News & Reports 2011-08-28

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-08-28

Hello and Welcome to News and Reports on China Radio International.

In This Edition

Hurricane Irene pounds the East Coast of the United States with high wind, torrential rain and flooding, killing four so far.

Five candidates from Japan's ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, start their campaigns to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon declares three days of mourning for the 52 victims of a casino fire set by presumed drug traffickers.

India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare agrees to end an 11-day hunger strike after Parliament expressed non-binding support for parts of his anti-graft plan.

Hot Issue Reports

Hurricane Irene Lashes US East Coast
Hurricane Irene is now pounding the east coast of the United States, killing four so far.

Two deaths have been reported in Virginia and the other two in North Carolina.

New Yorkers are bracing themselves for the arrival of the hurricane.

"I've never been in an earthquake before or a hurricane, for I've just moved to New York a few months ago and this is crazy. I just want to stay here and say that I managed to brave the storm, so stocking up and keeping happy, I guess."

Some 300-thousand people living in low-lying areas have been told to leave their homes.

The city's transport system has been shut down.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

"The great danger to us here is from the storm surge, and there's no evidence that the forecast for that is changing. It is going to be a very serious thing as far as we can tell now."

The category one hurricane is now moving slowly northwards, bringing winds of about 140 kilometers per hour.

It made a landfall in North Carolina Saturday.

"I didn't expect a whole lot of different. I mean, usually it's built up more than what it's going to end up being, anyway. I mean I'm glad it's this way. We got enough going on in this world. We don't need no tragic storms here."

US President Barack Obama has cut short his holiday to return to Washington.

"It's going to be a long 72 hours and obviously a lot of families are going to be affected. What we heard, the biggest concern I'm having right now has to do with flooding and power. That sounds like that's going to be an enormous strain on a lot of states and that may take days, even longer in some cases, depending on what the track of the storm is going to be."

Obama earlier warned Irene could be "a historic hurricane", calling on everyone to take the storm seriously.

More than two million people have been told to evacuate across the country. Seven states have declared emergencies.

6,500 U.S. troops stand ready for hurricane relief.

Libya: Rebels Say Gaddafi Faces Trials in Libya; Another Massacre Site Found in Capital
In Libya, the rebel government says Muammar Gaddafi will be tried in Libya and not at the International Criminal Court in The Hague if he is captured alive.
Head of the rebel National Transitional Council, Mostafa Abdel Jalil:

"The crimes that Gaddafi committed against his people locally before the 17th of February are enough to bring him to trial for any other crimes he committed after the 17th of February. Libya has not signed the Rome agreement and the ICC's (International Criminal Court's) justice is a complementary justice, as the local judicial system is the one responsible for this."

Jalil says they still don't know the whereabouts of Gaddafi and his sons.

Earlier reports say Gaddafi and his family have escaped to Algeria.

Jalil adds the rebel forces are doing their best to avoid bloodshed especially in Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, where they are facing strong resistance.

Meanwhile in Tripoli, at least 50 bodies have been found in a warehouse in the south.

Witnesses say the massacre was carried out four days ago by pro-Gaddafi forces.

"At this moment about 10 or 11 people tried to escape outside. They were trying to kill them even when they escaped. Some of them went in this direction, and the others went in the other direction."

Local people say some 150 people may have been killed at the warehouse.

Earlier, over 200 decomposing bodies were found at an abandoned hospital in the capital.

Nigerian President Promises to Bring "Under Control" UN Bombing Attackers
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to bring "under control" the radical group responsible for Friday's attack on the UN headquarters in the capital Abuja in which at least 18 people were killed and dozens injured.

President Goodluck Jonathan visited the bombed UN headquarters a day after at least 19 people died in the attack claimed by the group known locally as Boko Haram.

Jonathan promised to address the threat posed by Boko Haram, though so far, his government has been unable to stop the group from carrying out attacks in Africa's most populous nation.

"Boko Haram is a local group linked up with terrorist activities and as a government we are working on it and we will bring it under control."

The president did not elaborate on the statement.

The bombing on the UN headquarters is a major escalation of Boko Haram's fight against Nigeria's weak central government.

The group, which has reported links to al-Qaida, wants to implement a strict version of Sharia law in Nigeria and is vehemently opposed to Western education and culture.

Five Candidates Compete for Japan's Premiership
Five candidates from Japan's ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, have started their campaigns to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Kan announced his resignation on Friday after nearly 15 months in office.

Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is a favorite to replace Kan, according to polls.

Maehara has laid out his policy as he competes with other candidates for the premiership.

"The new administration's biggest mission is to handle the reconstruction from the disaster and deal with the nuclear power plant. I believe it is the most important thing, and we must give it our best efforts."

Maehara resigned as foreign minister five days before the March 11th earthquake and tsunami over accepting an illegal political donation.

Trade and Economy Minister Banri Kaieda has also become a frontrunner after winning the backing of a powerful power broker in the governing party.

