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New Record for Michael Phelps; Technology Contributes to Record- Breaking Times; Bond Markets' Reaction; Kofi Anna Quits; Spain Terror Suspects Arrested; Putin in London; Egypt's New Cabinet

Aired August 2, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Live from the Olympic Park, I'm Becky Anderson as history is made in the swimming pool behind me once again. US sensation Michael Phelps is now the first male swimmer to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics.

MAX FOSTER, HOST: And I'm Max Foster at CNN London. Also tonight, frustrated by finger-pointing, Kofi Annan quits as peace envoy for Syria.

And meet the Royal Joker. Prince Harry entertains a group of young Olympic hopefuls.

ANDERSON: Well, wherever Michael Phelps swims, he never seems to be far from the record books, and with his teammate Ryan Lochte lapping at his heels, the American has tonight become the first male swimmer to take home gold in the same solo event at three consecutive Olympics.

Phelps's win in the 200 meter individual medley just comes days after he became the most decorated Olympian ever. And with tonight's victory, his record of 20 Olympic medals has just become a lot harder to break.

Joining me here at the Olympic Park is gold medal-winning sprinter and CNN contributor Linford Christie, still, of course, the only British man to win gold in all four of the major athletic competitions. But you didn't win them time and time and time again over nearly two decades. Just sit Michael Phelps in context for us, tonight, as another athlete.

LINFORD CHRISTIE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he's the greatest Olympian ever. You've got to say that. As far as medals are concerned, the guy's just phenomenal.

ANDERSON: It was important that he won a medal here, I think, in the solo event. He hadn't been doing actually that well when it came to his solo event, and of course, he won the gold with the team the other night. But this is 12 years, over a period of 12 years.

CHRISTIE: And he's still very young.


CHRISTIE: It's scary, isn't it, really?

ANDERSON: Do we -- you've been to Olympics now, over what? The last two decades, in 1992, when you won your gold yourself. Can you remember an Olympics where we saw these sort of records being broken again and again?

CHRISTIE: Well, no, I can't really. And I think what's happened here is that London is done a great job. They've built faster pools. I think you're going to find once the athletics start, the track's going to be faster. So, they just built some great facilities, which is, again, advanced technology. So, everything's going to be better and faster.

ANDERSON: Well, let's hope so, because if this is an indication of things to come, the next phase of this, which is yours, of course, track and field, is going to be absolutely fantastic.

One of the men who helped Michael Phelps to become the most decorated Olympian was Ricky Berens, who was part of the winning US relay team on Tuesday night, taking home gold and helping Phelps to a record 19th medal.

Well, his girlfriend tonight, Rebecca Soni, has just taken a gold, as well, in the pool, breaking a record there at the 200 meters breaststroke in world record-breaking time. I'm hoping to bring you a little report on Berens. I spoke to him a little while ago. But it is remarkable when you think what's happened in the pool.

Let's take a look at the medal table, shall we, at this point? And see how it's changed things if at all. It's been China out front, hasn't it, as we've moved through these first six days? We've go the United States still there in second place so far as golds are concerned. China with two more silvers.

But look that today. With the United States doing extremely well in the gymnastics, taking gold in the ladies' all around event there, and in the pool, you can see the United States just pushing ahead as far as the total number of medals are concerned.

It's also been a remarkable day for Team GB, the host nation, who were struggling somewhat so far as medals were concerned. But out came these cyclists, out came the rowers today, out came the judo mat. And they've done particularly well.

In cycling in the Velodrome, the big stadium here they call the Pringle, a beautiful stadium first used, of course, today, Team GB winning gold in the men's sprint cycling. And with it, Sir Christopher Hoy becoming the most prolific gold medal winner in British history.

Well, the women may have been relegated from the women's team sprint. In fact, let me tell you that Pendleton and Varnish actually broke a world record. They held it for three minutes. The Chinese then re-broke that record and then, sadly, the Team GB were disqualified for an early changeover, so no final for them.

But for Victoria Pendleton, her Olympics is far from over, and that means there's still plenty of laps left to play out one of cycling's fiercest rivalries. My colleague Pedro Pinto reports.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One is a home crowd favorite. The other, her greatest rival from Down Under. Britain's Victoria Pendleton and Australian Anna Meares have been trading places on the Velodrome throne for nine years.

