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Syrian Rebels Sruggle To Maintain Ground In Aleppo; A Recap of CNN's Favorite Olympic Moments; Curiosity Undergoes Brain Transplant

Aired August 13, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream, where news and technology meet. We begin in Syria. We look at life inside Syria's one time commercial capital.

London bids a spectacular farewell to the Olympic games.

And Mitt Romney has his running mate. A look at what Paul Ryan brings to the Republican ticket.

Now Syrian activists report government forces have committed a massacre in the capital of Damascus. They say at least 10 people were publicly executed in a suburb there. And at least 33 people have been killed nationwide already on Monday.

Now this follows Sunday's reports of heavy fighting in the besieged city of Homs. An opposition group says that government troops executed 10 men there. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will develop contingency plans with its Turkish allies in the event the Syrian government collapses.

Now civilians have been pinned down by snipers, or caught in the crossfire with nowhere to go.

And with more, Ben Wedeman joins us now live from northern Syria. And Ben, tell us what have you seen?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, what we saw in Aleppo was that the government forces are increasingly making advances into the areas that until just a few days ago were controlled by the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups. At this point all communications to Aleppo have been cut. And for those few civilians who remain in the areas close to the front lines, the situation is becoming increasingly dire.


WEDEMAN: He wasn't a fighter or a revolutionary. He didn't live by the gun. But 45 year old Hassan (ph), a shopkeeper, died from an unseen sniper's bullet. Neighbors and fighters had to hoist his body over walls between apartment buildings in the back streets of Aleppo's Mushud (ph) neighborhood to avoid the snipers.

His wife was by his side when the bullet ripped through his head. They had come to help relatives pinned down by the violence to escape to safer ground.

The line between life and death in Aleppo is perilously thin.

Just one block away I met Hanadi (ph) who insists she and her family of six will not leave.

I ask her where the front line is. But she brushes off the question saying she's become accustomed to the shelling.

Her son, one-and-a-half year old Abdel Renni (ph) seems confused and squeezes my hand tightly.

A two minute walk down the street, an apartment building was hit in an air strike.

This building, or rather what's left of this building which really isn't much, is in an area where civilians are still living. And of course among the ruins we found a French book and somebody is studying English, the life of William Shakespeare.

The residents say two bodies remain buried inside.

Riad (ph), a self described unarmed activist says regime forces don't care if they kill 100, 200, 1,000 or 2,000 civilians if they destroy two or three or four buildings.

A rocket slammed into another building in the nearby Sikari (ph) district, wounding two, raining rubble into the street. All the while, government helicopters hover menacingly overhead and jets drop bombs on rebel controlled neighborhoods.

The trappings of daily life in the city under siege have disappeared. Even the simple act of crossing the street requires a strong heart and fast feet. A sniper's bullet is just a crack away.


WEDEMAN: And Kristie, as far as the fighters go, they say they are running low on ammunition. They complain that despite all the reports or arms coming in from Turkey and elsewhere, many of them say they've seen nothing. They've received nothing. And at this point they don't know how much longer they can fight against a regime that seems to have all the weapons that it needs -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And that's the crux of where this battle for Syria is. I mean, just then we saw the video you and your team caught on camera a government jet dropping a bomb on rebel held territory. Al-Assad's troops, they have jets. They have military helicopters, tanks. The rebels are out equipped as you mentioned and their ammunition is not coming in. How have they been able to manage to hold the territory that they have in Aleppo and to fend of Syrian troops?

WEDEMAN: Well, as far as how they do it but weapons they've got. They've got basically assault rifles and some rocket propelled grenades. They say most of them they've either bought on the open market, or they've been able to take from government troops. But by and large they don't really have much. Their only real advantage is the fact that they know the territory very well and they know that their backs are to the wall.

This is a war where neither side really seems to take prisoners. There's very little mercy on the battlefield. And they know that if they fall into government hands they're dead -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And the strength of al-Assad's troops from what you've seen reporting inside Syria all week, do you think Syria still has the massive force to crush the rebels? I mean, just how strong, how vulnerable is the army of Bashar al-Assad?

