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Making Gravity's Visual Effects; Rokuten Buys Viber For $900 Million; Mount Kelud Erupts, Sending Thousands Fleeing; Gus Kenworthy's Sochi Puppies; The Window Washers of the Burj Khalifa; Olympic Skiers Complain Of Warm Olympics; A Look At North Korea's Ski Resort

Aired February 14, 2014 - 8:00   ET


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

An Indonesian volcano erupts, forcing thousands of people from their homes and shutting down airports across the country.

The popular mobile app Viber is bought by a Japanese company for almost a billion dollars.

And behind the scenes of gravity. We show you how they sent Sandra Bullock into space at a studio right here on Earth.

Now tens of thousands of people are fleeing an explosive volcano in Indonesia. Now, Mount Kelud has been spewing molten ash for at least two days, sending a thick black smoke plume high into the air and raining down pebbles onto surrounding areas and blanketing cities. As you can see here, cars covered in ash.

The eruptions have killed three people and forced seven airports to close.

Now the volcano is over here in the east of Indonesia's main island Java. It is 90 kilometers south of the country's second biggest city Surabaya. And residents within a 10 kilometers radius have been ordered to evacuate. Authorities say that is because smaller eruptions may still be in store.

Now a spokesman for the country's disaster agency say that ash from the volcano has spread as far as 500 kilometers to the west and northwest. Now that widespread ash is causing huge problems for airlines. They've been forced to cancel flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

The cloud from the eruption shut down airports in five cities, including Surabaya. And showers of volcanic ash settled on grounded airplanes, forming layers up to 5 centimeters thick according to the manager of one airport.


ANDI WIRSON, ADI SUTJIPTO AIRPORT GENERAL MANAGER (through translator): The current conditions are that volcanic ash is now covering the runway, apron and tarmac. We have already measured the thickness of the volcanic ash, which is at 5 centimeters on the runway and tarmac, 2.5 centimeters at the apron.


LU STOUT: Now these unrelenting weather patterns, they have spelled troubled for travels in the U.S. as well. Winter storms there have been wrecking havoc on the country's roads, railways and airport runways.

Rene Marsh looks at what has been one of the worst weeks for air travel this winter.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Snowplows on the runways instead of planes. This week's winter storm battering the East Coast led to the worst single day of air travel this winter. More than 6,500 flights were canceled Thursday, according to a flight- tracking web site, making it one of the first worst air travel days in recent years.

A February 2011 snowstorm beat this one out, so did Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We brought tickets and our flight just got canceled. Now, we just have to wait and wait and wait.

MARSH: The delays leaving frustrated passengers stranded at airports all over, from New York's LaGuardia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got three kids, 5, 8, 9. And so, they're crying because they were excited about seeing their grandparents.

MARSH: To Charlotte International, Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson and Philadelphia International Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been bumped about -- this will be the second or third time.

MARSH: Now, airlines are trying to dig out in the face of a big holiday weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were scheduled to get out of Philadelphia today, you probably can't get rebooked until Sunday or Monday.

MARSH: Crews still busy de icing planes and trying to get the runways ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to get rid of that slush. You don't want an airplane sliding off the runway.

MARSH: And it's not just the East Coast impacted. The cancellations could have impact on nationwide travel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have a flight crew originating out of the east coast or connecting through any of those hubs, it could impact a flight as far away as Phoenix.


LU STOUT: Now let's get more on the extreme weather patterns and all the travel chaos there in the U.S. with Alexandra Steele. She joins me from the world weather center -- Alex.


You know, Rene really said it best and delineated all the airport impacted. They are all the major hubs in the U.S. So this week alone 14,000 cancellations, almost 30,000 delays. And just look at this year alone with all of the snow storms we've had, just an unprecedented number of snow storms. And also ice storms in the southeast, 75,000 cancellations, cost to the airlines $150 million.

Certainly, we will feel that in our pockets with the tickets.

All right, so here's what happened. This was the storm. It began here in the southeast, a crippling ice storm, devastating the south. Alabama 25 centimeters of snow. We are going to see double that into the northeast, the storm making its way now into the northeast.

And again today is kind of the last day of it, but this is what we saw. Thunder hail, intense hail, very potent thunderstorms, and of course the heavy snow with it to boot.

So here are some of the totals that we've seen, so Virginia 38 centimeters, 48 in Roanoke. Philadelphia, Washington, Central Park 25 centimeters almost. And New York City now, this will go down as one of the top 10 snowiest winters on record. And that's kind of emblematic of what we're seeing in all these big cities.

