the not the lesson learned from experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, the summit comes at a time when large European economies are looking vulnerable and while leaders agree a unified approach is necessary.

Matthew Chance reports reaching consensus on public -- sorry, on policy -- is proving to be a monumental challenge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At every turn, it seems the European crisis is getting worse. Spiraling borrowing costs in Italy and Spain, calls from Greece to renegotiate its bailout, Cyprus becoming the fifth country to ask for emergency help.

But the two nations at the heart of Europe, France and Germany, appear divided on what to do. Not good, as a crucial EU summit meant to solve Europe's problems gets underway.

(on camera): The core of the dispute is this. President Hollande of France wants to see European solidarity, making common the debt of countries like Greece or Italy or Spain to reduce their interest rates. Only after, he says, would France consider ceding powers to Europe.

But the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, knows her taxpayers would have to foot any debt bill, so she wants much closer economic integration first -- control over how countries tax and spend before putting any German finances on the line.

(voice-over): Speaking ahead of the summit, Chancellor Merkel again cautioned Europe about depending too heavily on Germany.

MERKEL: Germany is the economic motor and the stability anchor in Europe. But the strength of Germany is not without limits. We should not overestimate our resources. If we take that to heart, then Germany's strength can work well for Germany and for Europe.

CHANCE: But the instinct in Brussels is for more European integration and European officials are trying to bridge the Franco-German divide.

A report from the European Council released ahead of the summit calls for closer economic and political union. There should be more joint liabilities, it says, and more European level control of national policies.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Standing still is not an option. A big leap forward is now needed. It will not be simple. It will require ambition, vision and determination to enact far- reaching reforms.

CHANCE: But expectations are low. Analysts say just getting Chancellor Merkel to discuss things like sharing debt or the France to talk about surrendering sovereignty, would be a big achievement. Getting them to agree on it in Brussels may be too much to ask.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Hollande and Chancellor Merkel meeting in Paris tonight for talks ahead of that summit, of course.

Joining us now to discuss what might come out of that meeting and the summit itself, Friday, of course, in Brussels, is Jean-Marc Illouz, a senior correspondent with France 2 Network News.

We've heard Matthew's report there.

There is, let's face it, a wide gulf between Francois Hollande, the president of France, and Angela Merkel.

Do you expect, this evening, for that gulf to be narrowed in any way?

JEAN-MARC ILLOUZ, FRANCE 2 NETWORK NEWS: Well, unfortunately, no. It's -- Francois Hollande and Chancellor Merkel had some nice words to each other when they came into the Elysse Palace at the beginning of the talks. But this is almost routine. And a Franco-German couple, with its ups and downs, and its long negotiations and the fact that it can never divorce because so much is at stake.

And this time, the situation is serious. The -- Chancellor Merkel, only yesterday, was saying that never in her life would she accept -- ever accept a pooling of European debts unless -- and unless mandatory budgetary constraints were in force before.

So you see the Germans want rule first and the -- and the French are trying to -- well, to put a bandage on the present situation. They say too much austerity right away will kill the patient. And the Germans say too much laxity will make the patient a drunkard.

ANDERSON: What chance Francois Hollande conceding any macroeconomic leaders, con -- conceding any sense of sovereignty in order to get on a sort of even keel with Germany?

After all, the Franco-German axis here in Europe is incredibly important if this project -- this project, this European project, is to continue at this point.

ILLOUZ: Well, I'm confident that we'll find agreement, but not right away. They will make some useful signs like putting forward the -- some 120 to 130 billion euros coming from European institutions that will be floated on the markets.

But no fundamental changes in the great European institutional boondoggle are to be expected.

But at least they will agree on a road map, perhaps not necessarily as fast as the Germans wish, perhaps not necessarily as much as the French wish. But it will go along.

ANDERSON: Yes, right.

ILLOUZ: What the markets will be watching this (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: Yes, OK. We're looking at -- we're looking at...

ILLOUZ: (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Yes, we're looking at an agenda here, a script which effectively says if you sign up to this, it will work over the next decade. So -- so nothing is going to change on Monday morning, of course, even if we get some sort of agreement at this summit.