WEDEMAN: What we saw in Aleppo, Kristie, is that the rebels are definitely on the defensive. The Bashar al-Assad regime clearly has much more in the way of heavy weaponry.

What the problems they do have is morale of the ordinary soldiers who aren't members of the Alawite sect of the Bashar al-Assad, but Sunni Muslims and others whose hearts really aren't in the battle. In fact we had an opportunity to speak with three soldiers who had defected that very day. And they said there's a system of discrimination within the army. The Alawites seem to get all the good positions, all the sort of the perks of the job, the Sunnis get very little. And there is a lot of resentment among the ranks. The question is do they have the power to somehow eliminate their officers and push them aside? At this point it doesn't look like it.

So it does seem that the army, the Syrian army, is still very much in control and has the upper hand at the moment -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: But divisions that could potentially make it very, very vulnerable. Ben Wedeman joining us live from northern Syria. Thank you very much indeed for that.

Now it is a conflict that has been at the forefront of Egyptian politics since the country's revolution. The role of the military and civilians. And now that has taken a dramatic turn. Now President Mohammed Morsi, in the words of a spokesman, sent to retirement two key members of the armed forces. Now that includes the defense minister who was in power after the removal of former leader Hosni Mubarak. And remember this comes only one month after the military and Morsi clashed over his attempt to recall the Egyptian parliament.

Now journalist Ian Lee has been following developments and he joins us live from Cairo. And Ian, how significant is Morsi's move in this civil- military balance of power there in Egypt?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie it's probably the most significant move we've seen so far. He essentially took power from who is arguably the most powerful man in Egypt, Field Marshall Tantawi. Now he has all the power. He has -- other that presidential power, he has power of the legislature. He also has a lot of influence now over the body that is currently writing Egypt's new constitution. So that give shim a lot of power right there.

And also I want to point out that after -- even earlier before yesterday's announcement when we saw a lot of major generals go, earlier last week we saw the head of intelligence go. We saw the head of the military police and the governor of North Sinai. It looks like he's really cleaning house right now of people who were associated with Mubarak's regime and trying to put in new people in those top positions, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And how are Egyptians reacting to these dramatic maneuverings by Mohammed Morsi. Is it welcomed, or are there worries about how much power he will have as president?

LEE: Well, right now Egypt is in a state of shock. People are still trying to figure out what all this means. But the Muslim Brotherhood last night called its supporters to go down to Tahrir Square and show its support. But we also saw supporters of the military out in the street protesting Mohammed Morsi's move.

And I think there's a date that I want to throw out there that will be important. It's August 24th. There's been a lot of calls for people to come out and protest against the Muslim Brotherhood and against Moahmmed Moris on this date. And after yesterday's announcement we saw more political parties joining that call. So there's definitely been some backlash to yesterday's move.

August 24th is next Friday. We'll be looking for the reaction response then. And as the civil-military balance of power is shifting so dramatically this day in Egypt we know that a military operation is underway in the Sinai peninsula. Ian, what's the latest from there?

LEE: Well, what we're hearing out of the Sinai peninsula right now is that the militants are trying to have had meetings. They're going to -- a secret meeting. And they're going to try to respond to a military operation that happened earlier which killed five militants.

The militants also assassinated a tribal leader and his son who was holding a meeting on how -- to talk about how the Bedouins can support the government.

And we were just there a few days ago. And we went to a meeting which had the ministry of interior, the minister along with the tribal leaders trying to talk about how they can secure Sinai and get the Bedouins on board to help securing that, but the militants seem very determined to keep up their operations against the military and against the government in Sinai.

LU STOUT: All right, Ian Lee reporting live for us from Cairo. Thank you.

Now thousands of Iranians are taking shelter in makeshift homes in the country's north after a double earthquake hit the region on Saturday. The 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude quakes raised villages to the northeast of Tabriz, that's Iran's fourth largest city. Now Iran's press tv agency, citing the country's health ministry, reports at least 306 people have been killed, more than 3,000 injured. And officials have expressed concern about the possible outbreak of disease.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up, getting to know the running mates. Mitt Romney's pick for vice president steps into the spotlight.

