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September Jobs Report; Consumer Confidence Slips; Pollution Plagues China's Harbin; Rights Groups Claim Possible War Crimes in Drone Attacks; Two Mystery Blonde Girls Found; Europe's Poorest People; Planes Nearly Collide in Mid-Air; Unemployment Rate Falls

Aired October 22, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: They're holding out hope, couples of missing children around the world, they are hoping that this little girl found in Greece is their daughter.

Plus, two jumbo jets with almost 1,000 people on board coming dangerously close to crashing in mid-air. Details of a new report up ahead.

And smog so thick that you can't even see a few steps in front of you. The dangerous pollution levels that are closing schools, roads, and even an airport in China.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Michael Holmes is off today.

It has happened again. We are talking about another blonde-haired blue-eyed girl been found with parents who look nothing like her, raising suspicions that she might not be their daughter. The latest child was found in Ireland. Now, this comes just days after authorities in Greece found another little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes with parents who did not resemble her.

So were they adopted? Were they abducted? In both cases, the children were found with parents who are Romanian. That is people of an ethnic community who have darker complexions which is why the fair-skinned children have raised suspicions. Erin McLaughlin has details on both of these mystery girls.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are more questions than answers surrounding this mysterious girl only known as Maria who was found living with a Roma couple who were not her parents. Medical tests indicate that Maria is between five to six years old, older than originally thought.

A Greek children's charity called The Smile of the Child has launch a public appeal to find her real parents. The charity spokesperson says there are about 10 cases of missing children that they are looking at very seriously. They included children from the United States, Canada, Poland, and France.

Meanwhile, members of the Roma community in which Maria was found have rallied behind the couple now charged with her abduction, releasing video footage to show she was happy and cared for. The couple is expected to be transferred to separate prisons later today. They will remain in police custody for the duration of the trial.

Now, in a completely separate case, police have removed a seven-year- old girl, a blonde girl, from the home of a Roma family in Talet (ph), Ireland, on Monday afternoon. A police spokesperson tells CNN the girl is now in the care of social services. At the moment, police are not revealing the circumstances surrounding this other girl.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


MALVEAUX: So the suspected abduction of little Maria by this Roma couple has the entire Roma community in Greece on edge. You can imagine here. They fear a backlash because this case plays into old prejudices about the Romas stealing children for forced labor. Now, discrimination against the Roma dates back centuries. Watch.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): They are Europe's poorest citizens and largest minority, numbering about 10 to 12 million. The European Union says 90 percent of Romas live below the poverty line. Many in ramshackle camps or caravans, isolated and detested by the rest of society. They've been labeled gypsies because of their nomadic heritage and lifestyle.

Their suffering began from the time they arrived from India, 1,000 years ago. Countries passed laws to suppress their culture and keep them out of the mainstream. They were enslaved in Hungry and Romania in the 15th century and targeted for extermination by the Nazis 500 years later.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum says the fate of the Roma in some ways paralleled that of the Jews. They were subjected to internment, forced labor and the museum estimates up to 220,000 Romas were killed during the war. Today, prejudice continues. According to Amnesty International, Romas are being evicted from settlements in France, including evictions by the French government. Their children face school segregation in Greece and there are cases where they've been denied jobs and turned away at hospitals across the continent.


MALVEAUX: And there is underway now an effort to stop the severe discrimination against the Roma. Eastern European countries, they have now committed to improving their education, their employment, their health, as well as their housing.

We're also following this -- 2.8 billion people flying every year, of course, around the world. It still remains the safest form of travel. But a few scary moments in the skies. This is over Scotland. It has some folks asking, how does this -- how could this actually happen? You had two passenger planes coming dangerously close to a collision. At one point, they were just three miles apart. Our Rene Marsh, she has been following this on the close call and the investigators who actually have determined who was responsible.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mid-air over Scotland, two 747 jumbo jets carrying up to 1,000 passengers are on a path to collide. And British investigators say it's because the pilots didn't follow the instructions from air traffic control.

STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER FAA CHIEF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: This is very hard to explain because it appears that two airplanes with two pilots in each airplane, everybody got it wrong initially.

MARSH: The problem started when one plane, jet two, asked the control tower for clearance to climb in altitude. It was cleared. But that put it at the same altitude as another plane, jet one. The two planes were now on a converging path and moving closer by the second. The controller realizing that stepped in to prevent a collision.

WALLACE: He gave instructions to the pilot on the right to go to the right and on the left to go to the left. The conclusion of the British investigators was that each pilot did what the other pilot was instructed to do, and the planes turned toward each other.

MARSH: At their closest point, the two planes were about three miles apart horizontally and 100 feet vertically. That's under the minimum separation requirement.

WALLACE: We have several layers of protection and we got down to some of the last ones here. The pilot saw the other airplane and said so and the collision avoidance system activated properly.

MARSH: The plane's automatic alarms alerted the pilots and they corrected their paths. Former FAA accident investigator Steven Wallace says it's rare four pilots get the instructions so wrong, but the safety nets kicked in, and that, he says, should give comfort to airline passengers. He adds, there hasn't been a collision between U.S. airliners since 1978.


MALVEAUX: Want to bring in our Rene Marsh in Washington.

So, Rene, talk about the fact that British investigators, they're now looking into how this whole thing went so wrong. How was it that both of these pilots actually just misunderstood the directions that they were supposed to be following?

MARSH: Yes, amazing. And, you know, we spoke to some experts who say this is really rare where you have four pilots who did not hear the instructions. Investigators, we can tell you, they are at a loss for why these pilots either misheard or misinterpreted the control tower's instructions. That despite at least one of the crews actually repeating the instructions correctly. We know that investigators, so far, they've ruled out the possibility of call sign confusion because the call signs of these twos planes were just so different. But another possibility that they're looking into, Suzanne, is whether the pilots may have been distracted in the cockpit.

MALVEAUX: And give us a sense of what this means when you talk about three miles apart vertically, 100 feet horizontally. What is the minimum separation supposed to be between aircraft? What is normal?

MARSH: Right. In this particular area where they were, it's about five miles horizontally and a thousand feet vertically. So you see quite a difference there. One thousand feet vertically versus what they actually -- what their distance actually was, which was 100 feet. So that was well under what was considered the minimum separation requirement, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Can only imagine what the passengers were thinking when they saw that plane so close.

Rene, thank you. We appreciate it, as always.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

There is growing anger now in Kenya after video appears to show soldiers looting from the mall right after the deadly attack.

And, plus, the jobs report is out now after it was delayed due to the government shutdown. We're going to break down the numbers, see how the markets are now reacting.

Also, paralyzing smog in China, so thick it is causing car accidents, closed an airport, stores, even selling out of face masks. That up next.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back. Let's take a look at some of the stories making news around the world.

First in London, where 11 foreign secretaries meeting to discuss Syria. They are called the so-called Friends of Syria. They're holding talks with leaders of the Syrian opposition forces. They're hoping to bolster peace talks that are planned for next month in Geneva, Switzerland. The so-called London 11 are being hosted by Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, who says that Syria President Bashar al Assad should have no role in a new, democratic Syria. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also weighed in as well.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We came here to London, I think this is the fourth or fifth meeting that I have taken part in as part of the London 11, in order to reaffirm the international community's strong commitment to trying to end the bloodshed in Syria and to try to bring stability to that war-torn country and to provide sanctuary and ultimately an opportunity to return to their country for the millions of refugees and displaced people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: Under pressure from the U.N., Syria has begun to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpile, but a civil war, of course, continues to rage on with more than 100,000 people who have been killed so far.

And in Kenya here, this is video that has surfaced from inside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. This is during the massacre or shortly after. This is a month after that attack that claimed at least 67 lives. The leaked video has sparked anger because it appears to show soldiers looting from the stores as they hunted for the gunmen. Kenya's president has now ordered an inquiry into those claims.