Kaieda says his experience makes him competent for the job as prime minister.

"I have experienced the dreadful disaster, and that is why there is a job I need to get done."

The long-time free-trade and tax reform advocate began to get his share of the limelight after the earthquake and tsunami.

Kaieda has played a crucial role in efforts to bring the nuclear crisis under control and lead a safety inspection of Japan's nuclear plants.

The other three candidates in the leadership race are Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi and Farm Minister Michihiko Kano.

The ruling party's members of parliament will vote on Monday to choose their new leader who will almost certainly become prime minister, Japan's sixth in five years.

The new Cabinet is expected to be installed on Tuesday.

Mexico Declares Three Days of Mourning for Casino Arson Victims
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has declared three days of mourning for the 52 victims of a casino fire set by presumed drug traffickers.

Calderon has visited the site of the attack in the northern city of Monterrey.

The President said he was "profoundly saddened and indignant" over what he said was the most serious attack on the civilian population in a very long time, and offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the casino attack.

"Let's not be confused or mistaken. We are not talking about an accident, but a brutal homicide that can't even be described. We are talking about criminals, incendiary killers and true terrorists upon whom not only all the power of the law should be applied but also general repudiation from society."

In a separate statement, the country chief Attorney General's office, announced that a bounty worth 2.5 million U.S. dollars is offered for any information that help lead to the capture of those responsible for the deadly incident, in which at least 10 people were also injured.

Earlier this week, armed assailants burst into the Casino Royale in Monterrey, doused it with flammable liquids and started a fire.

Officials say a drug cartel is allegedly responsible for the attack, though they haven't named which one.

The attack is the deadliest since Calderon launched a crackdown on drug cartels in 2006. Over 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence since then.

Home to some of Mexico's big companies, Monterrey has seen rising violence as two cartels there fight for control of drug trafficking routes to the U.S.
Calderon also criticized the United States for not doing more to reduce drug consumption or control illegal arms trade to Mexico that aid the drug cartels and organized crime groups involved in the narcotics trafficking.

Cyprus Approves Austerity Package to Avoid Bailout
The parliament of Cyprus has approved an economic austerity package amid fears the island could require an EU bailout.

The measures include cutting civil servants' salaries, placing additional taxes on high income earners, and changing the tax calculation methods for real estate transactions.

Authorities hope their package, and additional savings elsewhere, can save the tiny Mediterranean nation up to 750 million euros over a two-year period.

Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the governing AKEL party, links the country's economic problems to the global economy.

"It seems we are entering another period of recession in the global economy and, accordingly, little Cyprus is facing similar problems, and we should not isolate Cyprus' problems from those that exist in the global economy."

Cyprus's central bank has warned the island could be heading for a bailout unless swift action is taken to address fiscal imbalances and structural problems.
The government dismisses such scenarios, but says it is committed to structural reforms in the country's 17 billion-euro economy.

Credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded Cyprus to Baa1 last month, while Standard & Poor's has said it may downgrade its equivalent BBB-plus rating.

Indian Anti-corruption Activist to End Fast
India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has agreed to end an 11-day hunger strike after Parliament expressed non-binding support for parts of his anti-graft plan.

Following a nine-hour debate, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Parliament that the "sense of the House" was in favour of Hazare's demands.

"I do feel, on the basis of that, we can request Shri Anna Hazare to end his fast and let there be no so-called conflict between the civil society and Parliament or political establishment."

Lawmakers thumped their desks in support, and the bill was referred to a committee to be debated and revised.

The 74-year-old Hazare demanded sweeping legislation to create a government watchdog to ensure greater transparency in governance.

The proposed Bill envisages the setting up of a national anti-corruption watchdog to check financial mismanagement and corrupt practices that have deeply pervaded several democratic and civic institutions of India.

Hazare, who has lost more than 7.5 kilogrammes, said Parliament's move was enough to persuade him to give up his fast.

"This victory for the Jan Lokpal bill is incomplete. Complete victory is yet to be achieved."

Hazare has called for a formal vote on the non-binding resolution, but his aides said Parliament's actions still amounted to a victory.

The activist's protest against corruption has attracted tens of thousands of supporters to his demonstration in New Delhi and more to rallies around India.

Jubilant supporters of Hazare took to the streets across India late on Saturday night to celebrate the victory.

Chilean President Makes Concessions to Protesters after Youth Death
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has agreed to negotiate with students and teachers demanding more state funding for education and profound changes in government.

The compromise came after months of mass protests that took a turn for the worse when a youngster allegedly died from police bullet wounds.

The 16-year-old boy named Manuel Gutierrez was shot to death early Friday in Santiago as police officers responded to looting and riots.

Giovanni Ramirez, a friend of Gutierrez, describes what happened.

"We heard three bullet shots that came out from there, and my friend was hit in the chest. These shots came from a policeman, and he fainted and fell to the ground."

