Return to Transcripts main page
Bing Censoring Banned Chinese Characters Outside China; The Business Behind Journalism Website Startups; Southern UK Braces For Another Round Of Flooding; Controversy Surrounds bin Laden Photos; The Story of First Ever Snowboarding Gold Medalists
Aired February 12, 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 Microsoft's search engine appears to be blocking sensitive Chinese terms outside China. We'll have details and tell you what the company is saying.
The southern UK braces for the worst as another storm batters a region already under water.
And we look back on the story of the first man ever to win an Olympic gold on a snowboard and how he almost lost that medal.
Only censorship is a common practice inside China, but now it appears Bing may be censoring Chinese terms outside the country. It's a charge Microsoft has denied.
Now let's take a look at what you see when you search the Dalai Lama's name in Chinese characters on the U.S. version of Bing. I'm going to translate these results so that we can read them together.
Now the top link is from Baidu Baike, that's China's answer to Wikipedia and it's subjected to heavy censorship.
And there's also a link to a state run CCTV article and the story further down addressing the Dalai Lama's, quote, "treason."
Now again this is what you see on Bing outside China. And we asked our colleagues inside the Mainland in Beijing and they had similar results.
Now let's compare those results to what you see on Google. Now the Wikipedia entry on the Dalai Lama is right there at the top. And there's links to the Dalai Lama's own religious foundation, links all missing from the results on Bing.
Now Microsoft denies that they are censoring the results. They told Reuters that it was a technical error. And they said this, quote, the results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China.
Now this discrepancy in results, it was uncovered by GreatFire. It's a website that monitors online censorship in China. And one of its cofounders is Percy Alpha who was originally from China, but now lives in the United States. And he told me how surprised he was by what he saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERCY ALPHA, CO-FOUNDER OF GREATFIRE.ORG: Yeah, I was kind of shocked. This just didn't make any sense. It is maybe perhaps sensible for them to censor the Chinese search engine in the Ching (ph) China, but in the U.S. any American citizen can use Bing to search in Chinese and they will still be censored. It's just shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: And while it is rare to see the sort of censorship outside China inside the country, it is a completely different story. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube they're all blocked inside China as are some news outlets like the New York Times.
Now social networks that do exist inside China, like Sino Weibo, they are subject to strict government censorship, but some companies have found a way to coexist with China's rules while not necessarily following them.
Google's website in China redirects users to Google's Hong Kong addition, which is not subject to China's censorship laws.
Now let's turn now to the UK and a red warning has been issued there as another storm unleashes damaging winds and heavy rain. Now that is sure to add to the massive flooding engulfing central and southern England.
Now thousands more homes are under threat and soldiers have been called in to boost flood defenses as the country braces for more terrible weather.
Now the environment agency says 16 severe flood warnings are in place. Now that is at a level considered a threat to life. All the warnings are in the southern part of the country.
Now let's focus here in the southeast. As you can see in red among the hard hit towns and areas along the river Thames between London and the city of Windsor, that is of course where Windsor Castle is located.
Now our Jim Boulden, he is in Datchit. It's one of those affected suburbs west of London. He joins me now live with the very latest. And Jim, could you describe the scene around you?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see, Kristie, that it is raining again. And the wind has picked up. This is exactly what people here in Datchit right along the Thames do not want to see.
Much of the water you see here is actually from the historic rains of January, but as it continues to rain now into February, the water has nowhere to go and it continues to flood.
The government has just warned people along the Thames to expect a lot of heavy rain today. More flooding tomorrow through the weekend possibly for the entire Thames valley area. And they are saying that people need to be very careful. They expect more companies to be flooded, more businesses to be flooded.
Further down the southwest coast of the country, they have brought in some specialist pumping units from Holland. They're bringing in high pressure pumps they're calling in to try to help people down there where it is actually much more desperate than here.
The water here is -- has actually been receiving, Kristie, you wouldn't believe that looking at us, but it was much higher this morning. But the problem is it's raining again, and it will continue to rain again.
A lot of people here were critical earlier in the week about not hearing a lot of information, not getting help. But now you can see military are all over here, another military vehicle coming through Datchit.
We've seen a lot of fire trucks, we've seen rescue operations using canoes. (inaudible) helping their neighbors (inaudible) good spirit here. The pharmacy is open. And there's a man with a canoe. He's taking people to the pharmacy, or delivering their medicine if possible.
