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Olympic Highlights; IOC and Saudi Arabia Come to Agreement Over Woman Athlete's Head Scarf in Judo Competition; Syrian Swimmer Azad al- Barazi; Mitt Romney Under Fire Again for Comments in Israel; American Perspective on Romney Overseas Tour; London Eye Transformed to Social Media Mood Ring; Monday Olympic Roundup; Tuesday's Olympic Events

Aired July 30, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: I'm Becky Anderson, live London's Olympic park where Team USA continues to make waves in the pool. Teen sensation Missy Franklin taking home her first Olympic gold, but Ryan Lochte is again left behind as Frenchman Yannick Agnel seals a march on his rival.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Max Foster at CNN London watching unfolding events in Syria where hundreds of thousands have fled as the fight for Aleppo takes a violent new turn.

And another city, another controversy at Mitt Romney's foreign tour leaves Palestinians outraged.

ANDERSON: Taking its position at the top of the medal count, adding to its gold medal stash while France continues to impress in the swimming pool. A day after winning the men's freestyle relay, France's Yannick Agnel won gold in the men's 200 meter freestyle. U.S. swimming sensation Ryan Lochte out of the medals in fourth.

Defending champions China won the men's artistic gymnastics team final in what was a dramatic day of results. Let's get you bang up to date with some of those results. As I've just mentioned in the last hour or so, France triumphs in the men's 200 meter freestyle. Agnel taking gold, Ryan Lochte might have been knocked off the podium this time, but U.S. team sensation Missy Franklin lifting U.S. fan's spirits. She won the women's 100 meters backstroke. Australia taking silver, Japan bronze.

And defending champions China winning in the men's gymnastics on the mats and on the court. Team GB initially won silver, but an appeal from Japan meant they dropped to bronze. Still that's the first men's medal for Team GB in 100 years.

But it wasn't to be for British diving pair Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield who just missed out on a medal in the men's synchronized 10 meter platform, gold there going to China.

Well, my colleague Alex Thomas from world sport joins me now. Where do you want to start? Let's start in the pool this evening. It's been exciting stuff isn't it?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, so much to talk about. I don't know where to start. But Missy Franklin is definitely one worth mentioning, because she's trying an unprecedented seven swimming events. Now yeah we've seen Michael Phelps win eight golds four years ago, but it's yes much less common for women to have multiple events. She got a bronze in the relay at the weekend, then this evening we saw her scrap into the 200 meters freestyle as the eighth fastest. And we thought what's all the fuss about, but then just 20 minutes later she comes back in the pool for the backstroke final in the 100 meters and she wins gold and blows the opposition out of the water. So maybe she's the real deal.

ANDERSON: Just 20 minutes later. I don't know how these kids, I'm going to call them -- how these kids do these things.

THOMAS: And they give football players days off in between matches.

ANDERSON: Ryan Lochte in the pool as well today. I know that Piers Morgan spoke to his mom just earlier on, that will be on CNN later tonight. She didn't expect him to win this. She hoped he'd get a bronze. It's not his event tonight.

THOMAS: And mom knew best. He came fourth. And suddenly he's going to face a raft a criticism in the U.S. I think slightly unfair, because he was labeled as the new golden boy of U.S. swimming after beating Phelps and the others on Saturday night. And that was never the case. He's been awhile for awhile. He's 27 years old. He's competed at two previous Olympic games, won three golds. He's a very, very good swimming. He's just not a once in a generation swimmer.

So he came fourth and the final was won by Yannick Agnel, the Frenchman who beat him in the relay last night. What a game to the French.

ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. They're doing really well in the pool.

The Australians not even appearing at the pool, that's what I'm finding amazing.

THOMAS: There's going to be a real postmortem Down Under.

ANDERSON: A bit controversy in and around the pool. This 16 year old swimming sensation from China criticized today by the U.S. What's that all about?

THOMAS: Yeah, well, people are just amazed at how fast she's swimming, quite frankly. She's made a huge improvement in a year. There's suspicion over Chinese swimmers as there is over Chinese athletes generally, based partly on past drugs violations many years ago both on track and field and in the pool. And one U.S. swimming coach is now openly questioned the perfomances of Yi Shiwen, the 16 year old who won the 400 meters individual medley. She swam the final 50 meters of her event faster than Ryan Lochte did winning the men's equivalent. So that's controversial.

