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Attacks Intensify In Suburbs Surrounding Damascus; Paris Saint Germain Making Huge Splash In Offseason; Britain's Olympics Minister on G4S's "Humiliating Shambles"; Olympic Legacies: Barcelona Back on Map After 92 Olympics; Weather Outlook for Olympics; Leading Women: Two Different Management Styles; Eye on Kazakhstan: Modernizing the Silk Road; Parting Shots: Wheelchair Racing

Aired July 17, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And tonight on Connect the World, smuggled out of Syria, horrific scenes shot by activists who risked their lives to document what at times is too shocking to witness without a warning.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: As CNN has shown of new evidence of indiscriminate slaughter, an opposition activist in Damascus tonight described the bloody scenes on the streets of the capital.

Also tonight...


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No matter how much responsibility you've had, you remembered he was a person first.


ANDERSON: President Clinton on what Nelson Mandela taught him as South Africa's Madiba gets ready to celebrate his 94th birthday.

And, a fitness test like no other. Find out how I stack up against a Paralympian -- not well I can tell you.

Well, first up tonight, rebels taking the fight for Syria to the very heart of the Assad regime, saying the battle for Damascus has begun. Activists say clashes are intensifying, reaching new areas of the capital. Heavy gunfire reported today in a central Damascus square and along a major thoroughfare there. The regime deploying tanks and even helicopter gunships in some areas. And activists say now one chopper was hit by rebel fire and forced to return to base.

Well, just before this show, I spoke with an opposition activist in Damascus for the very latest on the ground.


AMER AL-SADEQ, OPPOSITION ACTIVIST: In my area over the night yesterday there has been many, many (inaudible) and bombings I believe could be mortar bombs. And this is not the only clashes that have taken place within the city. Actually many other areas like Halboum (ph) which is in the eastern part, and also the Midan (ph) in the city center has been under very, very heavy hit by the helicopters that have been flying over the city since the morning yesterday. And also there has been clashes over the last two days.

Tanks have been deployed within the city over the last two days. And the Free Syrian Army managed to disable at least two of these. There have been many clashes, like I said, and families are trying to flee that area when the raid team just is preparing to storm. I know families that have fled the center -- the city center of Midan (ph). And also they have fled the southern neighborhoods of Tagaman (ph) only because of the bombing and the mortar bombs.

ANDERSON: The helicopter gunships, any reports -- or can you confirm reports -- that one was actually hit by the rebels?

AL-SADEQ: It seems credible. If not, then maybe this will give you an idea about how much people in Syria are now trying to just fight the forces that are being deployed and how much the regime is using its forces that are deployed within Damascus just to fight civilians.

ANDERSON: Is there any effort to start a dialogue on either side at this point?

AL-SADEQ: Well, dialogue can be only done when the tanks are outside the cities, when detainees are released, when the killing stops, when the targeting of cities for (inaudible) stopped. And none of that has happened.

Actually, this is part of what Anna's plan was. And this has been what we have been asking for since day one. If the regime has not been systematically killing, then dialogue would have been possible, but you cannot dialogue with someone putting the gun to your head and killing you every single second.


ANDERSON: An activist talking to me about half an hour ago.

Well, as the fighting reaches the main city, Syrian state TV is taking a distinctive marshal tone. Lots of military montages covered by what is tradition music. But there is also this...




ANDERSON: Now here the entire conflict is likened to a video game, a western rival Arab powers vie for control of Syria. The title battle, the player chooses gangsters and selects Syria's flag amid others from the so- called Arab Spring. And short countdown and the game begins.

And the next report is something you won't see on Syrian TV. And we warn you the images are extremely disturbing, unsuitable for young viewers. CNN has obtained exclusive video of the aftermath of what was a recent attack that activists call a massacre. Three say they slipped into the Damascus suburb of Douma last month to document atrocities there.

Arwa Damon explains how they gathered footage in the dark of night, then risked their own lives to share that with the world.



ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The power is out in the streets of Douma. The three activists and their escorts don't dare shine a light. There is a sniper lurking. Gunfire in the distances forces them to pick up the pace.

The activists are part of the opposition's media operation. They smuggled themselves into the Damascus suburb last month and risked their lives to document this, a massacre said to have taken place just hours earlier. Among the corpses strewn about, a little girl.

