U.S. fears Syria preparing for massacre in Aleppo -27.07.2012 Nr.209 Anul VI / Anul XXII
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Mariam Karouny | Reuters – 3 hrs ago AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad’s forces renewed a ground and aerial bombardment of Aleppo on Friday, extending efforts to crush rebels in Syria’s commercial capital in what the United States said it feared could become a massacre.Insurgents targeted army roadblocks and security installations, with both sides avoiding close-quarters warfare in the city of 2.5 million people, Syria’s biggest urban center.The U.S. State Department said credible reports of tank columns moving on Aleppo, along with air strikes by helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, represented a serious escalation of Assad’s efforts to crush a rebellion that began 16 months ago.”This is the concern: that we will see a massacre in Aleppo, and that’s what the regime appears to be lining up for,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.Troops stationed on the outskirts of Aleppo unleashed barrages of heavy-caliber mortar rounds on the western neighborhoods of Saladin, al-Sukkari and al-Fardos, while Russian MI-25 helicopter gunships struck al-Sakhour in the east with rockets, several opposition activists in the city said.RISING CASUALTIES-In the first reported casualty on Friday, a man of about 60 wearing a traditional white prayer outfit was killed near a park in Saladin. His body was placed in a mosque pending identification.Thirty-four people were killed in Aleppo and its environs on Thursday, according to opposition activists keeping a tally of casualties in the northern city.”The rebels have so far been nimble, and civilians have mostly been the victims of the bombardment,” said activist Abu Mohammad al-Halabi, speaking by phone from the city.”There is lots of internal displacement, and schools have been turned to makeshift shelters that are packed. One shell hitting a school will result in a catastrophe,” he said.”The regime is massing troops and tanks at the entrances of Aleppo, but it seems it is for now content with bombarding the city, with the rebels constantly on the move.”Majed al-Nour, another activist, said rebels attacked a security outpost in the neighborhood of Bustan al-Joz, which is close to the Aleppo city center, on Thursday.”The rebels are present in the east and west of the city, and have a foothold in areas of the center. The regime forces control the entrances of Aleppo and the main thoroughfares and commercial streets and are bombarding the residential districts that fell into rebel hands,” he said.Nour said tens of thousands of people had fled Aleppo to nearby northern rural regions close to Turkey from which the Syrian army has withdrawn in recent weeks to focus on urban areas where relatively lightly armed rebels have hunkered down.UNITING THE OPPOSITION-The heavy fighting around Aleppo follows an audacious bomb attack that killed four of Assad’s closest lieutenants in Damascus on July 18 and led some analysts to speculate that the government’s grip was slipping.With U.N. Security Council resolutions for sanctions against Syria vetoed by Russia and China for a third time last week, the United States has said it is stepping up assistance to Syria’s fractured opposition, although it remains limited to non-lethal supplies such as communications gear and medical equipment.One of the most senior figures to defect from Assad’s inner circle, Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, put himself forward on Thursday as someone who could help unify the opposition inside and outside Syria on a plan for a transfer of power.Tlas, speaking in a newspaper interview in the Saudi city of Jeddah, also said he was looking for support from Saudi Arabia and other powers. „I am discussing with … people outside Syria to reach a consensus with those inside,” Tlas told Thursday’s edition of the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.Tlas went on to Turkey and met with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Turkey, a former ally of Assad and now one of his fiercest critics, has a heavy strategic stake in shaping any post-Assad leadership in neighboring Syria.Tlas appeared briefly with Davutoglu at an official guest house, but made no statement.Turkey closed its border posts with Syria on Wednesday to all traffic except Syrian refugees.Russia, one of the few remaining allies of the authoritarian Assad whose family has run Syria for 42 years, said calls for him to quit power were hindering efforts to end the conflict.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such calls, led by the United States, Turkey and other Western and Arab nations, were fanning violence. He reiterated Moscow’s contention that support for Syrian rebel groups was tantamount to backing terrorism.Iran promised to stand by Syria, come what may.First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi told Iran’s Press TV on Thursday that the Islamic Republic’s support for Syria, its main Arab ally, was „unchangeable”, countering suggestions that Iran could soften its backing for Assad.(Writing by Will Waterman; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
White House plays down prospect of new gun laws-27.07.2012 Nr.209 Anul VI / Anul XXII
