News & Reports 2011-10-30

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-10-30

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

In This Edition

A Pentagon spokesman has confirmed that all 13 troops killed in the latest bomb attack in the Afghan capital Kabul were American.

Israeli aircraft strike at Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing five, while militants respond with a volley of rockets in the worst exchange of fire in months.

International relief packages, including aid from China, flood into earthquake-ravaged Ercis, after strong earthquake devastated the eastern Turkish city.

Australia's Qantas Airways says it's grounding all its aircraft due to labor dispute, a move that would cost it more 20 million US dollars a day.

Hot Issue Reports

Pentagon Confirms 13 Troops Killed in Kabul are Americans
A Pentagon spokesman has confirmed that all 13 troops killed in the latest bomb attack in the Afghan capital Kabul were American.

A car packed with explosive driven by a suicide bomber exploded when it ran towards a personal transport of ISAF on Saturday.

This was the deadliest of two attacks in the day that targeted either the US-led coalition or Afghan government offices in the country.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred near Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings on the southwest outskirts of the capital.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Carsten Jacobson has consoled the families of the victims.

"It is a waste of human life; it is again an attack that did not only hurt ISAF personnel but also innocent civilian bystanders who were close to this incident. We are at the moment in time where it is time to think about reconciliation and reintegration. This is not the moment in time to kill innocent people."

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced to launch spring offensive from May 1 against Afghan and NATO-led troops stationed in Afghanistan.

NATO Announces Termination of Libyan Operations at End of Month
NATO announced it will end its air campaign over Libya next Monday. The announcement has followed the decision of the UN Security Council to lift the no-fly zone and end military action to protect civilians.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"Today we confirmed the decision taken by the North Atlantic Council a week ago. Our operation will end on the 31st of October. Until then, together with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation, and if needed, we will continue to respond to threats to civilians."

Rasmussen added that NATO would be on hand to assist in Libya's transformation to democratic rule.

Monitoring air patrols are expected to continue until Monday to make sure there are no more threats to civilians.

NATO's 26,000 sorties, including 9,600 strike missions, destroyed about 5,900 military targets since they started last March.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had held talks through intermediaries with former leader Muammar Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam about his possible surrender.

Gadhafi died from gunshot wounds last week after fierce fighting in the city of Sirte.

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) is now overseeing political reform intended to lead to national elections within eight months.

Israeli and Gaza Militants Exchange Fire
Israeli aircraft struck at Palestinian militants on Saturday, killing five, while militants responded with a volley of rockets which injured several Israeli civilians.

This is the worst exchange of fire between the two sides in months.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia confirmed that five men were killed and another 11 injured in an explosion inside a militant training site in the southern part of the coastal territory.

After the air strike, militants in Gaza fired over 10 rockets at southern Israel, injuring at least one person and causing property damage.

Islamic Jihad took responsibility for firing the rockets in a text message to reporters.

Islamic Jihad spokesperson, Khader Habib:

"We in the Islamic Jihad consider the Zionist enemy fully responsible for what will happen in the next few days, for the escalation in the region. This crime cannot be tolerated and Saraya Al-Quds certainly will respond with a message similar to this crime by shelling the depth of the Zionist enemy."

Islamic Jihad is one of the militant groups in Gaza that frequently fires rockets at southern Israel cities, prompting Israeli reprisal strikes.

Hundreds Protesting against Financial Institutions in Germany
Protesters in Frankfurt and Berlin demonstrated on Saturday against what they see as the reckless management of the European banking system.

Under the slogan "The crisis is capitalism", protesters in the German capital Berlin demonstrated against the handling of the financial crisis in Europe and the power of banks as well as corporate groups.

Protester Christiane Levin:

"People who are gambling should pay their losses. The profits are privatized and we have to pay the losses. We would do better to spend the money on education."

People marched from the Berlin City Hall to the government quarter in the city centre where the German parliament, the Reichstag, is situated.

The protest was organized by the "Occupy Frankfurt" movement, which is inspired by New York's Occupy Wall Street movement.

Protesters have been camping out in front of the European Central Bank's office tower in Frankfurt to protest the dominance of banks in what is continental Europe's financial hub.

On Friday European leaders unveiled a plan to expand their regional bailout fund and take other steps to contain the debt crisis in Greece.

However many have raised questions about the plan, which left out key details about how the fund might work.

For a third weekend in a row, 'Occupy' demonstrations have been held across Germany on Saturdays.

Turkish Quake Survivors Complain about Slow Relief Delivery
Turkish quake survivors have begun to assemble prefabricated homes in the eastern village of Karaagac as the government promises to speed up the delivery of relief materials.

Most of the houses in Karaagac were demolished in the earthquake a week ago, so the residents were the first to receive prefabricated homes from the Turkish Red Crescent.

People left homeless by the quake in the eastern province of Van have complained about the slow delivery of relief items like tents.

Villager Erkan Adas is demanding that officials do more for those displaced by the earthquake.

