28/10/2011 World News Today


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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


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