The snow storm quickly moving out today, kind of bringing Boston in the northeast a little bit more, but what we're going to see now, another clipper, just tot the west. You can see it begin to move in. It's right there. Heading toward Indianapolis. That moves in tomorrow. And we're going to pick up a little bit more snow, just to add to all the misery there.

Well, actually, you know, the world is very fluid. And it is the jet stream. And all of these things, whether if be the snow and the ice in the eastern seaboard of the U.S. or this inundation of rain with all of these rainstorms moving into Europe. It's all connected. It is all connected.

And so what we're seeing here -- again the flooding continues, the worst in 60 years along the Thames. 5 million people here at flood risk in England and Wales alone.

So here's the storm we saw on Wednesday, the last rain storm to make its way in. 24 hours rain totals. In Shap 46 millimeters, in Bala 33. And that was just yesterday. And then today, again we've got this next storm beginning to make its way in. And looking at the rainfall total and the expectation through the next five days, more rain coming in. So it's just this incredible inundation of rain coming in on saturated ground.

Severe weather also potential from today through the weekend. And here's where. Severe wind gusts, high wind warnings in western Europe and Wales as well.

So, the winds and what we've seen as well, these are the past winds. So we've got again another very windy scenario making its way in.

Look at some of these gusts, 171, 154, Cork 124, so we're seeing, Kristie, an incredible amount of rain, more winds coming in. So, you know, we had a break yesterday. Today, the next storm makes its way. So flights from the U.S. to Europe all will be impacted.

LU STOUT: Wow, heavy wind and rain, it is just relentless out there.

Alexandra Steele, thank you so much.

Now, Britain's environment agency is warning that more rain will bring more flooding to parts of England that are already water logged. Communities along the Thames are being warned that they are at significant risk.

Now Jim Boulden has more from the town of Maidenhead.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is just starting to rain here in Maidenhead along the river Thames. This is expected to be the third major Atlantic storm to hit this part of the UK. It has already started to batter the south coast.

What you see here is an enormous amount of rain water and water flooding off from the Thames. This field should be completely dry in normal times. This is part of the area where the flood waters simply has to run, because they are protecting other parts of the river Thames.

They're building up banks, getting ready for a weekend of more flooding because of this expected rain.

In fact, today the water is actually is actually receding a little bit. It's a bit more thin here on the road than we would have expected, but the authorities have said be careful, don't assume that means things are getting better. It's because it didn't rain on Thursday, so areas like this are expected to actually see the water rise throughout Friday. In fact, this road is actually closed, only four wheel vehicles and emergency vehicles have been going through.

Now, Prime Minister David Cameron has been asking for volunteers to go man some of the sand banks. They've also been telling the local authorities not to charge residents for the sandbags that the central government will, in fact, pay for that.

But again, we are expecting bad weather through the weekend, expecting the river Thames to continue to rise at certain levels, sometimes at a 60 year high. There are houses being evacuated, many thousands of people without electricity.

Jim Boulden, CNN, Maidenhead, England.


LU STOUT: In Thailand, riot police descended on protest camps in the capital Bangkok on Friday. They were deployed by the thousands to take back sites that have been occupied by demonstrators for months.

They regained control of some, but not all, of the camps. And no serious injuries are reported.

Now police have pledged to return again tomorrow. The protesters are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

You're watching News Stream. And still to come, as the Syrian peace talks plod along, the UN's aid chief has some strong words for both sides. She says action is needed now.

And we know countless Syrians have taken up arms in their country's civil war, but many from Europe have also joined their cause, that includes the UK where one man may have earned a new distinction.

And a step back in time to a pivotal era that shaped the world of today. Stay with us for a special preview of our landmark documentary series Cold War.


LU STOUT: Now negotiations between Syria's warring parties continue today, brokered by the UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Now despite joint efforts by the U.S. and Russia to help push the peace process along, talks between the Syrian government and rebel forces have hit an apparent standstill.

But an opposition official says that Brahimi still plans to take peace talks into a third round. A date has not yet been set for this next session of talks.

Now the Syrian government did say today that it is prepared to discuss a transitional governing body, that is if the opposition is willing to call the effort a joint fight against terrorism. What these types of concessions just aren't enough for some of the world's top diplomats.

Now the UN's emergency aid chief is demanding action now.