A man points to one of the bodies and says he was executed, a civilian. Points to a second corpse and adds, this is his cousin, shot because he tried to save him. Residents are readying the bodies for burial, blood soaking through the funeral sheets, the names of the deceased hastily scrawled. It's a grim routine Syrians in areas that have dared stand up to the regime have grown accustomed to. The bodies unceremoniously dragged away and placed alongside others.

Residents say Syrian security forces searching for weapons in some buildings wiped out members of several families.

This man described what happened in one instance.

"They had two rooms they put the men and the women in," he says. "From 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, the living were trapped with the dead. It was an execution. They asked where are the guns? There are no guns was the response. And the executed one after the other."

At least 45 were killed in this one attack, residents say, information CNN cannot independently verify.

In the morning, the media team picked their way through rubble strewn streets, but they would not be able to leave Douma. The Assad regime siege intensified. The government bombardment relentless. Many more were killed.

The team that filmed this at the end of June was trapped inside Douma for more than a week. And it's taken this long to get the footage smuggled to Lebanon.

All that effort, all that risk, to give the world a glimpse of Syria's narrative of horror and despair.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


ANDERSON: Well, so far quite frankly the most of the world has stood by while the violence escalates in Syria, hasn't it? The UN security council has yet another chance to take action this week. Last minute negotiations now underway. Let's bring in our senior UN correspondent Richard Roth for the latest.

Certainly there is another chance to take action, but at this point what's the likelihood of a unanimous decision by what is a divided council we know?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think backers of this resolution will be hopeful that it just passes, if they get one, nevermind unanimity. It would always be a country that would vote no, but they may not have veto power. Right now the talks are continuing intensively at the United Nations. Some of the focus was on Moscow today where UN envoy Kofi Annan met with Russia President Putin.

Now it's customary to not leave your guest empty-handed, so to speak, when they come to a capital. Putin vowed, quote, to do everything possible to support Annan and to support his efforts aimed at restoring, quote, civil peace in Syria. But of course Russia is also blocking, in the view of the west, a resolution with some teeth in New York at the security council. Nevertheless, Kofi Annan, after the meeting with Putin, used some diplomatic boilerplate language following the discussions.


KOFI ANNAN, UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: We've had a very good discussion with the president discussing the situation and the crisis in Syria, focusing on what measures needs to be taken to end the violence and the killing and how we move on to the political transition.


ROTH: And diplomats of the United Nations and others frustrated that Russia refuses to go along with a resolution that would threaten economic sanctions against Syria if the government does not comply with a resolution that would keep the 300 unarmed observers from the UN inside Syria, a mission that has in effect failed and stalled.

Russia thinks the west is trying for regime change, still bristling over what happened in Libya. Major differences still, they have a deadline of this Friday to approve a resolution. Also lobbying the ambassadors, the Syrian National Council, a major opposition group for the Syrians. The executive officer of the Syrian National Council based in France told journalists here in New York that the lack of international community action is also keeping up any type of unity and withholding unity among the opposition groups.


BASSMA KODMANI, SNC EXECUTIVE OFFICER: If you want unity of one voice of the Syrian opposition, you will not get it. But if you want a joint position on what the objective is, I think we have it.


ROTH: And the opposition group says they met with the Russian ambassador. They made their case. They want a resolution with sanctions. Russia is still objecting -- Becky.

ANDERSON: The latest out of New York. Richard, thank you for that.

You are watching Connect the World live on CNN out of London. Our top story tonight, as the battle for Damascus begins, dark images of death and despair emerge from the rubble of Syria's civil war. And yet, still no agreement on how an impotent watching world might help end the bloodshed for civilians men, women, and kids on both sides.

Still to come, just 10 days ago until the London Olympics. And with troops on guard after a security shortage, the boss of the firm at the heart of what is a debacle makes a very frank admission.

And on the eve of his 94th birthday, Nelson Mandela receives a special visit from old friend and former world leader.

And an airplane meal that won't go down well. What one passenger found inside his turkey sandwich up next.


ANDERSON: We're back with CNN.

Now the boss at the heart of the Olympics security fiasco, let's call it, has agreed the whole affair has been, and I quote, a humiliating shambles. Nick Buckles told British lawmakers that he regretted signing the contract to provide more than 10,000 security staff at the London games. He is the chief of G4S, of course. But admits he expects only 7,000 are going to be ready for the start of the Olympics. And with just 10 days to go, even that, he says, is just an estimate.