Meares has ten world championship titles to her name. Pendleton has nine. But it is the Brit cyclist who claimed the gold medal in the sprint in Beijing, Meares claiming silver in a miraculous comeback from a car accident seven months earlier, in which she cracked a vertebrae and was just two millimeters away from becoming a quadriplegic.

But it's not just he scoreboard that has fueled the rivalry between these two great riders. There has been little love lost since the world championships in 2006, when Pendleton accused Meares of cutting her off in a keirin race.

London could be the last Games for both champions, and both are hoping it will be a golden swan song.


ANDERSON: Looking forward to that over the next three days. Well, as I've said, Team GB's men's victory in the cycling certainly went down well with the fans at the Velodrome. Have a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think it was fantastic! It was fantastic, I'm really lucky to have been there to witness it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, it was absolutely awesome. We were there, we were shouting, the crowd was going wild, it was so silent at the start. Then you just get up and shout, wave your flag. It was absolutely brilliant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic. Just absolutely fantastic. What a performance, what an athlete. And just makes you proud to be British.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were just lost for words. You were getting texting from people saying, "What's it like in there?" I don't know how to describe it, really. It was just surreal. Each one just got progressively better. Four world records, gold medal. Real shame for Vicky and Jess, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was amazing, and it was just -- the atmosphere was incredible. The world records were amazing. It's just a shame about the women, really, but I just -- yes, fantastic experience, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Superb. And he's, what? Beaten one up on Mr. Wiggins again, now, isn't he? So --


ANDERSON: Great things, Linford, expected of the British cyclists. Beijing was an absolute crowning glory for many of our Team GB athletes. You like cycling?

CHRISTIE: It's not too bad. There were -- I think everyone at sometime likes that little bike, a little rally chopper or something, so, yes.

ANDERSON: You were mentioning earlier on to me that this is one of those sports where not every nation gets a competitive advantage. You've got to have the stadia, haven't you? With a stadium like the Velodrome that we've got here behind us, one hopes that this will leave a real legacy for British cyclists. But not everybody has the same chance.

CHRISTIE: Well, definitely. I think we've got a lot of events in the Olympics where if you got the money and everything else, you're at a bigger advantage than most. So -- and cycling's one of those. I was told that a wheel is thousands. So, for some of these smaller countries, they just can't afford that.

ANDERSON: You've been down in Portugal with the athletes for Team GB. You must have been talking about the expectations on their shoulders. And as Ryan talked to us earlier, he said keeping their sort of adrenaline up and their nerves down.

Team GB had a good day today. What sort of pressure have we put on our athletes as host nation?

CHRISTIE: I think we put a lot of pressure on the athletes. But again, I always tell my athletes, pressure is what you allow people to put on you or you put on yourself. And this great expectation, they say England expects -- they've just got to go out there.

That's part of the reason why we went to Portugal, get away from the pressure, put your head down, get some hard work in, and just go out there and perform. And sitting back and watching everyone else do well, that can only spur the team on.

ANDERSON: Well, we've done well today, as have lots and lots of other nations, and we'll talk about that as we move through this hour of time. Linford, thank you very much, indeed.

Still to come, girl power at the Olympics. London 2012 sets a new world record for female participation. We're going to do more on that in about 15 minutes' time. Back now to the studio, though, for Max and the other big stories of the day. Max?

FOSTER: Becky, coming up, this man promised to do whatever it takes to save the euro. Has he done it? And after months of frustration, the UN special envoy for Syria calls it quits. All that and much more when CONNECT THE WORLD continues.


FOSTER: Investors wanting immediate action to jump-start Europe's ailing economies were left disappointed today. Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, said it will be weeks before there is a complete plan to ease the borrowing costs of the struggling countries like Spain.

Markets responded badly in the US, Germany, Italy, and Spain, where the IBEX lost over 5 percent. And you can see Spanish ten-year bond yields went back in the danger zone today above the 7 percent mark.

Now, the ECB's plan of buying government bonds comes with strings attached. Countries must request a formal bailout and agree to fiscal reform. The ECB bond-buying is opposed by the German Bundesbank, and we're going to cross now to Frederik Pleitgen in Berlin. Fred, just explain how this announcement was received.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly wasn't received very well by the markets, as you already said. And I think one of the reasons was not only because the plan that Mario Draghi put forward is quite vague, but also because it seems like it was less a plan and in some senses more like an appeal.