VALERIE AMOS, UN EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: I told the security council that it is unacceptable that four months since the members of that council demanded action, international humanitarian law continues to be consistently and flagrantly violated by all parties to the conflict.

All parties are failing in their responsibility to protect civilians. We understand that a war is going on, but even wars have rules. There's no amount of words that can adequately describe the horrific reality facing civilians in Syria today. Solidarity with the people of Syria is what, in my view, the preamble of the United Nations stands for. We the people's of the United Nations.

The member states of the United Nations and particularly the member states of the security council have a responsibility to take the action necessary to uphold the principles and values of the UN charter.


LU STOUT: And meanwhile in Syria's long besieged city of Homs, a truce has been extended for another three days to allow more evacuations. Now hundreds of people so far have been able to leave, but about 2,500 more civilians remain inside.

Now civilians fight to get out of Syria, foreign fighters are streaming in to join the country's civil war.

Now Britons are a strong contingent among them. But now, it looks like one man from England may have taken insurgency to an entirely new level. Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the truck bomb reported to have been detonated by Brtiain's first known suicide bomber in Syria. The dramatic rebel assault on Aleppo Prison earlier this month was caught on camera. One group, the al Qaeda affiliated al Nusra Front only named the bomber by his alias.

But British media are reporting it's this man, 41-year-old father of three Abdul Waheed Majeed from Crawley (ph) south of London.

Near his house on the perhaps aptly named Martyr's Avenue, his family says he told them he was in Syria delivering humanitarian aid, not fighting.

MOHAMMAD JAMIL, ABDUL WAHEED MAJEED'S UNCLE; He was a big family man, you know. He has had (inaudible) you know. And we never thought he ever had link to anybody (inaudible) you know (inaudible). Good deeds, you know, that's why he's gone over there.

CHANCE: Of course it's not the first time a British national has gone to Syria to fight. The conflict has been a magnet for highly motivated foreign fighters flocking there to join the rebel ranks. Security analysts say the vast majority are from Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya. But it's estimated that nearly 2,000 European citizens have also taken up arms, between 200 and 400 of them British.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how we have fun in the (inaudible) here.

CHANCE: And many of them are active online, often using social media to glorify the rebels, or to document their own feats in battle and those of others. Analysts say the Syria war is reinvigorating global jihad as a cause.

SHIRAZ MAHER, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALIZATION: I do believe the global jihadist threat had been in decline before the Syrian jihad really took off. But I feel now the events in Syria have probably extended the jihadist threat by at least two generations. So in that sense, Syria has come along and really revived the fortunes of the global jihad movement.

CHANCE: And security officials say that poses a long-term security threat if or when those battle hardened militants decide to come home.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


LU STOUT: Now, still to come, we look at one of the defining standoffs that heralded the start of the Cold War. It's the latest in CNN's landmark series examining critical moments in the battle between capitalism and Communism.


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

And we return to Berlin today to bring you the latest in CNN's documentary series Cold War. All this week, we're looking at the first major clash in the struggle between Communism and Capitalism. The Soviet blockade of west Berlin and the extraordinary air lift that followed.

Now it happened in the same city where the Cold War would eventually come to its abrupt end four decades later.


KENNETH BRANAGH, ACTOR: The Soviets blocked all major road, rail and canal links between west Berlin and Western Germany. They made no concerted effort to seal every route, but delivery of the 12,000 tons of food and coal normally supplied by the west to Berlin every day was now impossible.

The Soviets cut electricity supplies to factories and offices. West Berliners could do little. Their only large power station had been dismantled for reparations by the Soviets in 1945.

The western allies imposed a counter-blocade on the Soviet zone. Workers throughout the whole of Berlin faced unemployment and hardship.

ELLA BAROWSKY, BERLIN COUNCILOR (through translator): First of all, it was a terrible shock. Wherever you went everyone asked, oh my god, what will happen to us now?

BRANAGH: Stalin's purpose was clear: to force the western allies to change their policies, or quit Berlin.

In 1945, the western allies had made a written agreement with the Soviets. Plans could fly along three air corridors 20 miles wide to two Berlin airfields, Tempelhof and Gatar (ph). Sea planes could also set down on Lake Havel.

The British responded to the challenge. They planned an airlift. Foreign Secretary Bevin put his weight behind the idea.

ERNEST BEVIN, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The physical suffering of 2.5 million people in Berlin to try and influence the allies, the western powers, in their treatment of the Germans and to try to force us out is one which we are unable to accept.