KEITH VAZ, BRITISH POLITICIAN: I think you were saying that you could not be absolutely certain that everyone that you were contracted to provide would be there on the day of the opening for the Olympics. Is that right that you can't be sure?


VAZ: So you're telling this committee now that you don't know how many G4S staff will be there on the first day of the Olympics?

BUCKLES: Which is the reason we raised the flag a week ago.


ANDERSON: All right.

Well, earlier I spoke to the minister in charge of the games. And in just 20 minutes here what he told me about the security saga and just how safe London, he says, really is. Before that a look at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight.

And executives from HSBC are testifying before a U.S. Senate committee. Investigators accuse the bank's U.S. branch of lapse enforcement that may have enabled drug cartels, terrorists and rogue nations to launder billions of dollars. Now the bank's head of compliance stepped down from his position, telling the committee the bank, and I quote, significantly failed in some areas.

The bank has issued a statement apologizing for its mistakes and says it will fully cooperate with lawmakers.

Protesters in Ukraine are keeping up the fight against a controversial new language law there. And the bill will boost the status of Russian to an official regional language. And many see this as a sign their country is moving too close to its former Soviet master. Demonstrations have been underway for two weeks. Mathew Chance reporting from Kiev.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They see themselves as fighters for a national cause. Ukrainian hunger strikers protesting a new language law they say undermines their motherland. Oxana, a PhD student from Kiev told me she hadn't eaten for 10 days. She feels sick and week, she says, but it's worth it.

I mean, why are you putting yourself through this?

OXANA NEZHIVENKO, HUNGER STRIKER: I am doing this because I feel that this is a critical moment not only for Ukraine, but also for me. And here should be the people who fight for Ukraine, fight for Ukrainian language in Ukraine. I need to be here and fight for Ukrainian language.

CHANCE: Why are you so opposed to this law? It would mean that people in the outlining regions of Ukraine can speak a language that's more comfortable for them. Why are you so opposed for that?

NEZHIVENKO: Actually it's not only my position, but also the position of the experts, philologists for a (inaudible) law in the long run makes the Russian language the second state language.

CHANCE: A few like Oxana have already been evacuated to hospital. It shows how seriously mere words are being taken.

You see, these protesters are deeply concerned that their language, Ukrainian, may be swamped if Russian is given any kind of official status here. It's already alarm that Ukraine may be moving too close to its giant neighbor. The language law, they say, is just another step.

Anger at what many Ukrainians see is growing Russian influence has already spilled out. These are the violent scenes in parliament when the government extended a controversial Black Sea port lease to the Russian navy. There was fighting when gas prices were agreed with Moscow too and when the language law passed. Now divisions are again being exposed.

At this protest next to the hunger strikers, supporters of the language law engage in heated debate with its opponents. More than a third of Ukrainians, according to official figures, don't use Ukrainian at all. Most are ethnic Russians who welcome increased regional status for their native tongue.

ANDRE KUCHER, PROTESTER: It's our right to speak any language what we want, but they think if we get money about all this action and also they...

CHANCE: They think that you're being paid by the Kremlin.

KUCHER: Yes. Yes.

CHANCE: undermine the Ukrainian language.

KUCHER: That's right. That's right. But it's totally wrong. It's not the truth. We stand here because we have our own point of view and we want to say about all Ukrainians that we can be (inaudible) to each other.

CHANCE: But opponents of the language law say Ukraine's cultural heritage needs to be carefully preserved, even defended, and especially from a resurgent Russia next door.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kiev.


ANDERSON: Well the FBI is investigating the discovery of six needles in sandwiches aboard four Delta flights from Amsterdam to the U.S. At least one person was injured while eating his sandwich mid-flight prompting the crew to stop the meal service completely. Delta is now substituting other sealed packaged food on the flights. The company that made the food called the situation terribly upsetting.

Now former U.S. president Bill Clinton visited Nelson Mandela in his home village in South Africa Tuesday on the eve of Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday. The two both served as their nation's presidents in the 1990s of course and have maintained a close relationship throughout the years. Speaking with CNN's Robyn Curnow, Clinton reflected on his relationship with the anti-apartheid icon.



