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Flappy Bird is Dead; UN Aid Convoys Fired Upon In Homs; The Basement Where The Beatles Got Their Start; Crowds Thin Outside Sochi; Uproar After Copenhagen Zoo Euthanizes Healthy Giraffe

Aired February 10, 2014 - 8:00   ET

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


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Now hundreds flee the besieged Syrian city of Homs as diplomats gather in Geneva again to try and find a way to resolve the crisis.

We'll tell you why a zoo said it had to kill a perfectly healthy young giraffe.

And the strange story of flappy bird, the mobile game that became so popular its creator says it ruined his life.

Syrian peace talks resume today in Geneva after more than 600 people were evacuated from the city of Homs a pledge to allow humanitarian evacuations came out of the first round of talks.

A short cease-fire was supposed to protect the evacuees and vehicles bringing aid to thousands still in the city, but it did not stop aid convoys from being targeted by the gunfire.

And those lucky enough to flee the besieged city found themselves once again caught in the line of fire. Mohammed Jamjoom has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORREPONSENT: It's hard to imagine this is progress. It's called an evacuation, but looks more like an escape.

Dozens of mothers and children, they're pleas for help louder than the gunfire close by running for their lives.

The cameraman worries they won't make it. "Please, god. Don't let a massacre happen," he says. "The families are running to the UN," he adds. Then, breaks down. Help couldn't get there fast enough.

So many innocent civilians used to being caught between regime and rebels, now wedged between just a few UN vehicles. After more than 600 days under siege, they make a painful pilgrimage out.

The day before was even worse. Aid workers sped around corners as blasts continued to go off. The convoy came under fire, but UN personnel still managed to deliver food and water.

Trapped inside for hours, they experienced firsthand how hellish life in Homs's old city can be.

Undeterred, they came back the next day. The wounded and elderly may have struggled to keep up, but the exodus continued.

If bags were too heavy, they simply dropped them. Afterall, they'd gotten closer to safety than they had in almost two years. Shocking to be sure, but this may actually be an improvement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And as we mentioned, peace talks ending the nearly three yearlong civil war are currently underway. And for more on those talks, we're joined now by our correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom live in Beirut.

And Mohammed, we have Geneva II, another round of peace talks. What will happen? And will the two sides meet face-to-face?

JAMJOOM: Yeah, well that's the key question right now, Kristie. We know that so far Lakhdar Brahimi was the joint UN Arab League envoy today has already met with the delegation for the Syrian opposition and he's scheduled to meet right about now with the delegation for the Syrian government.

It's unclear at this hour if both those delegations will meet face-to- face or how long exactly these talks will last, but I can tell you that from everybody I'm speaking with in the ground in Syria they're quite cynical about what these talks may yield. And they don't really have an optimistic opinion as far as thinking that much more aid will come to those areas that have been most affected.

Let's take a listen to some of what some residents close to Damascus had to say earlier today about these renewed peace talks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Before they hold a conference, they should stop the armed people that are entering the country. They have to stop supporting terrorism that they are supporting with money. You do not know the language of those armed people. They're Chechens, Tunisians and Libyans. What do you do with all those people who entered the country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They're liars. The conference is useless. It is a lie. If we wanted to solve our problem, we must solve it here only in our country. They are nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAMJOOM: Yeah, as you can see there, Kristie, these comments -- and they do echo what I hear from people who I speak with who are in Syria, some close to Homs, some in other parts of the country.

Because the negotiation process that led to even just this brief cease-fire around Homs was so torturous and was so protracted and painful, people don't really think that this next round of peace talks is going to aid much as far as really ceasing the civil war that's going on in Syria -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, from the streets there inside Syria, not a lot of hope for another breakthrough.

Now more aid, meanwhile, is desperately needed on the ground, especially in areas like Homs. We know that France, along with other countries, they're working on a UN resolution for access. I mean, could there be another diplomatic opening here to get more aid to places like Homs?

JAMJOOM: Well, it certainly looks right now as if there is this new diplomatic opening. And there is a renewed push to try to get more humanitarian corridors open inside Syria. The problem, though, is even if there are agreements that are reached in Geneva or elsewhere around the world, making sure that those agreements that are reached in other parts of the world are actually implemented on the ground are very difficult. The logistics are extremely difficult. It's a very volatile situation.