BRANAGH: General Clay, the American commander, didn't believe an airlift would work. He had wanted to test Soviet resolve by running an armed convoy through the blocade. Reluctantly, he agreed to pursue the airlift idea with Anst Reuter (ph).

ROBERT LOCHNER, U.S. MILITARY GOVERNMENT; Clay had said that this would mean extreme hardship and how little we could bring in at first. And he asked Reuter (ph) point blank do you think the Berliners will be able to take it.

Reuter (ph) quietly replied, you take care of the airlift, I'll take care of the Berliners. And Clay said that was good enough.


LU STOUT: And tune in this Saturday for the next episode of CNN's landmark series Cold War. Revisit a pivotal time in history as the Iron Curtain divides a world struggling to recover from the ravages of war. That is the next Cold War Saturday 1900 in Hong Kong.

A Palestinian man who was looking for a fish has instead hooked a rare find from the ancient past. But connecting the artifact with people who can properly preserve it is proving a difficult and increasingly urgent task.

Nic Robertson has the story from Gaza.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Already turning green. This incredibly rare 2,500 year old life-sized statue of the Greek god Apollo is being destroyed by the air. It is currently hidden by the Hamas government in Gaza. And this video is the first ever of this massively valuable treasure.

On the beach in Gaza, this Palestinian construction worker takes me to where he found it while diving for fish last summer.

"I was afraid. I thought it was a body," he tells me.

Hours later, he managed to drag it to the beach.

"I thought it was made of gold. I was going to be rich," he says. "So I took it home to hide it."

Then others got involved.

What happens next gets a little shady. One of the local armed brigades takes control over it. And then there's' a posting on eBay trying to sell the statue, estimated value about half a million dollars.

Inside a dingy Gaza gold store, the man who shot the video says he had custody of it for awhile, tells me the bronze statue is safe, but if someone wants to buy it, well, that's possible he tells me.

Showing me an intense green spot on its leg, he says the condition is getting worse by the week.

The government official responsible tells me he is worried too.

"It's in bad shape," he says. "We need help with restoration."

He says he's been in touch with Swiss and French officials.

But this is Gaza, and the government is Hamas, not internationally recognized, a terrorist organization according to the United States. The government promises the statue won't be sold off and they'll put it on display soon, start restoration once they've completed an investigation into its discovery.

Time, this 2,500 year old statue doesn't have.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Gaza.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And coming up next, it is looking like Sochi will be the warmest Winter Olympics on record. Good for sunbathing perhaps, not so good for the athletes.

And North Korea may not have any competitors at Sochi, but it now has a state of the art ski resort. We'll bring you a close-up look at the slopes.

Stay with us.


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

A volcanic eruption has killed three people in Indonesia. Now the heavy ash has also forced 75,000 people to leave their homes on the island of Java. Indonesia's government has raised its eruption alert to its highest level. The volcano last erupted in 2007, but it's become much more active in the past 10 days.

Now another big rain storm is moving into the UK. Large parts of the country are already under water. And communities along the Thames are being warned that they are at high risk for flooding. More than two-thirds of Britain fire and rescue services are fighting to limit the damage.

The northeastern U.S. is digging out from a powerful winter storm that has killed at least 16 people and caused massive power outages. More than 10,000 flights have been canceled since Monday. And adding to the travel woes, more than 1,300 flights are canceled again today.

Now the popular mobile chat app Viber has been bought by Japan's Rakuten for $900 million. Now the app offers text, chat and voice calling similar to Skype. It has about 300 million users.

Now it has been a sunny and warm day in Sochi, day seven of the Winter Olympics. Six gold medals were up for grabs. Let's take a look at the medal tally so far. We'll bring if up for you. And when I last checked it out, Geramny was at top. There you see it, Germany in the lead with seven gold medals with a total of 10 medals there.

Now the warm temperatures there in Sochi, they may not be ideal conditions for winter sporting events, but as Ian Lee now reports, the Olympic tourists are enjoying the novelty.


IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hot, cool, yours is the motto of these Olympics. And while it's not really hot, it's definitely warm enough for a t-shirt, 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 18 degrees Celsius, not really the weather for a Winter Olympics.

This isn't the Polar Bear Club, it's that warm for a swim, the warmest Winter Olympics so far drew this family from Australia to the beach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bit of a nice surprise. We knew it would be warm here in Sochi, but it's lovely to have a swim in the Black Sea. We don't know that we'll get to do that ever again. So it's good fun.