CLINTON: Well, personally he's been a wonderful friend to me. You know, when we were working together. We were both presidents of our countries, we had actually had a lot of business to do. We also had to do it in telephone calls where it was very late in America and very early in South Africa. And I always tried to do the late side, because -- out of deference to him. But he didn't call me a single time, not once, when he didn't ask about Hillary and Chelsea. And if he wasn't too late, he'd ask me to go get Chelsea, bring her to the phone, and ask about her homework, was she keeping up.

You know, so I saw in him something that I tried not to lose in myself which is no matter how much responsibility you had, he remembered he was a person first. And then I learned a lot about living from him, about living with adversity, living with setbacks, living with disappointments, and living without anger.

So quite apart from all the magnificent contributions he made to free his country and to inspire the world, I learned a lot about life from him.

CURNOW: Do you think you taught him anything?

CLINTON: I doubt it. I was a pretty good politicians. I might have helped him. But he was a pretty good politician when I met him.

I don't know. We did a lot together.


ANDERSON: Madiba 94 tomorrow.

We're going to take a very short break here on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. When we come back, though, he hadn't won a major tournament in over four years, a major tournament I'm talking about. Can Tiger Woods withstand the rain and rough at Royal Lytham. That's coming up after this.



The year's third golf major begins Thursday at Royal Lytham. And in England, Tiger Woods who has won three tournaments this year, but he's also missed two cuts and been a non-factor in both majors. So which Tiger is going to show up at the Open Championship?

Pedro is with me in the house once again this evening. Who is going to turn up? Because this is a rough, old course.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It is, you know. He said on Monday that the rough was simply unplayable. And a lot of the players have been complaining about how deep it is. And if you hit the ball there it'll be...

ANDERSON: Isn't that what the rough is all about?

PINTO: Exactly. You know, stop crying and hit the ball at the fairway all right?

Tiger Woods, no major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open. He wants to end that drought. And he's been saying how healthy he feels. He blames a lot of his troubles on a lot of knee injuries he had, Achilles injuries. And he says he feels like he's ready to go. And he's ready to be a challenger. He really hasn't been a challenger at all this year at any of the majors. You mentioned he's won three titles on the professional tour, missed two cuts. So it's really been difficult to predict which Woods is going to show up.

He's looking trim. He's looking good. I think we'll see Tiger contend for the title this weekend.

ANDERSON: Interesting. OK. Well, let's watch and see on that.

Talk about titles, PSG, this is a Paris football team, are they just going to steal every major trophy in this season? They are throwing money around? What's going on there?

PINTO: You know it was Real Madrid, then it was Chelsea, then it's Manchester City, all those kids on the block out of the way because here comes Paris Saint-Germain. You know they have announced a couple of hours ago that they managed to reach an agreement to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish striker from A.C. Milan. That means they will complete a mega deal worth $75 million that also includes Thiago Silva, the Brazilian defender, also from A.C. Milan.

And this is a huge deal, Becky, because when was the last time that you saw major international player leave a major team in Italy to go play in the French league? It really shows that they have a lot of money to spend...

ANDERSON: I'm thinking about two decades ago, seriously.

PINTO: Are you thinking the likes of Chris Waddle went over there...

ANDERSON: Absolutely.

PINTO: ..went over there, Glenn Hoddle went over there.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. That was a long time ago.

PSG really putting themselves on the map, aren't they. Owned by the Qataris. Am I right in saying that?

PINTO: Qatari -- the Qataris Investment Authority that took over last summer. And I spent some time with them early this year with the chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. And he told me we want to be like Manchester United, like Barcelona, like many of these colossal teams on the continent. And they're doing that. They're putting their money where they're mouth is right now. And they're going out after the big fish.

The question now is who is next? And they didn't win the league last year.

ANDERSON: Who is left?

PINTO: Who is left? Exactly.

But they didn't win the French league last year, Montpelier won that. So the pressure on the manager Carlo Ancelloti is huge right now.

ANDERSON: It's going to be an interesting...

PINTO: Good story.

ANDERSON: It's a great story.

I think it's (inaudible) obviously A.C. Milan said it's going to save him 150 million euros in wages now that those two have gone over two years.

PINTO: Exactly. He's running a tight ship.


PINTO: What one would you think he would be doing that?

ANDERSON: Still to come on Connect the World -- Pedro is back in an hour -- it was a city that faced many hurdles, but since 1992 it's never looked back. How Barcelona fared after taking on the Olympics.

Plus, two women with a taste for success in the no nonsense world of finance and the fantasy land of chocolate.

