Return to Transcripts main page
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Apologizes for Police Aggression; Unrest in Turkey; Turkish Markets Calmer; Europe Floods; Germans Ban Together to Battle Rising Floodwater; US Targets Patent Trolls; US Markets Down, European Markets Up; Future of Singapore Airlines; Dollar Up; Anger Over Deadly Fire in China
Aired June 4, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NINA DOS SANTOS, HOST: A coordinated strike. Unions join forces with protesters in the Turkish capital.
A deadly deluge in mainland Europe as Germany and other nations now launch a major flood cleanup.
And a patents testament. The United States takes action against the firms abusing the patent system.
Hello, I'm Nina Dos Santos, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening. Turkey's deputy prime minister has apologized for the excessive force used by police against some protesters. His comments come as almost a quarter of a million union members began a two-day strike in solidarity with the demonstrators.
In Ankara, a large rally took place on Tuesday. It consisted mainly of students chanting protest slogans. What began as a small sit-in over plans to demolish a park in Istanbul has now spiraled into five days of social unrest across Turkey as a whole. Well, the deputy prime minister says the government has learned its lesson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BULENT ARINC, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): To avoid the misunderstanding of the public, I think there is a need for a comprehensive briefing. I will meet the officials of the associations who applied to a court to stop the demolition process in Gezi Park today or tomorrow.
I will listen to their thoughts and consider their appeal, and again, on this topic, if there is a demand from protesters who started the protest initially, I will meet with them and I will have the opportunity to understand how they evaluate these events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Well, the Turkish prime minister remained defiant, though. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the demonstrations were the work of extreme elements within Turkish society. Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from the Turkish capital of Ankara.
So, first of all, there seems to be this disconnect, doesn't there, Nick, between what a lot of the protesters are saying and what Mr. Erdogan really thinks?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. I think what we're seeing -- what many protesters tell us is that they consider themselves to be disenfranchised and they're not from part of Prime Minister Erdogan's substantial and long-lived majority here, and therefore, their rights as they see to drink as they choose, dress as they like, or live their lives as they want, are being eroded slowly by the kind of society Mr. Erdogan is trying to promote here.
That's what a lot of people say is at the heart of their protest, but you've got to be really truthful here about what's caused the last few days. A lot of it has been self-fueled in many ways. The police, their tactics here, the excessive and relentless use of teargas, many protesters say, calls them out on the streets, some of them eventually to throw rocks, but most of the protest you've seen has been peaceful.
The atmosphere has changed substantially today, it's fair to say. The police have moderated their tactics enormously. We've not seen one use of teargas here in Ankara so far after a quite heavy night of conflict at one point.
But so far in the square, things have been reasonably peaceful. But as it stands, there's a reasonably tense situation behind me, that a road leading down there towards this main square, and estimates are thousands of protesters gathering there.
It's a peaceful standoff with the police, but in the last few minutes, they have begun to chant more loudly. There's an ambulance waiting by here and there are four or five armored police vehicles blocking their way towards this main square here. So, still reasonably early in the night, Nina, but a calm day has led to an evening with some uncertainty. Nina?
DOS SANTOS: Yes, Nick, this has gone on since Friday when it started in Istanbul. It spread to the rest of Turkey. Mr. Erdogan says that he leads from a very strong democratic base. But the big question is, is this the end of his tenure?
WALSH: I think may have drawn comparisons wherein a prime minister has been in position for over a decade, do they sometimes become overconfident?
Do they become too used to their own way of doing things, detached, perhaps, from the generation which initially didn't vote them in, perhaps. Many of the protesters we're seeing here are significantly younger than those, of course, would have been able to vote Erdogan in in the first place.
But the real problem, I think, people describe here is they just don't feel that they have their voices heard after elections. They say that Erdogan basically considers his majority license to do as he wishes, and that's the dictatorial style of government that many criticize here.
Of course, Mr. Erdogan's response to that is, look, I am democratically-elected. If you don't like me, vote me out. But I think the anger we're seeing on the streets here is sort of emblematic of the distaste they have towards heavy-handed police tactics, which perhaps many see here as symptomatic of an administration which really thinks it can get its way however it wants.
But so far today, a calmer atmosphere, but nerves, I think, still rare, that it just takes one small spark to perhaps set things off again. But I should point out, police dramatically different in how they're behaving with protesters. They're even, in fact, laying flowers on the bonnets of their armored vehicles just behind me now, so a dramatic change in atmosphere, Nina.
DOS SANTOS: Gosh, that certainly is. Nick Paton Walsh for us, live this evening in Ankara, the Turkish Capital. Thanks for that.
