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NEWS STREAM

Brennan to Be Questioned About Drones; Tehran Says It Decoded Video from Captured U.S. Drone; Winter Olympics in Subtropical Climate

Aired February 7, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

The drone debate comes into focus in a few hours as U.S. lawmakers challenge CIA chief nominee John Brennan on the use of drones.

Meanwhile, Tehran says it's decoded video from a U.S. drone they captured, allowing Iran to see just what the spy plane was looking at.

And believe it or not, in one year's time, this tropical looking city will host the Winter Olympics.

Two very controversial policies in the U.S. battle against terrorism take center stage in Washington later today. The U.S. drone program will be debated at the Senate confirmation hearing for John Brennan, and lawmakers are especially concerned about the use of drones to target Americans suspected of terror activities abroad. Now, Brennan is President Obama's pick to lead the CIA. And as Mr. Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor for the last four years, he was one of the key architects of the administration's drone campaign, which has drawn condemnation, particularly overseas. There are senators on both sides of a political divide who are seeking answers at the hearing.

And for more, let's go live to the Pentagon and CNN's Barbara Starr. And Barbara, what questions are U.S. senators likely to ask John Brennan?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kristie, Brennan has been a White House aide for the last four years, so under the rules, he doesn't -- has never had to testify before Congress. Now, he does, and the questions will be, indeed, about drones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: In a crisis, it's often John Brennan giving President Obama his 3 a.m. wake-up call.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He's one of the hardest working public servants I've ever seen. I'm not sure he's slept in four years.

(LAUGHTER)

STARR: There may be even less sleep if Brennan is confirmed as the next CIA director.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I will make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs ...

STARR: Tools like drones to target terrorists. Brennan has helped to establish secret drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, including reports Wednesday of a base in Saudi Arabia, where he was once the CIA station chief. Democrats threatened to hold up his nomination demanding answers about the legality of killing Americans overseas involved with al Qaeda. It's just one controversy he faces at the confirmation hearing.

There is his role in administration leaks about covert operations, like the cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear program, and his knowledge of harsh interrogations when he was at the CIA during the George W. Bush years.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERS, ACLU: The American public is entitled to know the details of what it was that -- what was his role in the Bush administration with the torture program.

STARR: Outrage over the interrogation program scuttled Brennan's chances to lead the CIA in Obama's first term. But now, he is ready for the political heat.

BRENNAN: Although I consider myself neither a Republican nor a Democrat, I very much look forward to working closely with those on both sides of the aisle.

STARR: As President Obama's top White House counterterrorism aide, Brennan continues to be seen as all-powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think for sure John is regarded in terms of the intelligence community, even where he is now, as the first among equals.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So, expect some fireworks this afternoon here in Washington, D.C. when the hearing opens up for his confirmation as CIA director, but Kristie, there will also be a behind close doors classified portions of this hearing, and that's probably when most of these tough questions are going to get asked and answered. Kristie.

STOUT: So, he'll likely be asked about the drone program, about harsh interrogation techniques, other issues he may have to take on during the hearing. For example, his role in the cyber attack on Iran's nuclear program. What can you tell us?

STARR: Well, you know, it has been widely acknowledged, although not officially, that the U.S. may have been responsible for that computer virus known as Stuxnet that went into -- or was sent -- have gone into Iran's nuclear program to try and slow it down. Brennan has not spoken about that, it's a very highly classified program. He's likely to get a lot of questions about that, and questions about whether he was involved in leaks to the news media on that or any of these other issues. But I think it's fair to say, Kristie, they're going to try and keep those crown jewels of the spy world out of the public eye.

STOUT: Indeed. Barbara Starr reporting for us. Thank you.

Now, Tehran says it has decoded video from a captured U.S. drone. Iranian news agencies are airing the video, and it was also posted on Youtube. Now, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the footage or Iran's claims.

And Tehran says it shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane in Iranian air space in December 2011. Now, a man identified as an Iranian official narrates the video and says it shows material filmed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And we have not yet been able to reach U.S. officials for comment.

Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is following developments. He joins us now live from CNN London. And Nic, this footage, it was aired on Iranian TV, it was placed on Youtube, but what does it reveal? Describe the footage.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does show them flying over what appear to be a parts of the United States, and it does show what appears to be flying and landing at a military air base. You can see a C-130 aircraft, you can see the sort of lightweight hangars that these drones are often stored in and protected from the sunlight, from dust on military bases, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Iranians claim that the base it shows is Kandahar, but the questions really stands here, is this decoded video from that aircraft, or is this, in fact, video that has been picked up from somewhere else and they are now putting it forward as if it comes off that aircraft. The Iranians are saying that they know, they believe that this drone went to California for repair twice, in the end of 2010, they say, with Houston operations over Pakistan, and they described how they took control of this drone, then landed it, worried about possibility of the U.S. strike that break up the drone on the ground and how they moved it away, using helicopters after breaking it up into parts.