And one of the world's oldest trading routes is set to get a makeover. We'll take a look at what will be the new Silk Road. That's all coming up. And your headlines of course after this.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines here on CNN.

Syrian rebels say the battle to liberate Damascus has begun. Heavy clashes are reported across the capital today. Activists there say the regime is deploying tanks and even helicopter gunships in some areas. They say one chopper was hit by rebel fire.

US senators are interrogating executives of HSBC about accusations the bank failed to stop international money laundering. Investigators say lax enforcement of the bank's US branch may have enabled drug cartels, terrorists, and rogue nations to launder billions of dollars.

Israel's Kadima party has quit the country's unity government. The center-right party, which holds the largest number of seats in Parliament, made that decision after it failed to agree to reach an agreement, at least, with the Likud party over a new universal graft law.

And the boss of the security firm which has failed to provide enough guards for the London Olympics has said he regrets signing the contract. Appearing before British lawmakers, the chief exec of G4S estimated only 7,000 guards would be available by the start of the Games. He was expecting originally to produce 10,000 for organizers.

And those are your headlines this hour.

Well, that figure is more than 3,000 less than the company originally agreed to supply, forcing the British government to call on military personnel and police to make up that shortfall. Just ten days before the start of the Games, this is a row that simply won't die down. Politicians are furious, leading to exchanges like this.


DAVID WINNICK, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Mr. Buckles, it's a humiliating shambles, isn't it?

NICK BUCKLES, CEO, G4S: It's not where we'd want to be, that is certain.

WINNICK: It's a humiliating shambles for the company, yes or no?

BUCKLES: I cannot disagree with you.


ANDERSON: Earlier, I put that admission to the minister responsible for the Olympics, one Jeremey Hunt.


JEREMY HUNT, BRITAIN'S OLYMPICS MINISTER: He was asked whether it was humiliating for his company, and he accepted he was. It certainly isn't for the United Kingdom. This is a very big project, when you run an Olympics. We have had a contractor who has let us down, been unable to meet their contractual commitments, but we had a contingency plan in place.

ANDERSON: Mr. Buckles has also said today that G4S regrets signing the multimillion-dollar contract. Does the government regret giving them that contract now?

HUNT: After the Olympics, we will have a proper postmortem, and I'm sure that we will all learn a lot of lessons about whether it's wise to put all your eggs in one basket with a big company on a contract like this.


HUNT: They gave us confidence because they are the biggest security company in the world.

ANDERSON: Our viewers might, though, be concerned about what happens elsewhere. How are you securing London if everybody is at the Park securing the athletes and the visitors there? What about the reset of London? Hotels? Train stations? Areas that might be potentially under attack from air and body?

HUNT: It's not possible to secure every singe square inch of a huge global city like London. But where there are important concentrations of Olympic activity, there will be a security regime before you can enter those.

Obviously, the actual Olympic venues are going to be very tightly secured. But we will also be depending on the vigilance of the public. We have not received intelligence of any particular additional threats. But this is a city that has huge experience of dealing with security issues over very many years.

ANDERSON: And you're confident about that, are you? Because there were reports that just earlier this week, as many as five people slipped through immigration at one of the London airports who were on a terror watch list.

HUNT: Those were reports in the newspaper. We have absolutely no idea if they're --

ANDERSON: You must have tried to confirm, I'm sure.

HUNT: Well, we've -- we haven't -- we would love the people who were responsible for those reports to provide us with the information, but no one has confirmed that to my knowledge so far.

But what I would say is that this government, which has been in power for two years, has taken big steps over those years to secure our borders.


ANDERSON: UK Sports Minister speaking to me earlier.

Well, the British government will no doubt be keen to put this row behind them and look to the future not, of course, just for the Opening Ceremony Friday a week, but also to the benefits that the Games could provide for many years to come, their legacy ambitions.

Now, all this week, we are taking a look at the legacies of Olympics past. Yesterday, we took a look at Montreal, a city almost plunged into bankruptcy after hosting the Games back in 1976. With just less than ten days to go until the London Games kick off, tonight we are in Barcelona where, as Jim Boulden explains, the 1992 Olympics put the city there back on the map.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like every Olympic host city, Barcelona had plenty of challenges. After it fended off Adelaide and Paris to host the 1992 Summer Games, it then had to renovate and rebrand the Mediterranean city.