Human rights advocates are alleging excessive force was used towards Gutierrez.

Deputy Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla is promising to quickly clarify who fired the bullet that killed Gutierrez.

Chilean President Pinera is now calling for dialogue as he faces a huge protest against his 18-month-old government.

Pinera took care to invite representatives of all parties concerned, including students, teachers, and parents.

He said education reform talks should take place in the presidential palace as well as Congress.

Pinera previously avoided talking directly with protesting students or openly considering their demands before sending a package of education proposals to Congress.

The protesters are demanding more state funding for education, improved teacher training, and a guarantee of free quality education to all Chileans.

Their demands also include a new constitution to replace the top-down political system and popular referendums to give Chileans a direct voice in their democracy.

Czech Beer Sales Rising Despite Economic Downturn
Beer sales in the Czech Republic are rising again despite the economic downturn as several European counties are grilled by a debt crisis.

The country's beer consumption has fallen year on year since 2005 and dropped more than 10 percent in 2009.

Brewers blame the economic slowdown and an excise tax levied on beer for the decline.

Jiri Vesely is President of the Czech Beer and Malt Association.

"From the point of view of the whole year, I think it will be 100 percent or 101, a slight increase, which is some light at the end of the tunnel, a positive perspective we can have."

Jiri Mareck is the spokesman for Pilsner Urquell brewery. He says his company has been combating sinking exports in the euro zone.

"We are leveraging on the scale of our business. We are exporting beer to 50 markets, which is quite a lot. And obviously Germany is one of the biggest-Germany, Slovakia, the UK, United States. But still we can leverage on the sides, and we can export more to other countries when the European economy is slowing down."

But pub owner Jaroslav Smidek says he never noticed a decline in the first place.

"I think on average it is all the same. The quality of the beer is still very excellent. Maybe people drink more bottles than draft, but here at the pub the consumption stays the same."

With beer costing roughly the same as water, Czechs are the undisputed world leaders in beer drinking.

Their closest competitor, Germany, lags far behind.

China Daily: Educational Inequality Behind Lower Rural College Student Enrollment Rate

The continuing decline in the percentage of rural students enrolled in Chinese universities has raised questions about the country's policy of educational equality.

Less than a third of students enrolled at the China Agricultural University in Beijing, for instance, are from rural areas, while a decade ago the number was almost 40 percent. Overall, half of all students enrolled in universities in China come from rural areas, but only 30 percent attend top universities.

An editorial in "China Daily" calls for both college and primary educational institutions to address the situation, arguing that China's rapid urbanization has played only a very small part in reducing the gap between rural and urban student enrollment rates in universities. It cites figures that indicate the country's rural population continues to account for more than a half the country's total population of 1.3 billion. It also notes that more than 60 percent of candidates for the college exam last year came from rural areas.

The commentary blames the situation on the growing inequality in the distribution of educational resources between urban and rural regions, particularly during primary education.

Although the government offers many incentives to encourage graduates of normal universities to teach in the countryside, the hard fact is that very few choose this career path. Many rural teachers are less than capable of doing their jobs, and thousands of schools are on the brink of collapse.

The commentary contends the situation could be worse if it does not receive more attention. It says besides the dim career prospects of rural students on campuses now, the disadvantages will also push more rural students to forego a college education altogether.

The commentary suggests that the government invest more money in rural primary schools and expand its financial support for college students from rural families.


Zhujiang Evening News: Hunt-Down Operation by Local Judges Constitutes Abuse of Power

A local court in China's eastern Jiangsu Province recently sent its officers to hunt down an online critic who is a native of Suining County but lives in Shanghai.

Once the man was found, the Suining County court sentenced him to 15 days of detention and fined him 10,000 yuan on charges of libel.

The court's behavior has sparked deep skepticism in China's domestic media.

A commentary in the "Zhujiang Evening News," a newspaper based in Guangdong Province, says the court's actions violate China's legal procedures and serves to suppress people's right to free expression. It notes that the sentenced man, named Gao Guolong, once posted online comments criticizing the performance of the Suining court. This prompted court judges to order his arrest.

The commentary points out that the court has no authority to send its officers to hunt down suspects, which should be done by the police according to law. It also raises questions about the court conducting a trial in which it was the plaintiff.

The newspaper cites the court as saying that its actions aimed to teach online critics how to behave.

But the commentary also argues that the behavior of the court actually suppressed people's basic rights by abusing its power. It adds that such illegal behavior by authorities has been reported from time to time and in various locations.

In light of this situation, the newspaper urges authorities to abandon the deeply entrenched notion that those in power are superior and should not be criticized. It stresses that it is critical for them, including the court of law, to be put under public supervision.

To this end, the commentary says people's right to free expression must be upheld by the law and defended by an independent judicial system.

In conclusion, it calls on the authorities to exercise restraint and follow legal procedures when handling similar cases in the future.