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A Recap Of Olympic Action; Fears Of Prolonged Syrian Conflict Rise; A Profile of Pro-Gamer MarineKing; Curiosity Beams First Color Photo Back To Earth

Aired August 8, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. Hello, I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

We begin in Syria where intense fighting is now focused on one key neighborhood in the country's commercial capital.

Also, strikes on Sinai. Egyptian forces launch aerial attacks on armed militants.

The struggle for survival, new threats in the Philippine capital as the flooding disaster gets worse.

And very curious indeed: this out of the world crime scene.

A ferocious fight is underway for control of a key neighborhood in Syria's largest city and commercial hub Aleppo. A rebel fighter tells CNN that Syrian fighter jets, helicopters, and tanks are shelling Aleppo's Salahadin (ph) district. Well, it has been a major front line in the battle for this northern city.

Well, Syrian state TV is reporting that Syrian troops have killed or captured a majority of the, quote, terrorists in Aleppo. The opposition says nearby suburbs are coming under heavy shelling.

Meanwhile, neighboring Jordan's King Abdullah warns of what he calls a possible plan B scenario. Well, he told CBS news if President Bashar al- Assad can't rule greater Syria he might retreat to a smaller Alawite enclave within Syria touching off what the kind calls a land grab.

Well, the violence that is tearing Syria apart is also exposing political, religious, and ethnic divides. And as Nic Robertson reports, it may take years, even decades for those divides to heal.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Syrian rebels execute alleged Assad gunmen, summary justice just a week ago. It is what so many feared, Syria disintegrates, acts of revenge rise, deaths multiply as the uprising, turned armed conflict, turns complicated.

FAWAZ GERGES, MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES PROFESSOR: I fear that next year you and I will not be talking about 20,000 Syrian casualties, we might be talking about 100,000 Syrian civilians killed.

ROBERTSON: Fawaz Gerges, a London based Middle East academic has seen it all before watching Syria's neighbors. For 15 years, sectarian civil war in his native Leganon throughout the 80s and years of sectarian bloodletting last decade in Iraq.

GERGES: The foundation in Syria is there in terms of the complexity of the conflict, the multiple players that are intervening in Syria, the fact Syria has become a war by proxy, the bloodshed, sectarianism, tribalism.

ROBERTSON: When you look at the map, even this seems like an understatement. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sunni states supporting the opposition. Shia Iran, its client Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iraq supporting Bashar al-Assad. Then you have the global standoff. The United States and Europe against China and Russia who support Assad.

And inside Syria, the sectarian breakdown looks like this: Sunnis across the majority of the country, 80 percent of the population. Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect of the Shia faith here in the west. The small dots of green more Shias. Kurds in the north here and here. Drews (ph) in the south. And 10 percent of the population are Christians here and here.

For more than a decade, Assad propped up his presidency on the premise with a minority in power, his Alawite Shia sect, the majority Sunnis, Christians and everyone else would be safe. Now his days are numbered, that logic seems set to rip the country apart.

GERGES: The Assad regime has succeeded in convincing a critical segment of the Syrian people, in particular minorities, that basically the Assad regime is the protector of minorities and that's why the conflict in Syria has taken on more and more sectarian connotations.

Three months ago, CNN's Becky Anderson talked to a trio of Syrians living in London, each with a different outlook.

AMMAR WAQQAF, SYRIAN SOCIAL CLUB: My name is Ammar Waqqaf. I'm a management consultant in the UK. I'm part of a group called the Syrian Social Club in London. And we promote regime reform, modern regime change.

ANAS NADER, SYRIAN STUDENT ACTIVIST: My name is Anas Nader. I'm a medical student here in London. I work closely with several groups such as AFAS (ph) and Stand By Syria to get information and raise awareness.

ROBERTSON: Back then, none expected a planned UN cease-fire to hold. They were right. Now they are worried.

NADER: To go back to a more peaceful revolution I think isn't possible anymore.

ROBERTSON: Not possible.

NADER: I don't think it's possible anymore, because the regime has overly militarized the entire country in many ways.

WAQQAF: The trends that we are seeing are that the -- the insurgency is becoming more violent and less accountable. They are shooting people in the streets in front of TV cameras.

ROBERTSON: In the past three months violence has escalated, death so numerous now, hard to pick out the worst. Possibly the Houla massacre that outraged the world. Regime thugs accused of killing more than 100 civilians in just one village.

The battles intensifying in the major cities, too. Ferocious fighting in the capital Damascus and the country's second city Aleppo. Assad feeling the heat, now turning his fighter jets on civilians. So bad, UN monitors are pulling out of Aleppo.