Stay with me, because I just want to get our viewers a sense of what the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, said earlier on to us here at CNN.

He was talking about the single currency and whether it can survive. He said only if arithmetic and politics are aligned.

Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: People in Europe have got to have a different choice from the one that's been put before them at the moment. At the moment, they're being offered, on the one hand, austerity, very tough economic cuts plus big structural reform. And on the other hand, growth but no reform.

And the only thing that works, in my view, is a -- a kind of grand bargain involving Germany and the creditor countries on one hand, and Italy, Spain and the debtor countries on the other, in which Germany commits fully to policies that support growth and the maintenance of the single currency, and, on the other hand, there is the commitment on the part of the other countries to the fundamental major structural reform necessary to make Europe competitive as a whole in the long-term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: A man who was only prevented from signing up to the euro by his then chancellor, Gordon Brown, way back when, when the euro was launched.

Jean-Luc, last question to you.

The sense from the French, if you will, about whether they conceivably believe that the euro could go to pot at this stage.

Is there any sort of groundswell of opinion that says either French -- France should pull out of the euro or the euro itself as a sort of dumped (ph) currency going forward?

ILLOUZ: No, I don't think so. I think most people realize that they have to stick to the euro. They think this is just another tough negotiation in the long history of the European Union, has lasted for almost 70 years. They know this is a tough moment.

But, you know, mostly what the markets will be watching for is not a grand bargain. I mean everyone agrees that it should be a, you know, a -- a European Union, more monetary consultation, more -- more rules, more -- more union, in a way.

But what the markets still watch will see how far and how quickly the new German -- Franco-German couple can work its way out of the -- not only of the debt crisis, but also of the greater institutional boondoggle. And probably they'll get ahead, but bit by bit, certainly not as fast as the markets wish.

ANDERSON: All right.

We're going to leave it there, sir.

We thank you very much, indeed for joining us out of Paris.

Your expert this evening.

I'm Becky Anderson here with this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here at Tower Bridge, you see the Olympic Rings were up or down a short time ago. They're up because a couple of boats are about to go under the bridge. But we are marking a month ago until the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Also tonight, we're going to hear more from Tony Blair, as Queen Elizabeth shakes the hand of the man, who, decades ago, was a commander in a group that used violence to achieve its goals.

All that coming up after this short break.

Do stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live here from the iconic Tower Bridge.

Welcome back.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Well, it's a handshake that will go down in British history. Today, Queen Elizabeth shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, the former head of the IRA. It was a meeting that, just 15 years ago, seemed impossible after decades of violence over the sovereignty of Northern Ireland.

Well, joining me now from Belfast is CNN's Nic Robertson, who's been following the queen's -- let's call it momentous visit, because it is -- to Northern Ireland -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely momentous. And I think there were -- it was on the minds of everyone here over the past couple of weeks, never mind the past couple of decades, would Martin McGuinness ever meet the queen. It seemed to be that the arrangements for this were never ever going to be finalized, really.

Even in the countdown to this meeting, it wasn't clear how much access the media would get, for example, how much we would actually see. Very carefully choreographed.

But I think from what we saw when the event took place, it was a very happy occasion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Almost as if they were old friends. Smiles and a few words as the queen shook former IRA commander, Martin McGuinness's hand. Decades of bitter differences apparently melting away at this historic first meeting of former enemies.

The event in a tiny Belfast theater, carefully controlled and choreographed so it will symbolize a cementing of another step to peace rather than an abandonment of principles by either side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was it to meet the queen?

MARTIN MCGUINNESS, FORMER IRA COMMANDER: It was very nice.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The meeting here in Northern Ireland has been hotly debated.

Should the queen shake the hand of a man who many say has got royal blood on his hands?

Should McGuinness even meet the very person who embodies everything he stood against for so long? well, now the event is done.

What do the people here say?

(voice-over): This loyal crowd waiting for the queen to pass. In the past, no friends of McGuinness.