But this is expected to get worse through the day, so I'm guessing we're going to see the water increasing instead of receding, which it has been doing up to now, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yeah, and that would be many people's fears realized. We can see that it's raining. In fact, a bit of rain is on the camera lens there and we're fearing that the water levels will rise. And yet he just told us about the residents being taken by canoe to the local pharmacy. I have to ask you, I mean, how many people are still there? How many residents have evacuated? And how many have decided to stay despite the threat of rising water levels?
BOULDEN: Sure. There's been some people, some houses have been evacuated in other areas. It doesn't have to evacuated here, because if you go (inaudible) it's fine.
This is the old historic part of the Medieval village. So it tends to be lower, it tends to then have the issue of flooding. But over that way and over that way the houses are fine, it's just this area. So it's the businesses that are affected.
Some people have been flooded, others who are right along the Thames, of course, have been flooding. We saw people yesterday who have lost their furniture, people who lost clothing, but in this area it's more about the businesses, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right, Jim Boulden we're reporting live from Datchit, thank you very much indeed for that update.
Now let's get more on the conditions there. As you can see, the rain is setting in, an area that's already water logged. Let's get details with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it just breaks my heart when I see all that flooding. That is just one village, one of many that have been flooded by these just amazing rainfall that we've had across the area. And wait until the wind starts picking up across that region.
Already in London we have winds close to 50 kilometers per hour. So we're going to see those winds pick up throughout the rest of the day today and those areas west of London and then as we head over into southwest parts of the UK and through Ireland we could see wind gusts closer to 100 kilometers per hour. That's pretty intense.
So the wind is one thing. And this, of course, happening with this next weather system that's coming in and crossing that region today. So severe wind gusts very possible. We're expecting that in the areas that you see here highlighted in orange. So that's going to be one thing to monitor.
And I want to start with that, because look at these forecast wind gusts that we have, close to 100 in London, also in Dublin. Some of these more exposed areas and the wind will be even more intense.
And this is starting this afternoon.
We're going to move forward in time. By tonight, we're still seeing very strong winds across this entire region. They crossed through the channel. We start to see them now over mainland Europe and even in Paris wind gusts close to 60 kilometers per hour.
Word now at Thursday morning. And still quite windy across the UK and Ireland. And we see those winds starting to stretch now farther into central Europe and then also into parts of Portugal and Spain.
So this is a big weather system that will have widespread affects across the area and then even on Friday we still see those strong winds now stretching across more of central Europe including the central Mediterranean. So that's one storm system there. And we still have another one to come.
This is what it looks like right now with the radar moving through. And you can see those strong storms just where Jim was reporting from. They're going to start to get some pretty strong storms and some very gusty winds probably in the next half hour or so. And this is that leading edge of the front that's coming through. Then that area of low pressure still has to make it, very strong storms even now across parts of France.
And this right here is observed wave height. These are the very large waves that are starting to move in now into the Irish coast. So this is very significant as well. The red right there indicates waves 9 to 12 meters high. So this is the kind of storm system we're dealing with.
And then on top of that, we still have the rain to go through. In some cases we could see up to 50 millimeters of rain over the next couple of days across some of these areas. That weather system will move along as I've been telling you with the very strong winds eventually making it into central Europe. And then after that -- and this is the worst part, one goes away, you get a little break and another weather system begins to move in by Friday night with similar consequences. So this is yet another round of extremely nasty weather that will be moving through that area.
Very quickly, across the U.S., Kristie, here we're dealing with another winter storm. And this one made with ice.
I want to show you this picture, this timelapse right outside of CNN Center. Got the rain coming through and then you see, what, nothing. You know what that is? That's ice, ice that's forming on the camera lens right there. You can't take that off. That's what all of the surfaces look like here, because we're having an ice storm, that's when you have a shallow layer of cold air with warm air on the top and when the raindrops come down they freeze on contact on anything that they can find. And of course that includes the roadways.
This is what the radar looks like right now.
I want to leave you with this live picture. This is one of our crews that are driving around Atlanta right now, going through a tunnel there. It's obviously no ice under the tunnel. We'll just wait a second or two until they come out through the other side.
The highways here in Atlanta empty, completely different than what happened last time. They're telling people ahead of time do not go on the roadways. You can see a little bit of snow on the ground. Cars driving very, very slowly as you can see there, because of the potential for sliding.
So this is going to be something we'll be monitoring throughout. The rest of the day, this is a storm that has already canceled 2,500 flights and that's today alone.
Back to you.
LU STOUT: Wow, incredible. Icy, icy conditions out there. Mari Ramos, thank you.
Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead this hour, evacuations underway again in the Syrian city of Homs while humanitarian agencies rush in desperately needed aid.