But the heart of the regime there have been casualties too. Four of Assad's security chiefs assassinated in a bombing. The prime minister just this week fleeing the country. If Assad loses his grip, many expect even worse.

WAQQAF: An immediate atmosphere of fear would sweep into everybody's mind and emotions then most probably people would start to think of protecting themselves. They would become even more defensive. And then we would be kissing Syria goodbye as we know it.

NADER: I think what's going to end up happening in a few months, the regime will maintain some control over some towns and some areas in Syria...

ROBERTSON: On a sectarian basis.

NADER: On a sectarian basis. And that's the battle that could take long. And no one knows that's a big unknown that could happen.

ROBERTSON: Syria is not a pretty picture. One former government official told me this week the country is committing suicide.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


COREN: Well, let's now turn our attention to Egypt where government forces have launched a massive counterstrike against suspected militants in the Sinai peninsula. Egyptians say television reports at least 20 militants were killed while Egypt military launched airstrikes in north Sinai after gunmen attacked security checkpoints in a wave of simultaneous strikes.

Well, today's violence comes just days after 16 soldiers were killed in a similar militant raid near the border with Israel.

Well, the Egyptian government is now stepping up security in the region. And let's bring in Ian Lee who is covering this story from Cairo. Now Ian, this is the first time that Egypt has fired missiles in Sinai since its war with Israel back in 1973. Give us the latest.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is definitely an escalation of violence that we've been seeing over the past few days. It all started with, like you said, when the militants attacked those soldiers, killing 16 of them. And over the course of the past really 24 hours we saw the militants strike at the army as well as the army striking back using rockets to strike militant positions.

This is an ongoing battle that will likely last for quite awhile, because the militants are so entrenched in this area and the military has been absent for so long that really the militants have the home court advantage. But the military has vowed that they will root out the militants and strike them hard and vowed vengeance for the attack against their soldiers.

COREN: Yeah, you mentioned that these militants have gained a real foothold in this area because of the security vacuum with the ousting of former President Mubarak. But tell us who are these Islamic militants and what do they want?

LEE: Well, what we're hearing is that these militants are called Takfir which means those who judge infidels. And this group has been in Sinai for quite awhile. I've been to Sinai quite a few times and heard about this group before. And ever since the revolution there's been a real lawlessness in Sinai. And that's allowed them to gain a foothold. They also have strong connections with Gaza, which is right next door. So this group has a strong base within both Egypt and Gaza and these attacks are just an escalation.

Earlier, or last year they attacked the police, but this year they're now attacking the army.

COREN: Ian, you mentioned the 16 Egyptian guards that were killed on Sunday. And their funerals were held today. President Morsi, he did not attend. And by all reports he nor his prime minister were welcome. What happened?

LEE: Well, we went to the funeral. And at the funeral you would see people chanting against the president, against the Muslim Brotherhood, and against one of the Muslim Brotherhood's strongest allies Hamas. A lot of people at the funeral blamed the Palestinians, they blamed President Mohammed Morsi for relaxing restrictions to Gaza. They said that by relaxing these restrictions he allowed more free movement for the militants and ultimately that's what they said led to the clashes. Now we can't verify that that's what led to it, but the people at the funeral were blaming the president for the incidents.

COREN: Ian Lee joining us from Cairo. We appreciate the update. Thank you.

Well coming up here on News Stream, much of Manila is under water from torrential monsoon rains and the worst may not be over.

Olympic pride and a medal haul for the host nation of the summer Olympics. Can the games organizers breath a sigh of relief?

And making big bucks in the world of professional gaming. A high schooler rakes in a six figure salary and tells us about what drives him to win.


COREN: Our live shot of Olympic Park there for you.

Well, London 2012 isn't over yet, but it will already being remembered as Great Britain's golden games. Well, Team GB has won 48 medals including 22 gold, the most since the 1908 Olympics.

Well, at the velodrome on Tuesday, British cyclist affirm a dominance of the sport. Well, Chris Hoy took the top stop in the men's keirin cycle race, making him the first British Olympian to win six gold medals.

Laura Trott won the women's omnium, a cycling context made up of six events. It was her second gold medal of the games.

In equestrian events, Britain's riders won the nation's first dressage gold.

And how is this for a family photo? Well brothers Alistair and Johnny Brownlee on the podium with their gold and bronze medals to the men's triathlon.

Well, it is day 12 of competition at the London games. And for a look at what is coming up, let's head straight to Olympic Park and join Pedro Pinto. Pedro, I am fully aware of how well the Brits are doing, because all my British colleagues keep reminding me.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I'm sure they remind you as well about how poorly Australia are doing.