And over the course of the past few weeks, since the last round of peace talks, I spoke to many aid workers who were very much at the ready. They want to dispense this aid as quickly as they can, they want to get much needed medical supplies and food and water to the areas that have been so besieged during the Syrian civil war, but any brief tiny little hiccup on the ground there can cease them -- can get those aid convoys stopped in their tracks. And that's where the danger is.

We saw over the weekend how the UN convoy that entered the old city of Homs was actually stuck there for hours. They came under fire, members of their team were wounded because they came under attack. And that's really the danger. It's dangerous not just for the innocent civilians there in Syria trapped between the rebels and the regime, also for the aid workers trying to dispense help on the ground -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And thank you for reminding us of that.

Mohammed Jamjoom reporting live from Beirut. Thank you.

Now turning now to the UK and torrential rain and hurricane force winds there show no sign of letting up. About a dozen flood alerts have been raised to severe, meaning a risk to life. And that includes the River Thames across the southern part of England. It has been swollen for weeks by the downpours.

Now the UK has been hit with bad weather since early December. And Matthew Chance joins me now from Somerset County, it's one of the areas hit hardest by the flooding. And Matthew, could you describe the conditions there where you are?

MATTHEW CHANGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie.

I'm in a town, a village in fact, called Burrough Bridge, which is in Somerset, one of the counties, as you mentioned, that's been severely affected by the very exceptionally rainy weather that's been experienced in Britain for the past several weeks, in fact, since December. The whole of January was the wettest month on record for 248 years.

Take a look at the impact. I mean, we gave you some pictures earlier about how 26 square acres are covered in water. This is the River Parrot (ph), one of the waterways which crisscrosses this part of Somerset. And it has broken its banks in parts. You can see here there's a line of sandbags that have put up here. They've been here for several weeks to give you an indication of just how much concern there's been for how long that this river would break its banks.

But over there on the other side work has been going on. Today all these people you see perhaps standing around, work has been going on today to bolster those defenses even further, because there's a great deal of concern, Kristie, that even though the river levels have risen this far, more rain is forecast in the days ahead, heavy rain, and that could see the levels right. But also the rain that's already fallen in saturated areas of this county is flooding into the river basins as well. And so the river levels are rising. And it's causing enormous damage to the local communities. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes, livestock been evacuated as well, a lot of property has been damaged.

The emergency services are out. They're trying to help as much as they can, but it is a huge, huge relief effort, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, this is very ,very alarming to hear. I mean, flood waters you're reporting are set to rise further there. Evacuations have been going on, but what's being done to prevent more damage there?

CHANCE: Well, there's not much that can be done at this point in the sense that, you know, all the authorities can do at this point is to build more flood defenses to bolster them with sand bags, which is what they've been doing.

It's remarkable, actually, to see the number of volunteers that have come out here in Britain to help with the authorities building those defense. I spoke to an aid agency -- the leader of an aid agency a few hours ago. And he was telling me that normally they only operate overseas. This is the first time in their 40 year history that they've been called out to deal with an emergency inside the United Kingdom there in the Philippines recently. Before that, they were in Haiti. And so very surprised that they were called on to give assistance here in Britain.

And I think it's something that he was saying is psychologically difficult for the whole of the country. They've got so many resources in Britain here, so many aid agencies that are used to deploy overseas to help other countries when they have problems. But the response here has been much slower and the locals have been affected are extremely angry with the politicians who are responsible.

LU SOTUT: Yeah, a lot of anger after at the scene behind you, an ecological disaster there.

Matthew Chance reporting live from Somerset in the UK. Thank you very much indeed.

And across the flood zone there, the flood waters again they are expected to rise further.

Let's get a forecast on the conditions with Mari Ramos. She joins me from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. What Matthew there was saying is just a perfect example of how these kinds of weather events can happen anywhere in the world -- rich countries, poor countries. Of course the risk and likelihood of death is much larger in a relatively underdeveloped country as opposed to a more developed country, but as you can see the weather can affect us all and it does. And this is a perfect example of the kinds of situations that even in places like the UK you can see extreme weather that can cause significant damage. And for people in those areas, they've been at this already for over a month. And that is why people are so exhausted already.

And when we look at the forecast over the next few days, this is Monday, this is Tuesday and this is Wednesday.

So you're looking at a map of the UK. The areas in red are the areas of high risk, that includes those areas Surrey, Winter and Maidenhead right along the Thames.