In Nevada, people in the small town of Sparks, this is near Reno, they are trying to figure out why. Why did a 12-year-old student pull out a semi-automatic pistol at Sparks Middle School and open fire? This all happened within two minutes. Students were screaming. They were running for cover. A teacher who was trying to help was shot dead. Two students were also wounded and the shooter died after turning the gun on himself.

Well, the teacher credited for shielding students was 45-year-old Marine Veteran Michael Landsberry. He had survived several tours on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The name of the shooter has not yet been released.

Well, today, only the second time ever that the jobs report was released late. It was delayed 18 days, of course, by the government shutdown. Well, the Labor Department now says 148,000 jobs were added in September. That is 45,000 actually less than the previous month.

Now, the markets seem to be responding well to the numbers so far. The Dow up 47 points. S&P 500, meanwhile, opening at record high this morning. Our Christine Romans breaking it down, the jobs report, and why there might be more to the numbers than actually meets the eye. Watch this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Suzanne, the 7.2 percent unemployment rate, the lowest now since November 2008. When you look at the trend, you can see, so far this year, about 185,000 jobs on average created each month. That is enough to slowly whittle down the unemployment rate and that's what you've been seeing. But a very big caveat here. These are numbers for September. These are numbers before the shutdown and we do know that consumer confidence and employer confidence has really plummeted in the days since that shutdown. So the next report will be key. That one comes out on November 8th.

Let me show you where we were seeing these inklings of hiring. We know that in transportation and warehousing, 23,400 jobs created. Some of that is likely due to the housing recovery, some recovery in the auto sector. You're seeing some jobs created there.

Manufacturing, about 2,000 jobs created in the manufacturing sector on net. Retail jobs, 20,800. Some of these are auto dealer jobs. Some of these are also home improvement and retailers like that, showing some of the robust recovery we've been seeing so far in the housing market.

Again, it all remains to be seen what kind of effect the government shutdown had on some of this activity we've been seeing in the economy.

Quickly, you always hear me talk about private sector job creation because you want to have the kind of atmosphere where the private sector is creating jobs. A hundred-twenty-six thousand jobs created there.

Public sector jobs, 22,000, those are government, state and local government, municipalities. We'll likely see that change in the next report because of the furloughs and because of the layoffs and the attendant business around those industries that started to decline because of the shutdown.

So at a critical moment here, rearview mirror, Suzanne, rearview mirror, but it confirms to us what we've already known, slow healing in the labor market.

Will Washington muck it up? We'll find out next month. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: All right, Christine, thanks.

In the wake of the government shutdown, the number of Americans who say the economy is actually in good shape, well, that has now dropped to the lowest level of the year.

Only 29 percent say that the current economic conditions are good. This is down four points since late September, just before the shutdown began. The other 71 percent of Americans think that conditions are poor.

Looking ahead, only 40 percent say that the economy's actually going to be in good shape a year from now. That is the lowest level of optimism since October 2011.

We are following this, as well. Visibility nearly zero for millions in China, they are living in this terrible smog.

We're going to show you how they're coping, up next.


MALVEAUX: All right, imagine trying to take a nice deep breath and the air smells like smoke. You can't even see more than a few feet in front of you for days now.

Well, this is what has been like for 10 million people in the Chinese city of Harbin. The pollution so bad now, it is ranked anywhere from 30 to 50 times above the international standard for the past few days.

You have schools, major roads and an airport even closed.

Now, the government is blaming the smog on a lack of wind, farmers burning stalks after their autumn harvest.

Also the city fired up its coal burning heating system earlier than it usually does for the winter season. So, one of the ways that people in Harbin are protecting themselves is by wearing face masks, masks that are usually and actually imported from the United States.

Dave McKenzie, he's looking at how bad this air has gotten and what China can do about it.




LAU: I feel like bad -- it's bad for the people, but it's good for the business. But then on a sunny day you are happy because you can go out and do stuff.