Let me give you a quick idea of what's -- yeah, I'm sure. Let me give you a quick idea of what's going on today. I'd like to highlight four events, three of them taking place here at the Olympic stadium behind me. We'll have the women's 200 meters final and that is expected to be a showdown between the United States and Jamaica. The favorite, it's difficult to call, because you've got Allyson Felix who has had the best times this year leading up to these games, but then again she's only got two silver medals in the last two Olympics. The two-time defending gold medal winner is Veronica Campbell-Brown. So she's definitely the one to beat as far as stats are concerned.

We'll have the 110 meters final on the men's side. Darren Robles of Cuba looking to defend his Olympic gold from Beijing four years ago.

The men's 200 meter semifinals. And why is that so special you may ask? No gold medals being handed out in that particular event, but we get to see Usain Bolt on the track and that's always something special. Yohan Blake as well looking to make his mark ahead of the final, which is taking place later this week.

Last but not least, how about the women's beach volleyball final tonight. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings looking for their third straight gold medal in that competition. They have won a staggering 20 Olympic matches in a row.

That is just a little look at the menu of what will be a very tasty day here, Anna, at the Olympics on day 12.

COREN: The women's beach volleyball, that'll be hard to watch, won't it Pedro?

We're going to check in with you a bit later in this show. Thank you.

Well, coming up next on News stream, a race against time as the torrential downpour leaves much of Manila submerged in flood waters. Rescue crews are scrambling to reach trapped residents. We'll bring you the very latest on the disaster, that's after the break.


COREN: Welcome back.

One Philippine disaster official is calling the capital city a water world. Large parts of Manila are covered by flood waters. Officials say at least 11 people have lost their lives in the disaster on Tuesday. None of those deaths were from a landslide in a Manila suburb.

Well, nationwide the flooding has forced more than 780,000 people from their homes. And it looks like there could be more rain and flooding ahead.

With more on the situation there, CNN senior producer Alex Zolbert is in Manila.

Alex as we mentioned in the introduction, much of Manila is under water and people remain stranded. What can you tell us?

ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, you know, today Anna it was a bit of a mind game for the more than 12 million people here, because when they woke up and they got started with their day many people trying to get back to work, get into the rhythm of daily life and, you know, but it just wasn't going to happen. The rains came later in the day. The numbers are staggering. We've got another inch of rain between about 3:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon. It's now obviously after 8:00 at night here in Manila. So you're looking at rainfall totals between two to two-and-a-half feet over the last two to three days here in Manila.

Earlier today we made it to one of the hardest hit areas, Quezon City.


ZOLBERT: A break in the rain on Wednesday the cleanup got under way in the Philippines capital of Manila. People rummaging through their flooded homes discarding trash and bailing out the water with buckets and shovels. And it was back to work for many of the more than 12 million people living in this city with the roads again jammed. But for many people here it may be quite some time before life returns to normal.

This is the scene here in one shanty town in Quezon City, one of the hardest hit areas in Metropolitan Manila. As you can see, this shanty town is completely submerged in water. You have people in boats trying to pick valuables out of this debris that is just being swept through this fast moving current of water. That water at times moving massive piles of what was once people's homes.

Arnold Tenio (ph), a taxi driver, brought his family to the Santo Domingo Church turned evacuation center.

"The water was moving fast Tuesday night," he says. "It was up to our necks." Now he's not even sure if his home even exists. "But I still have my taxi," he adds, "so I can provide for my family. And we're all safe."

Virginia Tosinko (ph) says the water at her home was over their heads. She came here with her family and only a blanket.

But those staying here at this church, which was home to about 3,000 people on Tuesday night, are getting help.

GIUSEPPE ARSCIWALS, SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH: The generosity of the people has really shown. You really feel their generosity. Donations just keep pouring in. The weather improves, (inaudible) improve, I think most of them will be going home by tonight.

ZOLBERT: But then came this later on Wednesday, more rain which is probably the last thing these people here ever want to see.


ZOLBERT: So Anna, here after 8:00 at night in Manila obviously some people are starting to get ready to get to sleep. And of course, the first thing they're going to do in the morning is look to the skies and hope for some rays of light. It has let up a little bit in the last hour or two, but then again we hear these huge crashes of thunder every now and then, so everybody is going to be looking at the skies first thing tomorrow morning.

COREN: Alex, we know that something like half of August rainfall fell in the space of 24 hours. And as you say, more rain is continuing to fall. Obviously it's the poor communities that have been hit, these areas where drainage systems are not up to scratch. Infrastructure if poor in the Philippines. And obviously parts of Manila are particularly hard hit. What's the government saying in response to that criticism that these vital, you know, pieces of infrastructure are not working?

