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New Report Suggests Majority Of Syrian Rebels Are Islamists; UN Investigators Head Back To Syria; Burgeoning Pakistani Tech Sector; Colorado Residents Begin Cleanup After Massive Floods

Aired September 18, 2013 - 8:00   ET


NATALIE ALLEN, HOST: I'm Natalie Allen at CNN Center. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

A chemical weapons probe continues. Why UN weapons inspectors are returning to Syria.

Mexico is reeling after it's battered by not one, but two powerful storms at the same time.

And they are tech savvy and they have Silicon Valley's full attention. We'll meet the internet whiz kids in Pakistan dreaming up apps that may end up on your mobile.

Thank you for joining us. United Nations investigators are set to return to Syria as early as next week. The head of the inspection team says they'll follow up on more allegations of chemical weapons use.

On Monday, the UN released a report confirming sarin was used in an attack in Damascus on August 21, but did not say which side used it. The U.S. and its allies say the evidence clearly points to the Assad government, but Russia's deputy foreign minister is now calling the UN report distorted. He told Russia today the Syrian government has evidence implicating the rebels in that August attack. No word on what that evidence is, but Moscow is said to be studying it.

Meantime, there are new and disturbing questions being raised about Syria's rebels. Some experts estimate nearly half of them may have extremist leanings. Nic Robertson takes a closer look for us.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Under pressure by al Qaeda to recite versus from the Koran, she breaks down, orders it may appear these radical rebels, known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, are using events like this to win hearts and minds.

Elsewhere, another al Qaeda related rebel group, al Nusra, delivers humanitarian aid. Increasingly in Syria, hardcore Islamist like these are using outreach to convert moderate Syrians to their extremist views.

In a study of Syria's rebel groups by respected military analyst Jane's Defense titled "Syria's Insurgent Landscape," the strength of Islamist groups sympathetic to al Qaeda, like al Nusra, appears to be growing, a view supported by this former CIA officer who tracked al Qaeda in Iraq.

NADA BAKOS, FRM. CIA OFFICER: Nusra has found a sweet spot for terrorism and how al Qaeda is going to -- is evolving.

ROBERTSON: The Jane's defense analysis estimates approximately 1,000 different rebel groups, close to 100,000 fighters. As many as half with radical leanings, according to other experts. According to Jane's, al Qaeda's closest allies, ISIL and al Nusra, total about 10,000 fighters, many veterans of al Qaeda in Iraq. They're experienced and well skilled.

(on camera): And the others close to 35,000 are estimated to be hardcore Islamists who share some of al Qaeda's views, about 30,000 or more moderate Islamists and only 25,000 are estimated to be purely secular, or nationalists. And it's these moderates who are losing ground.

(voice-over): Al-Wiyah Asal al-Rasul (ph) has many as 9,000 fighters and U.S. backed, also helps western intelligence agencies, according to Jane's, recently beaten by al Qaeda for control of Raqaa (ph), a key central city, a worrying trend for analysts like Bakos, as rebels draw recruits from Europe and beyond.

BAKOS: This is an ideology, this isn't just about the safe haven in Syria, but it's about the fact that they've been able to attract so many western recruits in this conflict that this still poses a threat to the United States and to western powers.

ROBERTSON: In Raqaa (ph), now under almost complete al Qaeda control. Crowds flock to see a cold-blooded execution of men rebels claim support the regime, a trend that shows no signs of reversing and puts U.S. allied rebels at a disadvantage.


ALLEN: Disturbing video there. The situation in Syria certainly complex.

Let's get more now from Nic Robertson. He joins us live from Beirut, Lebanon.

Nic, certainly what people feared from the start: extremists joining in the fight that appears to be happening. And as we said, anyone's guess who or what moves in when and if Assad moves out.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. And that's the real concern here. I mean, for one thing here is clear, Bashar al-Assad has always tried to cast the opposition as terrorists. At the very beginning it was a popular movement of unarmed people who wanted political change. That took almost a year to sort of begin to morph into an armed uprising, and then more than a year again on top of that really for the Islamist component. The -- what some describe as terrorists, the al Qaeda component here -- to be really begin to emerge in a strong way. And now, the Islamist component of the rebels are really believed to have quite strong sway in the north of the country, not so strong in the middle. And they're really pushing to gain a stronger foothold in the south of the country.