And fireworks and rock music bring the London Olympics to a spectacular close. We look back at the highlights and ahead to Rio 2016.

And sporting achievement of another kind for Great Britain at the U.S. PGA championship.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the greatest summer sports event in the world is over for another four years. But the 2012 Olympics have left us all with plenty of lasting memories. Amanda Davies looks back at two glorious weeks.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: London 2012, seven years of planning, 17 days of great stories, success and celebration.

It all started with Daniel Craig, the Corgis and of course the queen. And finally we got the answer to a long running mystery. It then created history.

We've said hello to a new generation, but not all were welcomed with open arms.

We bid farewell to some true greats, many were stronger than ever. There were those who were older than ever. But others saw their bodies let them down.

We've had our fare share of scandals with seating, with security, and even social media.

Sadly, there's been the drugs as well. While some bent their bodies, others chose to bend the rules.

There's been royals, and runaways, and rain, quite a lot of it. Then lightning struck, once, twice, three times.

There's been talk of a new world order, not all of it deliberate, but as far as the hosts are concerned Britannia still rules the waves.

Some fell, others were just left hanging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get me a ladder.

DAVIES: There's been long, there's been tears, and we've had a whole lot of laughs along the way.

So as we're left looking at the legacy of London 2012, Rio it's over to you. Amanda Davies, CNN, London.


LU STOUT: And while the Olympics closing ceremony is getting all the attention, another major sporting achievement was being notched up across the Atlantic. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy won the PGA golf championship by eight shots in South Carolina. It was the biggest winning margin in the tournament since 1958 and the same as his eight shot victory at least year's US Open. It also means that 23 year old McIlroy returns to the top of the world golf rating.

Now the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he has picked his running mate. It is the congressman from Wisconsin Paul Ryan. We'll get a closer look at the man with hopes of being the next vice president of the United States.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching News Stream. And Mitt Romney's new running mate is energizing the Republican base. Paul Ryan spent the weekend campaigning alongside his party's presumptive nominee for president. Now Ryan is a seven term congressman from Wisconsin best known for his controversial plan to reduce the deficit. It includes a proposal to restructure Medicare, that's the government run health insurance program for senior citizens. And they were asked about that in their first joint interview.


BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, FACE THE NATION: I have to tell you the Miami Herald has a banner headline across the front of it this morning that says Ryan could hurt in Florida, because they're talking about Medicare and what you're talking about the...

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Think about that, by the way. There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare. Think of that. What Paul Ryan and I have talked about it saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it's there for current seniors.

No changes, by the way, for current seniors or those nearing retirement, but looking for young people down the road and saying we're going to give you a bigger choice. In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices, that's how we make Medicare work down the road.

SCHIEFFER: But you must concede you're going to have to do a little selling...


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises that they've organized their retirements around in order to make sure we can do that you must reform it for those of us who are younger. We think these reforms are good reforms that have had bipartisan origin. They started from the Clinton commission in the late 90s.


LU STOUT: Now the two Republican candidates are now campaigning separately. We have Ryan is set to visit the Iowa State Fair while Romney takes the fight to Florida. And Jim Acosta joins us from St. Augustine in Florida. And Jim, tell us more about how Romney's VP pick is firing up the GOP.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Well, Kristie, I talked to a couple of Romney advisers over the weekend. They do like what they're seeing out here on the campaign trail, especially over the last 48 hours. They have seen some of the biggest campaign events in terms of crowd size that they've had throughout the whole course of this campaign. So they do feel like the Paul Ryan pick is energizing their base. They also do like the fact that they have sort of this generation X running mate to show to the American people. He comes out there looking young. He's got a young wife and family.

But you were talking about that Medicare issue just a few moments ago, Kristie. I will tell you the Romney campaign does recognize that this is an issue. And they've sort of said some mixed things about Medicare in the last 24 hours. Yesterday a senior Romney adviser was emphasizing to reporters that, well, Mitt Romney is at the top of the ticket. He'll be putting together his own budget plan. But in the last 24 hours, they have also said that were the Ryan budget plan to come across the desk of a President Mitt Romney, a president Mitt Romney would sign that plan into law.

