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This is BBC World News Today. An historical agreement at the
Commonwealth summit gives women the same succession rights as men,
overturning centuries of Royal tradition here in the UK. Symbolism
or an agent of real change? Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess
of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be
our Queen. Heavily indebted Europe goes cap in
hand to booming Beijing for help with its bailout fund.
Ireland is on course to elect a new president - Michael Higgins. We
look at who he is and what difference he might make to the
country. Also coming up. Alive at Heathrow
airport. We seek the busiest airport through the eyes of his
residence author. Lifting the curtain after a
facelift, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow reopens.
Hello and welcome. It has been talked about for a long time, and
for many it is overdue. Leaders at the Commonwealth meeting in Perth,
Australia have agreed that a male can overthrow an older female to
the heir to the British throne. Or we will be asking a leading women's
rights campaigner to see if this will make a difference worldwide.
First, Duncan Kennedy is at the summit in Perth.
With 2 billion people under its umbrella, the Commonwealth in
theory should be one of the world's biggest institutions. But it rarely
makes the news. Now though with the announcement of changes to the
British monarchy, this meeting could be different. It might not be
the only subject under discussion, but it is the one making headlines.
For a few moments, the Commonwealth leaders are looked like contestants
in a reality show. Some appeared a little uncomfortable - hardly X
Factor. All such gatherings have an Olympic style opening ceremony. The
political leaders sat with the queen ahead of their detailed
discussions on a range of subjects. For the 16 nations are were the
Queen is head of state, it was changes to the rules of succession
in Britain's Royal Family, and an announcement reversing years of
tradition and history. We will end of the male rule so that in future
the order of succession should be determined simply by the order of
birth. We have agreed to introduce this fall descendants from the
Prince of Wales. Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were
to have a little girl, that goal would one day be our Queen.
The Queen has given her approval to all the changes, her speech focused
on friendship and the future. conclude with an Aboriginal proverb
which is itself ensuring. We are all visitors to this time, this
place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observed, to
learn, to grow, to love. And then we return home. Outside, reforms to
the British monarchy were of little interest to the 1,500 demonstrated
to protested peacefully in nearby streets. They were more concerned
with Commonwealth decisions on gay rights, climate change and human
rights abuses in Sri Lanka. I am protesting about the Tamil Tiger
civilians in Sri Lanka. There have been some calls for Sri Lanka to be
shanked -- sanctions over alleged war crimes. But for an organisation
that operates through consensus, they limited themselves to
political pressure. We have said clearly we believe Sri Lanka needs
to its lessons learnt and reconciliation process to address
these claims of human rights abuses and in particular needs to deal
directly with the work of the un advisory panel. The leaders are
already discussing reforms to the Commonwealth itself, which some
believe is in danger of becoming a relevance in a world dominated by a
G20, European unions and the United Nations. The thinking goes it has
been years since the Commonwealth have any real impact on world
affairs. You have to go back to the years of its involvement in ending
apartheid in South Africa. That might be a little unfair, but it
can seem more like a club than a body for decisive action. Changing
the rules on loyalty is one thing, but political substance is another.
In another sign as China's emergence as a global power, the
head of the European bale-out crisis has visited. It has been
agreed the EU funds should be expanded to one trillion Euros.
China said it is willing to help out but only if the likes of India,
Brazil chip in. In its hour of need, it is to China
Europe is turning. The debt ridden West looking to the cash rich East.
Just 24 hours after Europe's latest attempt to stave off the crisis,
the head of the EU bail-out fund is here hoping to persuade China that
Europe is an investment worth making. There is a need for
investment. It is also my experience talking to the Chinese
authorities that they are interested to finding, attractive,
solid, safe investment opportunities. China has the
world's biggest foreign exchange reserves, 3.22 trillion dollars
worth. Another $99 billion were added in the first six months of
this year. Today, China were hinting they would won concessions
if they alone money to Europe. TRANSLATION: They should be less
old prejudice and we should deal with facts and objectives. So we
can walk out of the shadows of the past.