On the one hand, Mario Draghi did say that the ECB would and will very possibly do more to try and help ailing countries like Spain and like Italy as well. Of course, also most possibly buying their bonds on the market to help ease the borrowing costs that these countries face.

But on the other hand, he also appealed to other European countries to have them use the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism, that permanent EU bailout fund, to also buy these bonds on the market.

But it was more an appeal rather than an announcement of some sort of concerted action, so certainly there were a lot of people who expected more from him.

Now on the other hand, as you said, he also said that countries do have to continue their fiscal reforms. Let's listen in to what Mario Draghi had to say.


MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: In order to create the fundamental conditions for such risk premier to disappear, policy makers in the euro area need to push ahead with fiscal consolidation, structural reform, and European institution building with great determination.


PLEITGEN: So, essentially what Mario Draghi was telling people at that press conference today was yes, the ECB is willing to do more, yes there needs to be more concerted action between the European Central Bank as well as European governments and the ESM.

However, he didn't offer much details as to how that concerted action is going to look like or whether or not it's actually going to happen as well.

And then on the other hand, of course, you still have the Germans who are, of course, the most powerful party in all of this bailout, who are very much opposed to an expanded role from the European Central Bank, Max.

FOSTER: Fred, thank you very much, indeed. Well, Mohamed El-Erian is CEO of PIMCO, one of the world's biggest bond investors. Mohamed, very much thank you for joining us. There was positive news here, because Draghi was suggesting that there would be action, but not immediate action. Is there a sense in the bond markets that the system can't be trusted at the moment to deliver?

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: The bond markets sent a very simple message today. It said, Mr. Draghi, you have to be willing to walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk.

Mr. Draghi indicated last week that they would do whatever it takes and it would work. So, markets got really excited and today, they were disappointed. Disappointed not only because they didn't get specifics, but because they realize that the ECB may not control as many outcomes as the markets would like the ECB to control.

FOSTER: They're trying to convince the market, it seems, by the messages they're giving out, and people like you, they're trying to convince. He says, "The ECB may undertake outright open market operations of a size adequate to reach its objective."

We know what the objective is. It's sort of stability, isn't it? So, what size of market action would convince you?

EL-ERIAN: Well, there's nothing that the ECB can do on its own to convince the marketplace. Because the ECB cannot generate economic growth, the ECB cannot deal with excessive debt, and the ECB cannot solve the political issues.

So, the best the ECB can do is buy time for other government entities. And that's the dilemma that the ECB is in. On the one hand, it wants to maintain pressure on the others to act. On the other hand, the longer it waits, the more difficult their problems become, and the less effective its policies are. So, it is really a huge policy dilemma.

FOSTER: In terms of what sort of messages the ECB is giving out, are they -- I get the impression that they're having less and less impact over time. Are you paying less attention to those messages?

EL-ERIAN: You've got to respect anybody that has a printing press in the basement, and the ECB has that printing press. Having said that, people are worrying about the credibility of the ECB to follow through, not because the ECB is not committed, but the ECB operates in a context that is still dysfunctional given the extent of the problem.

And that's the issue. The ECB is not in control of its own destiny, if you like. It has to convince a lot of people. And as your report said, there's even tensions within its governing council. So, it's a really tough situation, Max.

FOSTER: You talk about printing money. They've left open that option. They haven't committed to it. Do they need to commit to that option to convince you?

EL-ERIAN: They need to commit, but importantly, the other government entities need to move. So, whatever the ECB can do, remember, central banks can only deal with liquidity issues. They cannot deal with solvency issues or growth issues.

So, the ECB should and I suspect will move. The big question is, will other government entities in Europe move? And that's a big question mark.

FOSTER: Mohamed El-Erian, great to have you on the show as ever. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

We're going to take you to a short break now, but when we come back, authorities say a potential al Qaeda in Europe is foiled as three suspected terrorists arrested in Spain.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London, welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

Now, he tried for months, but his peace plan for Syria never took hold. Now, UN-Arab League envoy -- special envoy Kofi Annan is resigning. Annan says his efforts never got the support they deserved. He blamed the increasing militarization of the conflict, but also, quote, "finger- pointing and name-calling" at the United Nations.