LEE: The sun's rays melt ice cream cones and possibly a rock?

The heat has also caused confusion about whether this is Russia or Brazil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even in Chicago this winter, we have twice as much snow as we've had. We had minus 20 below twice. This is like going to Rio for the Olympics, not going to Sochi.

LEE: I have my jacket. I have my scarf. We're going to take this train to the mountains to try to find an elusive cold weather.

Nearly 30 miles outside Sochi where most of the outdoor events take place, a winter wonderland awaits us up in the mountains. Wait, nope, it's bone dry. It's warm as well. And some athletes are complaining about the poor quality of the now there is.

Despite the unfortunate weather conditions, Russian officials say they're prepared. They have stored snowed from last year. They have snow making devices. And so far, not one of the events have been canceled or delayed. Ian Lee, CNN, in the mountains above Sochi.


LU STOUT: And for the latest sporting action from the Winter Olympics, let's go straight to Rachel Nichols. She joins me live from Sochi.

And Rachel, again we have to talk about the weather. I mean, how is the balmy temperature there affecting the competition. We know that athletes like Bode Miller have spoken out against it.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it looks all nice there in Ian's piece. Not so good, though, if you are a downhill ski racer. The racing that combined event today. And just like it's name, it's basically a combination of the downhill and the slalom. Skiers are, of course, usually specialists in one event or the other, so it pits the downhill guys against the slalom guys, gets them to see who can have the best combined score.

Well, because it is so warm out here, the snow at the bottom of the mountain, the bottom of that downhill course, has gotten mushy. It's not really skiable, certainly not for elite competition. So they not only moved the downhill part of the event to earlier in the morning to try to catch some of those cold temperatures, but they also cut it short, they cut the course up a little bit higher. They simplified the course.

If you're a downhill expert, that means that you're expertise is kind of nullified, right. You don't need to be as much of an expert to ski a shorter and simpler course. So now the slalom guys have a big advantage, because the slalom is what they're expert in.

Bode Miller is a downhill guy, he is complaining about this. And it's really hard to blame him. You train four years for an event and then what you're training for doesn't really happen.

LU STOUT: Yeah, the downhill guys, they don't want the slushy conditions out there. Now a breakout star from the games, a new one from the U.S. Slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. Interesting character. He's won a lot more than silver there in Sochi, hasn't he?

NICHOLS: Yes, absolutely. Lots of dog lovers are now Gus Kenworthy fans as well.

He did, of course, win the silver in yesterday's slopestyle event. The Americans finished one, two, three in that event. But Gus on his journey here in Sochi has also been posting pictures on Twitter of a group of puppies that he found wandering around near where he lives in the alpine village.

Now as you've been following along, I'm sure there is a large stray dog problem in Sochi. And the government here very controversially has instead of going out and rounding up the dogs to put them into shelters, had a cleanup program here that involves shooting the dogs with poison darts, killing them basically and then sort of rounding up the bodies and dumping them.

A lot of animals rights activists upset about this for understandable reasons. Gus upset about this for understandable reasons. And he's tried to make arrangements to adopts those puppies he found and bring them home with him to the States, even made veterinary appointments for them back home, but now he's got to figure out how to get them on a plane. So he is working on that, but trying to save some dogs.

LU STOUT: Yeah. I mean, just those pictures he's been sharing of Gus and those Sochi pups, absolutely adorable. Cute overload.

Now, let's talk about a big rivalry coming up, U.S. and Russia facing off not in curling, I think that's happening today, ice hockey. That's taking place on Saturday. What should we expect?

NICHOLS: Yeah, well of course the Miracle on Ice, such an iconic moment in American hockey history. Of course, the members of Team USA right now, not a single one of them was born back in 1980, but still that game when the scrappy American young team beat the favorite Russian team has certainly influenced both countries' programs.

And there's a lot of pressure on Russia, the home country now, to not only win this one game, but also win the whole tournament. They're co- favorites here with the Canadians. The Americans are a little bit on the outside looking in, but wow, they beat Slovakia 7-1 yesterday. They scored six goals in under six under 16 minutes.

And Slovakia is no slouch, that's a team made up of NHL players. So they really came out and showed that they've got some muscle too. They said going into these games that their best asset was team chemistry. And it looks like they got a lot of it.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it's definitely one to watch.

And a final question for you about curling. There's actually controversy, a big one, in the sport over really over the top crazy pants. What's the story here?