The U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visits the island of Okinawa amid ongoing opposition to the presence of U.S. troops.
And we take a look at the deadly trade threatening elephants and park rangers in Chad.
LU STOUT: The United Nations have resumed getting people out and aid deliveries in to the besieged Syrian city of Homs. It says more than 1,100 people have been evacuated since a temporary cease-fire between government forces and the opposition was put in place last week.
Now CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke with the World Food Program's director for Syria Matthew Hollingsworth. And he is in Homs right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATHHEW HOLLINGWORTH, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: In terms of what we're seeing inside the city, nobody is living a normal life today. Nobody is able to actually feed themselves, feed their children, feed their families with anything but the weeds, the grass that they can -- they can pick on the side of the curb (ph) and what little that they can -- they can eke out from what they've saved over time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: On the diplomatic front, negotiations in Geneva continue between Syria's warring sides.
Now Caroline Kennedy is in Okinawa for the first time since she became U.S. ambassador to Japan, but her goodwill visit is sparking some tension over the American military presence on the island.
Now Vladimir Duthiers filed this report just before her visit.
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Carolina Kennedy arrived as the first female United States ambassador to Japan, thousands cheered.
For many here, the only daughter of president John F. Kennedy is in a nostalgic reminder of the glory that was Camelot.
But she wasted no time in weighing in on a controversial topic, condemning Japan's bloody hunt on Twitter.
Now she's set to visit another area of controversy: Okinawa. Washington and Tokyo view the island and the U.S. military basis located here as strategically vital.
KEITH HENRY, PRINCIPAL OFFICER, ASIA STRATEGY: Going to Okinawa as a representative of the American government sends a signal that the U.S.- Japan relationship is a key element for maintain peace and stability in the rest of Asia.
DUTHIERS: Some Okinawans agree.
"There are many worries with China and Korea so close to Okinawa," Toshihadu Taira (ph) says. "I feel we are protected because of the U.S. base presence here.
But for many others...
"It's best if all bases get out of Okinawa," says Sisaku Nakasato (ph).
In the closing days of World War II, more than 100,000 civilians died during the battle of Okinawa. After the war, both countries agree the U.S. would permanently station its armed forces in Japan to defend the country from any external threats.
Okinawa has about 25,000 troops based here. And in recent years, tens of thousands have protested their presence.
On a fence surrounding this base, one word written in English, "outrage."
The Okinawa Prefecture police tells CNN that between 1972 and 2012, U.S. military personnel have been accused of committing some 5,800 criminal offenses, including 26 murders and 128 rapes.
The most shocking of these, the 1995 abduction and rape of a 12-year- old girl by three U.S. servicemen. More rapes followed, the most recent in 2012.
Incident in 2008, when a marine was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl prompted an apology from the top.
CONDOLEEZA RICE, FRM. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: On behalf of President Bush, on behalf of myself and of the people of the United States for the terrible incident that happened on Okinawa...
DUTHIERS: In December, after 17 years of negotiations, Okinawa's governor finally agreed to move forward with a plan to relocate Futema Air Base, which you can see right behind me is right in the center of town. But many say it's not enough.
A base visit is not part of Ambassador Kennedy's official itinerary, but as it was with her father, her position, coupled with the Kennedy mystique, ensures that her every move will be scrutinized, especially here.
Vladimir Duthiers, CNN, Okinawa.
LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come, we take a look at the dangers of the ivory trade in Chad, not only for the elephants. We'll hear from the lone survivor of last year's brutal ambush that saw six park rangers killed.
Stay with us.
LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.
In Chad, our Arwa Damon takes a look at the deadly ivory trade that has already claimed much of the country's elephant population. But it's not just the herds that are in danger from poachers, so are the people working to protect them.
Arwa has more now. But a warning, her report includes some images of elephant poaching in Chad that are very difficult to watch.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In this desolate corner of Chad, piles of stones a solitary marker, the only reminders of a morning that still haunts Djimet Seid.
"I was making tea over there," he tells us. "I was right here and they shot me, they shot me here."
More than one year later, it's the first time he's been back. Six of his team, Zakouma National Park Rangers, were murdered as they emerged from their tents for morning prayers.
Juma was saying after that after he was shot he actually fell down the side of the cliff, they shot at him again. He crawled away and even though he'd been injured he still crawled back up to see what had happened to the rest of his unit. And that was when he that they had all been killed.
Above the site, park director Rian Labuschagne tells us it was revenge for a raid his rangers conducted on the poachers' camp just weeks before. The gunmen, highly trained Sudanese poachers.