And I mention one other controversial thing that we didn't discuss, but Tom Daley, the young British hope, made his debut in the Olympics four years ago at age 14 came fourth today in conjunction with Peter Waterfield in the 10 meters synchronized platform. His dad past away from brain cancer last year in May. Someone tweeted him after he lost today saying, you know you've let your dad down don't you. And he retweeted to everyone just to point out that the Twitter trolls that you get out there. Unbelievable.

ANDERSON: I don't know what to say to that. I'm literally (inaudible). I do not know what to say to that.

Let's talk about better things than that sort of nonsense. Chinese doing well today both in the pool, because they've got gold in that event you were just talking about, men's synchro diving, and indeed in the gymnastics. A little bit of controversy over why the Team GB who hadn't won in men's gynmastics for 100 years ended up not getting a silver, but only a bronze.

THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, China we know are a giant of the world in so many of the areas, not just sport, economics has been talked about on CNNi man, many times. But when it comes to gymnastics they've always traditionally very powerful. They did win gold in the men's team event. So that's, you know, six members. They all try different disciplines, and the scores get added up.

Team GB have never even qualified for 100 years for this event -- well, for 80 odd years. And now here they are winning a bronze medal that may prompted to silver after the last Japanese gymnast did a terrible discipline. And then on appeal Japan got reinstated to silver. GB in bronze. And it's poor old Ukraine that go home empty handed, Becky.

ANDERSON: Amazing stuff. It's always fun. What are you calling this day three or day four?

THOMAS: I'm calling this day four.

ANDERSON: You're calling it day four.

THOMAS: Well, the women's football started last Wednesday. Let's just call it Monday. First Monday.

ANDERSON: Let's call it the first Monday, exactly.

Alex Thomas with us tonight. Thank you for that.

Right, Team GB fans had high hopes, of course, for British divers Tom Daley and his partner, but golden fever soon turned to disappointment. I sat through the highs and lows of fans in Olympic park. Have a look at this.


ANDERSON: No doubt who this crowd is supporting. Tom Daley on the boards, poster boy for Team GB. The competition has only just begun, but boy are we looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want to be part of the Olympics and cheer on Team GB.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we've been here since 10:00, about 10:00 this morning waiting for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we love watching stuff on the big screen. And obviously we're supporting Tom Daley here today. And we can't wait.

ANDERSON: Halfway through and Tom Daley and his partner are in gold medal position.

The Chinese are ahead. The British boys, fourth position.

ANNOUNCER: Fourth place at the moment. They are six points behind a bronze medal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little disappointing isn't it. Fourth has got to be the worst position to finish in. But you know they gave it everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought they were going to win after the first two dives, but it wasn't to be. Nevermind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it was a bit of a tragedy they couldn't get a medal, but he tried his best.

ANDERSON: Well, in the end disappointment for the crowds here supporting Team GB, but the Chinese almost faultless on the diving board, consolidating their position at the top of the medal table.


ANDERSON: Sports fans have another chance to bag Olympic tickets as thousands more go on sale in a bit to make sure that the stadiums are full. Now the move follows a backlash after empty seats were spotted at various venues over the weekend, the opening weekend of these games, of course, but London's organizers say they are on top of it.


JACKIE BROCK-DOYLE, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: We talked to the international federations yesterday. We were able to put back into the pot for sale around 3,000 tickets last night. They've all been sold. That includes about 600 for the gymnastics event today. And we're going to do that on a day to day basis.


ANDERSON: All right. So Jackie Brock-Doyle there checking in on that all important medals table for you then. And China and the U.S. still dominant at the top followed by France and Italy this evening. I do believe actually we may have got that wrong, because I believe that France now running third after their success in the pool. I think Italy dropping slightly there down to fourth.

Still to come this evening, Saudi Arabia's first female Olympian gets some news. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has the latest on that.

From us here just for the time being going to give it up to Max who is back in the studio for the other big stories of the day -- Max.

FOSTER: Becky, coming up, the latest from Syria's civil war. Rebels are claiming a key victory just outside Aleppo.

And after a short tour of Europe and the Middle East, just how much has Mitt Romney achieved? All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now as the fighting heats up for Syria's biggest city, rebels say they're gaining ground. They overran a strategic military base just north of Aleppo today that gives them new ammunition and access to a key supply route to Turkey.