(on camera): Now that the queen has met Martin McGuinness, they've had their handshake, what -- what do you think about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think I will feel all the troubles will have to be borne. They are responsible for (INAUDIBLE). It's the worst thing that ever happened in Northern Ireland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's wonderful for the province. I'm delighted to see that, you know, we're moving on. It's a big step, maybe for him. But it -- it means a lot to the people of the province.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a positive step. It's -- it's going to be (INAUDIBLE) and hopefully we can move forward.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): On such a day, one handshake not enough. As they left the theater, another. McGuinness telling the queen in Irish, good-bye and Godspeed.

History in the making. But now the hard work turning symbolism into substance.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ROBERTSON: And how much pressure is on there to bring that substance into effect?

Well, last night, there were clashes between Protestants and Catholics over an anti-an anti-queen message, a huge republican flag put on one of the hills over Belfast. In the violence, nine policemen were injured.

That need to get the communities back together and talking is as big as ever -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic, stick with me, because I want our viewers to have a listen to Tony Blair. We heard from him earlier on. And he says, well, it was his -- some of his work that really paved the way for today's meeting. The Good Friday Agreement, of course, brokered under Tony Blair 14 years ago -- Nic, he told CNN that in 1998, when he shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, it was too controversial to be done in public.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What it shows is, I think, that the peace process has now put down roots. There is genuinely an extraordinary and different sense of the future for people in Northern Ireland. And it's a -- a day that I think will long be remembered and has taken enormous courage, actually, both by the queen personally, because she and her family suffered at the hands of IRA terrorism, and for Martin McGuinness and -- and the republicans, who, for so long, would have regarded such a thing as absolutely unthinkable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And Gerry Adams, the leader of the Sinn Fein Party, spoke earlier to Christiane Amanpour, my colleague.

He said the violence was no longer necessary in the republican quest for an end to partition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN PRESIDENT: It's all possible to do all of this and more peacefully and democratically, to exchange ideas, to discuss, to lead by example, to shake hands. And I think today's meeting and the handshake moves us all onto a different plane, onto a different field in the relationship-building.

I mean who -- who -- who could refuse to talk now on island of Ireland when these two iconic figures are showing the example that they showed today?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And you can see the rest of that interview on "AMANPOUR" right after this program -- Nic, it -- it seems weird, almost, to hear from two men of what now seems like a bygone era, doesn't it, but two very, very big players what, some -- a decade, a decade and-a-half ago.

ROBERTSON: It -- it does. And I think there's a certain resonance here with the other side of the community.

Today the people here at Stormont, where the government sits here in Northern Ireland, the -- the power sharing assembly, many of the people here were Protestants, quite -- some of them, the man we talked to, hard core Protestants.

They wouldn't like Martin McGuinness. But they did like what he did. And I think that speaks a lot to the sort of -- the hope for change, the possibility for change, the rapprochement that can happen.

Just over a decade ago, I wrote a documentary up about Martin McGuinness. His staff, after it was broadcast, told me they felt that they -- we might have set him up for assassination, showing him as a traitor for some of his political changes.

They said he wanted to be -- he wanted to be seen as a Nelson Mandela type figure.

I think that's what Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were talking about today. They feel the type of gesture he made today puts him on that kind of playing field, of -- of a real statesman. That's what he was trying to do today -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson in Belfast.

Nic, always a pleasure.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

More still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD this evening.

Journalists are killed as the violence turns on a pro-regime television station in Syria.

And can Cristiano Ronaldo inspire Portugal to victory in the first semifinals of Euro 2012? Back to your headlines after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. You're watching a special CONNECT THE WORLD live from Tower Bridge as London marks 1 month to go until the Olympic Games here.

Coming up, what it feels like to be competing in those games. I'll be speaking to a member of the first female basketball team - GB basketball team - to actually compete in the Olympic Games.

First though, we're going to give you a look at the lasts world news headlines here on CNN.

And on the eve of a critical EU summit, the leaders of France and Germany are meeting in Paris. German chancellor Angela Merkel, the French President Francois Hollande at odds over how to resolve the Euro crisis. Mr. Hollande supports pooling Europe's debt but Chancellor Merkel has consistently rejected that idea.

A small gesture takes on a great meaning in Northern Ireland. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook the hand of a former IRA commander today - Martin McGuinness who's now the deputy first minister for Northern Ireland. He played an instrumental role in the peace process.