And then also Somerset back over here where Matthew was just reporting from. Those areas remain at high risk on Monday, on Tuesday, and even as we head into Wednesday.

So this is pretty serious stuff. We're not seeing a break in this. And these rivers and these waterways are going to take a while still to drain all of that water that has been falling and then eventually make it to the larger rivers. It's going to take a long time.

And one of those large rivers, of course, is the Thames. And I want to show you here. There's London, so it's going to be these areas to the west, the ones that are most affected right now, the areas that have those severe weather warnings.

So this is very significant. Already across this region there are at least 14 severe flood warnings along this one river alone. And they are expected to peak above the 2003 level. The difference between 2003 and now is that when that happened it happened very, very quickly. it was very heavy rain that fell at the end of November that filled up the rivers very quickly. The river got very high, but then it was over and done with. In this case, we're talking about water and rain that has been accumulating for over a month. And that is why these levels are critical over the next few days. So that's going to be something to watch.

A far as rainfall right now, today is actually a relatively quiet day. We had some snow right over there as you can see, so it is quite cold. And then areas farther to the south, they're getting some scattered rain showers.

We cannot forget that Ireland has also been hard hit by these weather systems over and over again, in many cases quite severe, especially along the west coast there of Ireland. But the flooding has not been as severe as what we're seeing or as prolonged as what we have here across parts of England.

As far as the rainfall, this goes all the way to Saturday, so we're looking at several days. And again you're seeing more in the way of rainfall totals across these areas. What's going to happen is we're getting a little bit of a break right now, Kristie, and then our next weather system comes in. That weather pattern continues with these areas of low pressure just sweeping across this region.

Again, very strong wind, very heavy rain expected along these areas. And that flood threat continues in that region. You'll notice the front stretching all the way down into Portugal and Spain.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right, Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now still head right here on News Stream, apparently the zoo had no place for him. The Copenhagen zoo defends itself after the killing of this giraffe sparks outrage online.

Also ahead, captive in North Korea, we'll bring you new footage of American Kenneth Bae now out of the hospital as he speaks out on his condition.

And spotlight on Sochi, we'll give you the latest on the big winners and the big upsets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: You're back. You're watching News Stream. And you're looking at a visual version of all the stories we've got in the show today.

Now a little bit later, we'll bring you the latest from the Winter Games in Sochi. But first there is new video of the Korean-American Kenneth Bae in captivity in North Korea.

Now it was released by Chosen Sinbo (ph), a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan.

Now Bae tells a Swedish diplomat that he was recently moved back to a prison camp following a stay in the hospital. And he expresses concern about his health.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNETH BAE, PRISONER IN NORTH KOREA: I stay strong mentally and spiritually. And I'm trying to stay strong emotionally as well. But I my main concern right now that is that my official condition was (inaudible) labor for eight hours a day for the next couple of months will be difficult. So they can't do something right away is the best way to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now, Bae was sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor accused of trying to topple the government. North Korea withdrew its invitation for a U.S. envoy to visit Pyongyang to discuss Bae's case, but state media are now reporting that another American, former Ambassador to South Korea Donald Greg is in Pyongyang.

Now many countries have what's called a baby drop box, it's a shelter where new mothers can leave infants they're unable to care for. And in South Korea, one pastor says he has seen the number of infants left in his care rise dramatically in recent months.

CNN's Paula Hancocks investigates why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lifting the shopping bags carefully, pastor Lee Jong-raek (ph) examines the latest drop off at his church. Inside each bag, a newborn baby, twins left in the so-called baby box by a mother who didn't know where else to turn.

"One mother said she wanted to commit suicide with her baby by drinking poison," he tells me. "Another said she wanted to throw the baby out of the third floor window, then jump herself."

So this is where the baby would be left, in this very unassuming alleyway in the southwest of Seoul and the mother would basically have two options here. She can either press the bell and speak to the pastor about how she can get help, otherwise she can simply open up the hatch, a siren sounds inside, and she would place her baby here. And then close the hatch.

Many are abandoned anonymously, some still bloodied from birth with the umbilical cord intact.

After police and health checks, the infant is transferred to child care institution within days.

One-fifth of the babies left here are disabled, the pastor himself has adopted some of them.

But Lee claims the number of babies left here jumped from two a month to an average of 19 a month shortly after an August 2012 change in Korea's adoption law.