It is China's mighty export machine selling products across the world
that earns the country sums in foreign exchange. And many feel
China should attach conditions to its cash, the way Western countries
always used to, economic and political. For all the landings
that originated from the West, there were conditions. Other
demands a might be Europe stops criticising China on human rights,
or it lifts the arms embargo, in place since the Tiananmen Square
massacre. China feels in a powerful position, Europe needs capital for
its Government and return to growth. China has plenty of money.
Thousands of residents are fleeing the Thailand capital, Bangkok which
is being threatened by severe flooding. The main river has risen
to record highs and is expected to burst its banks this weekend. More
than 360 people have died in the worst floods in Thailand in decades.
This satellite image is showing how Bangkok city centre is now almost
completely surrounded by water. The swollen Chao Phraya River,
snaking its way through Bangkok. The end of a road bridge already
submerged. This is before the peak of the predicted high tides.
Unsurprising then, people are trying to leave. Another district
of the nation's capital city being abandoned. Not entirely, this man
says he plans to stay, at least for now. I will stay here. We have an
old man and a big family. Deeper inside this riverside community,
another family tries to hang on. But it is getting harder every day,
supplies are running low. TRANSLATION: People are hoarding
food, there is nothing left. I tried to get food from the market
but there was nothing there. The flow of people escaping the
water is gaining pace. These people have just been dropped off on the
bridge with their belongings. They have had to move. This is a second
time we have -- they have been evacuated. They said they came from
the province of Nonthaburi. They left their three weeks ago when the
water came. Then they moved to the other side of the bridge to stay
with relatives. They thought they would be safe. Now they have to
move again, taking their belongings with them. In Bangkok's northern
suburbs, a second front in the battle to control the deluge.
Billions of cubic metres of floodwater are on the move. And
inexperience Prime Minister is under huge pressure. This crisis is
unprecedented she says, so let's not have any political wrangling.
There are more pressing concerns. The tide is rising, the floodwater
is advancing. This weekend could prove to be decisive.
Let's take a look at some other news. The International Criminal
Court in the Hague says it has had indirect contact with Colonel
Gaddafi's son, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi about his possible
surrender. He is wanted for crimes against humanity. The ICC chief
prosecutor said if Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi surrendered he would be
given the chance to defend himself in court. NATO's says its
operations over Libya will end on Monday from midnight local time. In
seven months they have flown more than 26,000 sorties, three-quarters
of them by European forces. The NATO general secretary said it
would have been impossible without US support.
In Syria, activists say at least 37 people were killed on Friday as
protesters took to the streets to demand a no-fly zone over the
country. More than 3,000 people have died in the unrest since
protests broke out in March. New research says a daily dose of
aspirin could lower the risk of bowel cancer for people with a
family history of the disease. The international study published in
the Lancet saw cases of bowel cancer dropped by 60% a month
patients who took two aspirins a day for two years.
Nasa has launched a new weather satellite aimed at measuring the
long-term effects of climate change. The 1.5 billion dollar Polar
Satellite will track atmospheric ozone and dust levels, measure sea
and land surface temperatures and measure glaciers around the world.
Ireland looks set to elect as 70- year-old former arts minister,
Michael D Higgins as its next president. Counting is still under
way but the run-up has already conceded defeat. The seven
candidates ran for the largest ceremonial post. Martin McGuinness,
who had generated controversy by running, is expected to come third.
Let's cross to the London editor of the Irish Times, Mark Hennessy. In
race that was remarkable for the colourful candidates who were
standing? The TV presenter, a former Eurovision Song Contest
winner, Michael Higgins expected? If this election had taken place
last Monday, Shaun Gallagher, who conceded defeat tonight would
almost certainly have won. All the opinion polls had put him on 40%.
But after a disastrous TV performance with his links with
Fianna Fail, was thrown out unceremoniously, emerged he had
raised money for Fianna Fail. Nothing illegal in that but he had
attempted during this campaign to downplay his links with Fianna Fail.
