August 31st, 2011
04:01 AM GMT
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(CNN) – If you want high quality of living, your best bet is going “Down Under” or the “Great White North.”

That’s according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of 140 cities worldwide that “quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle,” according to the report.

For the first time in a decade, Vancouver has been topped by the southern Australian city of Melbourne, based on metrics that weigh stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and a city’s infrastructure.

The top 10 cities are:

August 31st, 2011
02:20 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – After being accused of laundering $92 million, Carson Yeung is now free to leave the country after a Hong Kong court reversed a June decision barring the millionaire from travel.

Against prosecutor protestations, the judge doubled Yeung’s initial bail amount from $500,000 to $1 million. That bail was promptly met and Yeung is now free to fly to London on September 15. His current schedule has him in Britain for four days.

The reason Yeung is going? The 51-year old former hairdresser is owner and majority shareholder of British football team Birmingham City. His defense lawyer, Clive Grossman, argued his client needs to take care of his business interests and can only best do that through in-person meetings.

August 29th, 2011
08:43 PM GMT
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Beirut is a city planning and building for the future, after going through many cycles of conflict and destruction.

It is an urban center with a proven ability to bounce back – and a resilience that goes hand in hand with the Lebanese 'live for the moment' attitude.

This 'joie de vivre' makes itself known at night, when the city's rooftops come to life.

Filed under: BusinessFuture Cities

August 29th, 2011
06:50 AM GMT
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(CNN) - On Oyu Tolgoi - "Turquoise Hill" - the biggest business venture in Mongolia is taking shape.

The copper resources aren't new to locals - after all, for thousands of years locals dug out copper to melt down into things like arrowheads, CNN's Stan Grant reports.

But the massive Gobi Desert copper and gold mine - a joint venture with foreign mining conglomerates Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto - is expected to account for one-third of the nation's total economic output by 2020 and boost the average earnings of Mongolia by 60%.

The numbers are staggering. The development phase runs to nearly $5 billion. The mine is projected to produce to 450,000 tons of copper and more than 300,000 ounces of gold. Developers claim there's enough here to mine for the next 50 years or more.

Yet it's placing stress on am ancient nomadic way of life.


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Filed under: Business

August 26th, 2011
09:58 AM GMT
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Despite being a major, cosmopolitan capital city, when it comes to finding your way around, Beirut operates on a unique and somewhat chaotic system: Street names are substituted with landmarks which may or may not have survived the city's many years of war.

But one young entrepreneur has a solution for Beirut - he has designed and produced the city's first comprehensive street atlas.

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Filed under: Future CitiesQuest Means Business

August 25th, 2011
07:01 PM GMT
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Is it easy to understand why investors are getting paranoid. On any given day this summer stock markets seem to rally or plummet hundred of points in the matter of minutes for no apparent reason. Today it was the German DAX. Who is to blame? Market veterans increasingly say high frequency traders. This group use super fast, sophisticated computers that chart stock relationships and look for an opportunity to profit. They trade thousands of stocks each day, holding them for only minutes at a time. Fund managers say this churn and reliance on super-computers is feeding the outsized volatility that is spooking all of us and wrecking havoc on our retirement funds.

Or is it?

I went to New Jersey to speak to one of the few high-frequency traders who will talk to the press, Manoj Narang of Tradeworx. He says the idea that high-frequency firms are behind the huge moves is ludicrous. By definition high-frequency traders buy and sell the same amount of stocks each day. They do not make big bets in one direction. If a stock, like a bank stock for example, does sell off substantially it is very likely their computer programs would most likely guess the stock is statistically more likely to rebound and trigger buying of the stock, thereby providing liquidity.

So if they aren’t to blame who is? Narang does acknowledge technology is playing a bigger role and that the changes are disruptive and at times unnerving. But computer-driven trade should not be confused with high-frequency trading strategies. Everyone, including hedge funds and standard pension funds, relies on computers. It appears regulators are not keeping up with what can happen when sell orders cascade.

Narang has voluntarily sat down with the SEC and other regulators to try and clear the air. He says regulators have been receptive, but he worries the environment of blame is counter-productive. As for the fund managers who are pointing the finger of blame his way? "The oldest trick on Wall Street is to find a scapegoat when you can’t explain your own performance."

August 25th, 2011
03:21 PM GMT
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(CNN) Libya's National Transitional Council is moving swiftly to get access to much needed funds in anticipation of taking full control of the country. There is an intense level of shuttle diplomacy underway in countries that backed the rebel movement early on – Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Italy and France.