KOFI ANNAN, OUTGOING UN-ARAB LEAGUE SPECIAL ENVROY FOR SYRIA: Without serious, purposeful, and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government in the first place and also the opposition to take the steps necessary to begin a political process.


FOSTER: The United Nations is now looking for Annan's replacement. We'll have a live report from the UN in about 15 minutes' time.

Here's a look at some other stories we're connecting our world tonight. Spanish police have arrested three suspected al Qaeda terrorists believed to be -- to have been plotting an attack in Europe. Now, the men had amassed enough explosives to blow up a bus, according to police sources.

Security services say the group may have been plotting to attack a joint US and Spanish naval base near the port city Cadiz.


JORGE FERNANDEZ DIAZ, SPANISH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): Some of the detainees have experience producing explosives and car bombs and training and shooting. They found documentation about remote- controlled airplanes.

This is one of the biggest operations against al Qaeda in Spain, clear evidence that they tried to do an attack on Spain or another place in Europe. There is close cooperation with intelligence agencies of countries that are allies with Spain.


FOSTER: The psychiatrist who treated Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes reportedly warned colleagues of her patient's behavior weeks before his alleged attack. Psychiatrist Lynne Fenton contacted the threat assessment team at Holmes's university six weeks before the shootings, saying he was a potential threat to others. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in the shootings at a movie theater in Colorado.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is visiting London for the first time in seven years. He met British prime minister David Cameron this morning for talks on Syria, trade, and the eurozone crisis. Both leaders acknowledged their differences on escalating violence in Syria, but agreed on wanting to see an end to the conflict.

They followed talks by watching an Olympics judo match together. Mr. Putin is widely known to hold a black belt in judo and was jubilant at the Russian victory today.

Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi swore in his new cabinet on Thursday, including a former minister in Hosni Mubarak's toppling -- the toppled regime. Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi kept his post as defense minister, a role he held for two decades under Mubarak.

Egypt's new cabinet has retained several ministers from the outgoing military cabinet that includes at least four key ministers or ministries to Muslim Brotherhood members.

At least five people are dead after Typhoon Saola pounded Taiwan on Thursday. Fierce winds and torrential rain triggered landslides and flooding, forcing most of the island to shut down. Flights were canceled and trading on financial markets suspended due to the extreme weather. Taiwan's central weather bureau said the storm would continue to have an impact into the weekend.

Plenty more still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Becky Anderson's live at the Olympic Park. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, I am, Max, thank you for that. Coming up, this teenager is the first female to represent Saudi Arabia at the Olympics. As she gears up to represent her country on Friday, we'll talk about what this means for women in sport.

And a royal stamp of approval. How Great Britain's post office is celebrating Team GB's gold rush. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. This is CNN, I'm Becky Anderson with a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD here from the Olympic Park in London where, in the last hour, US swimmer Michael Phelps has swum his way once again into the record books.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster at CNN London. These are the latest world headlines from CNN. The United Nations is looking for a new special envoy to Syria. Kofi Annan announced his resignation today. He blamed the increasing militarization of the conflict and a lack of international unity on how to end the war.

Markets have reacted badly to the European Central Bank's failure to announce immediate action to help ailing eurozone countries. Meanwhile, the head of the ECB pledged his support to the euro, saying the currency is irreversible.

American Michael Phelps is the first swimmer to take home gold in the same solo event at three consecutive Olympics. Phelps's win in the 200 meter medley is his 20th medal in his career and comes just days after he became the most decorated Olympian.

Spanish police have arrested three suspected al Qaeda terrorists believed to have been plotting an attack in Europe. The men had amassed enough explosives to blow up a bus according to police sources.

ANDERSON: Well, London 2012 is the first Olympics where every country represented has a female athlete onboard. It's the first time women from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, and from Brunei have been allowed to compete, marking a giant leap forward for Arab participation, it's got to be said.

But it hasn't been without controversy. Until four days ago, Saudi Arabia was threatening to pull female judoka Wojdan Shaherkani out of the Games unless the IOC allowed her to wear her hijab while she was competing. Well, the IOC gave in and she will play in her first-ever Olympic competition tomorrow.