NICHOLS: It wouldn't be an Olympics if we didn't have one of these stories, right? The Norwegian curling team wears all kinds of crazy pants. They wear colorful red and blue check pants, houndstooth pants, crazy pants that people normally wear out on the golf course when you're like an old grandpa who can wear whatever they want. You know that kind of sort of things.

They get a lot of attention for this. Those pants, however, are not made by an Olympic sponsor. So there was a question mark about whether their pants were legal. There was a lot of people trying to push them maybe to wear other more normal type of pants, kind of get them off of their game.

So they took this picture in the Olympic Park yesterday. You've got to love this, right? The Norwegians. If you don't say that we can't wear our pants, we're not wearing any pants at all gosh darn it.

So they kind of made that little stink. The IOC came in and said, no, no, no you can wear your pants.

So they will be allowed to continue wearing their crazy pants and doing whatever they want maybe winning some medals. We'll see.

LU STOUT: The pants are off. they are ready for a fight. They have a cause here. Rachel Nichols, always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so much. And enjoy all the sporting action there in Sochi. Take care.

Now, you, our viewers, you can go online to get the latest on the Sochi games. Just go to for our complete coverage of the Winter Olympics.

Now, some places are getting more than their fair share of snow this year. Tokyo is getting hit with yet another winter storm. And it comes just days after the Japanese capital saw its heaviest snowfall in decades.

Vladimir Duthiers has the view from Tokyo.


VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tokyo is being hit by another snow storm, its second in less than a week. You can see that the snow is falling pretty steadily. It's been falling like this ever since the early morning and it's expected to go on into the early evening.

We're expecting about 5 to 10 centimeters, which is about two to four inches. You can see it's starting to accumulate on the trees and on the grass behind me, but really on the streets it hasn't accumulated all that much, because the temperature isn't as cold as it was last week when we saw about 10 inches.

But, here's the deal, Tokyolites are not used to getting this much snow. They typically see a big snowfall maybe once a year. To have big snow storms in less than a week is a big deal. We're seeing trains that normally run on time to the minute being delayed. We're seeing flight cancellations at both airports. People are starting to put chains on their car tires so that they don't go sliding and ramming into each other.

But as a native New Yorker, what I love about snow in Tokyo is that you get these beautiful and picturesque landscapes. On the grounds of the imperial palace, you can see behind me here, it's absolutely gorgeous.

And here's something else, on Friday night Tokyolites like to go out after work, have a couple of drinks, have a couple of beers and relax. We're being told that even though the snow isn't accumulating as much as it did last week, people were going to head home and stay in doors.

Vladimir Duthiers, CNN, Tokyo.


LU STOUT: Now a new ski resort in North Korea is allowing a rare glimpse into one of the most reclusive sports on earth. The luxury resort just officially opened last month. And a snowboarding journalist brought her camera to the slopes. Paula Hancocks has more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The chair lift music is certainly different to other ski resorts in the world. And there's a slightly more flexible dress code as this skier in a suit proved.

North Korea's luxury ski resort is a sign of opulence in a country that struggles to feed its own people.

One of the first to visit was journalist turned tourist Jean Lee, giving us a firsthand view of the resort while snowboard, Lee says she was surprised by the caliber of the ski equipment at the resort.

The United Nations and the European Union have imposed wide-ranging sanctions on North Korea, including on luxury goods.

JEAN LEE, FORMER PYONGYANG BUREAU CHIEF FOR AP: It's clear that quite a number of these luxury items are still getting in from countries that do try to enforce these sanctions. So I think the resort is perhaps an example of how the country is able to get around those sanctions.

HANCOCKS: U.S. based tour group Uri Tours (ph) describes it as the most exotic ski destination on earth, a title leader Kim Jong un would be proud of. Kim visited shortly before the opening, describing it as impeccable.

Lee says this was a rare chance to interact with North Koreans without a government assigned minder. The minders couldn't ski.

She says North Korean students bombarded her with questions about skiing, but were taken aback when they realized she was American.

LEE: It's clear the first American they had met. And they didn't know how to respond to that answer, because they -- you know, they've been raised since childhood to consider Americans the enemy and to hate Americans.

HANCOCKS: This resort is far beyond the means of most North Koreans. The people you see here are the country's elite.