Well, calm managed to return to Turkey's financial markets on Tuesday as well as some of the streets, as Nick was just telling us before. Stocks over there rebounded from Monday's heavy losses. As you can see, the Istanbul National 100 Index climbed by nearly 5 percent, but that was after falling 10.5 percent on Monday's session. When it comes to bonds, the Turkish bonds and the lira also surged.
Let's move along and talk about something else that's been grabbing the headlines. Shipping has now been suspended along part of the River Rhine in Germany. This as heavy rain has caused widespread disruption across this whole region.
In a moment's time, we'll have the latest on Germany, but first let's have a look at the areas and the countries that have been involved and hit the hardest. Southern and also eastern Germany and also Austria as well, down here, and the western part of the Czech Republic have been very, very badly affected by the heavy water.
The Rhine is regarded as one of the busiest shipping routes anywhere in the world. It snakes all the way down this region, and its canals link to other major rivers across Western Europe as well.
So, that area that's been closed across the Rhine runs, as you can see, through central and eastern Germany. Many German manufacturing cities are actually dotted along this particular part of the Rhine between Bonn and Frankfurt.
You can expect the closure to affect all sorts of imports that come from places like Hamburg all the way down to the Black Sea. They go via this river route. We could see the price of oil, coal, and also important grains that come from places like Northern Europe, also towards the Ukraine in the east to be affected as a result of the closure of the Rhine.
Fred Pleitgen is in Meissen by the River Elbe, which has also been badly affected. He's been taking stock of the damage so far.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Meissen is a beautiful and very historic old town here in the southeastern part of Germany. It's also on the Elbe River, however, and that river is leading a lot of water at this point in time. The old town was recently breached by the floodwaters, the flood wall breached by the water masses that came through here.
Now, a lot of the people are boarding up their shops and trying to prevent even more damage. We visited a travel agency a little earlier, and the people there were clearing away a lot of the documents, they were taking a lot of the furniture to higher ground as well to try and protect what they have from being damaged.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "We're trying to save what we can," she says. "We're going to have considerable damage anyway, but we're trying to minimize it."
PLEITGEN (on camera): But people here in Meissen are very experienced in dealing with floodwaters. This city has been hit so many times. One of the worst times was about 11 years ago. And now, one of the things that always happens in situations like this is that the community here bands together.
People come from all over the place, they start volunteering, they start filling sandbags. And what's going to happen is those sandbags are going to be used to barricade a lot of the houses here to try and minimize the damage if the floodwaters rise any higher.
"I happen to come by here on my bike and I had nothing else to do, so I tied it to a lamppost, grabbed a sandbag, and started putting sand in it."
PLEITGEN (on camera): Large areas of central and eastern Europe are being hit by these floods right now. In the Czech Republic, several people have died. The level of water that you're seeing here in Meissen actually is coming from the Czech Republic.
Meissen itself is now under an evacuation order, and what's going on is that rescue workers are evacuating people using boats. They're going through the city, they're telling everybody to leave and hoping that people actually come along, because apparently, some people are refusing.
Now, it's anybody's guess how long that is going to take. However, the people are being warned that the water continues to rise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shuttle the people with our rescue boats throughout the area here because the fire department and police, they don't have the possibility to get through the water here.
PLEITGEN: This town experienced some of the worst flooding in its history about ten years ago. It's unclear weather the high water this year might even exceed the levels of 2002. However, the people and the authorities here in Meissen are bracing for the worst.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Meissen, Germany.
DOS SANTOS: Well, after the break, the patent system is meant to protect ideas, but instead, some firms are using it to extract cash from small businesses. Now the White House is fighting back. We'll examine that.
DOS SANTOS: Welcome back. The White House says that the patent system is being manipulated for undue financial gains. As such, it's taking action to rein in the so-called troll firms, which it says are responsible for tying up the court system with their claims.
President Obama says that the firms don't actually produce anything worth protecting. They're simply hijacking other people's ideas in order to extract some cash quickly.
Let's have a look at how this system actually works. Well, firms hoard patents for technology, so they buy them up. This is technology that they've had nothing to do with in the past. And what they do is, they then threaten legal action against legitimate businesses.
They hide behind all sorts of shell companies. Often many times it's very difficult to see who is -- clearly who is suing and who will benefit from the lawsuit, and there's often many, many different shell companies that you have to deal with here, which makes it even more clogged in the courts.
Let's have a look at one example. It's Project Paperless. This is a firm that asks small companies for $1,000 every time an employee e-mails a scanned document. Now, it's not just small firms who have to worry about this kind of procedure. Google and BlackBerry asked the FTS to intervene last month because, of course, they were facing similar issues with some of these patent trolls.