ZOLBERT: Yeah, it's a bit of back and forth right now. I mean, obviously there's still the priority of getting many of these people to safety and making sure, you know, people can get to higher ground. But, you know, there is that back and forth. And the government is trying to get the relief supplies out to people, trying to get things taken care of, but then you also have the people sort of throwing it back to the government and saying, you know, why every time that we deal with rains like this, you know, these tropical rains that come through a lot here in Manila, why every time it rains they have to deal with things like this. They need to, you know, improve the infrastructure in terms of trash collection, in terms of, you know, keeping the sewers open and the water when it hits the city, when it hits the streets, getting it out of the city so these people's homes are not flooded.

COREN: Yeah, it's certainly not a country immune to natural disasters flooding and typhoons.

Alex Zolbert, great to see you, many thanks for that update.

Well, for more on what Manila can expect let's go to our Mari Ramos at the world weather center. Mari, what is the forecast?

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: You know what, even though I think we're still going to see some very strong thunderstorms move through here and at times the rain will be heavy, I don't think it will be as persistent and you know that's a key word here, it won't be as persistent or as widespread as we've had in the last few days, but still easily we could see some significant rainfall coming in across this area. And any amount of rain that falls here is going to be a problem.

First of all, we've had Haikui, that typhoon, that tropical storm move farther away. That's made landfall. We'll talk about that in just a moment. So that has helped. That flow has helped decrease that flow we've had coming in here off the South China Sea. However, it's still there. But most of the action now remains over the water. And we're still seeing a little bit of scattered rain showers there across Manila proper. And those are those thunders and lightning that we saw.

So like I said any amount of rain that falls here will still be a huge concern. You know, three, five centimeters of rain not out of the question, some areas will get an additional eight centimeters of rainfall, that's very significant in itself. And, you know, when you talk about how much rain has fallen here and the entire month of August, it's the wettest month of the year here, and they had more than that in just a period of 24 hours, almost in just one day.

Already over 740 millimeters of rain in just the last two days alone. That in itself is significant and amazing rainfall total here to look at.

Now, Manila proper has a lot of challenges. And we heard Alex talk about some of them. Topography is one of them. And the way that this whole entire area is located just makes it more vulnerable to flooding.

First of all, it's located between two large bodies of water, Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay as you see here. It's very flat. And it has several waterways and canals and of course larger rivers that flow through the city that drain the city, literally, from water. And if anything happens to those waterways, they get clogged, of course you're going to see flooding.

And people who live in Manila complain about that all the time about the garbage in the sewers and all those things that flood even when you just get regular rainstorms. But when we're talking about significant rainstorms like what we're looking at now, this extreme weather, the situation is even worse.

So the flooding that we've seen in areas to the north, I'm afraid, is going to shift a bit farther to the south as we head through the next few days. Remember that we still have all of that rain that was falling through the mountain, even though I think that will start to decrease, the risk for landslides in those areas is still there, and this is the situation that is not going to go away lightly. So that's the situation here in the Philippines.

Then we have Haikui, this is that typhoon that was here, made landfall as a tropical storm. We have some pictures to show you. A staggering million-and-a-half, 1.5 million people were evacuated from low lying areas, boats ordered back to port. And you can see some of the destruction to farms and villages across coastal areas. But in Shanghai proper the winds were gusting in excess of 80 kilometers per hour at times and there were some roads that were closed and the airport was closed as well.

Come back over to the weather map over here. As far as rain from this, Anna, we're still going to see some scattered rain showers with it, some of it heavy, and some maybe eight to 15 centimeters of rainfall.

Last but not least, I do have to get this in and that is Tropical Storm Ernesto made landfall as a hurricane in southern parts of Mexico. It's still churning through here. Winds down to about 97 kilometers per hour now. And it is expected to continue tracking in this area possibly maybe strengthen somewhat a little bit more here in the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico and make a second landfall near Vera Cruz. Back to you.

COREN: Certainly a lot of activity out there. Mari Ramos, we appreciate that, thank you.

Well, just ahead on News Stream, Great Britain is having a golden games. But we'll tell you why the host nation is celebrating far more than their sporting success.

And it takes blood, sweat, and tears to bring home gold at the Olympics. And their faces often convey it all. We'll show you the latest impressions captured at the games.


COREN: Welcome back. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. You are watching News Stream. These are your world headlines.

Well, Syrian troops are battling rebels for control of Salahadin (ph) district in Aleppo, the country's largest city. The oppositions says the Syrian army is using fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to shell the neighborhood. Well, Syrian state TV says armed forces have killed and captured, quote, terrorists. A rebel fighter says Syrian forces have not yet entered the Salahadin (ph) area.