But it doesn't provide conclusive, concrete evidence that we can assess from our position, without knowing what the Pentagon says about it, and they haven't made any comments about it so far publicly. We can't know for sure this is exactly what the Iranians claim it is. Kristie.

STOUT: We have not authenticated this video yet. Now this drone, it has been in Iranian hands for over a year now. Has the U.S. lost any key intelligence or valuable underlying technology to Iran?

ROBERTSON: Well, it will be a coup for any spy of any country to get into somebody's else's air base and take videos. If the video does turn out to be what the Iranians claim it is, then they are going to -- then they perhaps here have got insights into a base. It may not be useful for them, but they may extract some -- some benefits from it.

I think we need to be clear, I mean what the Iranians say they've done is decoded the video that was on board inside the aircraft. This is different from being able to decode the information that is streamed down from the drone to soldiers on the battlefield, and also streamed back by a satellite back to the drone controllers, wherever they may be around the world. So, they may have cracked some part of it, and, of course, that will be -- that will be a concern, but the bigger concern here is that they've taken control of it, period. That's what appears to have happened. This is a concern now going forward with drones, and it's been a concern for some time, that if you launch a drone, you keep it under remote control, what happens if somebody else gets control over it? Well, this raises the -- raises the issue of drones that go out and do their job without anybody sitting behind the control, without a human operator. We spoke to a university professor here, who had profound concerns about that issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOEL SHARKY, PROFESSOR, SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY: One of the reasons for using autonomous drones is broken communications. If -- at the moment fighting the Taliban are very low tech, but a more sophisticated nation, as is often said in U.S. plans, what will happen is, we'll need autonomous drones because they'll disrupt our communications. So, if they've disrupted the communications, you can't put a person in the loop, and it's quite clear that that's -- that's where we are heading. China have been developing an air to air supersonic attack drone for air to air combat called the Anjan (ph), "Invisible sword." Russia is developing the Skat (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: So, so he says these developments are already taking place, and his concern is that drones could be launched, be preprogrammed to hit a target, not have a human operator involved, and then return to base. Because of the communications interruptions that appear to have happened with this particular SQ 170 spy drone.

STOUT: Drone technology and the U.S. drone program under intense scrutiny. Nic Robertson reporting for us. Thank you.

Now, the Untied States Federal Reserve has fallen prey to computer hackers. It released a statement saying an unidentified outside party gained access to one of its Web sites, and what it describes as a limited amount of data. Now, a Fed spokesman says the security flaw has now been fixed. Now, hackers associate with the group Anonymous, they are claiming responsibility.

Anonymous frequently lashes out at groups it believes have done something wrong. It adopted these Guy Fox masks as its unofficial symbol, and people claiming to be part of Anonymous often wear them at protests. And the group is a loose affiliation of online activists who carry out hacking attacks in support of various causes. And the targets include anyone from Middle Eastern regimes to the Church of Scientology to Sony's Playstation network.

You're watching NEWS STREAM, and coming up next, political turmoil in Tunisia after the assassination of a prominent opposition leader. And a dark day for sports in Australia? A damning report finds widespread for doping in sport, and links it to organized crime.

And how TV and Twitter are forging a new relationship. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Now, Tunisia is reeling today after a political assassination that has shocked the nation. Wednesday's murder of this man, opposition leader Chokri Belaid, prompted the prime minister to dissolve his cabinet and call for new elections, but now members of his ruling party say they may not accept that decision.

Witnesses say a gunman shot and killed Belaid outside his home on Wednesday morning, and then fled the scene on a motorcycle. Belaid was an outspoken critic of Tunisia's Islamist-led government. And protests, some violent, rocked a number of cities around Tunisia on Wednesday. In the capital, Tunis, thousands of demonstrators were out to mourn and to protest the death of a popular public figure. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Now, more than two years ago, a vegetable seller in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest injustice. And his death sparked mass protests against unfavorable living conditions in the country. And the protests led to the eventual ouster of this man, the long-time president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian revolution gave birth to a movement called the Arab Spring, a series of protests and demonstrations that eventually swept the Middle East and North Africa. And since this revolution, Tunisians held its first democratic election in October of 2011, voting in an Islamist-led government. And now there is fear that Wednesday's targeted assassination could lead to an increase in political instability. Dan Rivers joins us now live in the capital Tunis, and Dan, two years after the Arab Spring, this political crisis, protests, what's the latest?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, once again, the police have been firing tear gas behind us on the main boulevards in the center of Tunis. Crowds throwing stones at them. You can probably hear behind me the angry crowds confronting the police, again furious about the assassination of Chokri Belaid. And now, the government's what may be the lack of clarity about what's going on with the government. The prime minister said the government is going to be dissolved, the ruling party, and now they are saying that they are discussing it, but they are not so committed to that dissolution of the parliament.