Well, the controversy around Shaherkani raised an important issue for Arab women around the globe. Many of them choose to wear the Islamic head scarf and will sit out of international competitions if they can't wear what they feel is appropriate.

Well, Nikki Dryden joins me now. A former Olympic swimmer turned human rights lawyer. You've been very vocal about encouraging not just Arab women, but women's participation in sport as a whole. Are you pleased, though, firstly in what you see here, so far as women from the Arab world are concerned?

NIKKI DRYDEN, FORMER CANADIAN OLYMPIC SWIMMER: Yes. It's a wonderful moment. You're going to have two women from Saudi Arabia and a handful of women from Qatar who are going to go home as local heroes. They're going to be an inspiration for women who are going to try to empower other women in the home countries.

ANDERSON: Is that altogether true? Because I know that Shaherkani, her competing here has prompted a major debate on social media, with some commentators locally there denouncing her as "shameless." And Twitter hash tags, so insulting. I've got to say, I won't even dignify them by talking about them tonight.

There are cultural deals here, aren't they? Not everybody wants female Arab athletes to compete.

DRYDEN: Right. That's correct, and they also don't want them driving or boating or participating in any form of social life. So, this is just one element. And I've been very involved with Human Rights Watch's campaign to make sure that Saudi women participate in the Olympics.

And it goes beyond that. We know it's not about elite sport. Obviously, that's a very small component of this. It goes down to grassroots access to sports. Sports in public schools for girls in Saudi Arabia. Access to fitness centers. Women can't even exercise there.

So, what happens now is that the IOC really has to take this opportunity to do more with it. It can't just be a token couple women participating here in London. They have to really encourage the Saudis as a mandate if they want to be in the Olympic movement.

ANDERSON: Jacques Rogge, the head of the IOC, has called these the Women's Games overall. I'm wondering whether you really believe that what we're seeing here, as far as female representation, really is the women's Games.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who is the founding father of the Olympic movement, would be turning in his grave if he knew, because he didn't want female participation.

DRYDEN: He didn't want.

ANDERSON: If he knew that there were more US female athletes --

DRYDEN: That's right.

ANDERSON: -- here representing the States than there are men --


ANDERSON: But when you look at the stats, we've been bringing them up at the side of the screen while we've been talking here, is this a watershed moment, or is this a nod and a wink to women?

DRYDEN: I think that the International Olympic Committee is going to have to make systemic change within their own movement and within the Olympic movement at large for this to be an important moment that actually changes the situation for women.

Because when you look at leadership with the International Olympic Committee, less than 20 percent of women on the -- or people on the IOC are women. You still have 36 events that are not open to women here in London.

So, women have not achieved equality here in London, and no matter how many times they say that, there's still no canoeing for women, either. And so, a lot needs to be done, especially at the leadership levels.

And what I would love to see is women coaches here in equal amounts as men for all countries, and not just in the developed world.

ANDERSON: It is, it's got to be said, a more level playing field --


ANDERSON: -- today in 2012 --


ANDERSON: -- than it's ever been before. When do you see it being a level playing field?

DRYDEN: When it's 50-50. I was at the IOC women's conference a couple months ago in Los Angeles, and there was this -- all this conversation about, "Oh, we're so proud, we've almost reached our quotas of 20 percent."

And I'm like, oh, my God, this is not even close to where we need to be. We need to be at 50 percent, and until we are, we haven't achieved gender equity.

Because what happens is, when you have 36 events where there's no women -- medal opportunity, that's actually 108 medals that are awarded to men here in London that are not awarded to women.

That's 108 Olympic hometown heroes that are going to be generated around the world, 108 more men that are going to have access to funding and other types of incentives and great opportunities because they're Olympians and Olympic medallists.

So, until we even get 50 percent in terms of sports and leadership, we're nowhere close.

ANDERSON: Well, at least today Gabby Douglas, for example, in the US team won the all-around gymnastics gold --

DRYDEN: That's right.

ANDERSON: -- and we are seeing this again and again and again. So, let's be really partisan on the agenda basis here with you and I tonight and say, well done, you, for doing that.

And all you other female athletes who are competing and taking home these fantastic medals. Rebecca Soni, of course --

DRYDEN: Oh, yes.

ANDERSON: -- of the US, breaking the 200 meters --

DRYDEN: Amazing.

ANDERSON: -- breaststroke world record.