Let's have a look at what could be done about this, because under the new plan, patent holding companies will have to disclose who really stands to benefit from any lawsuit when it's filed. They'll have to identify the ultimate patent holders and say why they're filing it and also what the cause of that is. Will it actually create any social good, if you like?
For more on this, let's go over to David Balto. He's an antitrust lawyer and a former policy director at the US Federal Trade Commission, so the FTC, I was mentioning before. David joins us now, live from Washington.
David, great to have you on the show. Obviously, you're the expert on this, and it's very, very complicated from a legal point of view, but I suppose the crux of it is, these are people trying to make a buck quickly and they're not contributing to the innovation and technology landscape.
DAVID BALTO, FORMER POLICY DIRECTORY, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: Nina, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Look, the purpose of the United States patent system is to promote innovation.
And what's happening is, crafty lawyers and investors have figured out a way of exploiting weaknesses in both the patent and litigation system to use patents, oftentimes old patents that really don't contribute much, to use these patents to spur litigation claims.
And the problem is that many of the defendants, the victims of these schemes, simply don't have the information and resources to fight back. That's why what the administration is doing is so important.
It's going and eliminating -- attempting to eliminate those problems in the patent and litigation system so that opponents have an ability to fight fair and battle back against these patent trolls.
DOS SANTOS: Obviously, the flip side is that some might say this erodes patent protection. Does it?
BALTO: Oh, I don't think there's much weight to that argument. There's nothing in here that really goes and diminishes the ability of a real inventor to use patents to fully protect themselves.
This is narrowly tailored reform efforts going after some of the problems in the patent and litigation system that are being exploited by these firms that again don't invent anything, aren't trying to promote anything, but are simply trying to shake down companies for damages.
DOS SANTOS: How confident are you that this will be knocked on the head. Because presumably, this is one step in the right direction, but the patent laws are so complicated, and so many of these companies are shell companies. It's going to be quite difficult to get to the bottom of this.
BALTO: You're right, Nina. It is -- there's a lot -- this is an initial first step. Let me give you an example. There's a tremendous problem right now with retailers and other end users being sued by these patent trolls and they -- the demands they get are totally oblique.
There are provisions in here to begin to require transparency of those demands, and I think that's a good initial step. But there has to be a lot more to protect the end users who are oftentimes victimized by this litigation.
DOS SANTOS: OK, David Balto there, an antitrust lawyer and also a former policy director of the Federal Trade Commission. Thanks so much for joining us on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS this evening.
So, let's have a look at how US stock markets have been faring after their recent rally. As you can see, they have been drifting lower, in the moment, down around about eight tenths of one percent, a whopping 125 points on the Dow. That's quite a significant fall from the recent highs we've seen.
They've been drifting lower on the back of lingering uncertainty as to whether the Federal Reserve might now start to scale back its ongoing quantitative easing or monetary stimulus plan. Stocks had rallied earlier on the back of comments from the Atlanta Reserve Bank's president that had been seen to indicate that the central bank will continue to support the market financially from here on.
But if the Dow still manages to eke out even a small gain in today's session, which looks unlikely by these kind of figures, I might say, it'll be the 21st Tuesday in a row that the index will have ended in positive territory after hitting all those highs.
Well, European markets finished the session higher in today's session. That was despite the fact that the Fed could scale back its policy from here on.
Banks were some of the strong gainers in London, with Lloyd's and banking -- Lloyd's Banking Group and also Barclay's as well as RBS all closing around about 1 percent higher. There was also a report that indicated that RBS could be split into two banks, and that was one of the reasons why that stock moved as well.
Singapore Airlines chief executive says that doing business in the United States and Europe still remains challenging. All this week, Richard has been speaking to airline CEOs at the IATA Conference in Cape Town.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL: That is Table Mountain. Or at least that's what they tell me. But this is Cape Town, South Africa in the winter, and here the weather is highly changeable and often obscures the obvious. A bit like the economics of the aviation and airline industry.
IATA has upgraded the profits forecast for this year. It's around $12 billion. But it's a forecast that's full of risks and uncertainties, and one of those airlines feeling the full force of that is Singapore Airlines.
Singapore may have been the first to fly the A380 super jumbo and it started its own low-cost long-haul carrier called Scoot. And now, it's planning to spend many millions of dollars upgrading its premium class. I spoke to the chief executive, Mr. Goh Choon Phong, and asked him with all these uncertainties, can he be optimistic in his forecast?
GOH CHOON PHONG, CEO, SINGAPORE AIRLINES: We're seeing a lot of challenges in the environment, particularly with respect to fuel, which is still at a high level, $120 or so.