Egyptian state television reports that government forces have killed at least 20 suspected militants during air strikes in north Sinai. Earlier on Wednesday, gunmen launched simultaneous strikes in the region, wounded five security officers and a civilian. This comes days after 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a series of border attacks by masked gunmen.

The Philippine weather service is warning people in Manila to prepare for more torrential rain and series flooding. Well, Philippine officials say at least 11 people were killing on Tuesday. Nine of those deaths happened in a landslide in a suburb of the capital. The flooding has forced more than 780,000 people from their homes.

Doom and gloom to glory, before the start of the London Olympics there were a lot of stories in the British media predicting possible chaos at the games, but after a successful opening ceremony and plenty of medals for their home team, our Jim Boulden finds there are lots of cheers for Great Britain.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heathrow airport would grind to a halt, roads would be clogged, taxis wouldn't be able to get around, security holes had to be filled by the military: the British press had a field day in the weeks before the London 2012 summer games.

Well, nevermind. From the oh so happy purple clad volunteers that have spread out in London with their maps and the wave, to Great Britain's quite surprising gold medals haul, it's all smiles now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just true Brits. We just go in there, mate. We're -- and we make everybody so welcome, I think, everywhere -- I'm just -- I could cry, I really could cry.

BOULDEN: Michael Payne has been to 16 Olympic games and has the trading pins to prove it. He says countries always fret.

MICHAEL PAYNE, FORMER IOC DIRECTOR: But in many nations the two weeks before the games there's a sort of a sense of paranoia that it's not going to work, we're going to embarrass ourselves on the world stage. It will be a disaster. And then once the opening ceremony takes place there's a major sigh of relief.

BOULDEN: In fact, pollsters say Danny Boyle's opening ceremony did the trick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We found that 83 percent of viewers said that they were impressed by the Olympic opening ceremony. Secondly, there's also the pride that Britain is taking in at the British athletes, the medals being won part of that, and also the number of visitors that we are seeing coming to Britain.

BOULDEN: Visitors like these French ticket holders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the Olympic games create an enjoying feel.

BOULDEN: Even after complaints about empty seats in the first few days a sigh of relief now perhaps for organizers.

PAYNE: It's all played off. And frankly probably gone a lot smoother than they even dared hoped for.

BOULDEN: And even kind words for games' organizers Sebastian Coe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seb Coe has done fantastic at this, fantastic has done. I take my hat off to him as a true Brit.

BOULDEN: And these true Brits have rediscovered their union flag.


BOULDEN: And Team GB has temporarily replaced sometimes rude football chants at venues around the country.

But soon enough, the foamy fingers will have gone, and so will the happy smiley volunteers. And Londoners will once again be complaining about the weather and public transport. But maybe, just maybe, some of the Olympic magic will have rubbed off.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.


COREN: You have to love the patriotism, don't you? Well, the home fans have not just been supporting the home team, they've also shown plenty of love for athletes of other nations, especially those who have overcome adversity. Our Pedro Pinto joins us again with an example of that. Hello, Pedro.

PINTO: Hey, Anna.

Dominican athlete Felix Sanchez got a rousing cheer of support from 80,000 people at the Olympic stadium crowd during Tuesday's medal ceremony. The 400 meter hurdles gold medal winner broke into tears as he heard his national anthem and thought about his grandmother who passed away while he was competing at the previous Olympics in Beijing.

Sanchez ran with a picture of his granny pinned beneath his race bib and kissed it after crossing the finish line first. Later that night, he told CNN's Alex Thomas why he decided to do that.


FELIX SANCHEZ, 400 METERS GOLD MEDALIST: Actually I didn't think it through. Honestly, I was...

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's like an impulsive thing.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, I was in the village and about to come to the final. And I was going to just bring the picture and look at it before we went into the call room. But I didn't want the other competitors to feel I was trying to summon something extra, or see any vulnerability. I was holding a lot of emotion, a lot of tears throughout the week just watching other medal ceremonies prior to the semifinal and prior to the finals kind of just picturing myself on the medal stand winning gold and how it would feel in that moment...

THOMAS: Did you always know you could win, or just that you could get on the podium?

SANCHEZ: No, I mean, I -- the objective was to just get on the podium. I mean, winning was a plus. I mean, I've been competing at this level for 14 years and I'm realistic. And I knew David Green was the home favorite. He's the reigning world champion. I know the reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists were in the race. I know Javier Culson was undefeated all season was in the race. And I had the seventh best time coming in, so...