DRYDEN: Standing ovation tonight.

ANDERSON: With a gold --


ANDERSON: -- as well. Remarkable stuff. Thank you very much --

DRYDEN: Thank you for having me.

ANDERSON: -- indeed for joining us. Let's get you back, briefly to the studio for Max, who's got some other stories hitting the headlines today. Max?

FOSTER: Yes, Becky. Coming up, Kofi Annan is leaving a job he says many people consider mission impossible right from the start. We'll tell you why he's no longer willing to be special envoy to Syria.


FOSTER: UN special envoy Kofi Annan is calling it quits, saying his peace plan for Syria never got the support it deserved. In pointed remarks today, he explained his frustrations after more than five months on the job. Our Senior UN Correspondent Richard Roth joins us now with the details. He was actually quite outspoken, wasn't he, in the end?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, especially in an article he wrote for the "Financial Times" where he said he found the international community quote, "strikingly powerless to do something about Syria."

He also said President Assad of Syria should step aside, and one of the frustrations for Kofi Annan was the fact that the UN Security Council was unable to come together, despite his repeated appeals, to show some force, some unity, to send a message to Assad to stop the violence. He then told the press conference in Geneva that there's too much discord in New York at the Security Council.


ANNAN: When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.


ROTH: And the fingers continue to be pointed in the wake of the Annan resignation here at the Security Council.

Ambassadors from France and Western countries and the ambassador from Russia exchanged veiled barbs over who might be responsible, with the French saying there are deep, deep divisions among council members, and the Russians saying they were always prepared to be balanced, it's just that the West came forward with rather unbalanced resolutions and suggestions.


GERARD ARAUD, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UN (through translator): Mr. Annan, we've confirmed that his job was impossible. We must recognize it. And for him to decide to resign is not surprising.

What is very serious, though, as well is that the feeling that maybe we never had a political process, we didn't have one.

VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Well, you know, I've regrets that some council members chose to push their agenda -- to try to push their agenda through the council, and when those efforts were made, they didn't work.

In a situation when reasonable and balanced proposals were put on the table of the council, they were approved by the council.


ROTH: The ambassador from India said it was sad that Annan had to go. No surprise, according to other diplomats. And Max, Kofi Annan was, quote, "the only game in town," talking to diplomats.

Of course, the Annan six-point peace plan is in shreds, and now his name and himself not attached to it. Annan also telling the press, well, maybe they'll find a person as crazy in a way that Annan was to accept such a job. But the search is now on by the UN Secretary-General and the Arab League.

FOSTER: OK. It's a big job. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us, Richard.

Now, as the world talks about stopping the war in Syria, it clearly continues to escalate. Opposition activists are reporting a new massacre outside Damascus. They say security forces rounded up a hundred young people and tortured them. Forty-three bodies were reportedly found the next morning.

The regime is trying to maintain its grip on the capital whilst also fighting to retake parts of Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub. Now, rebels are also using tanks they commandeered to shell a military air base on the city's outskirts, and activists say jets and helicopters firing on Aleppo are coming from that base.

The US government today approved an extra $12 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians to help mitigate what it calls the regime's "horrific atrocities." That announcement comes a day after he learned of a covert US directive authorizing support for Syrian rebels.

World Affairs Reporter Elise Labott is following developments for us tonight from Washington, and she can give us more details. Elise?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, we're not really clear when this -- what they call an "intelligence finding" was signed by President Obama. We believe it was in the last few months. And it's a broad authorization for US intelligence support to the rebels.

Now, that means that the US has been supplying the rebels with information about Syrian troop movements, not directly, but through Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey, who are working more directly with the rebels.

And they're also supplying communications equipment, as we know. And we understand that the US is also trying to help vet some of these rebels. Because the US, as we know, is not arming the rebels. But Qatar, Saudi Arabia are, and so they're vetting them to find out who is worthy of US aid, a lot of military aid.

A lot of the concern is that some of these rebels might have been infiltrated by insurgents or possibly al Qaeda. And so, the US is really trying to coordinate with some of these countries that are giving them assistance about who should be getting that.

FOSTER: OK, Elise. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Washington.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, adding a royal touch to the Olympics. Prince Harry gets in on the sporting action.