Let's talk to Human Rights Watch's Amna Guellali. Hopefully, the tear gas won't get us. But this has been brewing for a while, the rise in violence?

AMNA GUELLALI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Yes, I think the assassination of Chokri Belaid comes amidst a climate of mounting political violence in Tunisia. And we have documented several incidents of assault (AUDIO GAP) individuals, political parties, meetings, against journalists, committed violence (ph), individuals or groups who are -- who have allegedly a religious or Islamist agenda. And though we had also asked the government to investigate these assaults and be clear on the reaction to them, and we never heard back from the government any clear reaction on these incidents, and how to investigate it ...

RIVERS: The people we have talked to in the crowd below are firmly blaming the government for this assassination. Another tear gas canister there.

Is that your assessment? That the government tacitly encouraged this assassination?

GUELLALI: What we can blame the government for, for sure, is for its laxity (ph) in reacting to these incidents and to these assaults and to these calls for direct murder, incitement to murder from different people, from preachers in the mosques. And from -- against Chokri Belaid himself. So, what we have to blame the government for, for sure, is the laxity, is the absence of forceful reaction to stop this trend of violence, because there were no real investigation in all these incidents, and there was no clear reaction to stop it.

RIVERS: OK, well, we'll leave it there, partly because I think that the tear gas is beginning to drift down towards us. But Kristie, you can get the impression here. I don't know if you can hear and how much you can see through our signal, but it's a pretty chaotic scene on the streets behind me, tear gas canisters being fired again. The wail of sirens through the city, rocks and use -- attacking the police as we speak behind us. So pretty volatile, again.

STOUT: Yes, indeed, and Dan, we heard those tear gas canisters being fired, we also saw the tear gas just wafting behind you. Take cover, take care. Dan Rivers joining us live from Tunis. Thank you very much for that update.

Tonight on "AMANPOUR," a firsthand account on what is going on in Tunisia. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki speaks to Christiane live from Tunis. This is an interview you don't want to miss. It's less than seven hours from now. Right here on CNN.

Coming up next, on NEWS STREAM, Twitter takes its relationship with television to another level. And we'll examine what it means for the media at large.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: A cloudy night here in Hong Kong. And you are back watching NEWS STREAM.

Twitter has made a big buy. It purchased Blue Bin labs earlier this week, in what's believed to be its largest acquisition to date. Blue Fin is a social TV analytics company. It measures social media conversations about TV programs, but what is social TV? Now, the term, it refers to when you watch a TV program and post something about it online, tweeting with other viewers. Or maybe with a news anchor. You could think of it as where TV and technology meet. Now, this tie-up with Blue Bin, it comes after Twitter hired the head of TV last year. Let's bring in our regular contributor Nicholas Thompson, he's the editor of the Newyorker.com.

Good to see you, Nic. And tell us, why ...

NICHOLAS THOMPSON, EDITOR, NEW YORKER.COM: Good morning, Kristie.

STOUT: -- why did Twitter buy Blue Fin?

THOMPSON: Well, there is a great phenomenon of second stream -- second screen watching. So people are watching TV and they're tweeting about it. Sometimes they are doing it with news shows, sometimes they are doing it with sporting events or shows. And there is a lot of information that comes on. It is sort of this conversation around the world that's ongoing about what's happening on TV, and it'll be very valuable for TV networks to know exactly what's being said, and for advertisers to know what's being said. So, a lot of companies have started to try to do what's called sentiment analysis. And Blue Fin is one of the companies that does that. So, Twitter has bought this company so they can then get all of this information, and so that they can work with advertisers and they can get people to spend more money on Twitter. So that's why they did it.

STOUT: Yeah, and incidentally, the Super Bowl earlier this week was like the most social media event ever.

THOMPSON: Yes.

STOUT: But what does this mean for all media types? Like me in TV land. Social TV, is this tie-up between Blue Bin and Twitter, is it a good thing?

THOMPSON: Well, OK, from your perspective, there is a couple of things that are very interesting. One, the more that Twitter and TV merge together, and the more that Twitter is used while people watch TV, may be good for traditional TV, because it puts a lot of pressure on people or gives people an incentive to watch things live, instead of recording and then TiVoing and skipping the commercials. So, TV shows, a lot of people will now watch them live instead of watch them three days later, and just TiVoing through everything. So that's good from the traditional prospective.

The second thing, is that there is a lot of interesting information you can use. So, let's think about people who are tweeting about NEWS STREAM right now. Some of them are just tweeting your #ns.snn, and we can pretty much figure out what they say. And the executives at CNN can figure out what they are saying. But there are tons of people who are tweeting without that information. They are saying, maybe, riveting segment on Tunis, punctuated by tear gas explosions. And a really good algorithm may be able to figure out that they are tweeting about CNN, not just tweeting about what they see out of their window. Or a really good algorithm will be able to distinguish all of these little bits of clipped conversation that you and I have no way of capturing, no way of seeing executives traditionally have no way of knowing or seeing, but a really good algorithm can sort through the billions of tweets and figure out who is really talking about what at a moment, and then figure out what information is being gleaned, what they like, what they don't like.

