December 15th, 2011
06:12 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Does toy marketing ingrain gender stereotypes?

Hamleys, the famous London toy store, has taken down gender signs for its toys in the wake of a campaign by a feminist blogger that the store’s blue-and-pink marked floors were sexist.

Previously, the fifth floor of the Regent Street flagship store – where action figure and war-themed toys were sold – was marked with a blue “Boys” sign. Gone, too, is the third floor “Girls” sign which sells dolls and craft toys.

Blogger Laura Nelson started the campaign with an October post that accused the store of promoting “gender apartheid.”
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Filed under: BusinessQuest Means Business


December 15th, 2011
02:34 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Europe’s new treaty – dubbed the “fiscal compact” – is facing some hard realities on the ground. Signs the deal could be difficult to push through in both euro and non-euro countries are emerging.

In Warsaw, protestors have rallied against, among other things, Poland’s tacit agreement to lose some sovereignty to join the European treaty club. In London, political bickering continues over British Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto of the European deal.

In Ireland, a referendum may need to be held, with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny noting some detailed technical and legal considerations are yet to be clarified. Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg says the country - which does not use the euro - would not agree to all the budget discipline rules. And the Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has said the proposed pact is still just a blank piece of paper.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag the path to stability continued. In Italy, new Prime Minister Mario Monti said the deal had done enough to calm the markets.

But on Wednesday U.S. stocks fell, the euro dropped to its lowest level in 11 months and Italian bond yields rose.

European leaders promised to sign off on this fiscal compact at its next leaders' summit in March. Will the markets give them the time to fill in the details...  and the cracks?



December 14th, 2011
04:26 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The latest developments in the euro crisis are just like the holiday parties we go to at this time of the year. We make merry, binge - and then suffer horrible hangovers in the days after. It hasn’t taken long for the euro-hangover to arrive. The bonhomie of the euro-deal has evaporated.

I decided to wait a few days before writing about the agreement in Brussels. It is easy to succumb to the enthusiasm of a late-night deal, believing that it will bring “peace in our time” and a “chicken in every pot.” To hear the EZ17+ leaders on Friday it was surely just a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. Only with the reflection of a few days can you see what works, what doesn’t - and who will change their mind.

Rise and fall of euro

The “fiscal compact”was a fine piece of German-French engineering, in the best traditions of euro-fudge. It establishes the “fiscal rule” requiring balanced budgets for all signatories to the new treaty, followed by automatic sanctions for those that fall foul.
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December 14th, 2011
12:07 PM GMT
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(CNN) – For more than a year we've followed the lives of CEOs across the world  - and Sarah Curran is one of them.

Curran set up my-wardrobe.com five years ago after spotting a gap in the market. The website is more up-market than the high street stores, and less pricey than the fanciest boutiques. Sarah sold her house to fund the idea, and the gamble paid off.

Now she has almost a million visitors every month and sales have doubled every year. For some this would be an opportunity, but for Sarah it's a problem. She doesn't know if she's the right person to take the company forward, and is facing some tough choices.

Filed under: Quest Means BusinessThe Boss


December 14th, 2011
10:30 AM GMT
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Dublin (CNN) – Dublin is trending. In September, Twitter became the latest in a line of new media companies to announce it will set up its European headquarters in the Irish capital.

The micro-blogging site joins the likes of Google, Facebook and e-Bay in what has been dubbed "Europe's Silicon Valley." Dublin's growing IT sector is giving the city a renewed sense of confidence.

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Filed under: BusinessFuture Cities


December 14th, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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HONG KONG (CNN) - Hong Kong has leapfrogged the United States and the United Kingdom to take top spot in the World Economic Forum’s 2011 index of financial market development - the first Asian financial center to do so.

According to the forum’s fourth annual Financial Development Report, Hong Kong’s position was bolstered by strong scores in non-banking financial services such as IPO activity - the first public sale of stock by a company - and insurance. FULL POST

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Filed under: AsiaBusiness


December 9th, 2011
09:50 PM GMT
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Brussels (CNN) - On late Thursday evening, there was an unusual loud cheer and round of clapping in the massive press atrium in the European Commission building.

The reporters were not clapping in the response to saving the euro.

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December 9th, 2011
12:17 PM GMT
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Paris (CNN) – Clearly, it takes a lot to dampen the spirits of Silicon Valley tech types, and neither rain nor economic uncertainty could do that at the Le Web conference.

For the past three days, the world’s digerati have converged upon Paris to exchange apps and ideas - and, if their fancy takes it, invest a few million dollars or two, give or take.

As Hal Bringman, president of digital media consultancy NVPR in Los Angeles puts it: “I think at least half of Silicon Valley is here in Paris sipping champagne while we debate the future of digital media. Overall, in our meetings we detected remarkable optimism, which just underscores the fact that nothing can slow down the pulse of innovation."
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December 9th, 2011
10:50 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Ten hours around the negotiating table were not enough to convince British Prime Minister David Cameron to back down on his demands for safeguards to his country’s interests.

As such, the leaders of France and Germany showed him to the door and decided to settle for closer budget discipline among eurozone countries. According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "David Cameron sat with us at the table, we made a decision for this text, we do not have time for weak compromises regarding the euro."

The result of round one of this week's "battle of Brussels" was widely expected but it does raise the worrying prospect of a two-tier Europe emerging, with the 17 euro-using members on one side and most of the remaining 10 non-eurozone states on the other.
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December 9th, 2011
10:24 AM GMT
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Editor's note: The European Council has since sent out a revised release, and added this line to the bottom: “The Heads of State or Government of Bulgaria, Czech  Republic, Denmark, Hungary,  Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania  and Sweden indicated the possibility to take part in this process after consulting their Parliaments where appropriate.”

According to CNN's Jim Boulden: The line is weak and a bit of "eurospeak," but it does look like the continental leaders have decided to start to circle the wagons a little bit after some much needed sleep.

Brussels (CNN) – In this era of clumping countries together with catchy acronyms, we now have the chance to coin a phrase for the EU countries not participating in the new fiscal compact.

It’s no surprise that Hungary, Sweden and the UK are out. Add to that the Czech Republic and we have a mishmash of possibilities.

I present to you the CzHuUKS.

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