When that story came out at the hands of Martin McGuinness, it
effectively decided the campaign. The exit polls tonight indicate one
quarter of those who voted today, voted yesterday changed their minds
in the last few days of the campaign and it went entirely from
Gallacher to Michael D Higgins of Labour. Michael D Higgins, tell us
a bit about him. I know he was born in poverty, Limerick, the first of
his family to go to universities. Known for his human rights
campaigning and that kind of thing. What kind of President will he
make? He is a colourful individuals. He was arts minister during the
1990s. He brought in some major changes that helped to boot --
boost the Irish film industry. Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart
and other blockbuster movies of that period were produced in
Ireland last Lee on the strength of the actions he took. He was a great
favourite of many people in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg and
others have time for him. He is somebody, as you say, had a long
connection with the human rights issues. He was involved in the
1980s, criticising the American Government for its role in Latin
America. During the campaign he played it very cautiously. He was
somebody who was seen coming inwards a quarter of the vote and
would have been dependent on transfers in the normal course of
events if the Gallagher troubles have not erupted. He is somebody
who is known by his Christian name, he is one of those rare politicians
who has that connection with voters. There have been an issue during the
campaign about his health. He had an operation last year. If the
problems in the Gallagher campaign have not surfaced he would have had
a more difficult task. Does it matter who is President of Ireland?
Is he likely to make a difference in any way? The job is important
ceremonially, and you have seen with Mary Michael East and Mary
Robinson for that person to gain international stature. It would be
expected he would be attending to achieve something similar. Not of
the same vigour as his two predecessors because of his age and
health. But he would be expected to Ghana an international profile. It
is one of the reasons Irish voters went for him in the end. People
were keen on this issue of honesty, trust and probity and also the
ability of the holder of that office to portray a positive image
of the country abroad. Mark Hennessy from the Irish Times fans
And back to the top story - the historical agreement taken in
Australia which means that the males will now have equal rights
with males when it comes to succession. That has an impact on
the succession in the Royal Family here in the UK. Is this going to
have a wider implication, or as a just symbolism? We have a political
journalist and campaigner with us who advises the government on
gender equality. Lesley, is it just symbolic, or could it be an agent
for change? It is symbolic and symbolism is important. Anything
that says that men and women should be guided equally has to be good.
Personally I would do away with the monarchy. That is another story.
Talking of the monarchy, the Queen so is it encourages us to get girls
and women to play their full part, their full role. I think most women
would love to do that. But many countries, including our own, there
are obstacles in the way. It is symbolic and anything that moves
another obstacle that stops women being valued less than men - and
goodness knows we know how many babies people get rid of because
they think they just want a boy - is a small step forward for
womankind. Any small step forward is worth it. You have been working
for many years fighting against gender discrimination and ensuring
women can play a role. Do you know how long it took to get this step?
I was looking it up... It was Macmillan, or somebody way back in
the 1950s, they first talked about this change. So it has taken how
long? It was the Royal Wedding that made people think she might have a
child soon, there was the catalyst. I think it was. Four Marks on this
one to David Cameron. -- full marks. He seems to have run with it and
done it. On this occasion, full marks to the Prime Minister! I do
not think I have ever said that about a Prime Minister. And with a
smile! A little victories, but I would like to see more important
ones. Thank you for talking to us. London's Heathrow Airport is one of
the world's busiest hubs. Every year around 75 million passengers
pass through Heathrow. Well, early this year one passenger decided to
stay a little longer than most. The British writer Tony Parsons stayed
for a week and took up post as writer in residence. He came up
with a collection called Departures: Seven Stories from
Heathrow. In a moment we'll hear about his experiences, first here's
Tony Parsons reading from one of The airport never really slept, the
pilot thought, it only closed its eyes and waited for the dawn. It
was late when he arrived back at Terminal 5, so late that they would
be no more flight until the early arrivals from East Asia, they
started landing just before dawn. But there were people sleeping at
the terminal, suitcases by their side, rucksacks for a pillow. They
all looked like they were too late, or too early for their flight.
Though the pilot knew that the police always watched for fake
travellers, people who preferred sleeping inside the climate
controlled Richard Rogers architecture rather than on the
streets of the city. That was Tony Parsons and a short time ago he
came to give us some more observations from behind the scenes.
