December 8th, 2011
08:52 PM GMT
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Editor's note: It was a late night, indeed. Shortly after 5 a.m.  EU leaders gave an update on progress, including plans to form an intergovernmental body and a cash injection to the IMF. Hungary and Britain, however, would not sign on to proposed EU treaty changes.

Brussels (CNN) - The hour grows late, and few expect this euro summit to be over quickly. The Finnish prime minister said it would be "very, very tough."

The leaders aren't short on hyperbole in describing what's at stake. Chancellor Angela Merkel, arriving for the pre-summit dinner, said the euro had lost credibility and this must be restored.

David Cameron, of the UK, said he will protect Britain's interests against unfavorable treaty changes. Belgium’s new prime minister says it’s a "very very important summit."

So, if its sooooo important, why can't they agree?


December 8th, 2011
08:13 PM GMT
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Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There is a milestone about to be set which is going largely unnoticed around the world. Oil will average more than $100 a barrel for an entire year for the first time.

Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.

Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.

Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?


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Filed under: AsiaBusinessChinaEnergyEuropean UnionOil

December 8th, 2011
03:33 PM GMT
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Esquivias, Spain (CNN) -– Just 40 minutes south of Madrid, right off the highway to Toledo, you can find the village of Esquivias, where Miguel de Cervantes married a local señorita in 1584 and - as lore has it - took inspiration from the colorful townsfolk for some of the characters in Don Quixote.

Four centuries later, this hillside hamlet continues to contribute to Spain’s rich culture, through a family-run Spanish classical guitar factory called Guitarras Manuel Rodriguez and Sons.

Now in its third generation, they’ve been hand-crafting guitars since 1905, but the guitar factory in Esquivias opened only 11 years ago.

December 8th, 2011
02:40 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The future of Europe’s single currency hangs in the balance, interest rates are moving and the debt crisis threatens to trigger a recession next year. Faced with such uncertainty, there’s only one option left for traders across London’s financial district: Look on the lighter side.

One broker sent me an email this morning suggesting Sir Alex Ferguson was now advising German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on their European exit strategy. His message - sent in jest - poked fun both at Manchester United’s shock departure from the Champions League and the bailout fatigue setting in among Europe’s biggest economies. Jokes aside, the point is even the strongest teams can face relegation.

That’s a concept the leaders of France and Germany have become more familiar with in the past few days after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s cautioned it may cut their coveted AAA credit scores.

Make no mistake, as Europe’s 27 heads of government gather for this year’s final pow-wow in Brussels, they are playing a dangerous game and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

December 8th, 2011
02:39 PM GMT
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(CNN) – It has taken more than 10 years but Project Euro is finally moving to its decision-making moment.

The core issue is how far the members of the eurozone are prepared now to move towards fiscal and economic union? How much budgetary sovereignty will they hand over to Brussels? Will they accept fines, sanctions, oversight and authority from the eurocrats?

For German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy this is crunch time. They want this done by treaty change so that countries have to make a decision.

European Commission President Herman Van Rompuy's suggestion that the necessary changes could be introduced using an administrative protocol has been rejected (rightly in my view). Whatever happens needs to be clear beyond doubt. Europe has fudged and blustered for too long.

The biggest thorn at this meeting will be how far the non-euro countries (especially the UK) are prepared to agree full treaty changes. If the 17 in the euro are forced to do a side deal shutting out the rest, then a “them-and-us Europe” will have arrived. It won't be a happy time for anyone.

In Europe there is always a fudge to be made, a deal to be done, a can to be kicked, some smoke to be blown. That would be a terrible mistake this time. To their credit, Merkel and Sarkozy have been clear - back the plan or face catastrophe. It is a simple as that.

The unfortunate point, often overlooked, is that the eurozone countries really have little choice. The euro doesn't work as currently constituted (it never has). They either change it or the project will collapse.

December 8th, 2011
01:54 PM GMT
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Paris, France (CNN) – Fancy vacationing at the five star presidential estate the Obamas used during their luxury Hawaii vacation? For $3,571 per night you too can stay there thanks to global travel site Airbnb.

Airbnb is a platform that offers a global network of accommodation offered by local people who register on the site. It effectively lets people rent out their homes as like mini-hotels.

Describing the platform as “tourism 2.0,” founder Brian Chesky explained that Airbnb is part of a new "sharing economy."

"We are in 191 countries,” he told the Le Web tech conference in Paris on Thursday, where his startup was hailed by event host Loic Le Meur as “the biggest threat to the hotel industry.”

“Our vision from the start was ‘what if you could hire a room from someone like you would an hotel room?’ We started with the couch-surfing idea, before realizing that people want their own rooms.”

Chesky says the platform, launched in 2008 has now been used for more than two million nights’ worth of accommodation. There are about 100,000 listings posted on the site.

Key to that success, he says, is the hiring of 2,000 photographers to take high-resolution pictures of people’s homes for free to attract potential customers.