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 3 hrs ago The White House signaled Thursday that President Barack Obama would not be seeking new gun control laws in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. But press secretary Jay Carney said Obama would try to find ways to work around the „stalemate” in Congress to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.During a brief photo-op with his Cabinet, Obama himself sidestepped a reporter’s question about how he would proceed without seeking new legislation.”I’m sure we’ll have more opportunity to talk about this,” the president said.Obama had called late Wednesday for tighter background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He called for „common sense” and repeated his support for the lapsed Assault Weapons Ban.But he also acknowledged the difficult politics of the issue — especially in an election year — and asserted that he was a believer in individual gun rights.Carney returned to the political problem on Thursday. „I think there is an issue about the stalemate in Congress,” the spokesman said at his daily briefing. „And there are things that we can do short of legislation and short of gun laws, as the President said, that can reduce violence in our society and, as he mentioned last night, in our urban centers.””I know he will continue to press the Department of Justice to try to enhance the enforcement of existing laws, try to further develop our background check system so that it prevents criminals and those who should not have weapons from getting them under existing law,” Carney said. „And he’ll continue to make sure that his administration is partnering with local law enforcement officials and government officials.”Asked about reporting that suggests that the Colorado shooter violated no laws, and how even tighter background checks would prevent a similar tragedy in the future, Carney replied: „I don’t think the President ever suggested that the background check can stop every crime from occurring in America, even one as heinous as this.””But we do need to take a broader look at what we can do to reduce violence in America,” he said. „And it requires a multi-faceted approach that looks at this problem from a variety of angles, and that’s not just legislative and it’s not just about gun laws.”
Curtain up on London’s Olympic showpiece By Dave James | AFP – 20 mins ago An expectant London was preparing to launch the greatest sporting show on earth on Friday with excitement reaching fever pitch hours ahead of the Olympic Games opening ceremony.Costing £9.3 billion ($14.5 billion) and featuring more than 10,000 athletes, the four-yearly sporting extravaganza will open officially after a rollercoaster build-up.Seven years after London defeated Paris for the right to host the 2012 showpiece, the curtain goes up on superstars such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer as well as an army of ambitious amateurs.Iconic venues and landmarks such as Wimbledon, Lord’s and Hyde Park will form the backdrop to the Games while the Olympic Park complex, hosting swimming and athletics, has transformed a previously derelict part of east London.”We made five promises with the bid, among them to place athletes at the centre of the project, to create a magical atmosphere, to inspire the youth of the world and to leave a lasting legacy,” said Games chief Sebastian Coe.”It has been an extraordinary journey over seven years.”The opening ceremony, starting at 2000 GMT and expected to be watched by 80,000 spectators and billions worldwide, is being staged by Oscar-winning British movie director Danny Boyle.His fellow film-maker Stephen Daldry, the ceremony’s creative director, said the show would highlight „the rich heritage, diversity, energy, inventiveness, wit and creativity that truly defines the British Isles.”Jamaican track star Bolt insists he is „ready to go” in his bid to defend his double sprint titles.”I’m always ready,” said Bolt, who will carry his country’s flag at the opening ceremony. „I’ve had slight problems, but I’m ready to go.”Fitness concerns, an early morning car crash and losing over both the 100m and 200m to compatriot Yohan Blake in the Jamaican Olympic trials raised serious doubts about Bolt’s ability to defend his titles.In the pool, Phelps, whose eight golds in Beijing took his overall medal tally to 16, needs three more to surpass the all-time record of 18 set by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina between 1956 and 1964.His seven-event programme gives him plenty of room to make more Games history and anchor a US team determined to continue its dominance against Australia and China.Phelps is the two-time defending champion in all four of his individual events — the 100m and 200m butterfly and 200m and 400m individual medley.One of his biggest challengers is team-mate Ryan Lochte, who has emerged as a serious threat in both medleys.Australia is bringing in the big artillery with James „The Missile” Magnussen and James „The Rocket” Roberts, in the prestigious 100m freestyle.Magnussen is the 100m free world champion and the fastest man ever in a textile suit with a 47.10sec.The US have a „Missile” of their own, however, in 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who is set to become the first US woman to swim seven events at one Games.South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, known as ‘Blade Runner’ because he runs with carbon fibre prosthetic running blades, will make history as the first double amputee athlete to compete at an Olympics.At the velodrome, Bradley Wiggins, fresh from his historic Tour de France triumph, will fire up home hopes.Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, adds a royal lustre to the equestrian events at Greenwich.Federer, having won a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title, returns to the All England Club in southwest London looking to add singles gold to the doubles he won with Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka four years ago.His rivals will be Djokovic and Andy Murray but there will be no defending champion Rafael Nadal, who pulled out to rest his ongoing knee problems.The United States will be comfortable favourites in the men’s basketball with a Dream Team boasting LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.The final week of build-up to the Games has endured a number of embarrassing setbacks, most of which have involved mix-ups over nationalities.North Korea’s women’s football team walked off the pitch at Glasgow’s Hampden Park in protest at their players’ photos appearing next to flags of South Korea.