And so this plan that was put forward by Paul Ryan in the congress that would partially privatize Medicare, they do recognize that this is going to be an issue. The Obama campaign has already put out a web video hitting that Ryan budget plan this morning.

But all of this comes after a very emotional 48 hours for this new GOP ticket. It all culminated last night in Wisconsin in what was a homecoming, really, for the Wisconsin congressman. And you could see the emotion in his face as he talked to the crowd last night in his home state. Here's what he had to say.


RYAN: I'm fifth generation from this state. My families came here back in the 1800s, made a go of it. It's where we've all raised our families ever since. This is such a phenomenal place to live, to work, to raise your family.

My veins run with cheese, Bratwurst, and a little spot of calanis (ph) and some Miller.


ACOSTA: Now for our international viewers who don't get those references, those linies (ph) that Paul Ryan was talking about in Wisconsin yesterday, that refers to a local Wisconsin beer. That even went over the heads of some people here in the United States, Kristie.

But I will tell you that the Romney campaign is now shifting from the running mate to the runner ups today. As you mentioned, Paul Ryan is now campaigning separately from Mitt Ryan. He's in -- or from Mitt Romney. He is in Iowa today.

But Marco Rubio will be joining Mitt Romney on stage here later this morning in St. Augustine. He'll be with the GOP contender all day today.

But the Romney campaign is saying, now wait a minute we are not trying to hide Paul Ryan from Florida because of that Medicare plan. They are sending Paul Ryan down here to Florida later on this weekend -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Interesting gear. Team Romney, they really have to carefully shape their message on Medicare, especially there in the U.S. state of Florida. Very popular among retirees.

And since a number of Americans are still learning about who Paul Ryan is, how is the party trying to shape and define him?

ACOSTA: Well, we heard Mitt Romney talking about Paul Ryan over the weekend. You could really get the sense that they are trying to do their own definition, get that -- get their own story out there about Paul Ryan before the Democrats have their chance to define the GOP vice presidential candidate. We heard Mitt Romney say yesterday at two separate campaign events that Paul Ryan had a chance for another career in his life, but he was called to Washington to change the status quo, to get the budget under control, to get the deficit situation under control in Washington.

I will tell you, Kristie, though, that story that Mitt Romney talked about out on the campaign trail does differ somewhat from Paul Ryan's biography. The Ryan resume, if you will, if you look at it shows that right after he got out of college he went to Washington, worked for Jack Kemp, the former New York congressman who has since passed away.

He was on the GOP ticket, by the way, in 1996. And is also a conservative -- was a conservative fiscal hawk. Paul Ryan cites Jack Kemp as one of his inspirations in his political career. And then at the age of 28, Paul Ryan was elected to congress. He's been there ever since, 14 years in the nation's capital, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Thank you for that fact check there. Jim Acosta joining us live from Florida, thank you.

Now it is the morning after the Olympics, the closing ceremony is finished. The medals have been handed out. And we look at whether London met expectations.

And now the attention is turning toward Rio de Janeiro. Will the 2016 summer Olympics give Brazil the competitive advantage in the sports arena? All that and more still to come right here on News Stream.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now a major power shakeup in Egypt. President Mohammed Moris has ordered the country's top military chiefs to step down. You're looking at the new defense minister being sworn in. Mr. Morsi also says that he has scrapped a recent decree by military leaders to give themselves sweeping power. It is unclear that the military will challenge the president's moves.

Iranian TV reports more than 300 people are now known to have been killed in two earthquakes that hit on Saturday. More than 3,000 people are reported to have been injured when the quake struck the northwest of the country, damaging or destroying several villages.

And just hours after the Olympic closing ceremony, a Belarus athlete has been stripped over her shot put gold medal for doping. The International Olympic Committee says Nadzeya Ostapchuk provided samples before and after the competition last Monday and both tests indicate the presence of a banned substance.

And before the Olympic games there were doomsday predictions of all sorts. Terror attacks, a security shambles, ticketing debacles and transport chaos. Now millions of Londoners were urged to work from home for the duration of the games to avoid the pandemonium, but it all worked out OK. And some say more than just OK.