And for us who are operating long-haul to the US and to Europe, it continues to be very challenging. Those two economies as well as, you know, for long-haul you actually carry fuel to burn through.
QUEST: So, because those two markets, the US and Europe, are still challenged economically --
QUEST: You have made great increases in capacity to China, to all sorts of in your own region. Is that how you're balancing the risk?
GOH: I think we have to be all very nimble in the challenging environment, and this is where the growth is right now, which is through the region, which is southeast Asia, China, India, as well as Australia.
Of course, we had a great partnership, as you know, with Virgin Australia, and it helps in our connectivity into the inner points of Australia.
QUEST: What's the strategy with Virgin Australia? You have swapped Virgin Atlantic for Virgin Australia.
QUEST: Would you like to -- I mean, you can't on Virgin Australia, but you're clearly trying to make sure that nobody else does.
GOH: Well, no, no. The two are actually not related. We of course have been quite open about saying that our investment in Virgin Australia, it's a strategic one for us. And that is a way for us to better serve our customers, provide greater connectivity, and allow a greater integration of our key programs. And that would again help our serving of the customers in Australia.
Now, for the case of Virgin Atlantic, we have also been very open about it being a non-performing set for us, so we have said that in order to win, there's a fail, we'll consider.
QUEST: You have now got your three areas. You've got the premium, you've got the regional, you've got low -- long-haul low-cost, and you've got your low-cost subsidiaries or investments. So, now you've got to let the cake bake.
GOH: No, you see, we adopt a portfolio approach. So, we do have airlines that focus on the premium traffic, which is ourselves, which covers the thicker regional routes as well as the premium traffics in medium to long-haul.
And of course, we have Silk Air, which is our regional subsidiary, that takes care of the thinner routes, and that's the reason why we can, for example, serve in excess of 460 points to southeast Asia, together with Silk Air.
And also for the same reason, we have close to -- as a group, we have about 133 weekly frequencies to China, almost 100 to India.
QUEST: Goh Choon Phong of Singapore Airlines. On tomorrow's program, we'll hear form Christoph Franz, the chief exec of Lufthansa, German airlines. Lufthansa is restructuring in a big way, and Christoph Franz will tell us why he's certain it's the road to the future.
DOS SANTOS: Well, a Currency Conundrum for you out there now. Tuesday marks the 60th anniversary of the queen's coronation. What's unusual, though, about the 1952 Queen's Coronation coin?
Is it A, that the coin floats? B, that the coin was posed for by a body double and not the queen herself? Or C, could it be that the coin had a spelling mistake in it? We'll have an answer for you later on in the program.
While you're holding your breath for that, let me tell you how the currencies have been doing. The dollar is up against the British pound and the Japanese yen. It's flat against the euro, though. We'll be back after this short break.
DOS SANTOS: A fire at a poultry plant in China may have been started by an ammonia explosion. That's according to China's state media. Workers who survived say that many of the plant's exits were dropped, trapping people inside at the time.
At least 120 people died in the fire on Monday, one of China's worst industrial accidents in many years. CNN's Nic Robertson spoke with some of the relatives and friends of the workers who lost their lives.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Overcome by grief, a mother lying in the road, her only child is dead.
(WOMAN CRYING, SPEAKING CHINESE)
ROBERTSON: Where so many lost their lives at this industrial poultry farm, there is anguish and anger. As this lady tells us, her aunt is still missing. A policeman shuts us down.
ROBERTSON: We are told to move away from the crowd. Across the road, another relative of a victim of the chicken farm fire is manhandled away from us. This lady shouts at him not to leave, but to tell reporters the truth. When he does go, she cries out, "My sister-in-law died right there! I have nothing to fear now! They died such a horrible death because the door was shut."
Another relative quietly tells us workers couldn't get out, adding they'd complained about the doors before.
At the nearby hospital, more anxious relatives scrutinize a list of survivors. Inside, police control the corridor to the injured. Relatives huddle nearby. "My cousin only just got out alive," this lady tells us. "She went to one door. It was locked. She went to another, and just managed to get her arm out through a tiny hole before she was overcome and collapsed."
As we wait, this woman wheeled off for surgery. She tells us she can barely talk. Her jaw, arm, and leg were damaged jumping from a window.
ROBERTSON: Meanwhile, close to the farm, a scuffle between families and police.
ROBERTSON (on camera): The crowds have been growing through the morning, passions are rising, tempers are flaring, and it's now developed into a sort of standoff with the police line. And the people here anxious to know about their relatives kept back from the chicken factory.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): When we talked to this man, the reason for so much anger becomes clear. Wang Shu Fen's wife is missing. He tells us she went to work at 4:00 AM and he's had no news since. Everyone is trying to add their story, but he persists.