THOMAS: But you ended up running an astonishing time, the fastest since your gold medal winning performance in Athens.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, I mean -- and ironically it was the same exact time I ran eight years ago...

THOMAS: Is that freaky? Does that make you believe in fate even more?

SANCHEZ: Yeah, that kind of makes me think, you know, it was already written, it was just a matter of it playing out itself. I liken it -- I'm Dominican and we're huge baseball fans, that's like a baseball player hitting a home run into the same seat from the same pitcher eight years later. It just can't happen.


PINTO: Great story for Felix Sanchez.

Brazil hope an elusive gold medal in football is written in the stars. The Selecao may have won five world cups and multiple Copa America titles, but they have never won the men's Olympic football tournament. Well, they're now just one win away from reaching that goal after advancing to the final on Tuesday. The Brazilians bronze medalists in Beijing four years ago were just too good for South Korea at Old Trafford. Two goals from Leandro Damiao and one from Romulo did the trick for the South Americans. Up next, a title clash with Mexico who beat Japan in the other semifinal.

Now considering their football pedigree, Brazil have a poor record in the Olympics. But maybe there's a larger still problem going on here when it comes to performing in the summer games. It's just that Brazil have just eight medals in the London games, and only two of them are gold. Beijing was their best ever performance and that saw just three Brazilian gold medals, 15 overall. You can see Brazil's performances over the last 20 years right there. And don't forget Rio will host the next Olympics in 2016. There's still four years to go, but it's probably safe to say it'll be very difficult for them to match Great Britain's inspired performance as host of the games.

Australia are also digesting a disappointing Olympics. They have only won four gold medals, that's down from 14 in Beijing. The Aussies were especially disappointing in the pool. We asked five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe to explain why this has happened and what can be done to change it.


IAN THORPE, FIVE-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I think Australians will be shocked that we hadn't won as many medals as we usually do. But I also think we have become quite complacent in our athletes doing well and assuming that all of the programs are brilliant for identifying young athletes and getting them through to be able to produce results on the world stage. I don't think Australians necessarily fall into the category of people who assume just because we are a small nation that we can't perform well. But questions will be asked. And, you know, this will be an issue even in parliament in Australia.


PINTO: While not all is doom and gloom for Australia, Anna. I can tell you Australia have just won their fifth gold medal in sailing. So I can also say that's five more golds than Portugal has won. We still have absolutely none.

COREN: My heart goes out to you, Pedro. But that is great news, that is great news, yes. And obviously Sally Pearson did a fantastic job on the track, claiming gold in the 100 meter hurdles. And obviously Anna Meares in the cycling. So, yes, go the Aussies. Maybe Rio. We'll come back in Rio.

PINTO: It's not over yet.

COREN: Thank you, Pedro.

It's not over yet, exactly.

Well, Pedro, sponsorship has been a controversial at these Olympics. Athletes were upset by the IOC asking them not to tweet about their sponsors. And the IOC has been cracking down on athletes displaying unauthorized logos.

Well, take a look at this, that yellow patch on this Chinese archer's hat isn't part of the design. Let's look at his hat from earlier in the competition. Well, here it is without the yellow patch revealing the logo of the Chicago Bears NFL team. Well, it's hard to see, because it's in black, but it was still visible enough that he covered it.

Well even authorized sponsors are not allowed to advertise inside Olympic venues, but there's one sponsor that is visible. Well, these remote controlled Mini Coopers are used in the Olympic stadium to return javelins to athletes. They may not say Mini Cooper on them, but as we know that shape is unmistakeable.

Well, you don't have to be an Olympic caliber athlete to become a part of the games or a part of history. Let's find out more about that from Josh Levs who joins us from CNN Center.

Josh, what can you tell us.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anna, I'll tell you. This is -- by the way, congratulations to Australia picking up a couple of more medals. I'm routing for you a little bit. I was in Sydney for those games. I've got to get some (inaudible).

So I'll tell you what, this is amazing, no Olympic ceremony in history has ever been captured in a way that I'm about to show you right here. I'm going to show you a technology now. It's called GigaPan. Let's take a look at it. And what they've done is captured an image that you can see on our partner Sports Illustrated online. It's an image of the opening ceremony that's interactive. You can click on it. And you can zoom in and literally see almost any individual face in the entire crowd.

Here's how we're going to show it to you, we're going to zoom back a little bit. And you're going to see. We picked just one area on the field itself to focus in on some of the participants. And as you go in, you get closer and closer and closer. And this entire image is at your fingertips. And the reason it's so incredibly clear is that this image has more than 3 billion pixels in it.