And joining me now live from Olympic Park is Amanda Davies. And Amanda, the London games, they have been called a glorious success, but give us your honest take. How did the games go?

DAVIES: Hi, Kristie. Well this is the first games that I have covered, but from my point of view it seems to have gone incredibly well. From the athletes' point of view, they seem to have loved it, even the ones who didn't necessarily win so well in their events. The fans certainly seemed to have enjoyed it. Lots of people walking around with big smiles on their faces. They really got in on the action.

Then the media as a whole seem to have enjoyed it as well. The IOC president's most importantly, probably, Jacques Rogge he's been to a lot of Olympic games and he called it absolutely fantastic, a games that has refreshed the Olympic movement. They were, as you said, concerns about transport, about security, about ticketing in the run-up.

In terms of the transport and security, they seem to have gone very, very well on the whole. There were the issues about the empty seats in the first week at the events, particularly at things like the basketball and the swimming, but they seemed to be sorted out as well.

And in terms of the actual sporting feats and the achievements, the contests, there were some fantastic battles in the pool, weren't there? There was the great rivalry between the USA and Jamaica on the track as well. And the home team, Team GB, did a fantastically well as well. They put in their best performance in over 100 years.

And so on the whole everybody seems to think it's gone pretty well. And I'm certainly trying to cling on to every last second of it.

LU STOUT: We've got to talk about the closing ceremony. The fireworks, the rock music, the Spice Girls. Amanda, can you walk us through the highlights?

DAVIES: Oh, it was absolutely fantastic. It started with a newspaper covered scene from London, the London eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge. And then it was a celebration of 50 years of British music. They called it a mashed-up symphony of British music. The most recent act -- well, the youngest act, I suppose, was One Direction. And then you also had George Miachel. You have the reemergence of the Spice Girls on glittery black taxis. And all the athletes who have competed were all in the middle of a Union Jack, a spectacular Union Jack floor to the stadium.

If anybody had any doubts as to the colors of the Union flag ahead of this games, they're certainly in no doubt now. There was a sensational lighting display with each seat had behind it this really clever lighting box. And the lightning in the stadium was absolutely spectacular.

And then of course we had the official handover to Rio. So it's all over to Rio for four years time.

LU STOUT: Yeah, I mean, music wise it was sort of a comeback to a lot of familiar names, but it rocked.

Let's talk more about where you are geographically, the Olympic venue, the Olympic stadium, and also the fate of where you are, the fate of east London. I mean, it was the place to be during the games these last two weeks, but what will happen to the area in the years ahead?

DAVIES: Well, there's been a lot of talk, hasn't there, about these games, about the legacy of the games. And we of course got the Paralympics to come in just 16 days' time. And they will take place in this park as well.

But then there will be a significant period of change in the park. The main stadium, the Olympic stadium, is going to lose about 55,000 seats. We expect there will be a football team that will occupy that. But that's not sorted yet. The aquatic center, that's going to be losing its seating, because this is being heralded as the perfect model for a sustainable Olympic games, suggesting that other venues and other host cities should use it in the past to put in low cost, temporary stadiums that will then be taken down or altered to keep the sustainability and avoid the white elephant situation.

It's going to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013. And it's going to be used as a venue for visitors to come and get involved in sport. And there's going to be a community here, people living here. And the sporting legacy will very much carry on.

LU STOUT: A sustainable games, a glorious games, Amanda Davies, thank you.

As Amanda mentioned, it was a great games for Great Britain. They finished third on the medal table with their best haul in over 100 years. And what you're looking right here is a visual representation of how each country did. Now the bigger the circle the more gold medals they won. And what you might not realize is that the position of each country's circle, it roughly matches where they are geographically located. And it's hard to tell, because Africa is represented by just a few small circles there.

Now what about the next Olympic hosts? Well, Brazil won three gold medals and 17 medals overall, that is Brazil's best ever performance at the games.