Well, seven people have been killed including three journalists at a pro- regime satellite TV station in Syria. The government said bombers had carried out the attack and they would not go unpunished. On the same day, opposition forces say at least 70 people were killed in fighting across the country.

Bill Neely international editor of Britain's ITV News is in Damascus and he told CNN what he'd seen.

BILL NEELY, ITV NEWS, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: Well, I saw a couple of interesting things. I went to a television station about 15 miles south of here and along the roads to that television station, there were multiple army checkpoints, tanks dug in the side of the road, armored personnel carriers and many, many troops.

Now, I've been coming here for seven months. This is my fourth trip. There's no question that was the biggest security, the biggest ring of steel around the capitol that I've seen so far. And we went to a television station just hours after President Assad said that his country was - in a state of war. There was further proof of it - this television station which is a pro-Assad station was attacked by perhaps as many people say as 30 gunmen and 10 vehicles.

They killed seven of the staff. They kidnapped 11 others. And that's a big change for the rebels because that wasn't a military target. It is a civilian target. And they crossed the line there by killing journalists. They're doing - in a sense - exactly the same as the regime has done in deliberately targeting journalists. So every day, every week, and certainly in my experience - this conflict is deepening and it's certainly (INAUDIBLE) now here in the capitol of Damascus.

ANDERSON: Bill Neely reporting for you this evening.

Well, high winds and hot temperatures fuelling wildfires in western United States. One fire in the Colorado Springs doubled in size overnight forcing some 32,000 people to evacuate. It's just one of seven wildfires actively burning in the state of Colorado. Meanwhile, large sections of neighboring Utah are now under warning with at least three fires raging there.

Well, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director Nora Ephron has died at the age of 71. Best known for her screenplays "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle", Ephron was famed for her edgy comedies featuring strong female leads. She died in New York on Tuesday while undergoing treatment for leukemia.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Spain hoping to get another major tournament final but have they done enough to beat their rival? Well, the action ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Arguably, two of Europe's best football (INAUDIBLE) and fiercest rivals are facing off for a spot in the Euro 2012 finals. Well, the game - I'm not sure whether it's still underway or whether it's finished - let's find out.

Pedro Pinto joins us from Warsaw with the action.

Pedro, what is the state of play, mate?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, the 90 minutes just ended a few moments ago, Becky, and it's nil-nil. The match is headed to extra time. It's curious after 27 straight games yielding a goal, we've now had two straight goal-less draws - there was the quarterfinal between England and Italy and now this semifinal between Portugal and Spain. It's been fight. It's been tense. Not many clear-cut chances. These numbers really tell you how close it's been and how much domination there has been in midfield - three shots on target after 90 minutes.

That's not really good if you like attacking and exciting football. Both teams a little too scared to throw caution to the wind. They've just tried to create some openings but so far, they haven't been able to do it. In the next, it might be a long, dramatic night - the emotional roller coaster continues, Becky. I'm wondering right now if we'll go to penalties or not. A good stat for you regarding Spain - they've never lost a semifinal of a major tournament and another one for you - they have now not conceded in 9 straight knockout games in major events as well. We're following all the action and as soon as there's a final score, of course, CNN will have it right away.

ANDERSON: Yes, of course will. All right. Stick with me for one moment. Let's go see how fans for example in Spain are reacting to this match. Al Goodman joins us live from the fan zone in Madrid.

A tense match then, tense for the players at least. What about the fans?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fans are on the edge. Let's take a look at them, Becky. Tens of thousands of fans right here. Just listen to that. They don't look like they're too discouraged right now. There are about 20 of these fan zones across the country. This is certainly among the largest of it and there have been the - many, many oohs and ahs. Clearly, this is the toughest game Spain has had. It was (INAUDIBLE). Remember. They are the defending champs - they won in four years ago and they also won the World Cup two years ago. So a very, big effort here by everyone - the fans really think that they can go through and they knew it was going to be tough. That's what they told us before the game started. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, all right. It's nearly 11 o'clock. They've got at least another half an hour and then possibly time will cease after that. We'll leave you to it Al Goodman for you - imagery.

Let's get back to Pedro.

Pedro, before this match, much talk that there were 10-11 really decent players in the Spanish team and effectively one on the Portuguese team. There's going to be a bit kind of one-sided but Ronaldo could pull it off. Has he played tonight?