This can be very helpful in particular to advertisers. Blue Fin likes to talk about a story during the Olympics, the cosmetics company put out an ad earlier in the Olympics that they planned to air through the Olympics. By using this sentiment analysis, the cosmetics company was able to determine that people were saying kind of negative things about it. So, they changed their ad over the course of the Olympics. And they received a more positive response. So, gathering up this huge soup of information can be good for, basically, anybody if it's used well and effectively. So, I think it does make -- it does probably help traditional TV.

STOUT: Yeah, now I get it, this is the power of a good social TV algorithm. It's analytics beyond just the hashtag. How will the deal change Twitter? I mean, is Twitter turning into something else, not just a microblog communications platform, but a research tool that maybe companies would be willing to pay for?

THOMPSON: It's absolutely turning into more of a research tool. A, we're seeing a shift towards the television world, that have been a whole lot of steps in that direction. We don't know exactly what Twitter has planned, but there are going to be deep integrations of TV in the future. Two, Twitter has decided that its data is extremely valuable. One decision that Twitter made earlier on, which kind of ran counter to the ethos of Silicon Valley, is that it doesn't let you see all of your tweets. It doesn't let you see all of everybody's tweets. It kind of pulls them back into an archive after a period of time.

Now, why would you do that? Information is supposed to be free! Everybody in Silicon Valley believes that as a core value. Well, if Twitter has all the data, and you can't get all the data, then it means it can sell the data. And it wasn't sure early on how it would sell the data. But it's beginning to figure it out now. It will sell data to marketing companies, analytics companies, or maybe it will just keep all the data itself, and then it can turn Blue Fin into the best algorithm company there is, and all the competitors will be working on smaller data sets, so they won't be able to build that algorithms that are as effective, and sorting now what tweets about the show really are, and what are not tweets about the show. So, Twitter is, yes, becoming more of a data company, becoming more of a TV company, and it's probably going to become a little more of a closed company.

STOUT: And competitors like Nielsen better watch out. Now, Twitter has been called the new "TV Guide," but Nic, this is the reality check. Is it really the new "TV Guide?" I mean, you and I may use Twitter while watching TV, but I know that my parents don't. So is social TV really and truly a revolution?

THOMPSON: I don't know. It's a very hard thing to figure out. One thing we do know is that when people watch TV, they tweet. They don't really use Facebook or other social networks. They're not using -- they use different social networks for different things, and when they are watching TV, they happen to be using Twitter. But Twitter is also not as powerful as many people think. It does not have quite as many users as the world has been led to believe. There's not as much conversation going on there as it might seem from the way it's discussed. It's a relatively small number of power users. Now, how that will develop? Who knows. I personally think Twitter is a great fun when I'm watching TV. I love - I love watching the Super Bowl and engaging with everybody, or even watching a show, or even not watching a show and reading different friends' analyses of what exactly is going on. I think it's terrific. And we'll also start seeing Twitter being effectively built into the TV screens, right, the TV manufacturers are going to start making it much easier for you to follow Twitter, watch Twitter, follow people. So who knows how this will develop, but there is a very close partnership between television and Twitter.

STOUT: Very interesting. Thank you very much indeed. Always enlightening talking with you. Nick Thompson of NewYorker.com, take care.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Kristie.

STOUT: And staying with technology, Sony has posted yet another quarterly loss. Now the struggling electronics giant says it lost $115 million in latest quarter, and we took a closer look at some of these results. And a couple of things stood out to us. Now, let's start with Sony game unit, home of the Playstation, and we've compared operating profit from the latest quarter with the same last year, and you can see the sharp decline. But there could be some hope on the horizon for Sony. Reports say that it will unveil the next Playstation in less than two weeks. Now, all in all, though, only 5 of Sony's eight units are making an operating profit. Now, the three that are losing money make some of Sony's better known products. The camera, mobile, and home entertainment units. The part of Sony that is generating the most profit is arguably the least well known, Sony's financial services unit, which offers banking and life insurance.

Now, one more year until the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia, but is the resort city of Sochi cold enough to host the winter games?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You are watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines. Our reports say Tunisia's ruling party is rejecting calls by the prime minister to dissolve its cabinet and call for new elections. As protests continue on the streets of the capital Tunis. Now earlier, we saw tear gas fired while we spoke to our Dan Rivers live in Tunis. And this all follows this fatal shooting of a key opposition leader, Chokri Belaid on Wednesday. The secular leftist politician and human rights activist was gunned down on his way to work, evoking mass protest in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

Iran says it has video that was apparently taken from a camera on an American drone. It is the aircraft that Tehran claims to have brought down back in 2011. Not long after that, President Obama asked for it to be returned. Iran says it decoded the footage from the drone. That's what you're seeing right now. The CNN cannot independently verify the video's authenticity.