Now Brazil is a famous sporting nation, so their relatively modest medal haul, it may comes as a surprise. Now let's head out to Shasta Darlington who is live for us in Rio de Janeiro. And Shasta, how do Brazilians feel about their performance in London?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, it's a good question. And it's pretty mixed. But, you know, when -- you would think that people would be a little disappointed. On the other hand, as you mentioned, it's the best haul ever for them. And it was interesting, because when we went out onto the streets of Rio to ask whether or not they thought the city would be ready, there were actually people who were more concerned about whether or not the athletes would be ready. So let's listen to some of those comments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we are really limited, you know. So this is not maybe the most important thing. You can't make miracles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Brazil is the fifth largest country and should finish in the top five. We have the people and the potential, but unfortunately there is no investment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): During my time as a boxer here, I had four chances of fighting for the world title, but I couldn't because I didn't have the support to dedicate myself 100 percent to training.


DARLINGTON: Now as these people mentioned the biggest problem is investment. But you have to remember Brazil is a third world country. Yes, the economy is growing. In fact, it surpassed the UK as the world's sixth largest. But the population is huge, which means the government over these years just hasn't had the cash to build up an Olympics machine. They're very strong in some specific sports, football and car racing, but that's mostly because of private sponsorship.

Now having said that, they really want to beef things up over the next four years. Officials say they want to come in, in the top 10 when Rio hosts the games. And that's a big jump from number 22 now. The way they want to do it, investing in individual sports. They're pretty good in the team sports, that's where they think they can come ahead, Kristie.

LU STOUT: So they are making the moves right now to work toward a bigger medal haul four years from now. And ahead of the next summer games in 2016, more short-term, Rio will host the World Cup in 2014. How prepared is it as a team and as a host for that next major sporting event? And how will it help the nation prepare for the big show in 2016?

DARLINGTON: Those are two very good questions and pretty charged as well. You know, Brazil went into these London games thinking that for the first time ever it would come home with the gold for men's football. That didn't happen, as we know, it was a pretty disappointing final against Mexico. Brazilians glued to their seats thinking, oh, we've finally got it. And Brazil just played a really mediocre game, which doesn't bode well for the World Cup in 2014.

This is a strong football country. They want to obviously win the World Cup and they want that gold in football. So they're going to have to work not only on their team sports there, but also on the venues. While getting a stadium ready for the Olympics, they've got four years, but the World Cup just two years. Maracana, the big, major stadium in Rio is still being reformed. Many of the main venues are still being built.

And most important, the very basic infrastructure, how to get people around this congested, crowded, enormous city, are not up to speed. We don't have the public transport. We have an aging airport. And hotels, there aren't enough rooms for a big event that happened just a couple of months ago. People were staying in love motels where you usually charge by the hour. Can you imagine, Kristie?

LU STOUT: No, I can't. Incredible. That's something they have to work on for -- ahead of 2016.

Shasta Darlington, thank you very much indeed. I know you'll be checking out the Olympic preps ahead of then. We'll be checking in with you later on in the years ago.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead, a grand finale, but what were your favorite moments of the Olympic games? We'll go behind the scenes and tell you ours.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And the Mars rover the Curiosity is getting what NASA calls a brain transplant. It's no small feat, considering the remote upgrade is happening some 560 million kilometers away. And if anything goes wrong it could be the last time NASA has contact with it.

Now the upgrade, it should be wrapped up later today. As John Zarrella tells us, Curiosity's mission is already considered a success.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's an example of just how successful this mission is going. Imagine, they traveled 350 million miles, almost halfway around the sun to catch up with Mars and they hit within one mile of the entry point, that's just one of the many successes they've had so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown confirmed. We're safe on Mars.

ZARRELLA: So much for seven minutes of terror.


ZARRELLA: The engineers and scientists had pulled it off, a series of never before attempted Martian atmospheric acrobatics ended with the rover Curiosity safely and all in one piece on the surface. Almost immediately, the rover phoned home sending back images -- look, I'm here. First, one of its wheels, then Mount Sharp in the distance. One camera captured incredible pictures of the descent. And each day, new images better than the last.

It will be a couple of weeks before all the rover's systems are checked out and it starts roaming the Martian countryside. Its first target of interest may not be far off, a spot where the top layer of sand was blown off by the descent engines.