The weapons that they are using, is it getting more sophisticated? RIAN LABUSCHAGNE, PARK DIRECTOR: The last group that we found up at Heban, they had all the communication equipment that they needed.
DAMON: So what do we have here?
LABUSCHAGNE: This is the strong room.
DAMON: Equipment taht gave Labuschagne evidence into exactly what his rangers were up against.
Recovered on the scene -- satellite phones with images showing hundreds of dead elephants, matching photos taken of carcasses in Cameroon, linking the poachers to one of the biggest slaughters in decades. This is some of the ammunition that you collected from the Sudanese poacher. LABUSCHAGNE: It's over a thousand rounds that's in here.
ARWA: Traced back to the armories in Khartoum.
LABUSCHAGNE: I think it just again shows that there is no control in Darfur.
DAMON: Also recovered at the poachers' camp Sudanese military uniforms, one identified as seeming to match those issued to the notorious Abu Tira Paramilitary Service, the other was standard issue infantry and a stamped leave slip from the army.
LABUSCHAGNE: It's a group of Sudanese coming in well armed with this sort of ammunition, moving in between local villages that's in rainy season completely isolated. It's a very disturbing for local the security that armed groups like this, armed groups like this, can move around freely within the region.
DIDRISS DEBY, PRESIDENT OF CHAD (through translator): Today all around us there are more weapons and there are more men who can use them. These men have no resources. Their only resource today that can help them to survive is illegal. DAMON: In 2003, the park's population was at 4,000. Today that number down to just 450. And armed groups are showing more sophistication, from tactics to technology, either serving criminal networks or poaching to fund their wars back home.
Arwa Damon, CNN, the Zakouma National Park, Chad.
LU STOUT: And since that report, the Sudanese government has responded to CNN's request for comment. Now the minister of information says Sudan has joined Sudanese-Chad forces along the border that would not allow for such an illegal trade. He adds this, quote, "Sudan gets blamed for everything."
You're watching News Stream. And still to come on the program, allegations of a coverup. We'll look back at one of the most famous raids in U.S. military history, the killing of Osama bin Laden.
And in Sochi, the snow machines, they are up and running in a very, very warm winter games. We'll take you live to Sochi for all the latest from the winter games.
LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.
Now the UN has resumed delivering aid to the hard hit Syrian city of Homs. And the evacuation of civilians is continuing under a temporary cease-fire between government forces and the opposition. Nearly 1,200 people have been evacuated in recent days.
Now after weeks of severe weather, the UK is bracing for another powerful storm system on Wednesday. The UK's national weather service says strong winds and heavy rain are expected today and much of south and central England is already under water.
Microsoft's search engine appears to be blocking sensitive Chinese terms outside of China. Microsoft tells Reuters it is not intentional and says some results might have been affected by a technical error.
Now it is day six of the Sochi Winter Games, and six gold medals are up for grabs. Now competitors will be battling it out for gold in Alpine skiing, Nordic combined, speed skating, luge, snowboarding and figure skating events.
Let's take a look at the medal tally so far.
Now despite the demonstrations in the leadup to Russia's Winter Olympics, the streets of Sochi, they've been largely protest free.
Now authorities, they set up a special space for those wishing to express their dissent just outside the city. But our Ivan Watson, he found only one protester who is marching for a cause that may surprise you.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: This quiet little park is the only officially designated place where Russians can come and organize political protests and demonstrations during the Winter Olympics.
As you can see, it's pretty peaceful here. It's located underneath the newly constructed highway and next to a train station.
So far, we've only seen one Russian exercising this political freedom, that woman over there with the orange and black flag. Let's go talk to her.
QURESHI: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WATSON: Wow. So, (inaudible) tells me that this is the goal of her entire life right now. She is protesting against what she argues is the interference by other countries into the affairs of Russia.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
So (inaudible) has broken down her one-woman demonstration promptly at 6:00 pm. She says she doesn't want to break the law.
Now everybody else in Russia, however, is having such an easy time making their voices heard during these winter games.
Several activists were detained in Moscow's Red Square for holding an unauthorized protest against Russia's controversial anti-gay propaganda law.
In the meantime, we've also heard reports of other demonstrators who have been detained for unauthorized protests in other Russian cities as well.
And some activists that we've talked to here in Sochi tell us that their application to hold a protest here against chronic power cuts, electricity cuts in Sochi was denied by the local government, which has also told us that you can only gather a maximum of 100 people here in this park to hold the demonstration, that's if you get permission from authorities.
So we're learning now that protesting during these Winter Olympics is much easier said than done.
Ivan Watson, CNN, Sochi, Russia.