PINTO: I would give him a 7 out of 10 so far. He hasn't been great and the only reason I'd give him that high a mark is because nobody has really been great in this game. I do think however that there hasn't been a star performer so far, Becky. There hasn't been one player to light up this game. I can tell you, I personally believe Nani has been very poor for Portugal and they need him to perform if they're going to have a chance of beating the defending champions. It's really going to be about one small mistake or one moment of brilliance from an individual to decide this game. Otherwise, we're going to have to go to penalties again.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, as I say, (INAUDIBLE) penalties after that. We'll be back with you for a result if and (INAUDIBLE) not if but when we get it, Pedro Pinto is there for you on Euro 2012. We're going to take a very short break.

When we come back, and what you is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. Marking just a month ago before the London 2012 Olympics. More from the tens of thousands of athletes from over 200 countries all take part in the London summer (INAUDIBLE) games. (INAUDIBLE) from a few of them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, there's just one month to go until the London 2012 Olympic Games and what a journey it has been as the city gives out, let's take stock over where we are and joined now by Azania Stewart - part of the Great Britain basketball team and Daniel Ritterband who's director of marketing for the Olympics.

It's very rare, guys, I feel small and insignificant. I do for some reason.

Azania, it's the first time that the GB female basketball team of course have played in the Olympics. Are you ready? Are we potentially going to win this?

AZANIA STEWART, MEMBER OF TEAM GB's BASKETBALL TEAM: We're really excited basically but you know, basketball is a new sport and Great Britain so you know, we're just trying to show everyone what we're worth and what we've got. So it's a really exciting job.

ANDERSON: I'll tell you the great example, Dan, of certainly Great Britain saying, "Listen, (INAUDIBLE) so we don't normally compete in." While the Olympics is here, let's have a goal. I know a lot of other countries,

DAN RITTERBAND, DIR., OF MARKETING and 2012 COMMUNICATIONS: Absolutely, we hope Team GB really is going to be our finest team this year. And after doing so well in Beijing four years ago, we really hopefully but we stay up and that real high point on the positions - on the metal thing.

ANDERSON: You were one of two 10.5 thousand athletes from 204 countries. How does that feel?

STEWART: I mean, that's really exciting first of all but I don't even know like once we - we're moving into the village in about three weeks.

ANDERSON: But you're from London. You can just stay at home, couldn't you?

STEWART: No, I know, but even being here tonight is really just kind of surprising that I am from London and it's just a buzz (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: One of the reasons, viewers, that we are here - did you take a look at the bridge behind me. In just a few minutes' time, you'll see the Olympic rings lowered from the bridge here and there'll be a fantastic light show. So stick around with us for that. Just 30 days to go and here's a question I've asked other people. I'm going to ask you this - what keeps you awake at night?

RITTERBAND: Another coffee. A lot of coffee is keeping me working through the night. I know, I think there's so many plans and we've got so much going on right across London, 620 square miles, you know, there are little things that can go wrong but we'll take them astride. We'll fix them and we'll move on and make things even better.

ANDERSON: I'm talking to Dan about the potential traffic problems. He says there won't be any. Are you going to walk or cycle to Stratford?

STEWART: I would like to walk. Our arena is right across the street from the village but I'm not really sure if they'll let us do that so --.

ANDERSON: The athlete - the athletes get to say that. All right. The athletes from around the world of course will be coming to London to compete in the Games. (INAUDIBLE) in the Olympics, it's much more than a sporting competition. We spoke to an Egyptian sprinter who against all the odds has made it to the Games to represent his country's revolution. Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (VOICEOVER): Few Egyptians were unaffected by the uprising of 2011. The Arab Spring overthrew former leaders and changed the lives of millions.

AMR SEOUD, OLYMPIC HOPEFUL: I actually got the letter on Facebook January 21st - there was another strike against the police department and we just went for this reason. But when they started shooting people and killing people on the street, then it becomes a revolution. So people were not only against the police, they became against the whole system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (VOICEOVER): While athletes in different parts of the world prepared for the 2012 Olympics, Amr Seoud - Egypt's 100 and 200 meter champion had his plans derailed.