But it certainly is a concern at the moment. And for the international community supplying weapons to the moderate rebels, the concern is can those weapons get in the hands of the extremists? And as we've seen across this region, once people get weapons in conflict, it is hard to get them to put those weapons down again when the conflict is over. And that -- that is a big concern, who gets the weapons that are being supplied by the United States and others and who can control them inside the country when they're there, Natalie?

ALLEN: Absolutely, certainly complicates matters even more, who you are supplying with what, as you say. And now we have inspectors going back in as early as next week amidst all of this.

What more can you tell us about what they'll be working for.

ROBERTSON: It's unfinished work. When they originally went into Syria just a few days before the big chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, they were going to investigate pre- alleged chemical weapons usages. One of them in Qarn al-Asal (ph), which is in the north of the country. That took place on the 19th of March. And that's an incident that both the Syrian government and the Russian government say that rebels were responsible for.

They say they've analyzed the chemicals used. They've analyzed the explosives used. And these are things that they say would be typical of -- typical of the rebels using. That's their allegation, that's where the inspectors were going originally. They didn't get there on their last mission. They had also had unfinished business inspecting the attack on the -- from the 21st of August, that one again on the outskirts of Damascus.

So it's both of these things -- unfinished business, the most recent and most deadly chemical weapons attacks, and these other three alleged attacks as well. That's what they're believed to be going back to, to try to complete their work there, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. Nic Robertson live for us in Beirut. Thank you, Nick.

Well, we turn now to Mexico where two major storms had battered both sides of the country at the same time leaving 57 people dead. Tropical Storm Manuel hit the Pacific coast over a three day holiday weekend, of all times. And in the east, Hurricane Ingrid has caused mudslides and flooding.

Many people rode out the storm in shelters. The southwestern state of Guerrero has been hardest hit. And thousands, including many tourists, are stranded in the resort city, the very popular resort city of Acapulco. That's the air port right there. It's under water.

But the runway is still open. And a limited number of flights are operating. Not sure how, but they are.

The Red Cross center in Mexico City is helping with relief efforts. CNN Espanol reporter Alejandra Oraa is there. She joins me now.

Alejandra, it's certainly these people helping have their hands full now that we're learning just how damaging both of these storms were and deadly.


This is the first time since 1958, more than a century, that Mexico is hit by two storms within 24 hours.

Tourists have been helped with local authorities and the army. Actually, they've been evacuated from Acapulco thanks to helicopters and local airlines. About 2,000 tourists, however -- approximately 40,000 tourists still in Acapulco. Thousands of people were in this zone. It's a very tourist area, because they were celebrating a long weekend in Mexico. They were celebrating independence day.

Approximately 40,000 people are still in Acapulco. They have suspended all classes in Baja California and in some parts of Guerrero. And people are looking for shelters, people are looking for food and people are looking for donations. That's why we are a dismal (ph) (inaudible) from the Red Cross in Mexico City.

ALLEN: Yes. And hopefully the Red Cross will get to them, because there are reports that looting has broken out in some parts of the country. What can you tell us about that?

ORAA: That's true. We have seen reports of looting and not only of goods, we have seen pictures of people that are taking from supermarkets, from malls food, they've been taking essential items such as medicine and toiletries. But we have also seen reports from looters taking televisions and taking refrigerators in front of the authorities. The authorities are trying to control the situation, but there are hundreds of people that are breaking the windows, that are breaking the doors to go inside the supermarkets of these places and take either food or some other people are taking, like I said, televisions, refrigerator, or other high quality items.

ALLEN: We often see this during disasters.

And back to Acapulco for just a moment. You know, we saw the pictures of the airport. It's unbelievable. And to think that tens of thousands of people are stuck there right now. They went there for the holiday weekend. Is that right?

ORAA: Yes. They went there for the holiday weekend. A lot of them flew from the Mexico City airport to the Acapulco international airport, but like you said and we saw in the video, it's completely flooded right now.

However, they have some local airlines with the help of armies leaving from Acapulco to Mexico City, taking the international tourists from Acapulco to the international airport of Mexico City and then to their final destination. The main highway of Acapulco known as La Pisa del Sol (ph) as The Sun is actually closed and flooded and people are not able to get in or out of Acapulco.

So they're practically incommunicado (ph), Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. Alejandra Oraa for us in Mexico City, we thank you.

Let's go to the world weather center now. Mari Ramos is standing by. Mari, what she said about this is the first time since the 1950s that Mexico has been hit on both sides at the same time by a storm. And certainly it has ravaged the country.