So, think about this, the Olympic stadium fit 80,000 people in the stands plus you have all the participants, all of these people now, Anna, are captured for history in this image and will forever be able to show that they were there, and forever other people will be able to figure out exactly who was there at that amazing ceremony.

COREN: Josh, that is truly incredible. How did they do this?

LEVS: Here's how we did it. There's a photographer named David Bergman. And what he's done is he's taken a series of photos over an hour. He took more than 400 different pictures over the period of an hour. So it comes across as being one moment, but it's actually lots of different pictures that are really intense. You see a technology called GigaPan. He put it together, he stitched them together. He took all the time to stitch all these individual images together into one panoramic shot.

And I'm showing you the opening ceremony, but I'll tell you, everyone out there follow me on Twitter, because I've also got one of a beach volleyball game where you can close in so far on the participants you can count the toes, you can see everyone in the entire stadium.

And what we're looking at here is a new way to capture what the Olympics is. And I've said it before, I'll say it again, the Olympics is the coolest thing the world does where it comes together as one. And just to have an image forever showing all these many people who take part is absolutely amazing.

So this photographer put it together. It's at Sports Illustrated. And I invite you all to check it out.

COREN: What's it with you boys and the women's beach volleyball, huh? You, Pedro...

LEVS: It's pretty awesome.

COREN: I wonder.

You also have an interactive feature called the faces of victory. What's this?

LEVS: Yeah, OK. So you know when you watch the Olympics one of the greatest things obviously is seeing someone celebrate victory, but we've got this great spread from another one of our partners, that focuses in on some fun, and in some cases some kind of hilarious images of people at the moment either that they won gold medals or at a moment that they won a specific match. And again, it's interactive so you can click on it, you can make it a full screen. All of these links are up for you at my Facebook JoshlevsCNN and at my Twitter @JoshlevsCNN. And in some cases you see some surprising shots. You can see people's eyes bulge wide open. Some people falling to the ground.

Sometimes if you just saw the picture, Anna, you truly wouldn't know if they lost or won. There's a couple of Bulgarian athletes doing a bro jump-hug kind of thing. It's just beautiful. It's human and it's beautiful. And these are the moments, right?

COREN: Yeah, they are the moments, exactly right.

Josh, great to see you. I can tell you are thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying these Olympic games.

LEVS: I love the Olympics.

COREN: Yeah, how can you not?

Catch you later. Thank you very much.

Well, they say the marathon is the loneliest event. And that could well apply to one of the runners competing on Sunday, because Guor Marial from South Sudan is one of four Olympians at London 2012 to be taking part as independent athletes. Marial trains in the U.S. state of Arizona and is running under an Olympic flag because his nation is too new to have formed an Olympic committee yet.


GUOR MARIAL, MARATHON RUNNER: I'm having fun with all the different people from all over the world. It's such a good feeling, but at the same time I don't feel lonely there I don't have a country, because I know my country is with me. And when I line up in the line in the marathon, I know my people are going to be with me and I will know that I have a country. So it is something I am not feeling lonely at all.

I'm meeting new people every single day. Every time I go out I see different faces, which is something very unique. And just -- just (inaudible) and I'm really enjoying that.


COREN: Good for him. Well, as we said earlier, these are Great Britain's greatest Olympic games for over 100 years. They have won 22 gold medals in all. But we did notice something a bit funny about all of that. Most of their medals were won not by running, jumping, or throwing, but where the athletes were sitting down.

Well, 16 gold medals in all came from sitting sports. They won in the canoe slalom, road and track cycling, equestrian, rowing, and finally sailing, all sports where British athletes triumphed while having a seat.

Now, I know I'm probably being a little bit unfair, because I'm sure they tried exceptionally hard, but since Australia's performance has been mocked, especially by my British colleagues, I think it's only fair that I point out this fact.

Still to come on News Stream, it's one of the biggest gaming competitions and it draws some of the finest players in the world. We follow a South Korean pro gamer as he shows us what it takes to compete with the best.


COREN: Well, this week as part of our series Gaming Reality we're taking a closer look at the gaming culture in South Korea. Today we focus on professional gaming where some players can pull in six figure salaries. The team follows pro gamer MarineKing as he prepares for a key competition in Seoul.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a less dark side to gaming. In this room gamers play almost around the clock, desperately training to become the best. In South Korea, gaming is a pro sport. And these men, cyber athletes.

MARINEKING, PRO-GAMER, TEAM PRIME: All the players are practicing really hard and so am I. I desperately want to win. I really need to win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: MarineKing, as the 19 year old is known in the gaming world, is just one year away from graduating high school. But instead of living with his parents, he lives with his team. In that seat he'll spend countless hours playing Starcraft, training for the upcoming world cyber games, a major pro-gaming tournament and something he's been working for since he started gaming nearly 10 years ago.