The next Winter Olympics will be held here in South Korea. Back in 1988 when Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, Pyongyang made a failed bid to try and co-host those games. The opening of this new luxury ski resort might well show it has an intention to try once again for 2018.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come, the view from up here is pretty nice. But keeping the world's tallest building clean, that is no small task. We will take you up high, way high, for a look at one job that is not for the faint of heart.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the mobile app Viber has been bought by a Japanese company for almost a billion dollars. If you're not familiar with Viber, here's what it looks like. It is a chat and voice calling app similar to Skype. And like Skype, it runs on a variety of platforms. There are Viber apps running on everything from Windows Phone to iPhone, even Bada (ph), Samsung's little known smartphone platform.

And that's what Rokuten paid $900 million for. The Japanese company, chaired Hiroshi Mikatani is an online marketplace that is big in its home country, but doesn't have much of a presence outside Japan.

And that is where Viber comes in. It reportedly has 300 million users. It's roughly the same as Skype and WeChat and just behind WhatsApp, which says it has 400 million users.

Now, the world's tallest building also has some world beating housekeeping tasks. For example, how do you keep the Burj Khalifa's tens of thousands of windows clean? Now doing that is not a job for the faint hearted as Jon Jenson reports from Dubai.


JON JENSEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When they built the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, it was covered in 24,000 separate panes of glass. Depaq Gaul's (ph) job is keeping them clean. "The work is interesting, and the view is beautiful," he tells me.

Depaq is one of around 60 migrant workers, mostly from Nepal, India, and the Philippines, who clean windows here. And in this dusty desert climate, there's plenty of work for them. They start at the very tip-top.

(on camera): We're standing on the 159th floor of the Burj Khalifa. That's about 35 stories higher than most tourists get to go. Doesn't sound that high, perhaps. But if you come over here, take a look over the edge, I think you might change your minds.

(voice-over): It's more than 2700 feet, or nearly a kilometer, straight down. Certainly not a job for the faint of heart, especially when you're repelling.

Depaq had never seen a building even half this height before, let alone climbed one. But his brother said he should leave Katmandu and give it a try.

So, he watched some videos, including this one, with Tom Cruise swinging off the side of the building.

But for these guys, this is no action movie stunt. Safety comes first, and while they trust their equipment, harnesses and ropes are checked and double-checked. Wind speed is also measured, because up here, one big gust could be dangerous.

"The wind can toss you around the building from right to left," he says. "If it's too strong, we don't work that day."

When the inspections are done, they stop out over their edge and get down to business. It'll take them three months to clean each and every window, and then they start all over again. The building's contractor, though, says rope access is still the most efficient way to get the job done.

For Depaq, it's also a decent living. As a new recruit, he can make over $600 a month, much more than he'd earn as a construction worker building skyscrapers like this one.

"My mom always asks me why I do this and says it looks dangerous," he tells me. "She wants me to come back to Nepal and get a regular job, but I tell them no, no, no, I like it, and this is a good living. And," he says, "just another day at the office."

Jon Jensen, CNN, Dubai.


LU STOUT: Another day at the office, unbelievable.

Now remember, the Burj Khalifa is over 800 meters tall. Or to put it another way, it is about twice the height of the Empire State Building.

Now to a film that swept up several nominations for this year's Academy Awards, the Hollywood blockbuster Gravity. It held moviegoers in suspense, but it is also being praised for its stunning visual effects.

Nick Glass looks at the innovative approach to creating Gravity.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Beautiful, don't you think?


CLOONEY: The sunrise.

NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How on Earth did they do it, make a movie almost entirely set in zero gravity in space and somehow make us feel we're up there too with the astronauts.

TIM WEBBER, VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: People don't know what's real, what's CG. And even when they do, you just can't work out what we did.

BULLOCK: Houston, do you copy?

WEBBER: Every process had to be reengineered from any movie made before. And everything had to be done really collaboratively.

BULLOCK: Anyone.

GLASS: Gravity has just two actors, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. And of course neither of them ever left mother Earth. The special effects were all created on the ground in central London frame by laborious frame.

CLOONEY: You just lay yourself in the hands of the smartest guys in the room.

GLASS: There were three of them.


GLASS: The director, Alfonso Cuaron, his fellow Mexican, cinematography Chivo (ph) Lubezki, and an English special effects guy Tim Webber.

CUARON: I thought it was going to be much simpler. It was not until early on that we realized that we will need to create something new.

GLASS: What they effectively did was make the movie three times. Firstly as reference, a relatively crude computer generated versions.

BULLOCK: ...transports.