"All the children are sick, we are disheveled. The quake occurred days ago but only received these prefabricated houses today. We didn't even have tents before. We slept outdoors and we want help."

Turkish Minister of Development, Cevdet Yilmaz, has pledged to provide shelter for all displaced survivors before the winter arrives.

"Winter is coming, we are planning to provide temporary places, like container houses and prefabricated homes to residents whose houses were demolished or severely damaged. We are going all-out to meet the urgent demands of our citizens as soon as possible."

The Turkish government says at least 570 people have been killed and thousands more injured in the powerful earthquake.

No official figures are available for the homeless, but the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies puts the number of "affected people" at 50,000.

Aid Arrives for Victims of Quake-hit Eastern Turkey
Meanwhile, relief packages have continued to flood into earthquake-ravaged Ercis, five days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated the eastern Turkish city.

Israel, Russia, Britain and Germany were among the countries sending basic necessities to add to the domestic aid. In addition to these, Saudi King Abdullah has ordered a 50 million dollar donation.

China has decided to offer cash aid amounting to one million US dollars to the quake-ravaged area. Earlier, the Chinese Red Cross Society donated 50,000 US dollars to the Turkish Red Crescent for disaster relief.

Temporary tent cities have been set up to house those made homeless by the destruction of a city of around 80,00 residents.

Second-hand clothes, medicine and nappies were handed out to the desperate crowd.

Although it was clear to see that aid was getting through, many have criticized the manner in which the distribution has been managed.

"It's better if they come door-to-door because everyone has a right to receive aid. The gendarmerie, or whoever the officials are, should arrange the distribution themselves. That way there will be no clamouring, difficulties or chaos."

Another Ercis resident said he was grateful for the aid.

"I want to thank the whole world. The whole world. They've rushed to help us. God bless them for what they're doing. I thank them very much."

Last Sunday's earthquake has so far killed 535 and wounded over 2,300.

US Embassy in Bosnia Attacked
A gunman has fired on the US embassy in Bosnia in a 30-minute assault, which has been blamed on a radical Islamist from neighboring Serbia.

The gunman was wounded by a police sniper during the attack which took place in the capital Sarajevo's busy downtown area. A police officer was seriously wounded and shop workers scrambled for cover.

The gunman, identified as 23-year-old Mevlid Jasarevic, is a Serbian citizen from the predominantly Muslim area of Novi Pazar.

It has been reported that he had been visiting a hardline Islamist community in northern Bosnia.

Police spokesman Irfan Nefic said the gunman had been taken to hospital for treatment but that his injuries were not life-threatening.

"One police officer who was securing the embassy was seriously injured by fire and received the immediate medical treatment. Members of Sarajevo canton police intervened and the man who fired from automatic rifle was wounded and overpowered, received medical care at the spot and taken to the hospital for further medical treatment."

Nefic said police believe that the gunman acted alone, but that the investigation may reveal more information.

US embassy officials said the embassy building had gone into lockdown during the assault, and no one in the embassy had been hurt.

The US embassy in Sarajevo, a mainly Muslim city, closed briefly in March 2002 citing an unspecified threat, but this is the first time the building has come under direct attack.

Bosnia, which was torn apart by war between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs in 1992-95 as Yugoslavia collapsed, is considered a strong ally of the US.

Bangkok's Chinatown Briefly Flooded
Thailand's tourist attractions and Chinatown in the capital were briefly flooded during the highest tide of the day on Saturday evening.

Bangkok's main waterway, the Chao Phraya River, overflowed its banks and flooded some areas during unusually high tides in the Gulf of Thailand.

The normally bustling city centre was flooded, as were the streets around the glittering Grand Palace and Temple of the Reclining Buddha, areas usually thronged with tourists.

Buildings across Bangkok have been sand-bagged or walled off for protection. Many people have left their cars on motorway flyovers and elevated roads.

The high tides will last until Monday.

Somchai Leeitthi, 53 year-old second hand auto parts seller in Chinatown said floods have affected on his life and business.

"I used to earn 4,000 to 5,000 Baht a day but now it's all gone. I have to monitor the water level everyday. I don't want to go far from home and all the furniture is damaged."

Thailand's worst floods in half a century have killed 381 people since July.

Australia Qantas Airway Grounds All Aircraft over Labor Dispute
Australia's Qantas Airways says it's grounding all it's aircraft due to labor dispute, a move that would cost it over 20 million US dollars a day.

The airline said in a statement that from Monday evening it would lock out all employees over a protracted industrial dispute with the engineers association, pilots, catering and ground handling associations.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the company has no choice in the face of union demands.

"We have decided to ground the Qantas international and domestic fleets immediately. I repeat, we are grounding the Qantas fleet now. Obviously, those flights that are currently in the air will complete their scheduled sectors. However, as from now, there will be no further Qantas domestic or international departures anywhere in the world."

The unions have taken strike action since September over pay and opposing Qantas plans to cut soaring costs. The strike is the worst dispute the airline has faced since 2008.