"No one liked working there," he says. "Sixteen-hour days, not enough toilet breaks, no holidays, for a little over $300 a month." Left with only anguish and no answers, anger is rising, bitter authorities are blocking them rather than finding their loved ones.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Mishazi, China.
DOS SANTOS: Well, after the break, a trading tussle with China is becoming increasingly looking like it might turn into a costly war. The EU's trade commissioner will be joining us live on this show from Brussels.
DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back. I'm Nina dos Santos. These are the news headlines this hour on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says that lab tests have shown that sarin gas has been used during the civil war in Syria, quote, "several times" and in a localized manner.
Sarin is colorless, odorless and it's a very potent nerve agent. Fabius didn't specify whether the government or the rebels have used the gas. The video that you're seeing comes from Aleppo, where chemical weapons have allegedly been used.
Turkey's deputy prime minister has apologized to protesters who were injured in demonstrations over a park in Istanbul. He admitted that police used excessive force there and says that lessons have been learned.
Flood waters are still rising in many places in Europe. This video comes to us from Poland. Good news, though, for Prague, because we're being told that flooding in the historic Czech capital has now started to recede.
A judge has delayed the hearing in the Oscar Pistorius murder case for two months. The prosecution has requested the delay to give the investigation more time. Well, a judge also warned that any media misconduct could delay the process even further from here on.
A police postmortem examination has concluded that the Bollywood actress Jiah Khan committed suicide. The 25-year old was found dead in her Mumbai home on Monday night. It's believed that she hanged herself, although no suicide note was found. Khan grew up in London before moving to India to start her career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: The European Commission is imposing new duties on Chinese solar panel makers. All of this comes despite concerns that such a move could spark a trade war. Well, a concession has been made, though. The commission has postponed plans for a tariff of some 50 percent -- almost 50 percent -- and is imposing instead a duty of just under 12 percent.
The lower rate will last only two months unless China responds to E.U. allegations that it's selling its panels below cost price, a practice known as dumping in legal terms. The E.U. trade commissioner Karel de Gucht says that today's announcement is about restoring trade balances and not destroying them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREL DE GUCHT, E.U. TRADE COMMISSIONER: In the run-up to today's decisions, certain parties suggested that today's trade defense measures equal protectionism. And that simply wrong and misleading. The truth is that our action is about ensuring fair competition in the respect of international trade rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: And Karel de Gucht joins us now live from Brussels.
Good to have you on the show, Mr. De Gucht. The most obvious question is why are you putting this into place, despite the fact that Germany, which originally raised this issue, and other E.U. countries are opposing your plans?
DE GUCHT: Well, there's a procedure. There's a regulation, legislation, that is governing this, what they call three different instruments against, for example, anti-dumping. So we have launched an investigation because there was a complainant, merely German companies, by the way, solar producing companies, saying that there was fare dumping by Chinese producers.
We have been investigating there for nine months. We have come to a very clear-cut conclusion that indeed it is about dumping. And then after nine months, we have to take a provisional decisions and provisional measures and before doing that, we have to consult the member states. We have been doing so. They can leave their advice.
And it's true that the number of member states were not positive. But it's up to the commission to take a decision. And the commission has taken a decision, a unanimous one, to start with about 12 percent and then to move to more of a 48 percent, 47.6 percent after 60 days, thereby creating --
DE GUCHT: -- a window of opportunity -- thereby creating a window of opportunity to come to a negotiated outcome. And that's also what the Chinese minister has been telling me, that he was ready to engage in such negotiations. So that's what we have been deciding.
DOS SANTOS: Well, you have cut these potential tariffs by a huge amount there. That would indicate that there is some leeway you might have thought for negotiation with the Chinese. How confident are you that they're going to respond to this? Because otherwise these measures will become permanent within five years.
DE GUCHT: Well, I believe that human beings are rational. And it is in both our interests to come to a negotiated solution. So that's my assumption. And for the rest, I'm not going to bet on anything.
I mean, I hope that yes, we will engage and that we can come to a conclusion which is resulting in a (inaudible) situation. That's my task. If that were not to be the case, OK, then I will have to reappraise the matter.
DOS SANTOS: Let me ask you this, do you think it's worth risking a trade war with China?
DE GUCHT: Oh, I don't think you have to look at this as a trade war. You know, China is our biggest second trading partner for the Chinese. We are the first market. So the idea that you could avoid having frictions in such huge volume of trade is, of course, not true.
Yes, you have frictions. And when there are frictions that are remedies to that, like anti-dumping procedures and the anti-subsidiation (ph) procedure. And that comes to a conclusion that I don't see why it should result in a trade war. And I'm certainly not looking for a trade war. I'm looking for solutions.