U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed to release classified documents to lawmakers outlining a justification for the controversial drone program. Lawmakers have demanded answers since the 2011 aerial strike in Yemen that killed American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And people in Damascus tell CNN that fighting in the Syrian capital is some of the fiercest they have seen in almost two years of civil war. A Syrian official news agency denies claims by some opposition groups that they have launched a major offensive on the city.

A doping investigation conducted by the Australian Crime Commission has produced a shocking report. Amanda Davies joins us now with more. Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. Yes, sadly, I'm afraid to say it's another day, another drug story to bring you in the news sports, and this time it comes out of Australia, where the use of banned drugs in professional sports is, quote, "widespread," that's according to a year- long investigation carried out by the Australian Crime Commission. The front page of the Sydney Morning Herald has described it as the blackest day in sports as the ACC said scientists, coaches and support staff were all involved in the provision of drugs across many different sports. The report is talking about the use of performance and image enhancing drugs, but does not name names or individuals. In some cases, they said the drugs were supplied by organized crime syndicates. And we can hear now from the Australian minister for justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON CLARE, AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR JUSTICE: The findings are shocking, and will disgust Australian sports fans. The work that the Australian Crime Commission has done has found the use of prohibited substances, including peptides, hormones, and illicit drugs is widespread amongst professional athletes. The evidence to date indicates this is not the majority of athletes, but we're talking about multiple athletes across a number of codes. We're talking about a number of teams.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIES: So more shocking revelations, but the Australian Crime Commission report did say that there are parallels between what's been discovered in Australia and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into Lance Armstrong. And on Wednesday, USADA gave Armstrong two more weeks to cooperate with authorities by testifying under oath.

On to some football news. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has warned his players and fans they haven't won anything yet, after booking their place in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations. The 1994 winners thumped Mali 4-1 to reach the decider in South Africa. Waiting for them is Burkina Faso. The Stallions pulled off a huge upset, beating Ghana on penalties just a year after losing all three of their games in the competition. They've beaten not only the pre-tournament favorites, but also some controversial refereeing decisions. They had a goal disallowed and saw a red card to their star player, Jonathan Pitroipa. They then, though, held their nerve to prevail in a penalty shootout. They are into the tournament final for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Although there is no suggestion of corruption, it was unfortunate timing for the referee here at the Ambombala (ph) stadium that on a week when the problem of match fixing in football has been highlighted, he made four serious mistakes, three of them in favor of Ghana over Burkina Faso. Luckily for the (inaudible) official, Salim Jaididi (ph), his mistake should soon be forgotten, because there was a shock victory for Burkina Faso, who reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the first time in their history, and the long wait for Ghana to add to their four Africa Cup of Nations titles goes on. It's been more than 30 years now, and their fans are extremely angry and frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) was no good, that - you know the match was (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't seen the replays, but I think the referees did not a good job.

THOMAS: Burkina Faso player is on the bench and fans (inaudible) going absolutely crazy at the referee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, I was too, but I'd like to see the replays definitely, yes.

THOMAS: Is it a case of all's well that ends well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, all is - at least we went through, that's the important part, yes.

THOMAS: Your first ever final. What will be happening back home in Burkina Faso?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, it's going to be hectic. Even the celebrating, you know, so it's going to be hectic, yes.

THOMAS: So the organizers' dream final of Ghana against Nigeria won't happen, but what a glorious tale surrounding Burkina Faso, going one better than their semifinal appearance when they hosted the event back in 1998. This West African country of 17 million people relatively poor in world terms, while everyone there will absolutely relish a place at the national stadium in Johannesburg, when they take on the Super Eagles. It should be a huge, a momentous day, not just for Burkina Faso football, but for the entire country.

Alex Thomas, CNN, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIES: Tensions running high in South Africa, but on the football friendly front, the host of the next World Cup, Brazil, were in London to play England on Wednesday night. The home side had, let me say, (inaudible) in the (inaudible) when Wayne Rooney scored his 33rd international goal. The United striker, Manchester United striker pouncing on Julio Cesar's (ph) save from Theo Woolcox (ph). England then led into the break, but Brazil were level early in the second half, even before I could reclaim my seat, I'm afraid to say, and unfortunately, Gary Cahill's mistake was punished by Freds (ph) to make it one apiece. But England wasn't done, and on the (inaudible) they were back from the center. Chelsea's Frank Lampard, a great finish and good enough for a rare England win against Brazil. So not the best start to Luiz Felipe Scolari's reign with Brazil.

Now, CNN's new show, "CNN FOOTBALL CLUB," launches later on Thursday. It's our new weekly half-hour program of football debate hosted by Pedro Pinto, and a host of famous faces as well. It's a chance for you to get involved too. Here is a taste of what's to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL OWEN: Hi, I'm Michael Owen, and I've been lucky enough to play for some of the biggest clubs in the world.