MARI RAMOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you sometimes get to see these storms side by side. I'm going to have to go check on that -- on that one, I don't know that off the top of my head Natalie, but I can tell you that storms on both sides of the Mexican coast are very common, whether or not they both hit at the same time, or within 24 hours at the same time as Alejandra was saying, it is somewhat more uncommon, usually you'll get one or the other. And this is why this situation has been so serious.

Again, more pictures from Acapulco here. This is a picture from Veracruz on the other side, because remember they had twin storms. So one in the Pacific, one on the Gulf of Mexico -- on this side on the Gulf of Mexico, that's where we have this large landslide that killed so many people.

I'm going to go ahead and start you off with what we can expect next - - a break in the rain for those flooded areas, at least in the immediate forecast. But that landslide threat continues, because we're still going to see some isolated rainfall.

Now Manuel on the western side of Mexico, on the Pacific side, is still going to be bringing very heavy rain for northwestern Mexico. And watch out for a new storm that is forming over the Yucatan peninsula. That's your -- in a nutshell that's what we can expect right now.

Now, let's go ahead and go back in the history, what happened? Well, we had Manuel here. And we have Ingrid on the other side. We're going all the way back to Saturday, to the weekend, a holiday weekend in Mexico as Alejandra was reporting.

Ingrid makes landfall in the northeast. Over here in the west, we have another storm that moves across this area. Even when it was offshore, it was already bringing some very heavy rain here across this western side of Mexico. Easily over 300 millimeters of rain in some of these areas. That's a foot of rainfall, a foot of rainfall that has fallen over this region, you know, widespread area -- not so much localized, but very widespread. Some areas even had more than that. That's why those pictures are so dramatic.

And this is what the satellite image looks like now, a big difference, a break here in the north and east as you can see, at least, for now. That right there is Manuel, it's reemerged as a tropical depression. And then back over here, this is that new weather system that is forming that has a high chance of becoming our next tropical cyclone, bringing some very heavy rain along the Yucatan Peninsula.

So there you have, two storms affecting Mexico even right now.

So, the tropical trouble does continue. There's that break in the heavy rain. I'll go ahead and move away so you can see it. We're watching the next tropical low moving into the Gulf of Mexico. In the next couple of days that's going to bring you the threat for rain.

And then back over here, we're still watching Manuel. Look at here to the south, though, the rain has not stopped. We have this time of year significant rainfall that happens over this area. So those little tropical rain showers -- and I say little, because they're little compared to what we had before, Natalie, those tropical rain showers still bring us the threat for landslides, because the ground is so saturated already. So that is still a huge concern.

When you have so much rainfall like we had now and then you have additional rainfall even if it's a little bit, it could cause some serious problems, especially because so many people are displaced as were hearing across those areas.

How much rain? Isolated spots could get maybe an additional 8 centimeters, widespread 3 to 5 centimeters of rain as you can see here. And then of course we have this, this is a concern because this is going into a very arid area of the country. And 19 millimeters of rain doesn't seem like a lot, but you've got to remember that this is mostly a desert area. So that will cause some flooding in the southern portion of the Baja peninsula.

ALLEN: And another popular tourist area as well. OK, thank you so much, Mari.

Well, Google has activated its person finder in response to floods in Acapulco so we want to tell you how it works.

If you're looking for someone who is missing in the area, or if you have information to share, click on to The aim is to match up data and reunite families and friends.

You are watching News Stream. Ahead here on our program, we will go live to Washington as new information emerges about the Navy Yard mass shooting and the gunman behind them.

Egypt's energetic football fans put sport rivalries aside and unite for a political cause. We'll tell you more about that.

Plus, why are antibiotic resistant superbugs on the rise? And what can you do to stay safe?

Much more ahead here on News Stream. Stay with us.


ALLEN: Well, welcome back.

In Egypt, another high profile member of the Muslim Brotherhood is under arrest. According to a state run newspaper, spokesman Gehad al Haddad is accused of inciting violence and murder. He's been transferred to Tora Prison on the outskirts of Cairo. More than 2,000 Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested since the military ousted Mohamed Morsy back in July.

Also on Tuesday, an Egyptian court upheld an order to keep the assets of senior Brotherhood officials frozen.

Well, protests against Morsy's ouster are getting raucous support from thousands of football fans. They also played a role in the 2011 revolution. We'll get more on that part of the story from Karl Penhaul in Cairo.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's like their team just scored the winner. He's one of the capos, a cheerleader to diehard football fans they call ultras. With the beat of their drums, Cairo's street politics now looks like a soccer match.