In Aleppo itself, troops are pounding rebel held districts with artillery and helicopter gunship fire. The amateur video you see here is said to show rebels trying to shoot down a helicopter. Rebels say they control as much as 40 percent of Aleppo, a claim denied by the government. And the U.S. defense secretary had a stark warning for Syria's president today. Leon Panetta talked with our Barbara Starr.


LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm sure that deep down Assad knows he's in trouble and it's just a matter of time before he has to go.


PANETTA: I would say if you want to be able to protect yourself and your family you better get the hell out now.


FOSTER: A quick reminder now of why Aleppo is so critically important in this civil war. It is the commercial and industrial heart of Syria, home to more than 4.5 million people. Until recently it was a government stronghold. Losing Aleppo will be a huge moral and strategic blow for the Assad regime.

Our Ivan Watson is in north Syria and he's been following the rebel's advance on government positions. And today, he visited the military base near Aleppo that's now in rebel hands -- Ivan.


That's right. What we saw was on Sunday night an intense rebel offensive on this Syrian army checkpoint that was controlling a stretch of highway at the gateway to Aleppo, an important highway to Turkey. Within a matter of hours, they really seemed to have the Syrian soldiers on the run, even though the Syrian troops had more than a dozen tanks, even though they were dug in behind earth berms.

And we went and visited that location today, it was clear that the rebels had overrun the place. They had captured at least four tanks by my count. There were at least three tanks that had been abandoned by the Syrian army troops, another one that had been destroyed, presumably by rocket propelled grenades. And the rebels were making off with cases and cases of ammunition as well as giant tank rounds that they had captured from the Syrian army base.

So it was a significant win for the armed opposition here in Syria in the north of the country.

FOSTER: And how are civilians being left as a result of this, because so much damage is being done, their supplies must be affected quite radically.

WATSON: Absolutely, I mean I'd estimate based on what we've seen that a significant portion of the civilian population is on the move, has been uprooted. There are entire villages and towns that are virtually deserted, people have gone in some cases by the tens and thousands they've fled across borders to countries like Turkey and Jordan. In other cases, they've moved in with their relatives in towns or villages that they think are safer.

And in the case of last week's serious fighting in Aleppo, Aleppo was considers a safe haven, so that has driven people who went to seek shelter there, they're back on the road again, they're back on the move again. And you see families up and packed into the back of trucks and cars moving around trying to find a safe place from the fighting.

I've talked to some residents of Aleppo who have come to the village where I'm sheltered at now. They said there's no electricity in their neighborhood in Aleppo. And everybody is basically leaving and trying to find some place with a roof over their head to stay in.

FOSTER: OK. Ivan, thank you very much indeed for bringing us that.

Now the United Nations is reporting a mass exodus from Aleppo as the fighting intensifies. And we've just been hearing details of that from Ivan. It says more than 200,000 civilians have now fled the city. The UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos gave us details earlier today.


VALERIE AMOS, UN HUMANITARIAN CHIEF: Some are fleeing Syria are refugees into neighboring countries, others stay in Syria as internally displaced people. They go to family and friends. And of course some people have been displaced twice. They might have come from the fighting somewhere else fleeing to Aleppo. And now they are having to flee again.

And it's really unfortunate that those who are engaged in this conflict who are doing this fighting understand that it is ordinary people who are bearing the brunt of this.


FOSTER: Well, the UN say Turkey is now sheltering the biggest number of Syrian refugees. This map shows the breakdown of Syrians who fled to neighboring states.

We're going to take you to a short break now, but when we come back 142 charges for the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 more in a Colorado cinema shooting.


FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster. Here's a look at some other stories connecting our world for you tonight.

Now Mitt Romney has arrived in Poland on the last stop of his foreign tour. It's thought the Republican presidential candidate has raised around $3 million from his tour so far. He's visited the UK and Israel where he angered Palestinians by declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital. You'll have more on that coming up, including the Palestinian reaction to his comments.

The president of Uganda is warning people to avoid shaking hands and having other physical contact. Uganda is trying to contain an outbreak of Ebola Virus. 14 people have died and six others are being treated for infection. The health minister says the outbreak in western Uganda initially was undetected because patients didn't show typical symptoms.