MARINEKING: When I was in first or second grade, there was a Starcraft boom. When I first played, I felt like I had discovered a new joy in my life. It was very different compared to the simple games that I played before. I could control the units and I could orchestrate the war scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But his parents didn't share his enthusiasm for Starcraft. They worried he would become addicted, sucked into the virtual world.

LEE HANG-JAE, MARINEKING'S FATHER: We got a phone call once from his school when he was in middle school. And his teacher asked us to visit. His teacher told us that the principal decide to block internet service until Jung Hoon graduated from school, because lots of students were missing class after lunch to watch him play.

MARINEKING: As I played games more and more, I argued with my parents a lot and they forbade me to play. I would wake up late at night while my parents were sleeping and play games behind their backs.

PARK AE-YOUNG, MARINEKING'S MOTHER: I tear up every time I think about that time back then. I can imagine how painful it was to him. We didn't listen to him at all. I even hit him to stop him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't seem surprising MarineKing's parents thought he was an addict early on. They were outsiders to gaming. To them, his life blurred the lines between addiction and dedication. But gaming insiders say that line is clear. Pro-gamer turned gaming announcer Tasteless9, he now works in Korea says the differences are obvious.

NICK PLOTT, FORMER PRO-GAMER: Anybody who would try to draw a parallel between e-sports and gaming addiction I think that's where you're kind of reading into the wrong thing, because somebody playing World of Warcraft for 15 hours and not going outside and not socializing or not eating healthy that's one thing, somebody who is training in a strategy game, which is like real-time chess and doing their very, very best to master the intellectual sport, that's another thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: MarineKing hasn't yet made it to the top of Starcraft II players in the world, but in 2010 he still made more than $100,000 from tournaments. And now, MarineKing's parents turn out to support their son at big games.

HANG-JAE: We text him, "let's go, MarineKing before his game."


COREN: A different world isn't it? On Thursday, as part of our week long series Gaming Reality, we'll examine why gaming culture is so popular in South Korea. You can watch the full episodes from the series on our website at

Well, landing on the Red Planet, NASA releases new photos of the Curiosity mission. We'll have those for you next.


COREN: Well, turning now to NASA's stunning achievement this week, scientists have released what they call crime scene photos of the spot where Curiosity made its very smooth landing on Mars. Well, John Zarrella has the story.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mission managers have released new imagery taken by an orbiting spacecraft of the landing site Gale Crater where the Curiosity rover is just now getting its bearings. There, planted on the Martian soil, are the rover and all of the components that helped it land safely on the surface.

SARAH MILKOVICH, MARS SCIENT LABORATORY TEAM MEMBER: And this is what we call -- we're calling the -- it's like a crime scene photo here.

ZARRELLA: It was visual proof that the landing went according to plan. That black spec in the middle is the Curiosity rover. Animation illustrating its entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet gave Earthlings a preview. The heat shield that burned through the Martian atmosphere now lies charred, 1,200 meters away from the rover. The parachute that slow its descent, NASA released a photo of its action, too, now lies on the surface about 600 meters from the rover. And the sky crane, which helped lower curiosity gently to the surface, was designed to crash land a safe distance away. It did just that.

MILKOVICH: So this pattern is consistent with an oblique impact.

ZARRELLA: The mission team also released the first color image from the rover, a test photo that confirmed the camera's focus was working. It was years in the making for one emotional team member.

KEN EDGETT, MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY TEAM MEMBER: Like I said, we'll talk about it some more in a second -- I waited a long time for this to come back.

ZARRELLA: Next the team plans to raise the remote sensing arm, that's this device right here. Right now it's in the stowed position. They'll raise it just like they've done in assembly and check-out. And up here at the very top, this white box up here, this is the chem cam. And eventually what they're going to use that for is to laser rocks to help scientists study Mars geological makeup.

John Zarrella, CNN, at the jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena.


COREN: Quite extraordinary, isn't it?

Well, speaking of amazing pictures, let's get back down to earth. A passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight got a bit of a scare when they looked out the window and saw this. Well, it appeared to be damage to the plane's wing, but what was more intriguing was a handwritten note next to it. Just take a closer look. It says, "we know about this with an arrow pointing to the missing chunk of wing." We're not sure if that was supposed to be reassuring. But reports say the Seattle based airline stated it was an approved repair and amazed that its technician wrote the note to let the flight crew know. It was unsurprisingly not in accordance with the company procedures though.

Well, that is News Stream, but the news certainly continues here at CNN. World Business Today is coming up next.