But on the other hand, I also want to protect our industry because I would not like to be confronted with the situation that in a couple of years' time, even less, that there is no solar industry in Europe anymore, that we don't have the technology that is state-of-the-art anymore, that we cannot invest in research and development anymore.
That's what I want to avoid and that's also my task. I mean, that's what -- that's what I'm there for.
DOS SANTOS: Well, you say that you don't want these particular measures -- you don't want the Chinese situation to erode the solar panel industry in Europe. But the reality is is there are a number of these solar panel producers. They've already been put out of business anyway by the Chinese. So is this the right horse to back? Is it the right fight to pick with China?
DE GUCHT: I think so. It's about the survival of an important sector of industry in Europe. And I know that some say, look, also installing solar panels is important. Of course, it is important. But it's almost something completely different, you know.
We have had subsidies for solar energy for quite some time in Europe. We are now downgrading that. And that automatically will result in a shrinking of the market for those products.
So it's not our measures that would be to blame. No, what we are aiming at is, in fact, reinstating a level playing field, making it possible for European companies to be again in a position to compete, you know. And that's what we have to do as the European Commission.
DOS SANTOS: So this isn't the commission's personal crusade, despite what other people have been saying, would you say that?
DE GUCHT: Oh, I'm not a crusader at all, you know. I'm a very rational man who has proposed to the commission to take these measures. I have been followed by everyone. It has been a consensual, the unanimous decision, I think is the right way to approach it.
And I hope that those on the Chinese side there's now willingness to really sit together at the appropriate level to come out with a solution anytime soon.
DOS SANTOS: Let's hope there is. Karel de Gucht there, the trade commissioner, joining us live from Brussels, thanks for that.
Well, straight ahead here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, why room service may be off the menu at one of New York's most well-known hotels. Our "Business Traveler" update is next after this.
DOS SANTOS: Time now for today's "Business Traveler" update. Dramatic pictures have emerged showing what turbulence can do to an aircraft cabin. Twelve people were hurt on board this Singapore Airlines flight which suffered a sudden loss in altitude.
Well, these photos taken by a passenger on board show the state of the cabin of this A380 plane with pillows, meal trays, cups and all sorts of other debris strewn all across the floor.
The passengers said that everything that wasn't secured down was thrown up into the ceiling, in a statement Singapore Airlines had this to say, "Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 experienced moderate to severe turbulence en route from Singapore to London on 26 May.
Eleven passengers and one crew member sustained minor injuries when the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of altitude and were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Heathrow Airport."
Now one of New York's biggest hotels has announced plans to scrap room service in a bid to boost its profits. Felicia Taylor is live in New York for us this evening with more on that.
This will be disappointing for late-night arrivals, Felicia.
FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would think so. And I think one of the greatest things about booking into a hotel is that you get to have the little room service and sort of a little bit of a luxury.
But Hilton Hotels in New York is now saying that it is no longer cost- effective and they're going to suspend service in New York and see how that progresses. They're also going to be laying off a number of employees. That's about 50 different employees. So this is obviously some cost-cutting efforts in order to make things a little more profitable on the bottom line, Nina.
DOS SANTOS: I suppose this also sets the bar for other hotels as well, and that's the concern, isn't it?
TAYLOR: Well, absolutely. I mean, like I said, this is one of the luxuries that you have when you book into a hotel. And, granted, maybe it's a $29 hamburger -- it's not exactly cost-effective when it comes to your own pocket, deep pockets.
But nevertheless, this is one of those amenities that you enjoy when you are in a hotel and it's a luxury. I think of Eloise at the Plaza Hotel and her room service, famous stories. So I don't know if this is going to fly so well. But it's a trial effort on behalf of New York's Hilton Hotel, and we'll see how it goes.
DOS SANTOS: Is it really going to save them that much money? I suppose they can afford to try this out in New York because the Big Apple is the city that never sleeps, and you can find a deli on every corner where you can get just about something to eat.
TAYLOR: Well, what they're thinking about doing is actually called -- something called Urban Kitchen, and that's going to be a service they will have in the lobby and you can maybe even order in. That's another option that they're considering as opposed to just having in-house service. So we'll see how it goes.
Yes, these are hotels that have 2,000 rooms. They're huge hotels. So this is a massive service that doesn't evidently pay off.
DOS SANTOS: Felicia Taylor in New York for us this evening, bad news for business travelers. But thanks for bringing us the latest on that.
If you're a business traveler out there, you're probably wondering what the weather forecast looks like as well. Jenny Harrison is standing by to tell us all at the CNN International Weather Center.