SEOUD: I completely forgot about athletics at this time because all of the country's going crazy and you know, there's no way to think about training, do athletics, or stuff. If there was like a war championship at this time, I was - I wasn't going to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (VOICEOVER): But the Cairo-based runner started pursuing his dreams despite also experiencing an end to his government- backed funding.

KARIM ABDEL WAHAB, COACH: Fund is the biggest challenge. He needs to be in the US training with me all the way from now to the Olympics. But the question is, do we have enough money, do Egypt track-and-field got enough funding to do that or not? That's the biggest challenge.

Before the last war championship, there was not enough funding for him to do all of his physio-therapy rehab and having him stay in a hotel. So I decided to host him at home. So we stayed together at my place for seven weeks before the (INAUDIBLE) championship. We saved the money and we had a decent performance there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (VOICEOVER): But despite the setbacks, coach Karim Abdel Wahab remains upbeat about his student's chances.

WAHAB: If he makes it to the final of the 100 and 200 or any of them, it will be a first in the Egyptian history. That's never happened before. He wants to get a medal. I would love for him to make it to the finals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (VOICEOVER) And for (INAUDIBLE), his Olympic cause is greater than just winning a medal.

SEOUD: Actually, I used to love competing for Egypt - even before the revolution. After the revolution, I feel like more representing my country because they really need it. You know? They need somebody to show-up what is Egypt and what is this country and tell everybody - tell the rest of the world - "Hey, come on. We're here." You know? We're not - we're not away yet.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: There are always inspirational stories than - during the Olympics and run up to the Olympics and this year, no exceptions.

RITTERBAND: Absolutely. There's always incredible stories especially with the Paralympians - you know, there's been a couple of wars being fought over the last few years and unfortunately, it's left us some injured soldiers. But you know, the arm he's lost is our gain for the paralympic team because we've got in a really, really strong paralympic team but you do hear some incredible stories with every Games.

ANDERSON: In the past, (INAUDIBLE) to be made during the event - looking in Moscow 1918, in Germany before that, do you expect anything of that ilk this year?

RITTERBAND: No. I think - no, the world of sports kind of move beyond the politics. I think - obviously, there will be certain countries that do use their moments in the spotlight to make political statements but the IOC and local - the London organizing committee have worked particularly hard to make sure there is no politics in the London games.

ANDERSON: What are you looking forward to most, Azania?

STEWART: Wow! That's a good question. Obviously, competing and putting on my jersey and having (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE). But obviously meeting some of the athletes in the village and I guess just taking it all in really and enjoying it.

ANDERSON: You used to play netball right?

STEWART: I did play netball and that's how I first started and just kind of carried on from there.

ANDERSON: Fantastic. All right. Well, let's take a look at a man I think all of us know and are looking forward to seeing here in London. He's the fastest man in sporting history. How does Usain Bolt shape up in a quickfire round with another sporting great - a man called Linford Christie? Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

LINFORD CHRISTIE, 1992 OLYMPIC 100M CHAMPION: Quickfire round - another gold medal or world record?

USAIN BOLT, 100M & 200M WORLD RECORD HOLDER: Gold medal.

CHRISTIE: World record in 200 or 100?

BOLT: 200.

CHRISTIE: Not 400?

BOLT: No. Hell, no.

CHRISTIE: If you had to name your ultimate Jamaican 4 by 1 past and present, who?

BOLT: (INAUDIBLE) knee breaks, (INAUDIBLE).

CHRISTIE: And one thing about being famous?

BOLT: All of these (INAUDIBLE).

CHRISTIE: What music do you listen to on your iPad?

BOLT: Mostly reggae, rap, (INAUDIBLE).

CHRISTIE: (INAUDIBLE) Manchester United?

BOLT: Manchester United.

CHRISTIE: Who are you looking for to see outside the Olympic (INAUDIBLE) on your event?

BOLT: Argentina.

CHRISTIE: Are you superstitious?

BOLT: No.

CHRISTIE: At our peak, who would win? Me or you?

BOLT: It would be a tie.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) some events that are hugely popular and others, well, there are I guess sports that people know less about but tickets have been sold across the border, right?