I think the best player I've played with was Zinedine Zidane. (inaudible) and he was probably the best I've played with, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIES: Yes, Michael Owen is the guest on today's show. It debuts at 5:00 p.m. London time, and looks ahead to the upcoming Champions League tie between Manchester United and Real Madrid. We'd love to have your company for the show. You can get involved as well. We're on Twitter and Facebook, @cnnfnc. Kristie, I know you are already following. I look forward to your tweets with interest.

STOUT: Yes, I am following. I saw the photograph of Pedro Pinto with the chocolate cake, the celebratory cake.

DAVIES: A big chocolate cake.

STOUT: I love chocolate.

DAVIES: They didn't save any for me. I wasn't here yesterday. I was a little bit disappointed.

STOUT: Bummer. So all we get is a photograph on Twitter. Alas. Anyway, good luck with the show. Amanda Davies there, thank you.

Now, preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are currently under way in Sochi. It's a Russian resort city on the Black Sea, and it's also a big holiday hot spot for President Vladimir Putin. Sochi's weather makes it one of the warmest cities to ever host the Winter Olympic Games. In fact, today's temperature, it's around 17 degrees Celsius, in February, and that begs the question, will Sochi be cold enough for the snow? Russia's deputy prime minister says that the Sochi games will cost around $50 billion. That's more than double the amount spent on the London's Summer Games last year. Phil Black is in Sochi and joins us now live.

Now, Phil, we know that the games are expensive, but is Russia at this point ready?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, it is a mammoth undertaking to get this city ready for these games, because it had very little before it started the preparations. It's had to build all the sporting venues from scratch, and in addition to that, it is rebuilding or building much of the basic infrastructure any modern city needs to function. This place has had very little investment stretching back decades into the Soviet Union. So all of that, the cost of actually putting on the games, plus investing in all of this new infrastructure could add up to making these the most expensive games ever.

The other big challenge here, which you've touched on, is the weather. I think it actually nudged 18 degrees here by the coast where I'm standing. Only a little cooler up in the mountains where the Alpine events are taking place. And that is certainly a challenge for the organizers, staging these games for the first time in a subtropical environment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: There are some things you usually don't see in a Winter Olympic host city in the middle of winter. Like palm trees or people hanging out in the beach in swimwear. Sochi isn't a cold place, but the winter games are coming anyway, and it's dramatically changing this city.

This is all new, an Olympic park on the Black Sea coast. Six big sports venues, including two ice hockey arenas, and a stadium that will only be used during the games for the opening and closing ceremonies.

This coastal section of the Olympic Park is an impressive work in progress, but it's only part of what's going on here. All across this city, buildings are going up. The noise of construction is everywhere, and not surprisingly, it comes at a great cost. The latest government's estimates puts the cost of these games at $50 billion.

Sochi is a run-down, Soviet-era summer resort town, crippled by terrible traffic. To host these Olympics, it must build more than just new sports facilities. New roads, bridges, railway lines, hospitals, a reliable power grid. So many new hotels. Everything you could imagine a city needs to successfully host one of the world's biggest sporting events. Sochi is getting it all, largely because one man said so.

How great has been Vladimir Putin's role in preparing this city for the games?

Sochi's Mayor, Anatoly Pahomov, tells me you can't overestimate the Russian president's involvement. He says Vladimir Putin, who loves to ski here, is controlling the project personally. Putin's spokesman says that's because Russia's prestige and Sochi's future are at stake.

DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN'S SPOKESMAN: It's a huge challenge. It's a huge challenge, especially for President Putin, because he uses this Olympics as a good opportunity for boosting the economy and the development of this region of Sochi.

BLACK: One thing President Putin can't control is snow fall. The Alpine venues are about an hour's drive inland, and this is how they look on a good day, according to organizers who supplied the video. They canceled our visit because it was raining heavily. They told us they didn't want us to see that.

Temperatures here often well above freezing, and snow fall can be patchy. That's why they are already storing vast amounts of this year's snow just in case.

Back on the coast, these local fishermen have other Olympic concerns. Like the traffic getting even worse. But they say most people here are happy because they know their city is being transformed, in a way that would not have been possible without these games.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: So one year out, and there is a lot of work to do, but organizers and the International Olympic Committee, say they're pretty comfortable with the progress that is being made. Behind me is the Bolshoi (ph) ice dome that is going to be the main hockey arena here in the Olympic park during the games. Tonight, it's hosting a ceremony to mark the beginning of the one-year countdown. Vladimir Putin is expected to attend, Kristie.

STOUT: You know, it is incredible, just how much building has taken place around you. And Phil, one of Russia's slogans, I understand, is Sochi 2014, guaranteed snow. So how does it plan to do that?