For one, the main railway to France may have linked Barcelona to Europe, but it cut locals off from the water. The sea front was cleared. The Olympic Village was built. Three miles of sandy beach and a marina replaced docks.

JOSEP ROCA, BARCELONA 92 COMMITTEE: It was not on the map at the time, and lacked a lot of infrastructures, main infrastructures for the city.

BOULDEN: As the city went through change so, in fact, did the Olympic movement. After the tumultuous 1980s, the Barcelona Games were the first in decades to include South Africa and a untied Germany, and the last for Czechoslovakia, while the dismantling of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia left organizers scrambling to admit new countries from the Balkans and Baltics.

As Opening Ceremony organizer, Josep Roca remembers all too well.

ROCA: I remember the problem of changing national anthems just days before the Games.

BOULDEN: Roca's team pulled it off, and then pulled off a memorable lighting of the flame, while the US basketball players Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson captured the gold medal for the Dream Team's first Olympics. They competed in a new permanent basketball arena, still used today by a professional team.

BOULDEN (on camera): What's not used as much anymore, the Olympic Stadium. It was built in the 1920s and renovated for the Summer Games. It was home to Barcelona's second football team, but they moved out a few years ago. Though it is still a popular music venue, and occasionally hosts athletics or track and field events.

BOULDEN (voice-over): Many other venues were also renovation projects, including the swimming pools, still very popular today. And far from being a white elephant, even the baseball practice field is maintained for the country's domestic league.

And while there were complaints that the well-known Olympic effect drove up property prices, tourism nearly doubled in the ten years following the Games.

SERGIO MARTINEZ, BARCELONA TAXI DRIVER (through translator): It created jobs, it made the city more international, and I think it was a positive for everyone.

BOULDEN: The city had a coming out party. Outdoor venues did the trick.

BOULDEN (on camera): To me, this is the lasting memory of the Summer Games of 1992, the diving boards and the swimming pools with the cityscape behind it. The world woke up to the beauty of Barcelona, and the city itself has never had to look back.

Jim Boulden, CNN, Barcelona.


ANDERSON: The sunny skies of Barcelona couldn't be more different to the dark clouds that we have, sadly, become accustomed to this summer in the UK. Could, though, the weather be on the turn for the better?

Jen Delgado is at the International Weather Center. Jen, you know what? The UK government and, indeed, the Olympics organizers could do with some good news. Please --


ANDERSON: -- provide them some this evening.

DELGADO: I wish I could, but you know what? It looks like as we go through the next couple of days, we could be a touch drier. But let's talk about some of these records that we've seen for June.

Now, Becky mentioned to you, it's been bad out there. They haven't seen much sun, a lot of rainfall. Well, she's not imagining things. Look at the total there, 145 millimeters of rainfall. On average, June, 72.6. This is the wettest June on record since 1990, and April was also the wettest for the history of the country.

So, what is happening here? Why has the weather been so bad? Well, over the last couple of weeks, the jet stream has been really just dipping a lot more to the south, and that is what's been bringing in the cooler air, as well as, of course, the extra amount of rainfall across the region.

Now, as we go through the next couple of days or, say, July 25th, as well as to the 31st, it looks like we're going to see below normal precipitation levels, and that is good news. In fact, that's something that you want to hear.

But Becky, here's the problem. Of course, this is a more long-term outlook, much like what we talked about last week. Of course, when we talked about the tourism company or the companies that were actually upset with -- Belgium officials with the weather forecast. Remember that last week?

ANDERSON: Yes, I do remember that.

DELGADO: Hopefully --

ANDERSON: I do remember that.

DELGADO: -- you're not planning to do that. But right now, it looks like it is going to be drier than normal. In fact, my graphics just keep saying it over and over again.

ANDERSON: They are -- they're winking at you, Jen.

DELGADO: They are, they're winking. They're winking at you, in England.

ANDERSON: They're flashing.

DELGADO: They're flashing.

ANDERSON: All right. Listen, we don't need flashes on this show. Thank you for that. We will update you on the forecast day in, day out. You've got nine days, of course, and counting, until the official Opening Ceremony. It's the launch of the Games, and you will find out what the weather is going to be like as we move towards that with our weather center there in Atlanta.

So, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, a chocolatier tastes sweet success, and the numbers add up for the head of Israel's stock market. What have those two got in common? Well, stay with us for our Leading Women series, up next.