Prosecutors have filed charges against the suspect in the mass theater shooting in Colorado. James Holmes faces 24 counts of first degree murder and two counts for each of the 12 people killed on July 20. News cameras were not allowed in court today, but Ed Lavendera was in there to hear the charges.

And just explain first of all, Ed, why there seem to be two murder charges for each murder.

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, just to be clear there are 142 counts total and there are 12 people killed, 58 people who were wounded, and each of those people will have two counts that represent them as this court case moves ahead. So two counts of murder for different legal reasons. One, because it was a planned attack. And another because of the extreme indifference that James Holmes, the prosecutors say, showed in shooting his victims. And because of that they were able to double up on these charges if you will.

So 24 counts of first degree murder, 116 of attempted murder. And of course all of this makes him eligible for the death penalty here in the state of Colorado. However prosecutors are saying they're still several months away from determining if they will pursue the death penalty in this case. So a lot of legal process that still needs to unfold before they make that decision.

FOSTER: OK, Ed, thank you very much indeed.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schauble say they are confident that Europe can overcome its debt woes. After meeting on the German island of Sylt, the pair praised Italy and Spain for their far reaching fiscal reforms and said the two countries would continue to cooperate in order to further stabilize the global economy. Geithner was also scheduled to meet European Central Bank head Mario Draghi today.

A Namibian court has ruled that state hospitals sterilized three HIV positive women without their consent. But the judge dismissed claims that the women were operated on due to their HIV status. Advocates say the case opens the door for other women who claim they were coerced into the procedure because they were infected with the AIDS virus.


JENNIFER GATSI-MALLET, AIDS ACTIVIST: And it was a -- a directive to say any woman who tests positive for HIV should be sterilized straight away.


FOSTER: Well, investigators in India are trying to figure out what sparked a fire aboard a passenger car on a train in the south. Now India's ministry of railways says the fire killed at least 32 people and sent around 25 others around the hospital. Many of the passengers were asleep on the overnight trip from New Delhi to the southeastern city of Chennai.

Plenty more still to come on Connect the World. Becky Anderson is live at the Olympic Park -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Well, yes I am. Plenty more from here, including a momentous turnaround from the Olympic committee. The first female Saudi athlete can now compete wearing the hijab.

And the bright lights of London which change according to your mood. One London landmark transformed into a giant mood ring for the Olympic games. That and your headlines after this.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson at Olympic Park with a lot more as we wrap day three of the London 2012 Olympics.

FOSTER: These are the latest headlines from CNN. Syrian rebels are celebrating the capture of a military base north of Aleppo. This video posted online appears to show fires burning after the battle. Elsewhere, the UN says a convoy carrying members of its mission was attack on Sunday, but no one was injured.

A disappointing day so far for Britain at the London Olympics. The synchronized diving team of Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield finished fourth in the 10 meter platform competition. The Chinese team won the gold. Mexico took the silver. And the U.S. team was third.

Prosecutors have filed formal charges against the man suspected in a mass theater shooting in the US state of Colorado. James Holmes faces 24 counts of first degree murder, two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the July 20th shooting. Holmes also faces 116 counts of attempted murder, two counts for each person wounded.

Mitt Romney has arrived in Poland on the last stop of his foreign tour. It's thought the Republican presidential candidate has raised around $300,000 from the tour so far. He's visited the UK and Israel, where he angered Palestinians by declaring Jerusalem the Israeli capital.

ANDERSON: Well, you're back in London and at the Olympic Park where China is consolidating its position at the top of the medal count, adding to its gold medal stash, while France continues to impress in the pool. Let's get you right up to date on some of Monday's Olympic highlights, shall we?

France triumphs in the men's 200 meter freestyle, swimmer Yannick Agnel taking gold. Ryan Lochte might have been knocked off the podium this time, but US team sensation Missy Franklin lifted US spirits. She won the women's 100 meter backstroke, Australia taking silver, Japan taking bronze.

Well, defending champions China won the men's artistic gymnastics team final. Team GB initially won silver, but an appeal from Japan meant they dropped to bronze. Still, that's the first men's medal for team G in 100 years.

But it wasn't to be for British diving pair Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield, who just missed out on a medal in the men's synchro 10 meter platform, gold in that once again going to China.

Meantime, a storm was brewing over Saudi Arabia's first female athlete to make the Olympics. Well, that storm seems to have been averted, thankfully.