A mother must now keep her newborn for seven days before adoption and a court process checks the baby as officially registered with the government.

"Most mothers that use the baby box are teenagers," says the pastor. "They're still at school. How can they apply for registration without letting their parents know?"

The government tells CNN if a child is adopted, the parents records are kept secret. They're now debating a revision in parliament to protect a parents' identity even if the child is not adopted.

But one activist for adoptee rights says the law is good, it's just that many people don't understand it.

JANE JEONG TRENKA, ADOPTION ACTIVIST: There are more checks that are happening to make sure that the adoption is ethical and legal. We have learned from 60 years of experience that this anonymous abandonment thing doesn't work.

HANCOCKS: Some who feel they have no option but the baby box are unwed women. Park Ji-hye (ph) understands why. Her partners left her when she became pregnant. She was then rejected by her family when she decided to keep the baby.

"To live as a single mother in South Korea is like being treated as a criminal," she says, "even though you have not committed a crime."

Park calls her single or teenage mothers to be treated with sympathy and not judgment. Until then, the baby box may remain a necessity.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come on the program, we'll go live to Sochi. And we'll see how Russians are getting into the Olympic spirit in just a few minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

And now I want to bring you a story that's grabbed plenty of attention, a healthy young giraffe called Marios (ph) was put down at a zoo in Copenhagen. The zoo said it was necessary to avoid inbreeding.

Now some 27,000 people had signed an online petition hoping to save Marios (ph), but despite their efforts, the giraffe was shot and the meat was fed to lions at the zoo.

Now the zoo says other animals are culled every year at the zoo for the same reason. Frederik Pleitgen reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Marios (ph), a young giraffe still alive and perfectly healthy. But Sunday the Copenhagen zoo euthanized the 2-year-old animal anyway, sparking an international outrage.

A vet later described the process.

"There was a zookeeper with some rye bread. It really likes rye bread. And he said here you go, Marias (ph), here is some rye bread. I stood behind with a rifle and when he put his head forward and ate the rye bread, and I shot him through the brain. It sounds violent, but it means that Marias had no idea of what was coming."

This same vet performed a public autopsy on the animal in front an interested crowd.

Tens of thousands had signed an online petition to save Marias. Several zoos and animal parks volunteered to take him in. And a businessman reportedly even offered almost $700,000 to the zoo to keep the giraffe alive.

Even though Marias was perfectly healthy, many other giraffes at the zoo have a similar genetic makeup, so Marias was culled to prevent inbreeding.

In an interview with CNN, the zoo's scientific director defended the culling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you also make sure that the space available is filled up with animals genetically valuable. And when giraffes breed as well as they do now, then you will inevitably run into a so-called surplus problem now and then. It's not very often.

PLEITGEN: And when there are two many animals with similar genetics, culling is standard policy in Europe.

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, EAZA said in a statement, "EAZA fully supports the decision of the zoo to humanely put the animal down, and believes strongly in the need for genetic and demographic management within populations of animals in human care. EAZA's breeding programs are at the forefront of efforts to safeguard endangered species and are a key part of the worldwide's strategy to prevent the actions of humans from destroying the future of the natural world.

Scientific necessity will probably do little to curb public anger, especially since the Copenhagen zoo also announced that parts of Marias' cadaver would be fed to lions and other carnivores at the facility.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: And Kristie, the Copenhagen Zoo also said they don't understand the big public outcry overall of this. They say that public autopsy was well received by the people who were there, that people were very interested in it. But of course it is a slap in the face for the many people who petitioned on behalf of this two-year-old giraffe. I mean, there were 20,000 people who signed that online petition. So clearly the Copenhagen Zoo not doing well in reading the public sentiment about what was going on.

Apparently, even, there are some death threats against the leadership of that zoo that have surfaced online. So this is taking on really a life of its own, if you will, a lot of people are very angry about this.

Although, I do have to say there are also some people, Kristie, who are saying left keep all this in perspective, it is one giraffe. I mean, there's so much meat that's eaten every day, there's so many conflicts in the world, but there is still a lot of outrage going on online, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Indeed. Indeed. Fred Pleitgen, many thanks indeed for the update. And also for a bit of a perspective check there. Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Berlin.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up next, we go live to Sochi for the latest on the Winter Games, and travel into the nearby mountains where the spirit of the games has been slow to arrive.