At the core of this effort is the desire to avoid an “Iraq-like” situation where the country collapses and the Libyan rebel movement is without funds to pay government salaries, provide urgent medical care and food – the staples of day-to-day living.

At a press conference in Dubai this week, Aref Ali Nayed, Libya’s Ambassador to the UAE and Operations Coordinator for the Libya Stabilization Team said they want to “achieve stability and peace as quickly as possible and to achieve a normality of life in all sectors of life.”

To that end Mahmoud Jibril, head of the NTC's executive committee, was originally seeking to get a commitment for $2.5 billion before this weekend. After meetings of Contact Group officials in Doha, the ante has reportedly been doubled.


August 25th, 2011
11:58 AM GMT
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(CNN) There is nothing swashbuckling about Somali piracy. The pirates are not romantic anti-heroes with a parrot on their shoulder. Instead, they are recognized as lawless, dangerous criminals who roam East Africa’s waters terrorizing the shipping industry.

The direct impact of the criminality off the Somalia coastline is being felt on the mainland, where critical food aid is not getting through to famine-struck Somalis because 80 to 90% of humanitarian relief arrives by sea, according to a recent report by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Few ships and aid organizations are willing to take the risks involved in delivering tons of food aid, says the AfDB report. Owners and aid workers fear the ships will be seized and crews kidnapped for ransom. For now, despite the dangers, some humanitarian agencies still operate, often with protection from NATO warships.

The critical needs of feeding Somalis today, as well as the long-term implications of creating a sustainable agriculture sector, are often discussed by political scientists and economists. What to do about the state of anarchy in the failed state that is Somalia?

It is a question that has been debated for many years now, and I fear is not about to be imminently solved, even as African Union troops continue to do a brave job in defending Mogadishu against Al-Shabaab militias.

The issue of piracy, though, is not a purely hopeless problem, because its roots lie in the collapse of the fishing industry in Somalia.

A confluence of events in 1991 created a vacuum that laid the ground for the birth of Somali piracy. As the Siad Barre regime collapsed and plunged the country into civil war it left the Somali coastline unprotected. Around the same time the EU tightened fishing controls in Europe, pushing some fishing ships to look for new waters.

So fleets from Europe and Asia - many operating illegally - moved into the open East African waters to fish. And fish they did, ­ plundering, according to many reports, the oceans of fish stocks. The ripple effect was enormous, decimating the livelihoods of many Somali fishermen.

Many of these formerly destitute Somali fisherman “took matters into their own hands,” according to the AfDB, and turned to hijacking ships to make up for lost income.

The new “industry” was quickly co-opted by the Somali warlords and is now an organized, hierarchical gang-like operation.

However, the AfDB and other observers still point to the many ships that continue to fish illegally in East African waters.

There is concern that this root cause of the Somali piracy issue has been badly managed by the international community. For example, NATO warships that police the passageway of the Gulf of Aden are not tasked with shutting down these offshore fisheries that continue to operate without jurisdiction, say observers. Allowing fish stocks to replenish, some say, might just mitigate the need for Somalis to earn a living out of piracy.

Others say this is just naïve, that the Somali coastline is a dangerous but strategic piece of maritime real estate, which will continue to destabilize the region no matter the state of fishing stocks.

August 23rd, 2011
01:38 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – When the going gets rough, China gets going. After six months of attempted neutrality between Moammar Gadhafi loyalists and rebel forces, Beijing now appears to have chosen sides. This, as the end-game seemingly nears for Libya’s leader of 42 years, whose hold on power wanes by the day.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry now says the country “respects the choice of the Libyan people” and wants “to play a positive role in rebuilding Libya”.

The translation? Beijing thinks Moammar Gadhafi is about to be booted out and it’s switching allegiance to the folks that may eventually run the country.

Looking at this move through the prism of an oil-sprinkled lens, Beijing’s motivation comes into focus a bit more. China is the world’s second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. And Libya, at peak production, was pumping out a total of 1.5 million barrels a day. And 11% of that went where? You guessed it - China.


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Filed under: BusinessChinaOil

August 22nd, 2011
05:14 PM GMT
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Libya is on the verge of a new dawn but what will tomorrow bring for this war-torn nation, one of Africa’s top oil and gas producers?

The World Bank estimates the country’s gross domestic product stands at $62.36 billion, with estimated growth of 4.2 percent last year.

Libya is an export-driven economy though, thanks to its dependency on oil and gas.

Such sectors employ almost three quarters of the population, though unemployment remains high.

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