A group of ultras is siding with supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsy and injecting new vigor into protests against the military coup.

These two ultras leaders fear police will target them, so I agreed to conceal their identities.

"Ultras live and breath football. We're adapting the signs and chants from football to these protests. It's beautiful. It energizes people and gives them hope," he says.

It seems to be working. Even demonstrators who admit they can't tell Ronaldo from Rooney are catching on.

Ultras were credited with playing a front line role in the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak and led clashes around the Interior Ministry later that year.

"The name ultras is a symbol. It doesn't matter whether you support al Ali (ph) or Samek (ph), everybody feels a strong bond with the ultras," he says.

Egypt's football hooligans have often fought each other, sometimes with deadly results. But this group that calls itself the Nahdawi (ph), or Renaissance Ultras, has buried old rivalries. It says it's united 3,000 fans from all teams.

Some ultras admit they're also members of the Muslim Brotherhood, President Morsy's political power base. Most, though, say they're simply opposed to the coup.

"Islam is a religion that encompasses everything, that includes democracy and football," he says.

Tempers flare during this protest after Friday prayers that razor wire and a human chain contained the threat of clashes between soldiers and demonstrators.

Since the coup, security forces have been blamed for gunning down hundreds of Morsy supporters during protests. Aware football fans often turn to politics, the army has suspended Egyptian league games.

"A lot of ultras have come out, but others are afraid of military rule. You've seen what they've done. I'm afraid too," he says.

Clearly, politics is more dangerous than the beautiful game. The rules are always shifting and defeat could mean prison or even death.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Cairo.


ALLEN: Australia's 28th prime minister takes the oath of office. Tony Abbott was sworn in today in the capital Canberra. His conservative liberal party won elections earlier this month, bringing six years of labor rule to an end. Abbott promised to scrap the country's controversial carbon tax and also pledge to curb the arrival of asylum seeker boats.

Abbott says he won't waste any time following through on those promises.

Well, after a quick break, new warnings about a growing threat from super bugs. What you can do to protect yourself. That's next.


ALLEN: Welcome back.

So-called superbugs are on the rise. And as we've been told repeatedly, the overuse of antibiotics is largely to blame. But now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention is sounding a new warning about the antibiotic resistant bacteria. Carl Azuz has more.


CARL AZUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a knee-jerk reaction for a lot of folks, you get sick, you go to the doctor and ask for an antibiotic. But you don't always need one. Doctors say it won't kill of a virus like the common cold, and overuse of antibiotics is blamed for the rise of what some call, Superbugs. Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, infections that are harder for medicines to kill. The CDC says these things have gotten so bad, they are now officially considered a threat to human health. 2 million people in America get superbug infections every year. At least 23,000 people die because current drugs can`t cure them. So, what can we do about it?

First and foremost, the CDC says to use antibiotics correctly. As much as half the antibiotics used in the U.S. isn`t necessary or called for. These can be good effective medicines, they can kill harmful bacteria, they can also kill helpful bacteria. And germs that are resistant to antibiotics may be left over to grow, according to the Missouri Department of Health. So, make sure you work with your doctor to avoid overusing antibiotics, and closely follow directions on how, when and how long to take them. Don`t save some for the next time you`re sick when your doctor tells you to use it all.

Washing your hands is a good thing, too. One key to reducing infections is not to get them in the first place.

Carl Azuz, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: All right.

Well, if that's not enough to kind of creep you out, the super bugs there, we have this: a toilet seat your, smartphone and your tablet computer. Two of them you might not think twice about using while you're eating, but we have some new information from consumer watchdog which might make you look at your gadgets in a different light.

Scientists swabbed 30 tablets computers, 30 smartphones and an office toilet seat for a certain type of bacteria. Here are the results. The swab of the filthiest of the tablets showed more than 600 strains of Staphylococcus bacteria which could cause food poisoning.

Moving on to the phone, the swab with the grimiest one contained 140 bacteria. That's not as dirty as the tablet, but it's still in the danger zone, according to the Health Protection Agency.

And now to the office toilet seat. Despite being found in the most unsavory location, it was by far the cleanest of the bunch with less than 20 bacteria found.

So there you have it. Might want to clean up your smartphone and your tablets.

You're watching News Stream. Still ahead here, were warning signs missed before the deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard? Investigators find more possible red flags in this gunman's past.

Plus, parts of Colorado clean up after extensive flooding. But some people are still waiting for rescuers to reach them. A live report from Colorado coming right up.


ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen at CNN Center. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

UN inspectors plan to return to Syria to check out a number of allegations of chemical weapons use. The head of the inspection team says they can go back as early as next week. Meantime, Russia says it's received evidence from Syria implicating rebels in that nerve gas attack last month.

Western powers say a UN report supporters evidence Syrian government forces were responsible for it.

Well, two powerful storm systems have hit Mexico killing at least 57 people. 2,000 tourists had to be airlifted out of Acapulco after landslides cut off roads into and out of the resort city.

A Chinese court says the verdict in the trial of fallen politician Bo Xilai will be delivered on Sunday. Bo is charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The former Communist Party chief contested the case against him throughout last month's trial.

Investigators still have no motive for Monday's massacre at the Washington Navy Yard, but new details have emerged about the gunman, Aaron Alexis. He recently told police he believed he was being followed and was hearing voices. Police say Alexis shot and killed 12 people before he was killed in a confrontation with police.

Let's get the latest on the investigation. Pamela Brown joins us from the Washington Navy Yard. Pamela, we are certainly learning a lot more about him and how he was allowed onto this base.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we certainly are. You know, we've been looking at a timeline of Aaron Alexis' movements leading up to the shooting. And there are a number of red flags indicating that he suffered from mental health issues. In fact, we learned that police even notified the navy in August about the troubling incident involving Alexis, yet despite this, his security clearance was not taken away and nothing prevented him from walking into building 197 on Monday and opening fire.


BROWN (voice-over): This morning we're learning new details about how Aaron Alexis brought a gun on to the Washington Navy Yard. A federal law enforcement official tells CNN that the gunman entered Building 197 with a small bag. It's believed to have carried a disassembled Remington 870 shotgun.

He's then seen on surveillance video ducking into a bathroom with the bag and emerging seconds later with a gun. Moments later he opens fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a report on the fourth floor. A male with a shotgun. Multiple shots fired. Multiple people down.

BROWN: As investigators continue poring over Alexis' life, the trail of red flags leading to Monday's massacre is troubling.

August 7th, he calls Rhode Island Police complaining of hearing voices coming through the walls of his hotel room. According to this police report, Alexis said those voices were sending vibrations into his body using some sort of microwave machine.

August 25th, Alexis arrives in the Washington area where he contacts a V.A. hospital for a second time for sleep problems.

September 14th, two days before the shooting, Alexis stops at this small arms range in Norton, Virginia. An attorney for the gun range says Alexis practiced shooting. Then paid $419 for a gun and two boxes of ammunition.

And on Monday, he accessed the Navy Yard with legitimate I.D. and proper security clearance.

HENRY: In a case like this where you've got so many red flags over a protracted period of time, I mean, it almost seems that this was the type of thing that was bound to happen. BROWN: Even more troubling, Alexis' record while serving as a Navy Reservist. Eight instances of misconduct including insubordination, disorderly conduct, and unauthorized absences from work.

HENRY: It's easy now to look back and piece it all together and say somebody should have known. If you think about it over a long period of time it's a little more challenging.

BROWN: He was honorably discharged in 2011 and retained his Navy issued security clearance, which is good for 10 years. The Defense contractor he was working for has now pointed the finger at the military for overlooking his misconduct as a civilian and during his service.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CHIEF U.S. NAVY SPOKESMAN: Looking at his offenses while he was in the Navy, the offenses while he was in uniform, none of those give you an indication that he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence.

BROWN: Investigators are now collecting evidence from multiple crime scenes. Towing away his rental car. Removing boxes of materials from his hotel room. Interviewing family members in Brooklyn. All in hope of understanding why he did this.


BROWN: And congress is now reacting to a troubling report by the defense department's inspector general, highlighting a number of security lapses at military installations, including at The Navy Yard. In fact, it says 52 convicted felons received routine unauthorized access to military installations, and nine out of 10 installations allowed contractors temporary access before background checks were completed. But it's important to emphasize here that Aaron Alexis did have legitimate access to the Navy Yard -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And so Pamela, how is the administration responding to all of this?

BROWN: Well, the administration so far has announced three investigations in the wake of the shooting. In fact, maybe Secretary Ray Mabus announce a rapid review of all Navy and Marine Corps installations. The White House saying it's going to look at standards for federal contractors and (inaudible) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telling CNN that he's going to launch a review into military installations worldwide looking at security there. We're hoping to learn more details about what that will entail sometime later today.