The developer of one of the world's most popular mobile game apps pulls the plug on his creation. The flap over flappy bird, that's coming up next as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now Syria's warring sides are in Geneva as a second round of peace talks gets underway. And the talks begin as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says France and other countries will call for a UN resolution demanding the immediate opening of humanitarian aid corridors to besieged Syrian cities.

Now he has been detained in North Korea for more than a year. And on Friday American Kenneth Bae met with a Swedish diplomat at a camp where he is doing hard labor. He says he is not giving up hope that he will return home.

Now the video was released by a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan.

Now Australian Schapelle Corby is free on parole after her release from a prison in Bali, Indonesia. Now Corby spent nearly a decade behind bars after being convicted of drug smuggling in 2005. She has always said she is innocent. Under the terms of her parole, Corby is to remain in Bali until 2017.

Now record flooding is causing widespread damage to parts of the United Kingdom. Heavy rain and gale force winds have left 5,000 homes under water. Tens of thousands of people have been affected by power cuts. It was the wettest January since 1766.

Now competition is well underway at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. And three more gold medals are up for grabs on day three of the games. Still to come, our results for speed skating, biathlon and freestyle skiing.

Let's look at the latest medal table. You've got Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States all sit with two gold medals each.

Now the Games have already produced a major upset in skiing with Austria's Matthias Mayer taking gold in the men's downhill. Now the 23- year-old beat out pre-race favorites Bode Miller of the United States and the world downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

Now CNN's Amanda Davies caught up with an ecstatic Mayer after the win.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHIAS MAYER, MEN'S DOWNHILL OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I don't know what to say. It is Olympic gold. Yeah, it's amazing feeling. The whole day was unbelievable. And now I came here to Austria house, all the people so happy and they're celebrating and yeah, just having a lot of fun.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It was a sensational run, but at the time when you crossed the line it didn't look like you thought you would have won gold. At one point did you think, hang on a minute, this is going my way.

MAYER: I knew it was a good run, but I had some mistakes and I was a jerk. But then Bode Miller came and it was six-tenths behind. I thought, this could be a medal. And then (inaudible) was six-tenths in front of me at the first intermediate and then in the finish he was six-hundreds of a second behind me. So, whoa, my friends that, this could be gold, this is could be golden. Yeah.

It's gold, it's unbelievable.

DAVIES: What were you thinking standing there waiting as everybody else came down?

MAYER: Oh, I was so nervous. At the start gate, I was free. And I just wanted to ski. But down at the finish area I was so nervous. I didn't know what to think.

DAVIES: And you're best in the downhill up to this point in the World Cup was a fifth. What went right today?

MAYER: Yeah, that's right. It was my fifth place in December last year (inaudible) difficult downhill race, most difficult downhill race in the world cup. And yeah, I knew I can be fast here, because my training runs was pretty good. And, yeah, I just tried to copy my training runs. And that was it.

DAVIES: And there's been a lot of criticism of the course before today. I suppose now it's your favorite course in the world?

MAYER: No, it's definitely. It's definitely it, yeah.

DAVIES: And how special is it for you, your dad won Olympic silver, so you know took one better?

MAYER: Yeah. I don't know what to say. I'm Olympic champion right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Big congrats on the win. And with the competition running smoothly, there is a celebratory mood in Sochi with both Russians and visitors embracing the Olympic spirit.

Our Ivan Watson is there. He joins me now live. And Ivan, what is the level of national pride, Russian national pride there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's substantial. I'd say that from what I was hearing from Russians before the start of the Olympics, there were a fair amount of misgivings, criticisms from Russians living here in this Black Sea resort.

But that all seemed to change, to transform those concerns and criticisms, I think kind of disappeared within seconds when Friday night we heard the first strains of the Russian national anthem performed at the opening ceremony in the Olympic park behind me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: The winter games in Sochi are now underway. And Russia is opening its arms to the rest of the world sharing its culture and traditions.

The opening ceremony was a moment of Russian pride, and not only for Vladimir Putin. In a humble cafe, patrons and cooks stood side by side bursting with patriotism during a live performance of the Russian national anthem.

Moscow is trying to put what was once a backwater Black Sea resort back on the map. For years, locals endured power outages while much of their city turned into a construction site. After all that, the Lasovsky (ph) family says the Olympic games now feel like a holiday.

"From the new hotels to the big sports arenas, we love it," Victoria tells me. "I think the whole world will come here, see this, and enjoy it."