BLACK: There is a degree of optimism in that, to be sure, because, as we are experiencing today, these temperatures can get up even in the middle of winter to upper of 18 degrees, as we've said. Not great snow conditions. Up in the mountains, it snows regularly, but not reliably. And so they do have to prepare for this possibility, a Vancouver-like situation where there simply won't be enough snow come the games, and they say they are preparing for this by building a lot of snow cannons up in the mountains and the valleys to blow out lots of the man-made stuff, but also through this snow storage program, which they are implementing, which is going to store thousands, more than 100,000 we understand, cubic meters of snow in these enormous storage areas to spread out on the runs should it be necessary in a year's time, and that is why they believe they can make this guaranteed, Kristie.

STOUT: Well, for the sake of a nation's pride, and of course the games itself, let there be snow. Phil Black reporting live from Sochi, thank you.

You are watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up next, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the eye of the storm not over his politics, but over his weight. We'll tell you why one doctor's comment made him very angry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Now, politics is a weighty subject, and sometimes literally so. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knows that firsthand. He is believed to be considering a presidential run, but his weight has been getting more attention lately than his policies, and now he is blasting a former White House doctor who went on TV to express concern about his health. Jim Acosta has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sitting down with late night talk show host David Letterman, Chris Christie tried to make light of a heavy subject.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I have made jokes about you, not just one or two, not just ongoing here or there, intermittent. But --

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: In a sign the popular New Jersey governor may be weighing a bid for the presidency down the road, Christie also attempted to give himself a clean bill of health.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.

ACOSTA: But it's no laughing matter to Dr. Connie Mariano.

DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I worry that he may have a heart attack, he may have a stroke. It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen, unless he addresses those issues before he runs for office.

ACOSTA: Mariano, a former White House physician who helped then-President Bill Clinton with his own battle of the bulge, wants Christie to run, preferably on a treadmill.

MARIANO: I'm a Republican. So, I like Chris Christie a lot. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight. I'm a physician more than I am a Democrat or a Republican. And I worry about this man dying in office.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I want to see you all moving, all right?

ACOSTA: Dr. Mariano says Michelle Obama's anti-obesity program is a better example of a winning campaign, despite conservative critics who point to the president downing the occasional burgers or beer in his spare time.

M. OBAMA: We have the ideas and we have the desire to start solving America's childhood obesity problem.

ACOSTA: But the nation is already getting a preview of a corpulent commander-in-chief later this spring when the Washington Nationals baseball team unveils its latest running president, William Howard Taft, who weighed in at more than 300 pounds. Taft was so huge, he once famously got stuck in the presidential bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney.

ACOSTA: As for Christie, whose size became an issue in the last campaign and is up for reelection.

CHRISTIE: My doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon. So believe me, it's something that I'm very conscious of.

ACOSTA: He indicated to reporters he has a plan to lose those extra pounds.

CHRISTIE: There is a plan. Whether it will be successful or not, you all will be able to notice.

ACOSTA: Christie is still being coy about whether he will run for the White House in 2016. He recently said he will be more ready the next time around. But much of that may depend on whether he weighs more or less in the coming years.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Coming up on NEWS STREAM, tons of gold soon to leave the U.S. Federal Reserve. It's given Richard Roth some ideas worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

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STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and this is a visual version of all the stories we're covering in the show today, and we're actually going to go back to a story we covered earlier, the unusually warm weather in the Winter Olympics host city, Sochi. Now, we heard what Russians think from Phil Black and Sochi, but let's get more on the climate in the region from our very own weather expert, Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center. And Mari, it was looking pretty warm there in Sochi.

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know what? It's even going to be warmer tomorrow. Isn't that hard to believe? And so if the opening ceremonies were today, I would be looking at a little bit of a chance for a sprinkle or two there where Phil was reporting from, but tomorrow would have been -- will be a beautiful day. 17 degrees, sunny skies. The temperature about 9 degrees, and on Saturday similar conditions. This is going to be an example of what the weather is like. This is a little bit average, though, because their average high is about 10 degrees, which is still pretty warm, one of the warmer sites for a Winter Olympic venue.

They have a humid, subtropical climate. So try to imagine hosting the Winter Olympics in New Delhi or there in Hong Kong, Kristie. They are in the same classification as Sochi. Here in Atlanta, also similar -- the same classification. So that's pretty interesting there, and a nice comparison, or maybe a Winter Olympics in Buenos Aires, huh? Maybe not out of the question.

The difference is of course that they are -- go from sea level to about 2,000 meters, very, very quickly, so of course the climate changes rather quickly as we head up into the mountains there. The average highs, as I was telling you, is 10 degrees. Average low about 3, and the wettest time of the year is between October and January, so now as we head into February, we'll be heading into the tail end of their -- starting to get a little drier, and it does snow, of course, as you can see here from these images.