JOHN GROTZINGER, CURIOSITY PROJECT SCIENTIST: They send down a jet of turbulence. And because Mars has a less dense atmosphere it doesn't mix the way it would on Earth and it's just a shot coming straight down. And it blows all the soil away. And it drilled a hole all the way down to the bedrock.

ZARRELLA: For the mission team this site, the Gale Crater, is expected to produce a mother load of science. Inside the crater, Mount Sharp's layers of rock date back to when the planet was wetter, more Earth- like. There may be clues to whether life could ever have existed here. And it's believed water might once have flowed on the crater floor.

BETHANY EHLMANN, CAL TECH GEOLOGIST: These rocks are layered clay, carbonate, and sulfate. So this is what you'd get in a quiet sort of lake environment.

ZARRELLA; Bethany Ehlmann's job is to help decide which are, let's say, rocks of interest. Then, using a laser, she'll vaporize a tiny, really tiny spot on the rock. The plasma emitted is then analyzed for minerals.

EHLMANN: And this is the type of rock that would be deposited in a quiet standing body of water. So we'll be looking for clues like this.

ZARRELLA: The mission team says Curiosity has performed flawlessly, beyond their wildest expectations. So while it's only been on the surface of Mars less than a week, the bar for the rest of the mission has already been set pretty high.


LU STOUT: Now we are keeping tabs on Curiosity. John Zarrella reporting there.

We're also keeping an eye on the Philippines. After being pounded by storms and flooding, another round of heavy rain there.

Let's get the very latest now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kristie. Yeah, good to see you.

You know what, this is a story that refuses to go away. Already we're seeing some traces of some heavy rain that has been moving parts of Luzon in the last 24 hours. While in Manila proper the rain hasn't been as heavy, we're still looking at this weather system that has formed here just north of Luzon with the possibility of more heavy rain coming in along this western side of the northern and central Philippines.

So, what's going on? Well, we do have a new tropical storm. But, across portions of the Philippines, this was the scene over the last couple of days. Remember last week when they had that historic flooding across the area, some areas getting over a meter, a meter-and-a-half of rainfall throughout the entire week? And well, the water has receded in many areas. Many people are still having to deal with complete portions of the towns that are still submerged by the water. A different level: sometimes ankle deep, sometimes chest deep. And the cleanup has been ongoing.

These are picture from Manila proper where service personnel are out there helping with the cleanup so that people can move back into their homes. However, with this threat of new rain, there are new advisories that have been posted.

The name of the storm is Tropical Storm Kai-Tak. And you can see it right over here.

Now the winds are right now close to 50, maybe 65 kilometers per hour. The winds are not that big of a concern, actually, when it comes to the storm. You can see it right over here. And it's so close to land that it's already bringing some rain over these areas, problems also for ferry boats in this region, but the main concern is going to be that flow coming in off the water, even if it moves across the strait here.

And then possibly, look at this, this could possibly be a typhoon in the next two to three days. And if that happens, it could also have an effect across maybe Wendong (ph), maybe Zhejiang province. We'll have to see exactly how this pans out.

But again, we're seeing a similar track as other tropical cyclones have already had earlier this month. And I should say at the end of last month across this very same area.

So a big concern, especially across the Philippines for now about the amount of rain that is possible in some of the areas here could see an additional 15, maybe 25 centimeters of rainfall as the storm moves along.

As we head into mainland China, we do have another front that had been moving through. This has brought you relatively cooler weather we could say here across the areas in the north and east. Only 22 right now in Beijing. Still warm in Seoul, though, at 28. And 28 right now in Tokyo.

As we head to the south scattered rain showers, some of these heavy at times, that have been affecting portions here farther to the south.

I want to show you now we're going to move on and head to Europe. There is --- actually just off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands dealing with some tremendous fires over this region. We have two areas, La Gomera (ph) right here. This national park right here is the one that has been in flames for days already. Naerby towns like Vallehermoso had to be evacuated overnight. Just a tragic situation.