These days, the people here look unmistakably happy. And sometimes it feels like the entire city is celebrating.

This is my very first Olympiad. And what I'm quickly realizing is it's about more than just the sports, this is an entire citywide festival that's being enjoyed by Russians and by foreign visitors as well.

This retired couple from Seattle have visited more than 60 countries as well as Antarctica.

So you guys are pretty excited, you're like having a great time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're having a great time. We're enjoying it. We've never been to Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And everybody has been really nice.

UNIDENTIIFIED MALE: Friendly and nice and helpful.

WATSON: I ask them if they're worried about security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel very comfortable here, because there's so much security all over the place.

WATSON: You have to go through medal detectors even to see ballet. No one is taking any chances. Russians are well aware that for the next few weeks their country is on an international stage, an Olympic theater where even the audience members are performers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Now just as a sign of signal of how Russians are feeling, Kristie, you know you walk around and Russians will come to you and ask you how do you like our winter games? I mean, they're clearly looking for affirmation and feeling quite proud about this.

In the meantime on a more serious note, the International Olympic Committee has put out a statement today making it clear that it's trying to resolve one of the lingering controversies that we reported on in the runup to the opening of the games. You know, this has been described as perhaps the most expensive Olympics to date with a price tag of more than $50 billion. And yet human rights groups had slammed Russian for reports that thousands and thousands of particularly migrant construction workers were not paid portions of their salary.

The International Olympic Committee has now announced that it launched an investigation into this. An unspecified number of construction companies have been fined for not paying salaries, that more than 6,000 of these workers have been compensated and that the investigation into these allegations of unpaid back salaries continues -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Very -- thank you for the update there. And it's good to hear that there will be an investigation into these reports out there on unpaid laborers, reports that we have given to our viewers here at CNN just this last week.

While we still have you, Ivan, I also wanted to ask you about something else, because in your package, in your story just then, you can clearly see the enthusiasm. And there are a few crowds, but you're not seeing big, huge, teeming crowds. In general, I mean, what is the attendance like at Olympic events there in Sochi?

CHANCE: It's a really good observation, Kristie. I mean, the Russian organizing committee, it claimed that last Saturday, for example, 91 percent of the tickets to sporting events were sold and that some 30,000 people were spectators at the different events.

Now I've checked with our producers, veteran producers at CNN Sports. They say, if it's true that 91 percent of the tickets were sold that would shatter records of ticket sales at all previous Olympics. So perhaps there's a bit of exaggeration there.

Now when you drive around this region, yes, you saw the scenes at the Sochi port, which is about 25 minutes drive from where we are at the coastal Olympic park, but the crowds you see there, while they're happy, they are not big. They could be perhaps the crowds on a Thursday night downtown, certainly not what you'd expect from what is supposed to be the biggest international event that Russia is hosting at this time. And you see that at other venues and at other locations as well.

I don't have an explanation for that. All I can say is that I do recall from the London Olympics that there were reports, there were criticisms that though venues were supposed to be sold out, there were repeatedly signs of stadiums that were not at full capacity, there were many empty seats. And that seems to be what we're seeing here in some of the venues as well -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Sounds like another matter due for investigation. Ivan Watson reporting live from Sochi, thank you.

And while the coastal city of Sochi has been named the site of the winter games, many of the alpine events are taking place in the surrounding mountains. And the media covering the events, they are centered in the Alpine town of Gornaya Karusel. But as Nick Paton Walsh reports, it is hardly buzzing with Olympic fever.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They've laid down a welcome warm enough to melt the Siberian tundra, but here at least Russia is waiting for everyone else to show up.

This hotel complex up in the hills where even the snow is now ready says it's sold out, that everyone is at the games, but really everyone? These were the only actual guests we found.

BEN LEWIS, TOURIST: I don't know where the party is. It's a little bit ghostly right now, but maybe it's early. Yes, I have seen the film The Shining.

WALSH: He was even told he couldn't extend his stay it's so busy.

There's a Russian saying that champagne too early is a bad thing. Well, there's no champagne being drunk at all. It's all a bit sad up here.

Across the mountain cluster, the lights are on, but there aren't that many at home. It's hard to know in a place as remote as this, what full occupancy looks like, but it doesn't feel that crowded.

These buses parked up on what should be a busy Sunday. Those we saw driving around often empty.