MCKENZIE: Lau sells an innovative face mask.

LAU: It's quite simple because it's basically just like this magic tape here.

MCKENZIE: And China's smog is good for business.

LAU: So you clip it on like this.

MCKENZIE: Imported from the U.S., it's designed to filter out harmful particles and gases for long-term health benefits.

LAU: You can't go back in time, right? Go back in time 10 years, and, OK, you're wearing a mask.

MCKENZIE: The damage is done.

LAU: Yeah, it's already done.

MCKENZIE: The difference between a blue sky day here in Beijing and a polluted one can be dramatic. Right now, it's rated as very unhealthy by the U.S. embassy monitoring site.

But in Harbin in northeast China, the pollution has been off the charts.

Dense, acrid, smog brought this northern city of 10 million to a standstill. Schools are shut, dozens of flights canceled, highways closed, visibility down to almost zero, pollution, 40 times the WHO- recommended standard.

The local government blamed it on Harbin's coal-powered central heating, turned on over the weekend. But critics say China's pollution is a terrifying side-effect of the country's decades long obsession with growth.

Wary of social unrest, Communist Party officials have announced new stringent measures. They want to meet their own acceptable standards by 2020, WHO standards by 2050.

LAU: You have to breathe in through your nose and --

MCKENZIE: That's good nose for Lau's growing business. He's struggling to keep up with demand, catering to all kinds of tastes, selling a product for the new reality of China.

Do you think people are getting used to wearing something like this?

LAU: I think it's OK.

MCKENZIE: It's a reality that could last for decades.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


MALVEAUX: Wow, so you're talking about a new reality in China. Just how dangerous is breathing the smog? What is really causing this?

I want to bring in Chad Myers to talk about this. It is really extreme when you think about this because lung cancer and smog, direct correlation, and you've got millions of people here who they've got to stay inside now.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The World Health Organization has already said that the people living in these cities will live five and a half years less than they could have without this pollution. It's going to take five and a half years off every man, woman and child.

Now, obviously, that's an average, but this is because these particles are in the lungs and they stay in the lungs. So even if you're wearing an N-95 mask which blocks out 95 percent of everything out there, you're still getting about a 5 percent dose.

We're at 40 times the level that is safe. Wearing a mask doesn't even get you to the safe category if you are outside in some of these cities.

Now, the good news is, this is going to get better in a couple of hours, probably in 12 hours or less. We're going to see this get a lot better.

A cold front's going to come through, and things are going to clear out. The air gets better. The air gets clearer. Other than that, it's going to be a couple more -- I mean, this is -- every time the air stops moving in these cities, it's going to happen to these cities up there in China because of the way they make power.

They make heat. There's the -- Harbin there, seeing the gray, and then off to the east where it's black, that's the clear air. Every little valley gets polluted a lot like Donora, Pennsylvania, was polluted from the same type of coal burning back in the day.

That's all I ever heard of growing up in Pennsylvania, Buffalo, of how bad the coal in the valley got that day in Donora when all those people really had a very hard time breathing.

MALVEAUX: All right, it's going to be very difficult for all of them. It's going to wrap up in a couple days. They're expecting at least for some rain to at least give some temporary relief. But this is a long- term problem that they have to deal with.

MYERS: Every time the air stagnates, this is going to happen.

MALVEAUX: All right, Chad, thank you so much. I can't imagine what it's like to live there. I mean, it's brutal. It really is.

Everybody knows the problems, of course. And we're talking about this with the Web site, Obamacare website, when you're trying to get some insurance, healthcare insurance.

But we want to hold on for a sec because there really are some success stories out of this. And the state-run programs they might actually have the answer.

We've got those details, up next.



Here are some of the other top stories we're following.

Rights groups are saying that some U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen may actually be war crimes.

That is right. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, they detail multiple drone attacks, including several that have killed civilians.

The highly critical reports were made public a day before President Obama is due to meet with Pakistan's prime minister.

Now the report calls for a series of measures to bring the drone program in line with international law.