The IOC and the Saudi authorities were deadlocked over the controversial issue of whether Wojdan Shaherkani would wear a head scarf in the women's judo competition on Friday. It seems, though, that they have come to an agreement. CNN's Nic Robertson has the details.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it seems that what threw the spanner in the works, here, was a decision by the president of the International Judo Federation that this Saudi athlete, this young 16-year-old girl, could not compete wearing a hijab.

And she already signed an agreement with the Saudi National Olympic Committee that she would only compete in proper Islamic dress, and this seemed to be heading to a crescendo where she wouldn't be able to compete on Friday.

But late into the night last night, the International Olympic Committee, the Saudi National Olympic Committee, and the International Judo Federation were meeting, and according to a spokesman for the Saudi National Olympic Committee today, they say that their issues have been resolved, that the athlete will compete wearing the hijab, wearing the head scarf, and that we will get further details from the International Judo Federation.

Those details have not been forthcoming so far about the nature of this scarf and how it's changed or how it may have changed to meet their concerns about the safety of its use in the competition. But it does seem that this -- what many people are looking at as a sort of public relations disaster all around has now been headed off, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson on the story for you out of London today. Nic, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

All right, well there was controversy around some sports. There was excitement and spectacular wins and losses in the pool. We've been talking about that today, and I've got a swimmer with me here for the Syrian Olympic team, Azad al-Barazi joining me now. You swam on Saturday -- welcome to this show --


ANDERSON: -- didn't make it to the finals, I know, so you're sitting at the pool today watching Missy Franklin in the pool, watching Ryan Lochte in the pool. Watching the French doing so well and nowhere are the Aussies.

AL-BARAZI: Yes. Yes. It's the Olympics. It's a lot of upsets and a lot of happy faces around. And it's hard to swim at the Olympics. A lot of pressure, a lot of -- a lot of weight on your shoulders. Anything can happen.

ANDERSON: You were in the 100 meters breaststroke on Saturday, right?

AL-BARAZI: Correct, on the 28th.

ANDERSON: On the 28th. How did it feel when you were standing on -- ready to go?

AL-BARAZI: It's nerve-wracking, looking up to those stands. Those stands are so high up. I looked up, and I was like, whoa. I'm here, swimming at the -- the Olympics. It's a little bit nerve-wracking.

ANDERSON: You grew up in the States. You've got Syrian citizenship, I know, three years ago, dual citizenship. Your parents, I know, are Syrian. You're competing for the Syrian team. I know you've got family back in the country. How does it feel as an athlete competing for a country which is at civil war?

AL-BARAZI: I'm so proud of being a Syrian. Syria right now is probably one of the greatest countries. It's the most important country. Everyone's looking at it, everyone's watching what's going on in Syria.

And it's -- I'm an honor -- it's an honor to swim for Syria. We need positiveness in that country, either in sports, education, art, just anything. Just anything to lift the spirit of Syria.

ANDERSON: Do you feel any pressure from the regime? I'm not going to ask you who you would support in a civil war, but do you feel any pressure from the regime?

AL-BARAZI: Not -- a little bit. Just listening to the news and everything that's going on. I try to block that off. I'm here to race. I'm here to enjoy the Olympic atmosphere. And I'm swimming for the country of Syria and the people.

ANDERSON: You were supposed to swim in what is, I think, your best event, I'm told, the 200 meters breaststroke. You're not swimming. Why?

AL-BARAZI: Miscommunications. I'm not going to point fingers on who was supposed to sign me up, but yes, miscommunication and it's all right. I made it this far, I can't complain.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Listen, tell us about what it's like to be an athlete in the Athlete's Village. Go on.

AL-BARAZI: It's unreal. Like I was telling you before, I walked in and you feel the energy. You feel all these athletes are here to compete and the greatest athletes all over the world. I even raised my head and brought my shoulders a little bit back more.

ANDERSON: You're a tall guy, you must be six-four, six-five, right?

AL-BARAZI: Yes, so -- I put my shoulders back, it's like, wow, I'm at the Olympic Village! So, it's -- it's every athletes dream to make the Olympics.

ANDERSON: Who have you seen, out of interest?

AL-BARAZI: I've seen a lot of the NBA basketball players, like Lebron James and Kobe and then Usain Bolt. And yes, it's just -- everyone's a star there. Everyone's a star at the Olympics, from the highest to lowest.