EYES ON LONDON: A mayor’s rejoinder to Romney Associated Press – 7 hrs ago LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:__REJOINDER TO ROMNEY-„There’s guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!” — London Mayor Boris Johnson to a raucous crowd in London’s Hyde Park after the arrival of the Olympic flame.—Rob Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/robharris
__DOUBLE DUTY-The teamwork continues even after the German gymnasts leave the floor.Several English-speaking reporters wanted to talk to Oksana Chusovitina, who is competing in her sixth Olympics at 37 — unheard of for a female gymnast. There was just one problem: Chusovitina, who is originally from Uzbekistan, doesn’t speak English, and there were no translators available.A TV researcher who speaks Russian initially offered to help, only to realize he was needed for something else on the other side of the room. Elisabeth Seitz then leaned over and said, „If you need translating, I can try to help.” She did better than that, translating about five minutes’ worth of questions for Chusovitina.Chusovitina competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics, then her native Uzbekistan in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. She moved to Germany in 2002, so her son, Alisher, could be treated there for leukemia. She has lived there ever since, and switched nationalities in 2006 to express her appreciation for her adopted country.—Nancy Armour — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour
__CYCLIST’S-EYE VIEW-AP journalist and avid bicyclist Warren Levinson reports in from two wheels:I am astonished at how much official support there is for bicycling in London, given how narrow the streets are. The „Boris Bikes” — London’s popular bike-sharing program, named for its mayor — are just the beginning. There are bicyclists everywhere at all hours and of all levels, in numbers you can only imagine in New York.That said, there is no way I would have attempted to ride here if I weren’t used to city cycling.One of my New York City rules: I don’t tangle with buses. Here, they are impossible to avoid. You’re moving along and gradually become aware of a double-deck whale, breathing quietly through its blowhole, just over your right shoulder. (Buses in London are much quieter than they are in New York.)A newspaper, The Independent, ran a race to Olympic Park between a bicycle, a car, the Underground and a riverboat. The bike won by a big margin. So far, I am enjoying the ride.—Warren Levinson — Twitter http://twitter.com/warrenlevinson
__OPENING FROM AFAR-The U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team hasn’t attended an opening ceremony in 12 years. It just takes too much time and energy to fly to the main host city from the remote venues where footie is played.So what to do? Gather in front of a television and dress as if you were there.”We’re going to feel the spirit,” goalkeeper Hope Solo said. „Everyone’s talking about dressing up in our opening ceremony outfits — and not shipping them home until the following day.”—Joseph White — Twitter http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
_FEDERER’S FLAW-Roger Federer has been holding court, and he delivered up a secret: He can’t play tennis „at all” with his left hand.Other tidbits from the winner of 17 tennis majors at an entertaining news conference:—He is not a huge autograph hunter.—He is looking forward to chatting with other Olympians — „It doesn’t matter if they are famous or not.”—And he is in two minds about being able to wear colored kit at Wimbledon, where the usual etiquette requiring that players wear white is relaxed for the Olympics.”I feel a bit awkward playing in a red shirt out at Wimbledon,” he said. „But I don’t dislike it.”Federer, 31 next month, wouldn’t rule out another Olympic appearance — it would be his fifth — at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. „There’s definitely a chance,” he said.—John Leicester — Twitter http://twitter.com/johnleicester
