July 29th, 2012
05:29 PM ET

CNN's Ivan Watson inside Syria: Rebels attack army base

CNN’s Ivan Watson reported from northern Syria on Sunday, where he witnessed rebel fighters launch an offensive against a Syrian army base north of Aleppo.

“The offensive began around sunset, and we’ve been watching a constant stream of tracer fire emerging from the location where the Syrian army base is,” Watson said.

Aleppo is a key city in the ongoing battles between the Free Syrian Army and President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. It has been embroiled in bloodshed since since rebels burned a police a station and spurred fights in the city Wednesday. In response, the Syrian government launched a violent offensive on Saturday.

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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
July 29th, 2012
04:24 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Olympic Games' first amputee runner takes to the track

The first amputee to compete in Olympic track events will make his London 2012 debut on Saturday.

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was an infant because of a bone defect, will compete in the individual 400-meter run on Saturday before participating in South Africa's 4×400-meter relay squad later in the Games. He runs on blade-like carbon fiber prosthetics, from which his nickname "The Blade Runner" derives.

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Filed under: Ahead of the curve
Lochte vs. Phelps: Swimmer showdown heats up the Web
Ryan Lochte shows off his gold medal in the men's 400-meter individual medley and his "grill," dental braces bearing the U.S. flag.
July 29th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Lochte vs. Phelps: Swimmer showdown heats up the Web

The Olympic competition is heating up, but it’s the rivalry between two American swimmers that’s burning up the Internet.

People couldn't stop talking when Ryan Lochte took home the gold Saturday in the 400-meter individual medley, while Michael Phelps, a 14-time gold medalist, came in fourth.

The speculation about the swimmers' relationship and comparisons between the two are pouring in. Are Phelps and Lochte fierce rivals? Tight teammates? Are Phelps’ glory days over? Will Lochte ever compare to Phelps? Could Lochte be your future husband?

Take a look at what CNN commenters and Twitter users had to say:

Competition among teammates

mitzie-GA:  "Michael Phelps didn't train for this event until the last minute. Too bad for him and good for Ryan Lochte. Glad to have a real competition among American swimmers. Makes it more fun to watch.

Sunny:  "Lochte wins and everyone is showing pictures of Phelps. Phooey."

sharky:  "If after the next six races, he still does badly, then fine, the rivalry is gone. This is one freaking race. Good grief."

Shilah:  "Given what Michael Phelps accomplished in Beijing 2008, it would be difficult in my view to repeat such a performance. Every athlete reaches a peak in his or her career before they wane. Michael Phelps has already indicated that this will be his last Olympics. Take nothing away from Ryan's performance. He deserves the spotlight. He has worked so hard and consistently over the years. However, for those who are quick to anoint Ryan Lochte as the next sensation, let us start the comparisons after he wins several gold medals in a single Olympics like Michael did in Beijing."

ChrisE: "The thing to remember here is that Lochte came into this event the reigning world champion. It's not totally unexpected that Phelps couldn't throw him out of his own house. I'm more interested in the events that are Phelps' best. The next meeting might not be a blowout."

Tight teammates?

Phelps' glory days over?

GB :  "Phelps acted like a little spoiled brat after all the glory. Now he's getting a rude awakening that he's not invincible like he had thought. Hopefully, Lochte will be more sensible in leading his life as a new champion."

Andrew: "Phelps has nothing left to prove and that is why he isn't on top anymore. But who can blame him?"

Josally:  "M. Phelps is an arrogant punk (who) doesn't even want to celebrate with the rest of the Olympians from the U.S. Now how special does that make him? I love to see anybody make history, but in his case I think we've had enough of him. So I guess it's time for him to go back home an look at his medals."

boomer1959: "Phelps thought he could cruise to more gold without paying the price to be in prime condition. ..."

Or are they?

No one stays on top forever

Leonore H. Dvorkin: "No one, no matter how good, stays on top forever. Phelps should be happy with what he has accomplished thus far and then try to be happy for those who will surely beat all his records some day. And remember: They're just sports, folks! No one should take any of them too seriously."

RetiredCop: "There is always a faster gun, and no one can remain No. 1 forever. I imagine that Phelps, who set the standard, is just dead tired inside, and even though trying again at this Olympics, he may just not have it inside to prevail. But perhaps he has a little something up his sleeve, as he initially decided to pass the 400-meter (individual medley) to begin with. Even if he does not perform to gold standards, he will remain the greatest swimmer of all time, for some time. Perhaps this is Lochte's time, but it cannot compare to Phelps accomplishments."

Phelps deserves a break

The real story ... gold and grills

And perhaps the biggest question of all will Lochte marry you?

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Filed under: Swimming
July 29th, 2012
02:13 AM ET

Romania votes: Should president be impeached?

The fate of Romanian President Traian Basescu will be determined Sunday as the country votes on a referendum to impeach him.

Earlier this month, parliament suspended Basescu saying he overreached his powers when he announced austerity measures for the cash-strapped nation.

To comply with the terms of a $24 billion International Monetary Fund load, Basescu cut wages and benefits for public workers.

The moves soured him to many inside the country.

Two pro-Basescu governments collapsed, paving the way for the center-left Social Liberal Union (USL) to take office.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta, of the USL, then succeeded in getting lawmakers to not only suspend Basescu but also remove both speakers of parliament and replace them with allies.

The crisis in the southeastern European nation, which is slightly smaller than Oregon, has sent its currency, the leu, plummeting to record lows.

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Filed under: Romania • World
July 29th, 2012
01:05 AM ET

Julian Assange's mother arrives in Ecuador to plead son's asylum case

The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will meet with Ecuadorian authorities Monday to urge them to grant her son asylum.

Christine Assange, who arrived in the capital city Quito on Saturday, told reporters she will appeal to Ecuador's stance on human rights during her meeting.

"Surely, the president and his staff will make the best decision," Christine Assange said, according to a report in the state-run El Ciudadano website.

Her son has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since applying for political asylum on June 19.

He is seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden over claims of rape and sexual molestation and said he fears if he is extradited there, Swedish authorities could hand him over to the United States.

If her son is sent to the United States, he "could expect a sentence of death or many years in prison with torture as they are doing now with Bradley Manning," Christine Assange said, according to the El Ciudadano report.

"If they did that to a U.S. citizen, they would have fewer qualms about doing a foreigner."

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Filed under: Julian Assange • U.S. • WikiLeaks • World