It was all surprising, I was amazed that when I walked into the air
traffic control tower I expected all the controllers to looked like
old gentleman, but they are all these kids, these young kids in
their twenties in cargo shorts and T-shirts. Your stories draw on the
kind of events you saw at Heathrow, immigration officers who had heard
all the tales before, the animals people tried to smuggle in and have
to be looked after by a staff. Heathrow and a more reception
centre is really the true London Zoo, because every creature passes
through. Everything you can imagine, and plenty you cannot imagine. I
saw white lion cubs, Argentinian polo ponies, things... Ponies?!
People bringing them in legitimately to play polo! It was
above board. But you get nutcases coming back from Las Vegas have
chucked a couple of snakes in the rucksack and think they are docile,
they will be able to get them out but snakes do not shot on airport
security. That is not a tip for the was, I advise against it. It was
remarkable. Everything passes through and because people like
organic food without pesticides these days you get all kinds of key
Pique -- creepy-crawlies going into crates around the world. A why did
you decide to do this? I am a big fan of Alain the Botton, the first
Heathrow writer-in-residence a few years ago. -- Alain the Botton. He
rode a beautiful book about it, it seemed a bit like a boy's adventure,
to stay out all night, roam the airport and hang out with pilots
and immigration officers busting drug smugglers. It seemed exciting.
And it was. It was in August, the busiest time of the year.
million people passed through every year and in that August week 2
million people pass through. Truthfully, if you are there and
your flight has been cancelled and you have a crucial meeting to make,
you're not going to be one of those irate passengers who thinks are my
goodness, we be more understanding? I have been using Heathrow all my
life. I did not really fly when I was a child born I became a young
journalist, flying around the world, I started using it, it has got much
better. And because of the terror threat. All those things you have
to do. We have lost a bit of the romance and glamour because of 9/11.
We associate airports with taking our shoes and metal objects off.
But it is still an incredible experience. To be in another part
of the planet after half a day, there is still something majestic
about it. I hope my book will do its little bit to remind people of
the romance and majesty of flight which is what it is all about.
Parsons on air travel seen through he threw up -- Heathrow airport.
One of the world's greatest theatres, the Bolshoi in Moscow,
re-opens this evening after a six year renovation programme.
President Medvedev is amongst those who will attend a glittering gala
performance. The event caps a difficult and very expensive
reconstruction process which has been tainted by accusations of
corruption. Daniel Sandford has For the last few weeks the Bolshoi
Theatre, one of the world's greatest, has been in a frenzy of
preparation because for six years the historic stage has been dark,
but today the curtain is rising again. Between the final rehearsals,
one of the principal dancers gave me an emotional tour of the
TRANSLATION: We all know we have to keep the history and traditions of
this place. So this is a very happy moment for us. I even have tears in
my eyes, I am so happy. renovation is immaculate and
massively over-budget. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent,
3000 workers have done much of the Labour by hand, including replacing
all of the sumptuous gold leaf. As ever in modern Russia, the eye-
watering cost of the building work - half a billion or more - has
brought allegations of corruption on a breathtaking scale. The
ambition was to take it back to the time of the tsars. This colour
lithograph shows the building in the year * Alexandra the second was
crowned. -- tsar. All the time it kept its reputation as the home of
world-class opera and ballet. The first performances are a concert,
then opera, the ballet company takes to the stage in the middle of
November. But all the tickets for the first demands are sold out. --
the first demands are sold out. -- After all the sunshine today, not
as much on offer for the weekend. They will be stronger wind for a
start but it is a southerly wind it tomorrow and Sunday, so a mild
direction. Temperatures will be above the seasonal average. For
some of us there will be Reina thanks to this mode pressure across
northern and western part of the UK. The early rain clears away but it
is there in Scotland and turns heavier across parts of Wales and
western England into the afternoon. For north-east England we have
bright spells around even at this stage. For East Anglia and the
south-east, after some fog, it will Thickening cloud across a twisting
and for the afternoon with patchy rain moving in. Heavier rain across
the western side of Wales, some bits towards the east. Coastal
girls and very wet in north-west England, especially into the Lake
District. The rain has gone for Robben Island. A very wet afternoon
in western Scotland, are trying to look towards the east. Through