__CONFIDENT SOUTH AFRICA-If South Arican athletes don’t perform at these Olympics, they can’t blame the food or the accommodation. Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula has visited London’s athletes village and pronounced it good.”I have seen the village, have tasted part of their meal and they told me that it is better than Beijing,” Mbalula said at a welcome reception for the national team. „I have seen where they sleep, they told me they are content.”Sports officials have set the team a goal of 12 medals — and Mbalula ended a characteristically fiery pep talk with: „Let’s go to war!”—Jill Lawless — Twitter http://twitter.com/JillLawless_FIT AT 40-There are always a handful of athletes at the Olympics trying to win one for the aged, and Chris Horner is „that guy” for the U.S. men’s road cycling team.Horner, who will turn 41 in October, gives off a grandfatherly vibe surrounded by 20-something teammates Tejay van Garderen, Taylor Phinney, Tyler Farrar and Timmy Duggan.Horner turned professional in 1995, but failed to make the U.S. team for the next four Summer Olympics. He figured that London was his final shot, and was nearly overcome with emotion when USA Cycling announced he had made the five-man team for Saturday’s road race.”Your whole life, you’re always trying to get on the Olympic team,” Horner said from the team’s training base in the Surrey countryside.—David Skretta — Twitter http://twitter.com/APdaveskretta
___NO STAR LINE AT SECURITY?I’m standing in line with a bunch of media members waiting to get cleared through security when two men come hurrying in to the back of the line. Dressed in Serbia gear and clearly in a rush to get somewhere, they try to ask the security personnel to expedite the process for them.Not happening. They have to stand in line like everyone else.As I get through the screening, I turn to see who is there. It’s Novak Djokvic, only one of the three best tennis players in the world. His watch sets off the alarm, but he rushes out before I have a chance to ask what in the heck he’s doing there with us lowly regular people.—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski
___DOPING TEST OVER, FINALLY-Remember the problems two fasting Moroccans were having to comply with the urine test that’s part of doping checks here? It took two and a half hours, but they’ve managed it.
The team coach had said earlier that the two chosen players — who are observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — had found it „more or less impossible” because they hadn’t consumed anything since 2:30 a.m.—Joseph White — Twitter http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
___ALL ABOUT PHELPS-Michael Phelps is such an Olympic colossus that the US swim team press conference broke down this way:A half hour of questions and answers with Phelps, then a half hour with the rest of the team.Does this reinforce the idea that Phelps is somehow separate from his teammates?Teammate Natalie Coughlin likes it this way.”We used to do all the press conferences together and would just sit here daydreaming” while Phelps fielded all the questions.—Warren Levinson — Twitter http://twitter.com/WarrenLevinson
___TOO LATE TO SWITCH SPORTS?-American track star Lolo Jones hasn’t been able to hurdle the heat so far. Tweet: „No air conditioners. It’s HOT in the rooms. No need to practice. Just lay in ur bed and sweat. Where r the applications for Winter Olympics???”—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski
___SING ALONG WITH PAUL-Londoners have been careful not to leak too many secrets about Friday’s opening ceremony, but some have slipped out anyway.With thousands taking part in dress rehearsals being held at night, it’s been difficult to keep all the juicy details under wraps. And while it’s been impossible to see what’s going on inside Olympic Stadium, there have been clues floating in the air all week.
„I’ve heard Paul McCartney do ‘Hey Jude’ twice,” said a bartender on Euston St. „At least it sounded like him.”