ALLEN: Pamela Brown live for us on another U.S. shooting tragedy. Thank you.

You can find complete coverage of the Navy Yard shooting on our website. Learn more about the 12 people gunned down on Monday and the others who were shot and survived. Just go to

Well, two days after the shooting, one of America's biggest companies is entering the debate about guns in public places. In an open letter, the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, wrote this. "I'm writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores." And that's because, quote, "pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of open carry."

Poppy Harlow of CNN has spoken with the Starbucks CEO. She asked him why he chose to take this stance now.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, STARBUCKS CEO: Well, I think it's very important just to start the conversation by framing the fact that Starbucks is not a policymaker. And in fact we're not pro or anti-gun. However, we do believe that guns should not be part of the Starbucks experience. And as a result of that -- of making that decision, we are respectfully requesting that those customers who are carrying a gun just honor the request and not bring the gun into Starbucks.

We're also saying something else, this is not a ban. And the reason it's not a ban is that we don't want to put our own people in a position of having to confront somebody who is carrying a weapon. And so those customers who will bring in the gun -- we hope they won't -- we're still going to serve them. We're not going to ask them to leave.


ALLEN: Howard Schultz went on to say that while he does care about the new policy's impact on his company's bottom line, some things are more important.

Well, in the U.S. state of Colorado, hundreds of people have been cut off by flooding and are waiting to be rescued still days after the flooding began. At least six people have died, 300 remain unaccounted for. And there's now concern in the neighboring state of Nebraska as the flood water rolls east.

Meantime, the cleanup in Colorado was underway. People are returning to their destroyed homes, see what's left of their homes. And George Howell is live for us from Longmont, Colorado with more about that story and what these people are finding.

George, hello.


So, just as you see the river here receding, the number of unaccounted for is going down dramatically. As you mentioned, 306, now, statewide. That is a very, very big difference from what we saw several days ago. And the hope out here is as we see more light of day as the rescues continue the number of unaccounted for will continue to drop.


MICHAEL BIRDSONG, FLOODING VICTIM: Yesterday we cut up all the carpet and smashed out most of the drywall and I pulled down almost all the insulation.

HOWELL (voice-over): The basement --

BIRDSONG: You see here is the water line, right here.

HOWELL: Trashed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can go first.

HOWELL: And on his front lawn, there's debris all over. Still, Michael Birdsong considers himself lucky.

BIRDSONG: Last day or two we've actually been able to turn the corner. That first 60 hours was crazy. You know.

HOWELL: We do know. We were there Friday. His wife, friends and family scrambled to hold back a seemingly endless river rushing straight down their street.

(On camera): Have you ever seen it like this?

DOUG LESSIG, FLOODING VICTIM: No. I'm from Boulder. And I've never seen it like this before ever. It's just amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to just keep averting the water that keeps rising.

HOWELL (voice-over): A muddy, desperate fight with shovels, buckets, and boards. But as it happened in so many neighborhoods, 16th and Iris was no match for Mother Nature. More than 19,000 properties were either damaged or destroyed in these deadly storms. Most residents forced to evacuate their homes, managed to make it to safety.

More than 1,000 had to be rescued by air. And for those who are still stranded in hard-to-reach places, dramatic air rescues happen to this day. Birdsong knows what he was up against.

BIRDSONG: Our basement filled with five feet of water in the first 20 minutes.

HOWELL: Could have been much worse.

BIRDSONG: Thankfully, I have some of the best friends, neighbors, acquaintances. Even people I don't even know came over to help. And that's the reason -- the reason we still have a house right now.

HOWELL: In the losses column, there's a lot of catching up to do.

(On camera): To put a dollar estimate on this, what would you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're already planning for probably about $50,000, $60,000. To get it all redone, you know.

HOWELL (voice-over): But there's one thing he found.

BIRDSONG: It was laying right here in the mud. I just happened to see the logo.

HOWELL: That makes all the hard work these past few days a little more worthwhile.

BIRDSONG: A ticket from an old University of Colorado basketball game that I went with, with my dad. It was 1995. I was still in school there.

HOWELL: A precious piece of his own history. Surprisingly washed up by an historic storm.


HOWELL: So a bright spot there in what has been really a rough, rough couple of days.

So for most people out here it's about recovery. But again for the families and friends of 306 people at this point here in the state of Colorado it remains a desperate search to find them and we know that those search operations are still continuing, Natalie.

ALLEN: Yeah, absolutely.