I gather you're starting out with Europe, of course, given the flooding, Jenny.
JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we need to start there really, Nina. Of course it's improving picture in terms of the rain that's coming down. But my goodness, there's a lot of water to get rid of.
And of course it's all about in particular the rivers and this particular river, the Vltava (ph), because it actually pushes of course flows north. It flows into the Alba (ph). And then all of that flows north through Germany and actually comes out into the North Sea.
So this is what of course is happening Saturday through Monday. We had this tremendous amount of rainfall over a huge area. More than 150 mm to many areas. You can see the darker colors indicating where we saw the heaviest of the rainfall. So it was coming down into Bavaria at southeast Germany.
And then across into Austria, Switzerland, the west of the Czech Republic as well. So it's really about now the rivers. The Blue Rivers (ph) highlight. We've got the Rhine. We've also got the Danube. And of course you were saying earlier on, Nina, just how vital the Danube is in particular.
But all of these rivers, the Danube, the Rhine, the Vltava (ph) Rivers, all the tributaries, all have been affected. But so important for Europe, all the ships that actually use it for tourism but also of course the business, the shipping. They ship petroleum, coal, grains, wood, all sorts of construction materials. It's used for all sorts of industry, also of course a source of drinking water.
I mentioned the tourism. So recreation as well, not just for these cruise ships that take these river cruises, hydroelectric power and of course it could take many days for this water to actually return to those normal levels, for example, many of these cruise ships have had to actually suspend operation. The river is just too high. It is flowing far too fast.
So this is what actually happened, a very, very slow-moving area of low pressure just produced these huge widespread downpours. That has now pushed out of the picture. So we have got improving conditions.
Having said that, for example, we are still of course seeing all these residents making these preparations in Prague here. This is what they use to actually fill the sandbags. So of course hundreds of residents are doing this and volunteers and filling hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of sandbags to protect against it.
We have got all these sort of flip barriers in place, the end here in Austria. That's the next threat, the Danube flowing through Austria. So Vienna is a concern. And then Bratislava in Slovakia, the rains there pushing towards the southeast.
So a clearing picture across central Europe, some pretty good temperatures as well, though with just a concern that we have got more rain now across the southeast. And it's where that we see more cresting along these rivers flowing through more central and northern areas of Europe, Nina.
DOS SANTOS: OK, Jenny Harrison bringing us the latest on that, thanks for that.
Well, after the break, "The Production Line," our new segment, celebrates the process of putting things together piece by piece.
DOS SANTOS: And let's answer tonight's "Currency Conundrum." Earlier in the show, I asked you what was unusual about the 1952 Queen's Coronation Coin. And the answer is C. The coin is actually (inaudible) by a body double. Her Majesty the Queen is represented by Jean Emerson (ph), who is a petty officer in the Woman's Royal Naval Service at the time.
Well, today the Queen is marking 60 years since her coronation service at Westminster Abbey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: The Queen, accomplished by Prince Philip, entered to the same music that greeted her in 1953. The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to her 60 years of commitment and service. There have been 38 coronations at Westminster Abbey, beginning with William the Conqueror's own service all the way back in 1066.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: As the Queen celebrates her coronation, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is celebrating British industry. In our new segment, we're taking pride in the processes that produce items that we know and love. We're starting out our series with something of a royal theme, as you can see here.
On "The Production Line," we're going to be taking a look at how Gibson's Games have been turning this into their own celebration of her reign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be nostalgic. It might have a little bit of romance in it. It should be something that makes you smile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These days we come up with an idea for a picture. We've got the celebration of the coronation. We've had a very good partnership with Jennifer Cord (ph) Robert Opie, who has a museum called the Museum of Brands. And he has put together a design for us, using various pieces of ephemera from his museum.
Any thoughts about an alternative to the brack (ph) for the background?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is much more interesting than the border.
What do you think, (inaudible)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take that image and have it be produced digitally and we send that file off to our printers. They will print the puzzle picture onto paper.
We receive the printed sheet. We then laminate those to the cardboard. We can glue around 700-800 pieces per hour. After gluing, these puzzles are then cut twice. They have to be cut twice because a thousand piece puzzle has (inaudible) in it that even though the machines will develop pressure (inaudible) in one day.
We need to (inaudible) the dies to ensure uniform size of cut and therefore very clean cutting. This is done by painstakingly adding these small pieces of tape to the back.
Once the machine ejects the puzzle, it is then fed up the conveyor belt into the scrambler.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) that feeling when you've really got (inaudible). You know, you've got a really nice picture together with all the elements. It tells the story.