Most of the photographers were also found among the users registered on Airbnb, Chesky said.

Chesky said that people earned on average $4,000 to $5,000 a year renting out their room for an average of four nights a month.

But using the service is not without its risks. Last July, one registered landlords had her property vandalized and robbed by someone letting it.

The user, identified as EJ, wrote a blog documenting how her home was ransacked.

She wrote: "They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life.

“They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied -– using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests’ use.

“They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor."

However, Chesky says these security issues have now been addressed with the implementation of a 24-hour security plan and a ratings system.

“We have also offered a $50,000 guarantee against vandalism and theft. We will continue to use the community to improve the product. We try to have relationships with all host on our website. If they don't play by the rules, they're out,” he said.

Chesky also noted that while Paris is a key market for the service, its fastest growing markets are in Asia and Latin America, which now account for 70% of Airbnb’s business.

Airbnb has received $112m in funding, which Chesky says will be used to “invest in the next 10 years of growth.”

The service is currently available on iPhone and will be released on Android next month, Chesky said.

December 8th, 2011
11:24 AM GMT
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(CNN) – This episode of "The Boss" shows you can't be shy if you want to be a business leader.

In Macau, the Vice-Chairman of Galaxy Macau is a boss who is happy to speak his mind. Francis Lui doesn't hold back his opinions on a new Christmas menu or the wine selection from China.

Sean Cornwell, London-based head of eHarmony International, is no wallflower either. He takes center stage at a leading internet conference to share his insight about taking a brand global.

Filed under: BusinessQuest Means BusinessThe Boss

December 8th, 2011
11:08 AM GMT
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Paris (CNN) – Welcome to day two of’s live coverage of Le Web, the biggest tech conference in Europe. The second session won’t see as many big names as yesterday, but there is still expected to be plenty of buzz as Internet entrepreneurs and executives share ideas, innovations and croissants in the Paris venue.

CNN's Stephanie Busari will again be at the heart of the action, blogging and tweeting from the event. Check back here for updates. You can also follow Stephanie on  Twitter.

You can also read our coverage of day one, which saw announcements by fashion kingpin Karl Lagerfeld and Google supremo Eric Schmidt in addition to executives from Facebook and other industry players.

Filed under: Business

December 8th, 2011
10:35 AM GMT
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Editor's note: "Along the Silk Road" is a weekly segment on Global Exchange, that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia. Watch Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.

Erbil, northern Iraq (CNN) - In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, Erbil Citadel is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.

More than 7,000 years old, it is a reminder of a timeless past in a fast-changing present. Beneath it, the city of Erbil is undergoing rapid development, with five-star hotels and luxury housing complexes joining its skyline.

Liberated from Saddam Hussein's persecution, Iraq's Kurds are in the midst of an economic boom. Oil rigs dot the hills and foreign companies are coming to Kurdistan enticed by the black gold beneath the land.

But the deals being cut by the Kurdistan regional government are not going down well with Iraq's central government, which says it alone has authority to sign lucrative oil and gas deals.

The Kurds’ response? Not any more.

“There is no way that we will be dissuaded from our constitutional right to developing our resources and allow ourselves to ever again become hostages to the whims of some bureaucrats in Baghdad," says Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“We've been there before. Oil was used to strangle our people, to commit genocide,” he adds.

In the late 1980s Saddam Hussein led a vicious campaign against the Kurds, forcibly displacing them from their homes and replacing them with Arabs.

Entire villages were razed to the ground. Some, like Hajabja, were gassed with deadly chemical agents.

After the Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991, the United States and allies came to their aid with a no-fly zone to keep Iraqi forces out. Kurdish militia - known as Peshmerga - joined American troops during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Now the Kurds boast their region is "the other Iraq" - safe, peaceful, stable.

“I believe Kurdistan is now an important hub of economic activity, is an important market in its own right, but it is even more important when you think of it as a gateway to a larger Iraqi market,” says Salih.

“This is our vision.  We want Kurdistan to be the indispensable link to trade and commerce, economic cooperation among our neighbors.”

Part of that vision is the American University of Iraq, in Sulaimaniya, where Salih chairs the board of trustees. Its mission is to train the next generation of Kurdish talent.

Azzam Alwash, executive secretary of the board of trustees, says: “We want to expand (the) free market and we think that our students who graduate knowing English will be the raw material from which the oil companies, the accounting companies, the engineering companies, will recruit.”

December 8th, 2011
05:12 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Given a choice between internet access or keys to a car, which would you choose?

According to new research, it’s more of a toss-up for young adults. That not only marks a generational divide between lifestyle choices for Generation X and Gen-Y, but could have a knock-on effect for how future cars are developed, the study author says.

It also speaks to a new study on why more traffic deaths in the U.S. are a result of using phones or portable electronic devices while driving.

When posed with the dilemma of choosing between access to your car and access to the Internet, 46% of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the U.S. surveyed said they would choose the Internet and give up their cars.

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Filed under: Auto industrySocial mediaTechnology

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