LU STOUT: And that was a very curious one person demonstration there in Sochi.
Let's go to the Olympic city for more now with Ivan Watson. He joins me now live.
And Ivan, hopefully that you can hear me, the video link wasn't established there. There you are.
Now during the games, we learned that a Russian environmental activist has been jailed. Tell us more about this person and what was the alleged crime.
WATSON: That's right.
This man's name is Yvgeny Vitischko (ph). He's a member of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucuses and an outspoken critic of the Sochi Olympics who has repeatedly accused the Olympic project of damaging the environment here on the Black Sea and in the Caucuses mountains above it.
Now he and another member of his environmentalist group were convicted last year after they were convicted of damaging the fence of what they claimed was the private beach house of the governor of this province that they alleged was built illegal. They put up signs along that fence. They were sentenced, they were basically given three years parole, something akin to a suspended jail sentence, for damaging public property.
Now in the last two weeks, Vitischko (ph) has been arrested again and charged with swearing in public at a bus stop and then he's been charged also with violating his parole. He is now going to be sent to serve three years in a Russian penal colony basically for that initial charge of damaging the private property.
Now I've spoken to his defense attorney who is claiming that this is purely a political decision. It's being made by the local authorities purely to silence a critic of the Sochi Olympics -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And lets' talk about Vitisckho's (Ph) cause, because you recently reported on the environmental fallout from all the Olympic building boom and the construction. I mean, what kind of ecodamage has been done here?
WATSON: We visited one little village right alongside the estimated $8 billion new highway and train line that runs from the coast here up into the mountains to the Alpine sports venues. And there was one village in particular that was hit very hard by the construction, because it was on the path of the construction trucks that would drive up to a nearby quarry that provided a lot of the stone that's been needed for this massive project.
The locals there claimed that their water supply was ruined, that their road through their area was damaged, that their homes were damaged by the constant traffic of these heavy construction trucks going back and forth and that while billions of dollars were spent on an Olympic roadway and train, their town didn't even get sanitation and plumbing, much less heat and suffered power cuts as well.
The people there very frustrated at what they saw as the unequal development that took place there.
That is one community that lodged a lot of complaints and that this environmental activist Yvegeny Vitisckho (ph) was instrumental in bringing attention of that village's plight to the outside world. Again, his lawyer claiming that he's being punished for that. Of course, the Russian authorities arguing that this is just justice at work. This man has been convicted for hooliganism and destroying property -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And Ivan, you're in Sochi, you're reporting on the winter games and yet can't help but notice you're not wearing a jacket, you're not even wearing a sweater. We have to talk about the temperature there. I mean, this is said to be one of the warmest winter games in history. So how is that affecting all the sport and the athletes?
WATSON: Well, it is downright balmy down here on the Black Sea coast. 16 degrees Celsius today. I mean, I saw people jogging in shorts, people sitting on the beach with their shirts off. It is warm and really nice. And that fits with the motto, the slogan of these Olympics, which is hot, cold, yours.
Now the temperature up in the mountains where the real snow sports are taking place, the alpine sports, it is much colder on any given day, it's at a much higher altitude. And there's usually a differentiation certainly when the sun goes down. But we've been speaking to some of the people, the experts on the snow up there, and they do say that they've had to make use of snow machines. They have special snow machines that can actually make snow when the temperature is very far above freezing, if you can imagine that. Presumably they'd have to use some chemicals to bolster that effort.
And on top of that, the Sochi 2014 Olympics has been stockpiling snow from last winter under insulation up in the Caucuses mountains. Presumably with this very warm weather hitting right now, they're having to dip into those very valuable white and snowy stockpiles to help make sure that the slopes are still white and snowy for the athletes -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yeah, it's good to know they have been on standby. I didn't know you could stockpile snow from last year. That's incredible.
Ivan Watson reporting from a balmy Sochi. Thank you, Ivan. Take care.
And if that warm weather continues, spectators may have less need for some of these. Now the snow jackets, they are part of the impressive range of souvenirs offered at the Olympic city. But as CNN's Ian Lee found out, getting decked out in the official gear, it won't be easy on your wallet.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After an exhausting day of watching events, you'll need some retail therapy. Of course I mean souvenir shopping. Let's see what Sochi has to offer.
Leopard, bear and even a rabbit hat, the mascots of the games at this store. A Sochi clock to keep track of your favorite events, or a Russian nesting doll tea set for breaks in between.
Russia is known for their hats. And you have baseball caps, stocking caps, and here the shapka ushanka, the traditional Russian hat.