Tom Withers http://twitter.com/twithersAP
___WRESTLING GOLD?U.S. women’s wrestling coach Terry Steiner is hopeful that the growth of the sport domestically will lead to the country’s first gold medal.Steiner said that in 2002, two years before women’s wrestling made its debut at the Athens Games, just five American colleges offered women’s wrestling. That number currently stands at 21, and Steiner said girls’ wrestling is also the fastest-growing sport at the high school level in the U.S.The Americans have a pair of two-time Olympians in Clarissa Chun at 48 kilograms and Ali Bernard at 72 kg. Both reached bronze medal matches before falling in Beijing and are considered legitimate medal contenders”Our goals are very simple. We’ve got four athletes and we’d like to leave here with four medals. And I think we have the athletes that can perform and have performed at a high level,” Steiner said.—Luke Meredith — Twitter http://twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP
__WHERE’S ROGER?Roger Federer has an endorsement contract with Rolex. That doesn’t mean he’s on time.The Swiss player, who returned to No. 1 in the world again after winning his seventh Wimbledon earlier this month, was to meet with media at 5:30 p.m. but at about that time it was announced he would be 30 minutes late. Federer, with 17 Grand Slams, won a gold medal in doubles in 2008 with fellow countryman Stan Wawrinki. He’ll be back at Wimbledon to try to win gold in singles, and his chances improved when Spain’s Rafael Nadal pulled out due to injury.—Betsy Blaney
___TALL AND SMALL-A tower of men’s tennis will face, or rather peer down at, the tour’s smallest player in first-round action at the Olympics.No. 11 seed John Isner of the United States is matched against Olivier Rochus of Belgium in a draw that was announced Thursday at Wimbledon. Isner is 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall, and his opponent is 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 meters) tall.Last year, Isner defeated Rochus to win the title at Newport in the United States. The Association of Tennis Professionals described it as the „biggest-ever height differential” in a tour final.The ATP biography for Rochus, whose career-high ranking was No. 24 in 2005, says his ambition as a child was „to be tall.”At 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 meters), Ivo Karlovic of Croatia is the tallest man on the tour.—Christopher Torchia
___BRAZILIAN PARTY-Hundreds of Brazilian fans are taking over St. Mary Street in Cardiff, Wales, ahead of the team’s opening match against Egypt in the men’s football tournament. Making a lot of noise and dancing to loud music, the Brazilians are bringing some life to what normally would be a calm city center on a Thursday afternoon.Smaller groups of Egyptian supporters were also on hand, peacefully engaging with the Brazilians ahead of the Group C match at the nearby Millennium Stadium.The gathering of fans is one of the few signs of changes brought on by the Olympics to Cardiff, located some 150 miles (250 kilometers) from all the action in London.—Tales Azzoni — Twitter http://twitter.com/tazzoni
___WHEN IN LONDON …U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas joked after making the Olympic team she hoped to „catch an accent” when she arrived in London.Douglas doesn’t quite have the hang of it yet, but her teammates are picking it up quickly.Aly Raisman put on a show for reporters shortly after the U.S. completed podium training on Thursday, putting the proper lilt on „absolutely brilliant” and „Introducing the gymnasts” (with the emphasis on the second syllable of gymnast).How good was it? Even a member of the Olympic Broadcast System (a Brit) applauded.—Will Graves — Twitter http://twitter.com/WillGravesAP
___WELCOME TO NODNOL?Call that a welcome? A sprawling shopping mall next to London’s Olympic Park has been forced to alter signs greeting Arabic-speaking visitors, after a campaign group pointed out that the message was almost unreadable.Westfield Stratford, which has more than 260 stores and is located right next to the main Olympic venues, has confirmed it is replacing banners put in place to welcome Olympic visitors after it was contacted by the Council for Arab-British understanding.The council said signs that were supposed to say „Welcome to London” in Arabic were instead written backwards and did not have the letters joined up, leaving the message virtually indecipherable.Chris Doyle, the council’s director, says the banner has taken a simple message and „jumbled it up and separated the letters — what you got was a load of gibberish.”—David Stringer – Twitter http://twitter.com/david_stringer
___OLDER MEDALS-The British Museum is a huge draw for tourists, and the medal display is very timely.The exhibit features actual medals awarded, including one for the pentathlon in the 1873 Wenlock Olympian Games, and artist renderings of this year’s medals.—Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer
___MAJOR DONATION-Nearly 2,000 Moroccan kids are benefitting from a decision by British rower Mohamed Sbihi not to fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in order to pursue his Olympic dream.Sbihi, who is part of the men’s eight at the London Games, felt he wouldn’t be able to maintain his competitive edge if he abstained from food and drink from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which began last Friday.So, as a compromise, he is instead digging deep into his pocket and paying to feed 1,800 people via an English-based charity — Walou 4 Us — that works with kids in Morocco.”It’s written in the Quran that those unable to fast have to feed 60 people or fast for 30 days for every day they miss intentionally,” Sbihi said.”So, it worked out 1,800 people or 5 years’ fasting. I’m very fortunate that I have funds to pay and make the donation. I made the donation about a month and a half ago.”—Steve Douglas — Twitter http://twitter.com/sdouglas80
___EDITOR’S NOTE — „Eyes on London” shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Doubts over Romania’s Iordache AFP – 5 hrs ago Romanian gold medal prospect Larisa Iordache looks set to miss the women’s individual all-around competition at the London Olympics after she completed a truncated training session on Thursday.Iordache, 16, had been tipped to challenge for top honours in the women’s individual event but she has been struggling with a heel injury since arriving in London.She did not perform a floor routine in podium training at the North Greenwich Arena on Thursday, although she did complete routines on the balance beam and the uneven bars.Iordache inspired Romania to the team gold medal at this year’s European Championships in Brussels in May, picking up an individual gold medal on the floor and a silver medal on the beam.As well as being a personal blow, Iordache’s inability to compete fully would also greatly harm Romania’s chances of claiming a medal in the team competition.Qualifying for the women’s event takes place on Sunday.
William and Kate greet torch as fever mounts By Beatrice Debut | AFP – 6 hrs ago Prince William and his wife Catherine welcomed the Olympic flame to Buckingham Palace Thursday as 60,000 people partied in Hyde Park to mark the penultimate day of its marathon journey around Britain.The excitement on the eve of the Games mounted as a delighted William and his wife and his brother Prince Harry applauded as the torch was brought into the palace grounds, with thousands of fans cheering outside the gates.The flame is touring some of London’s best-known landmarks, carried by movie stars, sporting heroes and even UN chief Ban Ki-moon, before it finally makes its dramatic entrance at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.The royals all wore Team Great Britain t-shirts as the flame stopped at the palace on its way to Hyde Park, where a deafening roar from the crowd greeted the torch before a special concert in its honour.London’s Mayor Boris Johnson whipped them up, telling them „Olympo-mania” was about to go off the scale. „People are coming from around the world and they’re seeing us and they’re seeing the greatest city on Earth,” he said.Johnson said the British team would win „more gold, silver and bronze medals than you need to bail out Greece and Spain together!”Millions of Londoners have come out onto the streets over the past week to show their support as the pre-Games excitement builds.A total of 173 torchbearers carried the flame on a journey round London’s attractions on Thursday, as it nears the end of its 70-day, 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) journey around Britain.They included Indian movie star Amitabh Bachchan, the United Nations secretary general and Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.At Buckingham Palace, Wai Ming-Lee, 38, who volunteers with a disaster mapping charity, brought the flame into the palace grounds, and lit the torch of 56-year-old mountain rescue volunteer John Hulse in front of the royals.The flame was earlier carried past the Houses of Parliament, while Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the relay to his Downing Street office.Workers in London’s City financial heartland poured out onto the streets to greet the flame.Hundreds gathered outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, while others leaned out of their office windows waving British flags.”The whole office is here. And if you knew how hard we work, it’s a big deal”, said Ryan, 20.At St. Paul’s, „we talk a lot about peace”, said Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, and the flame coming to visit „is an opportunity to bring the nation together”, he told AFP.Kevin Craig, who helps a charity which provides limbs to children in developing countries, brought the flame to the cathedral.”Apart from meeting my wonderful wife and the birth of my children, it was the most amazing time in my life,” he said.The flame was then carried across the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames by British Paralympic basketball bronze medallist Ade Adepitan.At the BBC’s headquarters in west London, Antoine de Navacelle — the great grand-nephew of Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics — exchanged the flame at the site of the finish line of the 1908 London Games’ White City stadium.How the flame will be lit in the Olympic Stadium is a closely-guarded secret.