Something else. Just to give you a comparison to other Olympic venues. Sochi, the high and the low, there you see it, and compared to Vancouver, for example, this is much, much warmer. Salt Lake City, their average high this time of year was 4, and it may even had some problems with snow coming into it. Vancouver did too, remember? So you know, it's Mother Nature, so they have to plan, and that's why we were hearing all of those big plans that they have to try to even save some of the snow from this year into next. I'm sure some of you across other parts of the region would be wishing for some of that warm weather, but it has been relatively warm, even as we head to the other side of the Black Sea here, across Southeastern Europe. Temperatures slightly above the average, and a lot of moisture going on here so the potential for some severe weather remains across Southeastern Europe throughout the day today. There was a funnel could spotted yesterday. They are in Greece, so just another -- more of that throughout the day today.

The coldest air still here to the north. London about 6, 5 in Paris. River levels have been pretty high in Germany, also in France. This is a picture from the river Seine. There you see the Eiffel Tower in the background. And definitely looking at the river levels quite high here, so this is going to be somewhat of a concern as we are headed through the next 24 to 48 hours. I think it's going to taper off, though. We can see some problems with navigation, and some of the quays along the Seine, again, are closed, mainly because they are flooded. And last but not least, I want to take you to the U.S. They will be shoveling some snow big time. No, not here in the south. We have an area of low pressure here in the South that is expected to continue riding along here the East Coast of the U.S. Then it meets up with very cold air here across the Eastern Seaboard, and the result is what we call a nor'easter in this part of the world, very heavy snowfall. The storm strengthens very quickly, and we can see historic snowfall totals across some of these areas, maybe up to 50 centimeters or more of snow in places like Boston, maybe 25, half a meter of snow in New York. It's going to be a big one. We'll see what happens. Back to you.

STOUT: Wow, record snowfall. One to watch. Mari Ramos, thank you.

Now, Germany recently announced that it plans to bring home some of its gold reserves stored in foreign central banks. Berlin has hundreds of tons of gold in France, and in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And that got our Richard Roth thinking about what's involved in moving hundreds of tons of gold bars and what that might mean for enterprising criminals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE WILLIS, ACTOR: It's a heist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

WILLIS: There's gold in the Federal Reserve.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is, and in "Die Hard 3," a gang steals the gold inside the New York Federal Reserve. In the real world, Germany has just announced it wants 300 tons of its gold back from the same Federal Reserve bank. Where is all this gold located, exactly? Right in the heart of the financial district.

A couple of blocks north of Wall Street, here in Lower Manhattan, that's where the German gold is, inside this rather secure building, the Federal Reserve Bank. The vault for the gold is below street level, some 80 feet down.

Germany began storing gold here, now totaling some 1,500 tons of gold bars, during the Cold War, fearing an invasion from the Soviet Union.

JOERG STEPHAN, DEUTSCHE BUNDESBANK IN NEW YORK: There is a plan to take it back over many years, so until 2020--

ROTH: Is there a specific day or time and the entrance, the first shipment is going back--

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHAN: No, of course I cannot talk about these things.

WILLIS: They have somebody called Jeremy Irons--

JEREMY IRONS, ACTOR: Oh, I think we'll go straight to the withdrawal.

ROTH: On the eve of a new "Die Hard" movie, actor Bruce Willis was surprised when informed of Germany's bank withdrawal.

WILLIS: They're really going to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WILLIS: Can you imagine?

ROTH: Yes, I can. And outside the bank, I looked to put my gang together.

Is that why you are here? You were casing, admit it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was looking for some construction equipment, see if there is anything down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tough place to break into. It's impregnable.

ROTH: All right. We're meeting at midnight tonight here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't be here.

ROTH: Huge heists involving Germany have gone down in New York before, as seen in "Goodfellas."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And these are the guys that Jimmy put together for what turned out to be the biggest heist in American history, the Lufthansa heist.

WILLIS: I pity the fool.

ROTH: I needed advice, though, not pity. So I had a secret meeting in Central Park with a former FBI agent and current security risk analyst.

WILLIAM DALY, SR. VP. OF CONTROL RISKS, FORMER FBI AGENT: A theft against this type of shipment is extremely, extremely difficult, and anyone who will be planning on it is truly taking their life in their hands, because these people aren't going to fool around.

ROTH: Are you in with me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I in with you? I would be, but I'm kind of busy, I work today. But if you can guarantee me some gold, maybe I'll hang around.

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: That was classic. Now, finally, one of the key people behind the magic of the original "Stars Wars" movies has died. Stuart Freeborn is the makeup and creatures effects artist behind Yoda, Chewbacca and Jabba the Hutt. He also worked on "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Dr. Strangelove." But he's perhaps best known for his work on "Stars Wars," creating many of the creatures that looked at home in a galaxy far, far away. You can say that he put a lot of himself into the series. In fact, take a look at his picture on the official Star Wars web site, and the slight resemblance between Yoda and his creator. Stuart Freeborn was 98

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

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