And really interesting story that what happened to one family. And that's just one family. So many people will have stories like that to tell. We wish them well in cleaning up. Thank you so much George Howell for us.

Still to come here on News Stream, we'll tell you about an app from Pakistan that's gaining traction and the growing tech landscape there that has Google interested.


ALLEN: Look out Silicon Valley, enterprising tech designers in Pakistan have dreamed up a nifty new app that not only lets you take a picture of your friends, it also lets you be in the picture too. Saima Mohsin shows us why that's capturing Google's interest.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a problem just about everyone has had: you're out for a picnic or a birthday party. There's a group photo. The photographer inevitably gets left out. But this small team of tech savvy entrepreneurs have created a new smartphone app that lets you take a group picture and put yourself in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no such solution in the market. So we've solved a really common problem in a very interesting way.

MOHSIN: Now I want a picture with my friends. And I want to be in it. So this is what I do. I take a picture of them and leave a gap for myself. Then my other friend comes in and takes the camera from me and I go in the photograph.

Now he takes a picture of me with my friends.

And this is where the techy magic happens.

And I didn't have to be an expert in photography to take that photo.

The clever thing about this app is that it merges two photographs seamlessly.

The designers work here out of their former university in Lahore. Pakistan has 30 million internet users, that's almost four times the population of New York City. About 15 million people in the country are accessing the internet via their mobile phones. And now young Pakistanis are exploiting the potential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Internet as a medium -- is a paradigm shift for all the companies who are working in Pakistan. For example (inaudible) product online. We launched it online. We were -- we marketed it online and then got featured by all these big blogs and we're contacted by smartphone companies.

MOHSIN: Picked up by Google, the team was flown out to Silicon Valley for a mentoring program to develop their product. Now Ideas Labs says it's being courted by major mobile phone companies like Samsung, Huawei and LG.

But they're not the lone rangers in Pakistani tech talent.

BADAR KHUSHNOOD, GOOGLE PAKISTAN: There are companies in Pakistan who are doing mobile apps who are tier one Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. They otherwise were very reluctant to come to Pakistan...

MOHSIN: And some are getting help here. It's called Plan 9, a business incubator funded by the government with the goal of building young tech talent into budding businesses.

UMAR SAID, PLAN 9: In the technology world, the world is becoming flat. The geography, the political situation, the security situation is becoming totally irrelevant in a country like Pakistan.

MOHSIN: 13 teams at Plan 9 are developing apps and products like DrivePal which alerts relative and emergency services about a car crash. iTrack, an optic mouse for paraplegics. And location based app log pro, which adapts your phone's privacy settings depending on where you are. It can even remind you to pick up milk when you walk past the supermarket. Who knows the next big app you download on your smartphone may have been made in Pakistan.

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Lahore, Pakistan.


ALLEN: China's online shopping market is set to become the biggest in the world, overtaking the U.S. in terms of total spending this year. And it's easy to see why. The internet network information center says China has the world's largest online population at nearly 600 million and counting. More than three-quarters of them access the internet through wireless devices.

The McKenzie Global Institute says 70 percent of online sales in China come from clothing, leisure activity, education and household products.

Well, China's biggest ecommerce company is Ali Baba. As part of this month's On China, the company's former CEO gave Kristie Lu Stout his insight on the online shopping market.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who is buying online in China? Is an audience that skews young.

OLIVER RUST, GLOBAL FINANCIAL SERVICES, NIELSEN: Well, historically, I mean it's going to skew more younger than what we see elsewhere, but it's changing. The Internet penetration in China is getting bigger. And it's going more deeper into the Chinese market. So it's going to change over time. But obviously the moment and the history has been more younger orientated.

YU GANG, CO-FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, YIHAODIAN: We saw a transition of people buying online as the fashion now to buying online as (inaudible). You know, people in the past just buy online for the things that they couldn't find in physical stores, you know, the wines that are special. Now they're buying for (inaudible). The fast moving (inaudible), they buy toothpaste, drinks, everything online.

DAVID WEI, VISION KNIGHT CAPITAL: I normally divide it development stages of China's consumer ecommerce into four stages. Stage one, is non- core customer buying non-core products online. As (inaudible) said earlier, they are complementary products, fancy products.

And stage two, are the non-core customer buying core products. So these radically younger generations start to buy mainstream products.

Stage three is core customers buying non-core products. So you can figure out what's the fourth stage is the core customer buying the core- product range.

So what's the stage now? Are we in stage three or four? I believe we are almost finishing stage three getting into stage four. Core customer group buying core products categories.