ANDERSON: Listen, well done --

AL-BARAZI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: -- for getting this far. I know it must be absolutely thrilling. It's an absolute joy to have you on --

AL-BARAZI: Thank you very much for having me.

ANDERSON: Let's get back to Max, who's in the studio for the other stories hitting the headlines here on CNN tonight.

FOSTER: Great stuff, Becky. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up after the break, we -- or he caused an upset in London, and he caused a controversy as well in Israel as the Mitt Romney foreign tour heads to Poland, now.



MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's long been the policy of our country to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital of Jerusalem.

The decision to actually make a move is one, if I were president, I would want to take in consultation with the leadership of the government which exists at that time. So, I would follow the same policy we have in the past, our embassy would be in the capital.


FOSTER: Well, his comments in London were called insensitive, and today the Republican presidential candidate is under fire again after last night's speech. This morning, he suggested Israel was more prosperous because it had the hand of providence.

He also compared the GDP of Israel with that of the Palestinian territories without mentioning economic sanctions, which Palestinians say cripple their growth. According to various reports today, despite the gaffe-ridden tour, Mitt Romney is leading president Obama in opinion polls back home.

Editorial director for the "National Journal" Ron Brownstein joins me now from Washington. Ron, thank you very much, indeed. First of all, we've heard a lot about those stories here in the UK and on the Israeli media, but how many of these gaffes, as they're being called, are being reported in the American press?

RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, they're being extensively discussed back at home. Ultimately, as you suggest, this is going to be an election decided primarily by the domestic economy.

But this has been a rough week for Mitt Romney in what is usually a very easy and good week for a presidential challenger. You know, Max, this is typically, as we say in America, this is kind of like the tennis without a net part of the presidential campaign.

For the challenger, the opportunity to go abroad for a week or so, kind of burnish your credentials, look confident and strong on the international stage, but it's really been, to continue the metaphor, a series of unforced errors for Romney in virtually every country that he's been -- I think literally in every country that he's been.

FOSTER: And the particularly difficult ones have been in Israel, particularly for Palestinians, of course. We're on the phone -- we're joined from the West Bank by the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. First of all, your comments about the comparisons about GDP between Israel and the Palestinian areas and your response to that?

SAEB ERAKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR (via telephone): Well, Max, I thought that people who should come to the region must study the region, have knowledge of the reason, much weigh their words.

Because here, Mr. Romney speaks of double GDP in Israel more than the Palestinian and explaining this as the Israelis are more advanced in our culture than ours, this is racism. And the day before yesterday, he made a statement about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. He wants to defend the Israelis in negotiations.

And he comes to a region when people like us are trying our best to maintain democracy, human rights, women's rights, accountability, transparency, the rule of law, making peace, and he makes such a statement, which will serve in the hands of extremists in the region for a long, long, long time.


FOSTER: His campaign --

EREKAT: -- American interests are enormous.

FOSTER: His campaign have suggested that actually the comments have been misinterpreted. This was in no way an attempt to slight the Palestinians, said Stuart Stevens, his chief strategist.

They're also pointing out, as well, that these comments about culture making a difference have been made before. He's made the comments before, so they're not necessarily new. But you feel, obviously, that the location of the comments is particularly poignant.

ERAKAT: Max, if he had said that somewhere else, he's wrong. I -- we have a difference with Israel. We have a conflict with Israel. I have never heard and Israeli try to undermine our culture or our society or our history or our religion. That's the truth.

For an American presidential candidate to come and start throwing words, he should weigh himself very carefully. He should really think very -- someone should have educated him on the region. Someone to explain to him what's going on on the streets of Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and so on, the major changes that are taking place.

And when a country has more than 150,000 kids in Afghanistan and Iraq and has a lot of interests in 57 other Islamic countries, he doesn't come and just see things the way he wants to say it, Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.

And then secondly, an inferior culture for Palestinians. This is absolutely unjustifiable, unacceptable, and these statements must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And mark my words --

FOSTER: Saeb Erakat --

ERAKAT: -- these statements will be used by extremists in the region for years to come.

FOSTER: Saeb Erakat, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us, there. We're going to go back to Ron Brownstein. Because from the American perspective, there are different constituencies leading up to the election, of course. What sort of harm has been done to Romney? Because he has had a lot of bad press because of this.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, as you said, I think ultimately, this election will be decided by who Americans believe has a better chance of reviving what has been a very stagnant economy.