Or perhaps you want a commemorative coin that can double as an investment. Every sport is represented in silver and gold, even when Russia hosted in 1980.
There's a lot of Olympic coins to choose from, but there's only one granddaddy of them all, and it's right over here. This three kilogram, about 6.6 pound solid gold coin cost a little over $200,000.
The game's iconic winter clothing is next on the agenda. Here, we find everything from a polo shirt to the most popular item, mittens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can use American, you see. And it works and people can make cents (ph) between each other's. And we sell every day about 65,000 for each mittens.
LEE: If you want to be decked out from head to toe in official Olympic gear, you're going to have to come to this place, Bosco (ph). But looking this good is going to cost you. This hat and jacket combination is about $1,700. Though as we found out here in Russia, if you want to show off your Olympic spirit, it isn't cheap.
Ian Lee, CNN, Sochi.
LU STOUT: That's such a good look there.
You're watching News Stream. And still ahead on the program, new questions about the death of Osama bin Laden. We take a look at the controversial allegations surrounding photos supposedly taken of the slain al Qaeda leader.
Stay with us.
LU STOUT: Now in recent weeks, we have seen the launch of several brand new online news sites, all powered by experienced traditional media reporters. This week, Glenn Greenwald, formerly of The Guardian unveiled The Intercept, which will focus on reporting based on leaked NSA documents.
Bill Keller, the former executive editor and columnist of the New York Times is leaving the paper to lead an online startup called The Marshall Project that will cover the criminal justice system in America.
And earlier, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the founders of the Wall Street Journals All Things D brand, they launched their new sites called Re/code.
And we also know Ezra Klein, formerly of the Washington Post is creating a new website for explanatory style reporting.
Now what's going on here? Is all this a new renaissance in web journalism? Well, let's bring in our regular contributor Nicholas Thompson. He is the editor of the New Yorker.com, and Nick, good to see you again. Interesting topic here.
And one thing most of these new websites have in common is a commitment to public interest journalism. Tell us how.
NICHOLAS THOMPSON, NEW YORKER.COM: I mean, that's fascinating, right, because a lot of people have believed that public interest journalism and the kind of long, in depth, serious stuff that all of these new startups you've just talked about, what all of them are doing, people have said for awhile that that stuff is going away. And now we're seeing more and more that, no, that stuff isn't going again. That stuff is really thriving.
All of these journalists are going to do journalism that matters, that challenges power, that tries to make the world better, that some people will disagree with, but that tries to identify problems in society and help identify solutions.
LU STOUT: But there is paradox in online journalism, because on one hand you have stuff like Buzzfeed. I mean, it exists because net users, they love cute kitten videos and top 20 lists, will web audiences go there and also go to and reward in depth reporting and public interest journalism?
THOMPSON: So my view on this is that they're going to be two kinds of journalism that really thrives, right. There's going to be a whole group of people who compete to get the best shortlist, to get the best quick celebrity news, to do the immediacy, to optimize perfectly for every new social network. And that's a tough game, and there going to be people who are really good at it and who are really thrive and going to make a lot of money in that.
And then there's a second kind of business which will be people who say, look, we're going to go in depth. The web allows you to read anything. People can go wherever they want. So we're going to have the best thing on a certain topic.
You know, Glenn Greenwald's view is that he is going to have the best stuff on the NSA. And that people who care about that are going to want to read his stuff.
So I think what is going to happen is that you're going to have sort of a split, you'll have some people at the surface and then you'll have some people going in really, really deep. And then some, you know -- and both sides will thrive quite well.
LU STOUT: So, there are (inaudible) out there on the Internet who have the demand who want to read in depth journalism, but what about the business model here, Nick. Because I mean, we all know the Internet has been undercutting traditional media for over a decade now. How can in depth journalism survive and thrive online?
THOMPSON: Well, OK, so the Internet undercuts traditional journalism in lots of ways. You know, it changes the whole advertising market. It changes the power of individual brands and allows people to leave their companies and start their own companies, because they've built up their own personal brands on social media.
It also, though, reduces startup costs. It's much easier to start a journalistic entity.
Also, there are lots of ways for people doing in depth journalism to thrive, even if you go -- even if you say they're not going to make money off advertising, and of course they all will to a certain degree.
First of all, there's subscriptions, right. Build up loyalty. We're going to publish the best things on certain topics, we have the best kind of writing, but we're going to make you pay for it. People will pay for that. So subscriptions.
Then there's conferences, that's kind of the Re/code model, which is we're going to put out this journalism. You're going to read it, you're going to trust us, you're going to know our brand. Then we're going to hold events and we're going to charge a lot for it.