ANDERSON: In this week's Leading Women series here on CONNECT THE WORLD, we meet two ladies who manage their careers in very different ways. Felicia Taylor introduces us to Ester Levanon, who is the CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, who thrives in managing the market's highs and lows.

And I'll introduce you to one lady who is enjoying the sweet success surrounding her chocolate business. Have a listen to this.



FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the holidays, and Ester Levanon is surrounded by her favorite people: her husband, two sons, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. This, she says, is how she wants to be remembered, as a good grandmother.

She has a beautiful family, and she belongs to an elite group of women. As CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Levanon is one of a handful of females who lead stock exchanges. In the cliched phrase, one would say she has it all. But she bristles at that idea.

ESTER LEVANON, CEO, TEL AVIV STOCK EXCHANGE: Actually, I think it's pure nonsense. I don't know what's the meaning of "have it all." Everyone should have what they would like to have. I don't think that if someone became manager and she doesn't have a family, says that she doesn't have it all. Maybe that's the way she likes things.

TAYLOR: For Levanon, being a mother to two sons never meant sacrifice in either her personal or professional life. She started her highly- charged and male-dominated job at the Israeli Security service with a four- month-old baby at home. She once had to explain her choice to work to her two sons.

LEVANON: Every child gets a mother. You don't choose a mother. She can be tall or small or fat or lean or smart or stupid. That's the mother that you got. That's me. I can't stay at home. And I have to tell you this, once I stayed home for one week, they went crazy. They wanted me out of the house.

TAYLOR: Levanon has held a high-powered job virtually her entire working life. First, at the Israeli Security Service, and now at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. And she says though she doesn't like to admit it, she loves the pressure.

LEVANON: I strive under stress. I think I am at my best when I'm stressed and I have to make a decision immediately, not having the time to analyze and to think about it.

TAYLOR: Levanon won't face the stress much longer, though. Her term ends at TASE in three years.

LEVANON: The only thing I'm sure about, I'm not going to have these kinds of jobs anymore, but I'm not a child anymore, so it's about time to do things differently.

ANDERSON (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson. For Katrina Markoff, stress comes to her in a slightly different though no-less pressurized form.

KATRINA MARKOFF, FOUNDER AND CEO, VOSGES HAUT-CHOCOLAT: So, here you have them assembling some of the four-piece caramel boxes.

ANDERSON: As founder and CEO of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, she decides what new, unusual flavor combinations her company will try. And sampling chocolate, though it might sound like a luxury, is serious business, as we see in this meeting with her production managers.

MARKOFF: Cherry pecan -- I just, I wasn't getting the most even distribution of nut and cherry. I don't want it to smack you in the face with the spice or the ingredient or the herb or the root that's in there. I want it to be delicate and gentle, and then you sort of have a discovery phase. "Oh, there it is. Oh -- oh, yes! Oh!" You've eaten it. "It's still there. Oh, I see."

Hi. Hey, hi.

ANDERSON: And because Markoff wants to tell stories through her chocolates, her catalogs need to be just as dynamic as her flavors.

MARKOFF: So, this one was mostly Easter, sort of spring feeling up front.

ANDERSON: In this meeting with her marketing team, we get a peek into Markoff's creative process.

MARKOFF: Well, I just wanted to bring this up because I've had this on my board for a long time, this collection of balloons. I think this would be really fun kid collection, balloon-shaped chocolates. And now maybe this is too late for it, but I just think there's something really cool and could be very modern about balloons.

ANDERSON: Markoff's day jumps between quality checks in her factory to tasting the new products to developing her marketing plans for various big chocolate holidays.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, when you're talking about pop-ups, PPCs, all of those --

MARKOFF: Pop-ups for Valentine's Day, we have to do that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are. We're doing them all over.

MARKOFF: OK, we're doing this caps down.


MARKOFF: Downtown.

ANDERSON: As hectic as her days can be, she keeps her mornings consistent. Oatmeal for two-and-a-half-year-old Rohan.

MARKOFF: Yes, open your mouth.


ANDERSON: Her mornings with Rohan and her other release, horseback riding, are a constant in her life. The rest is an ever-changing whirlwind of chocolate.