RITTERBAND: Absolutely. We couldn't really met the demand that we have for the tickets in all sports actually. It's (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) does the 100 meters' final go?

RITTERBAND: (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

RITTERBAND: As fast as you play ball? No. Unfortunately, not.

ANDERSON: Listen, the basketball is going to be a great spectacle. I know it's the first time for Team GB. We're all rooting for the (INAUDIBLE) from Britain but in the end, who do you expect to see (INAUDIBLE)?

STEWART: I guess there's three top teams which is the USA, Russia, and Australia. So we get to play some friendlies against them so we'll know how to compete and be ready for them too.

ANDERSON: Yes. Good stuff. I know that you went to college in the States, didn't you?

STEWART: I did.

ANDERSON: You know many of the players?

STEWART: I know a few of them but I don't know them personally but they're very good players that's played for years, very, very experienced so - I mean, even if win or loss, I think the experience alone would be a great one.

ANDERSON: Azania went to the States to continue her sporting sort of education and perhaps as a great example of why the Olympics have come to London because those who were involved in the bid were determined there will be a legacy at the end of all this for people like Azania in the past?

RITTERBAND: Absolutely. I mean, the (INAUDIBLE) for the Games is inspire a generation and that was always the intention. You know, the regeneration that's common (INAUDIBLE) London and inactivity in east London so the fact that we've got a huge program to get young people re-involved in sports is fantastic for the city and you know, the Games really gives a shot in the arm that it needs.

ANDERSON: Every - almost every cab driver that I've met over the last couple of weeks has said - getting back to the traffic issue - we're going a way we think is going to be a nightmare. So what is your message to people watching tonight about getting into London and getting involved in these Games?

RITTERBAND: There has actually never been a better time to come to London. The investment in the infrastructure and the transports all been there, the planning and logistics have been done, the hotels are discounting their rates. So actually there has never been a better time to come to London.

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) the discounted rates because they can't sell the rooms?

RITTERBAND: Not at all. They want London full.

ANDERSON: Listen, you're from London. I know it's an incredible privilege for you (INAUDIBLE) about the competing in these London Games. You're staying at the Olympic Village which is fantastic. Are the family going to be able to get in and see you in action there?

STEWART: Actually, yes. My sister did the lottery pick a year ago and so she's been emailing and like "Who have I got? What game?" so my sister and my family have a couple of tickets so they'll definitely be able to come and shout and scream. They've already got their outfits ready and (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) and you've been talking in all a good show. But that's it. Listen, Azania, the best of all of luck at the games which of course start in a month from now. And Dan, good luck. (INAUDIBLE). I'm sure things do but (INAUDIBLE) nothing keeps in (INAUDIBLE).

Listen, stick with us. We're going to take a very, very short break here on CNN. But behind me is the iconic Tower Bridge and if you stick around with us for a couple of more minutes, you are going to see a light show up here - the likes of which will certainly (INAUDIBLE) of the big crowd waiting to see what happens back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're with CNN on what is an iconic moment here in London. This is Tower Bridge and in a few moments, the Olympic rings will be lowered from the bridge as a lightshow kicks off what is the final stretch for London 2012. We have 30 days to go. I'm with the Comm. director of London 2012 here, Daniel Ritterband, and Azania Stewart who's one of the athletes hoping for gold as we move into the final stretch here.

And what are we expecting to see now?

RITTERBAND: Well, this is kind of the culmination of about four months' of work. The rings were manufactured up north and hidden on a barge in the middle of the night and we snuck them up last weekend so nobody saw and they've been kind of under wraps since all that.

ANDERSON: And these rings, I'm told, are as big as a bus - each one of them.

RITTERBAND: Absolutely. Its pretty huge. It's about - meters. It's going to be no good to you - I haven't had time to think about it.

ANDERSON: Three tons and 25 meters (INAUDIBLE).

RITTERBAND: They are big - pretty big.

ANDERSON: Azania, we were talking about just how excited you were to be competing in these Games. You stand here at Tower Bridge, how do you feel?

STEWART: Just amazed, really. I didn't know they could put on such a great and beautiful lightshow really. So just waiting for the rings to come down and it's really just getting one in the mood.

END