ALLEN: You can see more of that discussion this weekend on CNN On China with Kristie Lu Stout airs on Saturday at 12:30 pm in Hong Kong.

Well, we all know that eating fruits and vegetables is good for us, but for those in low income areas getting fresh produce can sometimes be difficult. When this week's CNN Hero discovered that problem in her North Carolina community, she planted a seed for a solution. Meet Robin.


ROBIN EMMONS, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: There's a magic in gardening that you can drop a seed into the earth and from that there's an amazing fruit that is delicious and so good for your body. That's a miracle to me.

Here in Charlotte, 73,000 people live in lower income neighborhoods that don't have access to this fresh fruit.

You could call this the Miracle Mile, pretty desolate in the way of healthy food options.

There are barely any supermarkets. Once they get there by bus or a neighbor's car or on foot they are paying a very high price for the food.

I'm Robin Emmons. And I believe everyone should have access to fresh fruit. So I grow it and bring it communities in need.

We want our market to be abundant tomorrow, so let's hit it.

We have about 200 volunteers that come out and help us harvesting the food.

These are heirloom tomatoes over here.

By bringing the food the community and cutting the costs in half compared to what they would pay at a grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six months ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Let's see if we can find something a little better.

I am unemployed right now. So sometimes you have to buy the cheaper things.

These are beautiful.

I couldn't believe all the fresh vegetables and the price was phenomenal. It's making me and my family healthier.

EMMONS: I started growing food in my backyard. Today, I grow on 9 acres of land.

Since 2008, we have grown 26,000 pounds of food.

I feel like I'm giving them a gift, a healthier, longer, more delicious life.


ALLEN: Let's hear it for Robin.

If you want to learn more about her and her work, head over to CNN

News Stream continues right after this.


ALLEN: Welcome back to News Stream.

It is the nightmare of many children and adults, a creepy clown and its spooking a quiet English town. I hear that it just appeared behind me, but I don't want to turn around and look at it.

But as you can see, you can, the clown has quite a following on a Facebook page well over 99,000 likes, in fact. But the identity of the person behind that mask remains a mystery.

Erin McLaughlin ventured out into the north Hampton night.


TIM CURRY, ACTOR, "IT": Aren't you going to say, "hello"?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started on Friday the 13th. Like a scene out of Stephen King's "It."

CURRY, ACTOR, "IT": Don't you want a balloon?

MCLAUGHLIN: A creepy clown who resembles the penny wise character in that movie lurking the streets. His identity is a mystery. He poses photos of his exploits on FaceBook, along with messages that end with Stephen King's signature, "beep, beep."

CURRY, ACTOR, "IT": Beep, beep!

MCLAUGHLIN: His most recent cryptic note posted yesterday. It reads, "I'll be seeing you all very soon in the day, but I'm going to lay low for a bit as I have a big surprise for you all hopefully due at the end of the week. Beep, beep."

It's all for the people of the quaint English town of Northampton to see and, in some cases, fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd be terrified if I saw that clown at night. Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): If you ran into him on the street, what would you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd probably run away. He's got quite a mean face on him.

CALLUM JONES, REPORTER, "NORTHAMPTON CHRONICLE": The last confirmed sighting of him was right by this statue about -- I reckon about midnight on Sunday.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Callum Jones is now the unofficial clown correspondent at "The Northampton Chronicle." He's been following the story since last week.

JONES: I think he's probably an older guy. I think he's quite clever. I don't think he understands social media that well. He says he doesn't know how Twitter works.

MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't think he's going to jump out at any time, do you?

JONES: Well, I hope not.


ALLEN: Don't you worry, if that clown surfaces, we'll let you know.

Well, in just under two hours from now this rocket is set to blast off for the International Space Station. A successful mission would make Orbital Sciences the second private company to supply the station and open a new chapter in commercial spaceflight.

NASA says the weather looks good for the launch of the Anteres Rocket. It made a successful debut back in April. This time it will carry the Cygnus spacecraft holding cargo for the space station crew.

This animation shows Cygnus on its journey to ISS. It will take four days. Along the way, Orbital Sciences will have to demonstrate various maneuvers for NASA. If it passes those tests, Cygnus will berth with the station on Sunday.

So far, SpaceX is the only company to have done that.

Remember, NASA partnered with that private sector for these resupply missions. The U.S Space Agency retired its shuttle fleet in 2011 to focus on deep space exploration, opening the way for private companies to move right in. And apparently they're doing so.

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