FOSTER: Well, the London Games promised to inspire a generation, encouraging young people to get involved in sport. Keeping the promise alive, Prince Harry hosted a group of young athletes today, urging them to become Britain's next generation of Olympic heroes.


FOSTER (voice-over): It's a moment from earlier this year that Prince Harry just can't let go of. This was his older brother last week.

PRINCE WILLIAM, BRITAIN: However, largely less embarrassing than seeing my brother cheat his way to become the fastest man on the planet.


FOSTER: Then, this week, it was the turn of Olympics minister Jeremy Hunt.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH CULTURE SECRETARY: He's the only person here who has beat Usain Bolt in a flat race.

FOSTER: The minister and Prince Harry had invited young Olympic hopefuls to Clarence House. They included a junior sprinting champion, who admitted he played too many computer games.

JERMAINE HAMILTON, BRITISH SPRINTING CHAMPION: He made a few jokes that compared me with Usain Bolt and my stature and how I play computer games while he eats chicken nuggets. So, we just had that casual conversation. It was really, really good.

FOSTER (on camera): In terms of the Olympics so far, how much do you think is really encouraging young people to get involved?

HAMILTON: I think the Olympics in London, especially, is like the best thing that could inspire young children to get involved in sport. Because from the time you see athletes that you see every day at venues, maybe, just competing at the top level, it just -- it gives you the itching feeling, oh, I must try that.

PRINCE HARRY, BRITAIN: Your life principles, all the principles, the way you always forget as teenagers and older, all the way up to my age, I guess, we forget about the things that are most important. And I think in sport, it really shows and really comes across. So, congratulations to you guys, and hopefully you will grow and grow and grow to be great things, and then we can beat China.


FOSTER: Harry, there, getting down with the kids, Becky, although there's reference to him being old. Actually, I don't think he's quite right there. But he's got a good point, I think.


ANDERSON: Yes, he wasn't bad against Bolt. He didn't allow -- if he can beat Usain Bolt, then, even if he was cheating.

Former Olympian Linford Christie still with me in the house. Linford, young Olympians providing plenty of inspiration at this Olympics for the next generation of athletes. One of the big promises about this London 2012 Games was about the legacy for the kids going forward. Are you seeing that already?

CHRISTIE: Well, definitely. I think the clubs, especially, will reflect on that. By the time we finish the end of the games, some of the kids are going to want to be joining clubs, doing all the sport they're seeing on TV and everything else. So, that is a legacy in itself. We're going to make kids more healthier and everything else.

ANDERSON: Talking about a lot of youngsters here. There are some veterans competing. Let me just take my hat off, as it were, to Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan. He's become the oldest competitor at the 2012 London Games.

His horse Whisper handed into the ring at Greenwich Park, dressage competition, he's been -- it's been 48 years since this guy's first Olympic appearance. Get your trainers back on and get out there!

CHRISTIE: If he was --

ANDERSON: This guy's 71!

CHRISTIE: But the horse is young.


CHRISTIE: That's what we need to understand. I think if the horse is 71 years old, we'd have to start worrying.

ANDERSON: He's amazing. He's the second-oldest Olympian ever. There was a guy in 1928, 72.

All right, listen, adding to London's legacy, Great Britain's gold medallists are being celebrated in post offices around the country. The Royal Mail's very own Olympic challenge. Phil Han with that story. And then we're going to come back and look at what's going to come up in the days to come. Have a look at this, though.


PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (voice-over): Hot off the presses, Great Britain's first gold medal celebrated in the form of a stamp. The Royal Mail's printers went into overdrive last night to produce tens of thousands of these special edition Olympic stamps after Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the country's first gold in London.

Designers captured the moment the pair celebrated victory, the image sealed in gold. Ninety Royal Mail trucks were on standby overnight to deliver the stamps across the UK. In fact, more than 500 post offices were waiting for the stamps, which had to arrive before lunch time in order to be sold.

Many lined up early to get their hands on a piece of history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this is the first time every they're producing stamps overnight, for that's the sense of the excitement of something completely unprecedented. And a wonderful way of commemorating the gold medallists.