Still, the Russians are here in force. And nothing, not even a nearby insurgency or the at times punitive prices for nearly everything will stop their fun.

Russian pride, and there's a lot of it around here, doesn't come that cheap. This coupled with this is going to set you back well over $1,000.

Here, they sense a Russian gold is near. They got their first moments later.

80 percent of tickets are sold, organizers say, and the venues seemed busy. The $51 billion games, a marvel of engineering, Russian culture and security up in the hills. Even if, in some places, they forgot to invite the snow.

There are pockets of winter joy. These Austrians, the team with the most direct threat against two of their female athletes, almost impossible to worry. Whatever they put in the (inaudible) clearly works, enough to make them forget the price.

Here's hoping the atmosphere builds along with the numbers.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Sochi.

(END VIDEOATPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come, Flappy Bird flies no more at least in app stores. Why the widely popular mobile game got shot down by its own creator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now journalist Glenn Greenwald is reporting new revelations from the NSA on his independent news website. Now he was the reporter who broke news of U.S. government surveillance last year based on revelations from the NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Now Greenwald's latest stories include allegations about the NSA's roll in the drone program and photos of the inside of intelligence agencies.

Now Greenwald spoke with CNN's Brian Stelter about his new venture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN GREENWALD, JOURNALIST: A big part of why this appeals to us so much, namely, the opportunity to build a new Web site, a new media outlet really, is to be able to continue aggressively reporting on these materials that have informed democratic debates around the world.

STELTER: And are all of the stories you'll be publishing starting this week all based on the Snowden documents or have new source comes forward?

GREENWALD: Well, I can't really talk about the stories until they're published including their bases, but I would say just in general, that before the Snowden reporting began, one of the recognitions I think on the part of the American media was that the Obama administration has been particularly aggressive, some have said and I would agree, vindictive, in going after sources and even journalists themselves.

James Goodell, the former "New York Times" general counsel, said that President Obama is more hostile to basic press freedom than any president since Richard Nixon.

So, I think one of the things sources need to know if they come forward, they're going to be defended and protected and also that whatever they come forward to reveal is going to be aggressively reported by media outlets and by journalists even if the government doesn't like it. And I think journalists know that about us and I think that some will be willing to work with us.

STELTER: Some sources you mean? Sounds like you do have other sources that you're protecting.

GREENWALD: Yes. I just -- you know, until the stories are revealed, I just can't really address that.

STELTER: Is it fair to say you've heard from people inside the NSA or inside the government who have been inspired by Edward Snowden, who are also feeling uncomfortable with what's going on inside the government and also want to share information with you?

GREENWALD: I definitely think it's fair to say that there are people who have been inspired by Edward Snowden's courage and by the great good and virtue that it has achieved and, you know, I think there were people before Edward Snowden like Chelsea Manning and Thomas Drake and before that Daniel Ellsberg who were incredibly heroic. I think Edward Snowden was inspired by them. I have no doubt there will be other sources inside the government who see extreme wrongdoing inspired by Edward Snowden as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: And that was journalist Glenn Greenwald, formally with The Guardian newspaper and now the online news site First Look Media.

Now it's funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. And Gleenwald is set to launch a series of digital magazines with other investigative journalists.

Now, I wanted to bring you a strange story of a simple iPhone game from Vietnam that shot to the very top of the charts. And apparently it caused its creator so much trouble that he pulled it off the app store. I'm talking about this game, flappy bird and it's pretty simple, tapping the bird makes it fly letting it go makes it drop to the ground. And the point is to successfully fly past as many pipes as possible.

As you can see it's not easy.

Now the games was the most popular free app on both Apple's app store and the Google Playstore on Android, but it still apparently made its creator plenty of money.

Now Dong Nguyen told The Verge that he was making $50,000 a day through ads displayed inside the game alone. I mean, it sounds like an incredible success story, right? Well, this is where things start to change.

Now last week, Nguyen tweeted that he wanted to be left alone and said the press was overrating the success of his game. But he was also receiving plenty of criticism, including the allegation that he copied designs from Nintendo's Mario games.

Now judge for yourself, on the left here is a pipe from flappy bird, and on the right a pipe from Super Mario Brothers.

Now there's also the design of the flappy bird itself as seen on the left, which is said to resemble this enemy from Super Mario World on the right.