But I think this has done damage. Mitt Romney is a very methodical guy, he's a business consultant. That is one of his strengths and his weaknesses, in some ways, but certainly a strength. And in this week from stop to stop, he has seemed off his game.

And as we just heard, whatever else we think about some of the other comments there, the notion that an American president has to carefully weigh his words in the Middle East is something that I think all Americans understand. And whether in London or in Israel, Romney this week has not seemed to pass that test.

FOSTER: Some people -- some diplomats are suggesting he's misunderstood the basic role of diplomacy, for example, in the UK, criticizing the UK on UK soil, a foreigner criticizing on UK soil. And these problems in the Middle East, going there and criticizing things that is fundamentally wrong. You need to be more neutral when you travel. But is that unfair?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look. I think some of the things he said about the preparations in the UK were certainly concerns that we've seen echoed in the British press, and any American president is going to have his difference with the Palestinian Authority, but I think what has been the consistent note here, as we said, is not a care. An absence of carefully weighing your words.

The point of this week, always for a challenger, is to show Americans that they're prepared to be commander in chief and to handle our diplomacy on day one. And I'm guessing that he was in a stronger position on that front before he began the trip than after it, which is pretty much unprecedented.

FOSTER: OK. Ron Brownstein, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. The election, Becky, a very big story at the end of the year, but currently you're at the Olympic Park where all the talk is at the moment.

ANDERSON: Yes. All right, well thank you for that. You're absolutely right, the election's coming up in November, the Olympics here in what is it, still July, just about, moving into August? Day three, we're going to wrap it for you and look at day four.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back also, the London light show determined by Twitter. It's a world first. The Olympic mood ring lighting up the British capital.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to London. Now, one of the most iconic landmarks has been given some extra sparkle during these Games. The city's famous London Eye has been transformed into a giant Olympic mood ring, we're told, changing color each night depending on the mood of Twitter users. Phil Han reports on what is this social media-fueled spectacle, as it were.


PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (voice-over): It's been dubbed the Social Media Olympics, and if opening night was anything to go by, it's living up to that promise. A record number of people turned to Twitter to tweet about Friday's ceremony.

In fact, there were more than 9.5 million mentions of the Olympics on Friday night. To give you some idea of just how huge that is, there were more tweets in one night compared to the entire Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The explosion of Twitter has even managed to temporarily transform the London Eye. Every night, for 24 minutes, the 450-foot wide Ferris Wheel will illuminate the mood of the Olympics.

Scanning hundreds of thousands of Olympic related tweets throughout the Games, a series of algorithms will calculate the sentiment of fans and turn those into a series of different colored lights.

From yellow, representing optimistic tweets, green being neutral, and purple showing negative. When Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington won bronze in the pool, the London Eye lit up in a sea of yellow, a positive boost for the host nation.

But the influx of texts and tweets are also causing some havoc for Olympic officials. Fans in London were asked to try to avoid sending non- urgent tweets during events on Sunday because they were overloading data networks.

Television commentators were left in the dark on Saturday during the men's cycling road race when GPS data from the leaders pack was unable to get to broadcasters. An IOC spokesman reportedly said the problem appeared to be one over-subscribed network. Unfortunately, matters were made worse when fans turned to Twitter to vent their anger.

Phil Han, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, I do hope you're enjoying the Games here in London. It's day three. I've got Alex Thomas with us. We're going to wrap the day for you and look ahead to tomorrow.

What are you enjoying about the Games, whether you're here in London, watching from overseas, I want to hear from you. Tweet me @BeckyCNN. That's the hash tag for me, and hash tag #cnnolympics when you do write to us. That's @BeckyCNN for all you Twitter users. And for all the latest on Olympic action, do use the site There's a live blog there.

As promised, my colleague Alex Thomas joining me today. Lots and lots of action. What was your highlight, today?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: A liked the action in the swimming pool, actually. Traditionally not something I keep as close an eye on as other sports I might like. But the Olympics, it really comes alive, and you just hear all of those lovely stories.

And also, just seeing how the traditional powers are coping with some of the up-and-coming nations, particularly China in the pool. Ryan Lochte, I feel sorry for him because to label him as the new golden boy of US swimming just on the basis of one victory last Saturday, admittedly beating Michael Phelps down into fourth place, was a bit unfair.