Joyce said Qantas' key high value domestic bookings on east coast routes are down by a quarter and November international bookings have fallen nearly 10 percent. Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more than 600 flights cancelled.

Qantas employs over 32,000 people and flies to more than 180 destinations worldwide.

Analysts say the grounding of the airline would benefit domestic rival Virgin Australia and others such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Chinese carriers on international routes.

India and Japan Agree to Restart Nuclear Talks
Japan and India say they would look to advance talks on nuclear power which have stalled in the wake of Japan's March disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna was speaking after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba in Tokyo.

"I discussed with foreign minister Genba the status of civil nuclear co-operation between our countries. As you are aware, we have had three rounds of negotiations on this subject. After my discussions today I am optimistic on the turn of events."

For his part, Genba said that he has expressed his desire that the talks would also cover the spread of nuclear weapons as India is one of the few nations that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.

Even so, Genba affirmed that the negotiations would soon enter a practical stage.

"While I cannot give any details due to the fact that negotiations are still on-going, there has been no point at which the talks were stopped. We agreed between myself and Minister Krishna that we would look to advance the talks and as such would look to start discussions on a practical level as well."

The meeting between the foreign ministers was held as part of an annual strategic dialogue between Japan and India and ahead of India's defence minister's visit to Tokyo the next week.

Kenya Not to Withdraw from Somalia until Safety Ensured
The chief of Kenya's armed forces says Kenyan troops will stay in southern Somalia until Kenyans feel safe again.

General Julius Karangi told reporters in Nairobi that there was "no timeline" for the Kenyan operation to end.

"This campaign is not time bound, there is no time line on it, we will leave it to the people of this country to decide that we feel safe enough on the common border and therefore our fighters, our warriors can come back home, so key success factors or indicators will be in the form of highly degraded al Shabaab capacity, moving forward."

But Karangi said Kenya has no interest in permanently occupying Somalia and is working alongside the weak UN-backed Somali government.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in Mid-October after a string of cross-border attacks and kidnappings, which it blames on the Somali insurgent group al Shabaab.

Karangi confirmed Kenya suffered its first casualty from combat on Friday when a soldier died from wounds inflicted by al Shabaab fighters.

He said fewer than five Kenyan soldiers have been injured while losses on their opponents' side are conservatively estimated at several hundred dead.

Wise to Safeguard the Interests of Mentally Ill

A recent report issued by China's Ministry of Public Health shows that there are 16 million reported psychiatric patients around the nation. Suicide attempts have been the second-largest cause of injury in China, after traffic accidents.

China's top legislative body has recently been deliberating upon a draft bill regarding the mental health of the nation, which aims to safeguarded the rights and interests of the mentally ill while providing a measure of medical care.

An editorial from the China Daily newspaper points out that most regions lack mental-health prevention networks and the level of public awareness when it comes to mental illness is quite low. Many people who need medical attention are unable to receive help, either because it is too costly or because of the stigma attached.

This demonstrates that the problem is not only due to a lack of mental health professionals but also due to the fact that some sane people are illegally detained as "mentally ill" due to their actions.

So it is easy to see how mental health is not only a medical issue, but also an issue concerning law enforcement and social stability.

The editorial quotes the Minister of Health, Chen Zhu as saying that the draft law is to ensure the legal rights of people with mental illnesses and it is mental health professionals who should determine if a person is suffering from a mental illness and whether hospitalization is needed.

Furthermore, it is also important that society changes its deep-rooted bias toward mental illness and accepts those afflicted with the illness without prejudice.

And last but not least, professionals need to set new standards for psychological counselors to weed out those without proper training and to provide more skilled counselors.


Social Inequality Pushes Youth Back to Megacities

Years ago, young people who worked in China's megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou fled to second and third tier cities where they believed there would be less pressure and lower costs of living. However, a majority of these young professionals have now returned to the megacities to seek job opportunities.

This phenomenon has generated a great deal of media attention nationwide.

An editorial from the People's Daily has concluded that employees in small and medium-sized cities are paid less compared to those in the megacities. More importantly, cronyism and personal connections speak louder than one's talents when hunting for jobs in small towns, which has led to social inequality.

The commentary says that in small cities, job hunters, no matter how talented they are, find it hard to get decent jobs unless they know the right people or offer bribes to those in charge. This results in a situation where most of these young people who have decided to settle down in small cities have to spend much of their time establishing a network of relationships rather than cultivating their professional talents.

But this situation in megacities is a little different.

Another editorial from the Qianjiang Evening News newspaper says megacities are more likely to offer equal opportunities for all, particularly talented professionals who have more opportunities in terms of employment. Those who flee back to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou would rather face the challenges of skyrocketing living costs and much higher work pressure than face unfair competition in small towns.

Both editorials believe the government should create favorable conditions for employment. Megacities need to improve accommodation conditions for young employees. And young people should be offered equal chances to develop their talents so that they are willing to settle down in small towns, given that there are limits to the number of workers being effectively utilized in big cities.