Look at the pictures, Kristie, over this region. They need rain. The temperatures have been into the lowers 40s for weeks on end. And they haven't had enough rainfall.

The area that is being threatened is a national park that is famous for its laurel trees that are endemic to this area. You really can't find them anywhere else in the world. And you can see them and they're very concerned, of course, about the ecological problems that could happen in this protected area. But of course for the lives and livelihood of the people who live there. No rain in sight. And they keep fighting those flames. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Oh dear. Good luck to them. And here's hoping they can contain those blazes soon. Mari Ramos there. Thank you.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up after the break, Mo Farah's 10,000 meter win was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Olympic games. We have more of our team's favorite moments after the break.


LU STOUT: We all have our favorite Olympic moments. It could be Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps making history, or something perhaps a little quirkier like Ryan Lochte's teeth grill or surprise reunion of the Spice Girls.

Well, at CNN, we are no exception. Here are some of our memorable moments and how the team brought you all the action.



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: The London 2012 games came to a triumphant close here at the athletics stadium, but the first great Olympic moments were here at the Aquatic Center.


RYAN LOCHTE, US SWIMMER: I am coming home to a country with five Olympic medals, which is unbelievable.

MICHAEL PHELPS, US SWIMMER: I'm done. I don't if people really believe me, but I am actually finished.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: An Olympics always feels more successful if the host nation does well. And Team GB did do well. It was their best games in more than a century.

No call from the prime minister?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not had a call from the prime minister, no, no, not yet.

THOMAS: President Obama calls American athletes all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he? I'll have to have a word then.


DAVIES: Right. Well, while most of the sporting action is taking place at the Olympic venues and the Olympic stadium, most of our action is taking place in this building here. This is CNN's Olympic bureau. Let's go and have a look.

This is where it all happens. It's 8:01. We've got makeup in here. We've got the edit room and the office in here. Come this way. Here's all the team -- the production team working away. And somebody out there I think you might recognize.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: ...forward, scored in the first minute.

CHRIS ELDERGILL, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Away from the bright lights, I wanted to show you inside the engine room. Perhaps not as glamorous as next door, but Flo, Harry, and Zain have met the charge over some of our biggest story lines and wealth of guests, including our very own Piers Morgan.


ELDERGILL: OK, well it is a little glamorous.


HARRY REEKIE, CNN PRODUCER: OK, so you've seen the anchors, you've seen the producers, but there's three other people that we can't forget of this and that's our three Australian cameramen.


LINFORD CHRISTIE, CNN OLYMPIC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what are my highlight to the games? There are several. There's Allyson Felix in the 200 meters. Both men and women 4x100 meters relay. There's David Rudisha in the 800 and of course who can forget the legend that is Usain Bolt? Three golds, including one world record. But that's my opinion. What do you think guys?

THOMAS: Well, my favorite Olympic memory wasn't even a gold medal moment, it was taking advantage of having Olympics on home soil for maybe the only time in our lifetimes and getting to take my baby daughter to see all the excitement of the road race cycling, because it was practically on our doorstep.

DAVIES: Yeah, that was fantastic. I have to say for me it was a Team GB moment. And I was lucky enough to get into this stadium just as the bell went for the final lap of Mo Ferah. He claimed his 10,000 meter title. And it was just the most fantastic atmosphere I've ever been at at a live sporting event. It was great.

ANDERSON: And possibly that you'll ever feel.

And the privilege, I think, for me was seeing the crowing of arguably the greatest Olympian ever. Michael Phelps swimming into the history book here in London at the 2012 games.

We've enjoyed it, all of us, from the team here in London. Good-bye.


LU STOUT: Love it. A fantastic post card from London. And now the world waits for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. And it will see the return of golf as an Olympic sport. And that made us think about other events that have come and gone. For example, tug of war was an official Olympic event in 1912. Also that year the first art and literature competitions were held. Art included sculpture, painting, music and architecture. In fact, the 1920 Amsterdam games were held in a stadium designed by that year's gold medal winner.

Now female swimmers, they were allowed to compete for the first time in 1912. 100 years later, female competitors are more muscular, but their swimwear still looks surprisingly similar.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.