CLOONEY: We have to go. We have to go, go, go.

GLASS: To immerse us in space in 3D, Cuaron wanted camera moves of extraordinary length and fluidity.

BULLOCK: ...transport to bay area.

CUARON: Well, the opening shot is twelve and three-quarter minutes. And there's many other shots throughout which are equally long.

GLASS: How the movie was lit, what's in sunlight, what's in shadow, was decided on a computer.

CLOONEY: We need to get the hell out of here.

CUARON: Chivo (ph) finally got to say the thing he always wanted to say, which is could you just move the sun 3 million miles to the left.

GLASS: Only after all that were the actors filmed in the studio, a camera mounted on a robot arm from a car assembly plant. Every move already choreographed on computer. A light box, a large cube with banks of LED lights was specially constructed. And Sandra Bullock suspended inside for up to 12 hours a day.

WEBBER: It has a couple of puppeteers off to the side. We had rig, a 12 wire rig, which essentially enabled us to puppeteer Sandra and move her kind of any way he wants.

GLASS: What was critical here was simply capturing Sandra Bullock's face, mostly in closeup.

The key element that the actor is offering is the facial expression.


GLASS: Everything else is built around them.

WEBBER: Yes. It is built around them.

GLASS: Everything.

WEBBER: Everything.

BULLOCK: Houston, this is mission specialist.

GLASS: The visor, the helmet, the suit.

WEBBER: Yeah. The breath of the visor, all of it sourced from her performance.

GLASS: The third and final version of Gravity was the finished film - - the real faces inserted into everything else, visor, helmet and suit, all of it computer reanimated to look photo real.

How did you know it was going to work?

WEBBER: We didn't, absolutely, definitely didn't.

It wasn't until a few months before the final delivery of the film that you see it all come together and you think, thank god it's going to work because you know up to that point you think it will, but you don't know.

GLASS: Gravity absorbed three years of Tim Webber's creative life. While Alfonso Cuaron as director and co-writer it was four-and-a-half years. In this Hollywood trophy season, they're all being honored time and again.

Nick Glass, CNN in London.


LU STOUT: Stunning effects. And that's how they did it.

Now still to come right here on News Stream, fancy shoveling the snow off your driveway while standing in your living room? We'll show you a novel snow solution after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now with all the snow around, especially in the U.S. at the moment, the makers of the product we're about to show you should be laughing all the way to the bank.

CNN's Jeanne Moos introduces us to the remote controlled snow plow.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can shovel or use a snow blower, but wouldn't you rather make heads spin with your very own remote controlled snowplow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't really have a fancy name.

MOOS: Let's call it the plow that wows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, doing 360s.

MOOS: It made its debut this week not on the Home Shopping Channel but on the Weather Channel. It's sort of like a rumba that plows instead of vacuums. It hasn't make on YouTube with a cat on top dressed as a shark. The remote controlled snowplow lets you plow inside from your toasty warm house. Its six-wheel drive, runs for two hours on two car batteries, an air compressor lowers and raises the blade with a new-matic hiss.

Charlie Payne's company, Superdroid Robots, made it as a novelty product. Usually they build search-and-rescue robots or SWAT team robots for police and fire department. To prove the plow's strength it performs feats like pushing pallets or pulling up a pickup truck. The meteorologists on the Weather Channel seemed smitten.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's beyond awesome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what I'm asking for Christmas next year.

MOOS: You need some income to afford one. The price tag is $8,500. But like Charlie's wife says what's $8,500 bucks compared to a hospital bill for a wrenched back or a heart attack. In a big storm you have to use it a few times every three or four inches. Actually the remote controlled snowplow isn't their weirdest creation. This is. Superdroid created the remote controlled golf cart as a prank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were racing the golf cart around and lost control of it a couple of times and went through the chain link fence.

MOOS: So they are not actually selling it. As for the snowplow, imagine what the dog would make of it and what it would make. Probably walk all over it.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: Now, many of you around the world are celebrating Valentine's Day right now. And I want to leave the last word today to someone who is probably going to get a lot of attention from the ladies -- Olympian Gus Kenworthy.

now earlier, you heard Rachel Nichols tell us about his quest to adopt stray puppies in Sochi. Now he was asked about what kind of reaction he's getting to that move and here is what he had to say.


GUS KENWORTHY, U.S. OLYMPIAN: A lot of girls like Olympians and puppies, which has been overwhelming.


LU STOUT: Yeah, he's a chick magnet.

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