ANDERSON: All this week, we've got our Eye on Kazakhstan here at CNN, home to a large part of the ancient Silk Road, one of the world's oldest trading routes that connected east Asia to the Roman Empire. Well now, plans are underway to modernize that route. Have a look at this.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kazakhstan is such a huge and vast country that you can't really experience it unless you take a road trip. So today, we're going to take a journey down what used to be the ancient Silk Road, where this country's constructing a new super highway.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The journey begins in Almaty, the largest city and former capital. Pretty soon, we're making our way through the amazing mountain landscapes of eastern Kazakhstan, a rural area with interesting traditions. A little dip in the river, more or less clothed. Turns out, this is a wedding party.

PLEITGEN (on camera): You guys after weddings go bathing in the river normally?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Of course, it's not our tradition normally, but we wanted to share our joy in the river and in nature with our guests, the bride's family. They came from so far away.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): In eastern Kazakhstan, that means a lot of vodka and fearless stunts. Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world, its population and geography extremely diverse.

Merchants passed through here on the ancient Silk Road hundreds of years ago, and now that trade between east and west is booming again, the government has decided it needs to upgrade its infrastructure.

A new highway is under construction that will span the entire country and replace many of the bumpy back roads that make travel here such a chore. Murat Kadyvov is in charge of building this section and says the new road will help boost mobility and safety.

"The speed limit will be 120 kilometers an hour," he says. "There will be less crashes because there are no intersections, and it will enable Kazakhstan to develop economically and give people a substantial benefit."

Kazakhstan plans to spend about $19 billion on transport infrastructure by 2014, the government says, especially on links from China to Europe, money that could help revive towns like Taraz, once a major hub on the ancient Silk Road with a rich Islamic history.

Anna Krokosheva shows me the ruins of the old town and the tomb of its most important son, Karakhan Mohammed, the city's governor in its heyday in the 11th century who made a major push to convert the population to Islam.

ANNA KROKOSHEVA, CITY GUIDE, TARAZ (through translator): It was a big merchant city. The ruler of the entire state sat here. It was the capital and the city was very rich. Both Persian and Arabic scripts mention this city.

PLEITGEN: Kazakhstan still has a long way to go to revitalize its role as a major trade route, but the effort is underway, the transport minister tells me. "We have a serious policy for the development of the road infrastructure," he says. "The Europe to Western China highway is one of the main projects that will connect Europe and China on the shortest possible path."

Today, the roads are so treacherous, most people travel by railroad. The train makes its way to our final destination, Turkestan. About a thousand kilometers from where our trip started, Turkestan was also once a major way point on the Silk Road, and its former wealth can be seen at the massive mausoleum for Ahmed Yasawi, who made Sufi Islam popular in this region in the 11th century.

Millions make a pilgrimage here each year, and the town hopes to attract even more tourists as Kazakhstan improves the travel infrastructure, building a new Silk Road.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Turkestan, Kazakhstan.


ANDERSON: In tonight's Parting Shots, after watching British Paralympian Shelly Woods win the London Marathon recently, I met up with some of her trainers to find out what it takes to be an Olympic gold medal favorite in wheelchair racing. Let me tell you, it is quite a challenge.


ANDERSON: We're here at St. Mary's University in Twickenham in London, Camilla and Richard with me. They're going to run the sort of test that they would run on an elite athlete. And then they got me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what we're going to do is we're going to measure -- we're going to measure your oxygen uptake. You've already got heart rate strap on, so we're going to measure your heart rate as well. So, unfortunately, you have to wear one of these.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So, quick warm up to start off with. Try and keep a good grip. That's it. Keep going, keep those arms pumping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I'm going to put the speed up slightly, and you're going to do that all again.






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well done! Excellent effort!

ANDERSON: Now I know how Shelly Wood must feel. What did I do? Six minutes? What did she do yesterday? An hour 45 or something?




ANDERSON: Whew. Not easy.

How did we do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After your first three minutes, your blood lactate was 4.01, and after your second three minutes, it was 7.5.

ANDERSON: And how would that compare with an elite athlete?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Shelly and, say, David Weir, will probably race at a pace where their blood lactate's about 2.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the whole time. So, they're able to -- they're able to conserve a little bit of energy for the short sprints at the end or maybe some inclines as well. So, all in all -- all in all, you did quite well.

ANDERSON: Good. Thank you. I'm not sure I'll be back anyway.


ANDERSON: I didn't do well at all, he's being polite. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. World headlines up after this.