Yes, we're very proud of being British as a company and therefore we like to be associated with British events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Peter Phillips attributes much of his success to the strong work ethic that he got from his grandmother, The Queen. The son of Princess Anne opted out of a royal role to carve out a role in niche sportsmanship here.
Well, this weekend he's bringing the world's richest show jumping event to London's Olympic Park. And that's where his sister, Zara, remember, won silver with Team Great Britain in last year's Olympic Games. Peter Phillips spoke to Max Foster about the business of show jumping and how he's hoping to drag it off of its high horse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER PHILLIPS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SEL UK: As you can see, it is -- it's an arena sport. And there's been a progression, a huge progression in a lot of arena sports over the last couple of decades. And in Europe, show jumping has remained -- has had that popularity. But in the U.K. it hasn't -- it hasn't -- that popularity hasn't mirrored the success in Europe.
I mean, you look back in the '70s and you had the David Brooms (ph) of this world and the Harvey Smiths (ph). I mean, most of these guys you could watch every Saturday on the BBC. And they were bigger household names than a lot of the footballers at the time.
So there certainly was an interest in show jumping. Football's obviously gone stratospheric. Other sports have overtaken it. But it's got all the ingredients for a great arena sport.
MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: What went wrong with show jumping, would you say, in the way it has fallen behind those other massive sports that we've got today?
PHILLIPS: Generally, I just think there was probably lack of investment. I mean, there was nobody willing -- there was -- there wasn't a Cary Packer (ph) to stand behind the sport and say, well, I'm going to pump my money into this and I'm going to make it a huge success. Ultimately, funding the sport, if you see what I mean, so show jumping never really got that, never really was able to keep up.
And as a result, as you got -- as other sports coming more to the fore and football, Rugby Union, Rugby League and other arena based sports, they sort of took over. And with a limited amount of time that you have on television now, you know, if you're not there, if you're not at the table, it's very difficult to get the exposure and, as a result, get the sponsorship.
FOSTER: But in the meantime, it's gained its reputation for being very elite. So that's actually a big challenge, isn't it, in terms of the brand, if you're trying to broaden the base.
PHILLIPS: Yes, I mean, I think it's an equestrian issue across all equestrian sports. I mean, it doesn't cost much to go and borrow a horse for an afternoon and go and ride.
FOSTER: But it's very expensive to ride one of these horses.
PHILLIPS: Absolutely. But the parallels with most sport is if you then start to enjoy it and you don't want to compete, just like in motor sport, go-karting is relatively easy to get into. But when if you want to go up into the next levels, then you need someone to support you.
You either need local business to support you or you need a local -- or you need a local business man or you need someone who's going to pay for the horses. And that's where you then start to climb up the ladder.
But absolutely. I mean, these horses are worth millions of pounds. It -- but, I guess the point I'm trying to make is at a grassroots level, it doesn't need to be elitist. And it needs to -- the sport as a whole needs to do something about that and show that actually to be able to go out and enjoy an afternoon on a horse is not that expensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Well, after the break, I attempt to pronounce a 63-letter German word that's about to become extinct. Stay tuned for that.
DOS SANTOS: Mark Twain once described German compound words as, quote, "alphabetic processions marching majestically across the page." And now German bureaucrats have consigned the country's longest word to history.
And the word in question is this one -- no pressure. Rindfleischetikettierungsberwachungsaufgabenbertragungsgesetz. And it is defined as the law for the delegation of beef labeling -- monitoring of beef labeling, I should say.
Well, the 63-letter word was introduced back in 1999 during the height of the BSC or mad cow disease crisis and changes to E.U. regulations on the testing of cattle mean that it's now no longer necessary. And as such, the search is on to find a replacement.
One of the top contenders for that title is this one, donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenswitwe, otherwise known as the Danube steamboat company captain (sic).
And there's also another one that's used on a far more regular basis, as you can see, that's kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung, otherwise known as the automobile liability insurance. It's currently the longest word with a dictionary entry.
And on that Germanic note, it's time to say goodbye for this edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Thanks for joining me. I'm Nina dos Santos in London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Here are the news headlines on CNN this hour.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says that lab tests show that sarin gas has been used during the civil war in Syria, quote, "several times" and in a localized manner.
Sarin is colorless and odorless but it's a very potent nerve agent. The video that you're seeing comes to us from Aleppo, where chemical weapons have allegedly been used.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Ankara's central square today. The Turkish deputy prime minister has now apologized to those who were injured in demonstrations over a park building site in Istanbul. He admitted police used excessive force.
High water is swamping large parts of Germany and the Czech Republic as well as Austria. In the Czech Republic, seven deaths have been linked to the flooding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Well, that's a look at the stories that we're watching for you on CNN. Here's "AMANPOUR."