Now all of it, it seemed to get to Nguyen, and he later tweeted that he hated his game for ruining his life. And then, this announcement saying that he will take Flappy Bird down, because he, quote, cannot take this anymore. And he later clarified that it wasn't for legal reasons and that he will still make games.

But, true to his word, Flappy Bird has now been removed from both Apple's apps store and the Google Playstore on Android.

Now still to come right here on News Stream, many more headlines ahead. Keep it here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now it has been 50 years since the Beatles crossed the Atlantic and shot to fame in the United States. But back home in England, there are more than a few locations made iconic by their association with the legendary British band. Now the Abbey Road zebra crossing for example and the tiny Cavern Club is known as the place where the Beatles got their start, but the basement of a family home near Liverpool appears to have an even earlier claim.

Our Jim Boulden paid a visit to The Casbah

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In 1959, the mother of two teenaged boys, Mona Best (ph), decided to open a rock 'n' roll coffee house in the basement of her large home outside Liverpool. She called it the Casbah. She needed a house band and booked the Les Stewart Quartet (ph). And he son Roag Best remembers.

ROAG BEST, THE CASBAH CLUB: Unfortunately, or fortunately as time proves now Les Stewart (ph) eight weeks before the club is due to open refuses to play the Casbah. He doesn't want to play here.

BOULDEN: Two of the quartet still wanted the gig, Ken Brown and George Harrison.

BEST: George comes to the rescue, because he's got two friends he used to be in a group with and they're not doing anything. He's sure they'll jump at this opportunity, which they did.

BOULDEN: And they are?

BEST: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

BOULDEN: So, opening night, August 29, 1959, the boys known as the Quarry Men played The Casbah.

By 1961, they were known as the Beatles with Mona's eldest son Pete Best as the drummer.

So as the story goes, the Beatles last played here at The Casbah in June of 1962. And Pete Best was still the drummer. Mona Best paid them 15 pounds in total for the night.

And after that night, Mona closed the Casbah to the surprise of everyone.

BEST: She was heavily pregnant with me. And she also felt that her job was done, the Beatles were on the way.

BOULDEN: On their way, out of Liverpool for good and surprisingly, Liverpool moved on from the Beatles.

BEST: Into the 80s, the Beatles are still being ignored and then for some reason at some point in the 80s the penny dropped. We shouldn't ignore this.

BOULDEN: The Best family cleared out the basement.

BEST: Stars on the ceiling were put up by John, Paul, George, Peter, Stewart Socliff (ph), Ken Brown.

BOULDEN: And Roag Best felt the place where the Beatles played before The Cavern Club needed to be on the map.

BEST: It's almost like the Casbah played no part. And if we don't stand up and be counted, it's going to go down in history that it really didn't play a part.

BOULDEN: So now it's open as a tourist attraction. The old piano back in place.

BEST: It's been played by the Beatles hundreds upon hundreds of times. It doesn't play any more. When the Casbah closed my father thought it would be a wonderful idea to gut the inside and turn it into a piano bar, which devalued it by about 350,000 pounds.

BOULDEN: Roag Bests father, Neil Aspinall rose from being the Beatles first driver to road manager to head of Apple Corps, the band's company. He was also Mona's boyfriend when her son Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Star in August 1962.

Neil thought of quitting.

BEST: At which point the whole family said to him, don't do that. The Beatles are on their way. We've got one casualty, we don't need another. Stick with them. And he did.

BOULDEN: Aspinall's place in Beatles history is firmly cemented. His son Roag wants his mother Mona and her coffee club firmly part of that history as well.

Jim Boulden, CNN, West Darby, England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now an American college football player is the latest high profile athlete to publicly reveal he is gay and could soon be the first gay NFL player.

Now Michael Sam is a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri. And in an interview with ESPN, he said he told his teammates that he is gay and did not suffer any repercussions. Now he is expected to be picked in the NFL draft in May.

Now there are NFL players who have come out as gay after their career is over. Sam could be the first to come out and play.

Now finally, this face pretty familiar in the sporting world. Tiger Woods is perhaps Golf's most recognizable player. And now his niece is making a name for herself. 23-year-old Cheyenne Woods seems to take after her uncle in more ways than one. And on Sunday, she claimed a two stroke victory at the Australian Ladies Masters Golf Tournament. Cheyenne said she was happy to prove that she is more than just a familiar name. And apparently more than just a familiar face.

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

END