Then there are other business models, right. I have a startup, the Adavist. It does long form in depth journalism. What we do is we built a content management system, which we then license out to other people so you build software while you're creating your news and then you license your software.
There are about six or seven different business models that different people are trying.
Oh, and another really important one, and this is the Bill Keller Project, which is we're going to find someone with a lot of money who really wants to do this, who really wants to push this and we're just going to get him to support it. And no philanthropist, no rich person is going to put tons of money around a list or aggregation or fluff site, they're going to put money behind stuff that's in depth and important. So that's another reason why that kind of journalism, I think, has a bright future.
LU STOUT: Yeah, they have -- you can have a big backer, new forms of revenue and revenue streams and also as you pointed out there's low overhead, too, so all those factors coming together so these new web only websites can thrive.
But also the fact that they're web only, or online only. I mean, can these -- whether it's the Marshall Project or the Intercept, when they exist only on the web, do you think that's a little bit risky, or is that where the audience is? Or where the audience will be?
THOMPSON: Well, it's where a lot of the audience is right now. I think -- you know, I work at the New Yorker. I think print is great. I love the printed magazine. And our readers love the printed magazine.
But for a lot of the companies that are starting up today, you know there are real startup costs to putting out a print publication. You have to find someone who can publish it. You have to send it out in the mail. There are great things about that, but there are hard things about that.
If you want to start something and you want it to be quick, it's probably easier to go all digital. We're seeing that with all of the new startups, they're really pushing digital.
So, I think that -- I think what's going to happen with the new journalism is there's going to be a lot more churn, right. It's easier to start something. And it's also things fail faster.
You'll see things sort of coming up and then dropping down. And there will be a lot of -- a lot of change, but I also think that the trends and what we've seen in the last couple of years are mostly for the good. I mean, the kind of journalism that's being created is good for the world, it's good for civic engagement.
So I'm excited by this period where we've clearly entered into.
LU STOUT: Yeah, change is indeed good, good for readers and for journalists alike.
Nick Thompson, New Yorker.com. Thank you very much indeed for that.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Krisite.
LU STOUT: Now, nearly three years after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, new allegations have surfaced over a possible coverup involving some photographs.
Now Brian Todd takes a look at this sensitive email sent by the commander of the raid that started it all.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In those highly charged days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, news consumers searched for any morsel of information about the raid. The Obama administration faced intense pressure to release photos of bin Laden after he was shot and killed by Navy SEALs.
The Associated Press and the conservative group Judicial Watch filed requests for the photos. And Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit. What happened under all that pressure? This order. Just hours after that lawsuit was filed, the commander of the SEAL operation, Admiral William McRaven, sent this e-mail: "Gentlemen, all photos should have been turned over to the CIA. If you still have them, destroy them immediately or get them to the 'blank,'" whoever that was still classified.
TOM FITTON, PRESIDENT, JUDICIAL WATCH: If these records were indeed destroyed, there may have been crimes committed.
TODD: Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch believes it shows a cover-up, the possible suppression of key documents from maybe the most famous raid in military history.
FITTON: There's laws that prohibit the mutilation and destruction of public records. It shows contempt for the law and it shows contempt for the people's right to know.
TODD: The Pentagon wouldn't comment on those assertions or the McRaven e-mail. A spokesman for Admiral McRaven wouldn't comment, nor would the CIA or the White House.
But in the days after the bin Laden raid, President Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" why he believed the photos of a deceased bin Laden should not be made public.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence.
TODD: It is not clear whether any photos of bin Laden were actually destroyed. Could any of the SEALs depicted in the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" have taken personal photos? CNN military analyst General James "Spider" Mark says it is likely they were ordered not to by their commanders.
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: And it wouldn't be surprising if they shook them down and they said, OK, I want to make sure you don't have something that is hidden away someplace. I don't think you'll do this, but look, folks, I want to make sure that you stay away. I want to keep you honest. I want to keep you out of trouble.
TODD: But Mark says the SEALs would have designated some member of the team to take official photos and video for posterity and training purposes.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come, snowboarding's first ever Olympic champ had the gold stripped away. We'll tell you why he lost it and how he managed to win it back after the break.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now earlier, we heard from CNN's Ivan Watson in a very balmy Sochi. And for more on the rising temperatures there in the Olympic city, let's go straight to Mari Ramos. She's standing by at the world weather center -- Mari.
RAMOS: Hey, Kristie, yeah, it has been very warm across Sochi, surprisingly so and above average certainly for this time of year.