HAN: While printers were already busy with Britain's rowing gold, they had the added challenge of a second gold medal, this time by cycling great Bradley Wiggins. The Royal Mail promises that whenever Great Britain wins a gold medal, a stamp will be printed and available for sale the following day, something that could become a collectable for stamp enthusiasts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were at the Sydney Olympics, and they did the same thing, where they issued the stamps for the gold medal winners within 24 hours. So, we heard about them and came down here this morning. Hadn't yet arrived, so we came back at 10:00 when the courier showed up with them and bought some.

HAN: While the Royal Mail hasn't had a busy start to these Olympics so far, the momentum of two gold may soon kickstart a first-class gold rush.

Phil Han, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: And the host nation on course to smash their records tally in Beijing. It's got to be said, four years ago, we were not in this position, three golds and two silvers today and doing not badly.

Right. It's phase two coming up tomorrow. The track and field opens its doors to these competitors. You're going to love this. So, we thought we'd take a look at who Linford is picking. Top three to watch out for in the days to come.

CHRISTIE: Well, my top three are Javier Culson, 400 hurdles from Puerto Rico. Virtually unbeaten this year, and he's also beaten the world champion Dai Greene from the UK.


CHRISTIE: And then, Vivian Cheruiyot from Kenya, five and 10,000. Unbeaten. But has never won an Olympic gold, so I think this could be her big opportunity.


CHRISTIE: And of course, the man the moment, David Rudisha, 800 meters. He just kicks everybody's butts.

ANDERSON: Should I give you mine?

CHRISTIE: Let's go.

ANDERSON: Yohan Blake, Jess Ennis, and Sanya Richards-Ross. Take things from Yohan Blake. This Bolt-Blake standoff, as it were, in the 100 meters is going to be exciting, isn't it?

CHRISTIE: I think it's going to be a great race. Bolt has already been beaten by Blake twice in the Jamaican trials. And Bolt's already saying he's 95 percent fit. So, again, it could be psychological or it could be one of these things where he's not quite sure what he's going to do.

ANDERSON: Jess Ennis you know well. She's one of your athletes. You helped train the GB team. She's a heptathlete, of course. She's the poster child for this, the host nation's Team GB. How's she going to do? Is she going to take a gold?

CHRISTIE: It's a possibility. It's going to be close. She was -- she didn't make it in Beijing because she was injured. Last year, she lost the world championship, so again, it can go either way. It can then make the others believe that she can be beaten, or it can give her that boost to make her go out there and avenge and try and get gold.

ANDERSON: Sanya Richards-Ross, out of the US?

CHRISTIE: Very -- I mean, she's a very good athlete, world's number one over 400 meters. But again, sometimes she tends not to produce it when she should.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, I'll hold you to those, and you will hold me to yours. Let's see how we do by the end of next week.

And a quick look at your medal madness. This is where Linford thinks the medal table will stand, top three, after this next phase of track and field. Predicted medal table from Linford, China, USA, and Great Britain. You are so hopeful.


ANDERSON: But I'm even more hopeful, because mine are -- this is real medal madness -- China, USA, and Jamaica. What do you think?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think first of all, I've been told that the British should finish fourth, which is probably the worst place to finish, so I think they're going to come third.


CHRISTIE: They're doing well, they're ahead of the medal on tally. It's going to be good.

ANDERSON: All right. You don't think Jamaica are going to come third?

CHRISTIE: No. I think Jamaica will be fifth behind Russia.

ANDERSON: Interesting. All right. Good stuff, thank you for that. Linford with us throughout the next phase of what is this London 2012 Olympic Games. And don't forget, that stadium behind us will be front and center for the action as the track and field kicks off tomorrow.

It's been a golden night in women's gymnastics, but a Parting Shot tonight from one of the legends of the sport, Russian superstar Olga Korbut, who won three gold medals at the Munich Games 40 years ago, says she thinks that gymnastics has lost its elegance.

How do we bring it back? Well, the former Olympian showed me one of her famous tricks of the trade.


ANDERSON: Your routine, of course, included what became known as the Korbut flip. Can you do that for me?



KORBUT: I -- see? I am not in the pants.

ANDERSON: Give me a little bit, at least.

KORBUT: Oh, I can teach you my gold medal finish.


KORBUT: It's the same. Can you do it?


ANDERSON: Any good?



ANDERSON: That was a little taekwondo move, I think, there. Anyway, I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. Max Foster will be back with the world headlines after this short break, from Olympic Park and me, a good evening.