ANDERSON: He could still grab, what, another three or four gold medals, I think, at this point, yes?

THOMAS: Yes, he's --


THOMAS: -- got a lot on his plate. Because he's trying to stand up and be the new Michael Phelps at the age of 27. But they might have to look to the next generation, which is where we find Missy Franklin.

And boy, was she astonishing, to swim twice so quickly and to look a bit shaky in qualifying in one heat, and then come back and absolutely storm it in the final,which shows she was saving her energy knowing she'd have to swim in 20 minutes' time.

So, she comes back tomorrow for the 200 meters freestyle, the one where she finished 8th fastest. Remember, it's all about lanes, and she'll be right on the outside. Normally not favorable, because if you don't get a good start, you're suffering all the backwash up against the wall bouncing back at you.

ANDERSON: And you can see it ahead of you as well.



THOMAS: So, she's up against Federica Pellegrini of Italy. Phelps and Lochte both back in the pool. And Phelps is interesting. He's in the 200 meter butterfly semifinals. Tyler Clary, his fellow American, is also there, and Tyler's the guy that criticized Phelps for his lack of hard work in training. What is he thinking?


THOMAS: Let's just take possibly the greatest swimmer --


ANDERSON: I know people who don't work hard.

THOMAS: -- ever.

ANDERSON: It's not Michael Phelps. Exactly.

THOMAS: We've seen it in other sports, haven't we? And in tennis if Federer gets criticized, he'll come up and absolutely kill his next opponent. So just don't try and criticize a sporting legend. It's not going to do you any favors.


ANDERSON: All good stuff. That's a wrap of day three. Day four, forthcoming of course, as we say. Lots more action in the pool, Lochte and Michael Phelps back there. And we've got a bit of equestrian going on tomorrow as well, the --

THOMAS: Yes. Zara Phillips has been doing terribly well, obviously, following her mum, Princess Anne, as we know here in this country.

ANDERSON: Cue the music.

THOMAS: As a royal. And she's really held it together. I think she went a round in a perfect score over the cross country event. And of course, in the three-day eventing, you've got the dressage, where you've got to be all neat and tidy and make your horse perform. Then, you've got the cross country, which I quite like actually, and then the show jumping.

ANDERSON: Do you like that?

THOMAS: No, not spectacularly.

ANDERSON: I knew --

THOMAS: I have to admit, sorry about that. But Great Britain are in first place at the moment, so she's really helping out the team. It's not just the sort of token selection of a royal.


ANDERSON: And of course -- yes.

THOMAS: At the moment.

ANDERSON: Not really, anyway.

THOMAS: If she stuffs up the show jumping, I'll change my mind.


ANDERSON: Team GB fans, of course, will be making a racket at Wimbledon. Andy Murray back on the court. We saw -- we saw Serena and Venus going through today, advancing as they do in the Olympics. We saw Federer going through and Djokovic as well. What about Murray, what do you think?

THOMAS: And Andy, of course, also had a sibling doubles. He was partnering with his brother Jamie, but they lost in the first round of the men's doubles, I think. And we saw Andy at the recent Wimbledon championships losing out in the final to Roger Federer when he had that chance to end that long, long wait for a men's Wimbledon champion.

But now we've got Olympics. Some are down. Federer and Djokovic at the limit. So, still a huge hurdle. But he won't be short of support.

ANDERSON: I want to remind our viewers, we spoke to Federer on Monday after he beat Andy Murray, and I said, "How does it feel to disappoint a nation?" And he said, "I'm really -- " Well, he didn't apologize. He said "I feel really bad." Which is as close to an apology --


ANDERSON: -- as you're ever going to get from a champion, I think.

THOMAS: He's been coming here long enough to know what it means to the UK. But the difference is the type of crowd. So in Wimbledon, crowds get accused of being a bit too tight -- tight-lipped and a bit too stiff. This is a Joe Public crowd, except for the sponsors in the empty seats.


THOMAS: But Murray will get a lot more vocal support.

ANDERSON: And talking about empty seats, there weren't nearly as many of them today. It looked as if the organizers have gotten on top of that. Well, what a disastrous start, with all those empty seats.

Anyway, we're not going to talk about that, because it's all good news going forward. I'm Becky Anderson. That was Alex Thomas, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. Max Foster back with the headlines after this short break.