I want to start you off with these places that, you know, you wouldn't expect to be colder than Sochi, even Hong Kong. We've talked about that before. High in Hong Kong expected to be 9 degrees compared to Sochi 16. Even the low temperature, look at that, pretty significant. This is the forecast.
And then look at this right over here, London also colder than Sochi as you can see. Both of them are under partly cloudy skies. Sochi 16, Rome, Italy 13. So even places that you'd expect to be warm this time of year -- it is winter -- 13 degrees in Rome right now.
And then the forecast in New York, it's minus 3, so also much, much colder than Sochi.
I know that they want to see those temperatures -- oh, I have one more, Atlanta, minus 1. There you go.
I know we want to see these temperatures colder for this time of year. They have had some problems reportedly on some of the mountains, but these temperatures that are so warm -- and I know what you're thinking, you're saying, well, that's on the coast. Certainly in the mountains it's going to be much colder. But it hasn't been that much colder.
What we have is a generally very clear skies, a lot of sunshine coming through, and winds that are generally out of the south. So even as we head out into those mountainous areas, we have those temperatures that are five or 10 degrees above the average for this time of year along a very wide area and that includes the shores of the Black Sea here where Sochi is located.
The spokesperson for the IOC said, you know, what the problems haven't been too bad. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ADAMS, IOC SPOKESMAN: I think we're getting a little bit premature if we're talking about bad weather if you compare to Vancouver. This is -- we have -- every event I think I'm right in saying this, has happened and on schedule so far. So, if this is a problem, then let's have more of them. It's quite good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMOS: So, they have been able to have all of their events in the mountains where it's supposed to be colder. Temperatures here are also quite warm for now. So we'll have to see what effect that has on the athletes. Highs near 16 degrees Celsius as we head into Friday and Saturday.
Kristie, back to you.
LU STOUT: Here's hoping we have more snow than slush. Mari Ramos there, thank you.
Now, snowboarding made its Olympic debut 16 years ago in Nagano, Japan. The winner was a Canadian, but his victory turned controversial. Now documentary filmmaker Yasmeen Qureshi has the story of a gold medal won then lost and then won again.
YASMEEN QURESHI, FILMMAKER: The drive up to Whistler, Canada's famous ski resort, is both spectacular and inspiring. The snow covered mountains are some of the highest slopes in the country and have motivated generations of Canadian skiers and snowboarders.
The sport debuted at the Winter Olympics in 1998. The first ever gold medal winner was Ross Rebagliati.
Hi, Ross, how are you?
ROSS REBAGLIATI, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Good to see you.
QURESHI: Nice to meet you.
REBAGLIATI: We're going to set it up right now. And you said you're goofy foot, right, which means right foot forward.
QURESHI: Is that normal. Are most people goofy?
REBAGLIATI: Most people are regular. I'm goofy.
QURESHI: Introductions over, boots and board fitted for size. We take a gondola trip to the top of the mountain.
REBAGLIATI: The variety of terrain is unlimited. So there's really no conditions that we're unprepared for.
Winning the gold medal in Nagano, and for me in particular was an amazing experience. And that -- it was the first time snowboarding was at the Olympics. So normally it would have been enough of a honor just to go to the Olympics, but at this point in the game everyone was thinking not only are we going to the Olympics, but someone has the opportunity to be the first one to ever win a gold medal in the sport of snowboarding.
QURESHI: Winning the gold medal was also the start of a difficult period for Rebagliati.
So I want to ask you about something a little bit sensitive. Initially, when you won the gold medal, the first gold medal ever in snowboarding, it was taken away from you. What happened?
REBAGLIATI: What happened to me in Nagano after I won the gold medal was an inadvertent positive test for TCH, which is basically cannabis. That was a big upset for myself and for Canada, being the first event of the Olympics and everything and the first time snowboarding was in the Olympics.
Fortunately, though, we appealed the decision and after further research, the IOC realized that TCH, or cannabis wasn't on the list of banned substances and therefore didn't have any grounds to take my medal away.
Since then, they have added it to the list of banned substances.
UNIDNETIFIED FEMALE: Ironically, Rebagliati's newest venture is selling and branding cannabis, attaching his name to medical marijuana growing in accordance with Health Canada's new rules.
REBAGLIATI: Ross's Gold is going to be distribution of medical cannabis throughout Canada and other parts of the world.
QURESHI: Rebagliati still rides.
All right, have fun.
QURESHI: And he's excited that this Olympics will shine a spotlight on the sport that he helped make famous.
In Whistler, Canada, this is Yasmeen Qureshi for CNN.
LU STOUT: Incredible story. I'm glad he got that medal back.
And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.