May 31st, 2012
01:02 PM GMT
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Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There are more than 2.2 million Filipino workers in the Middle East. Not only are they a vital part of the region’s workforce, the money they send home makes a valuable contribution to the Philippine economy.

Some of the poorest Filipinos in Manilla work and live in a giant charcoal factory in the Tondo slum, constantly breathing toxic fumes. It’s an all-too-common existence in a country where about 30% of the population live below the poverty line, according to the government.

For many Filipinos the only way to escape this kind of hardship is to find work abroad. Millions have migrated to the economic powerhouses of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.


May 31st, 2012
10:32 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Have you noticed the new trend when using debit and credit cards overseas?

We are now frequently being asked if we want to be charged in the local - or destination - currency or if we want to pay in my home currency instead.

Since the bill will eventually be converted to our home currency. I started to wonder the point of this. I knew there had to be a catch to it somewhere, but I couldn't quite work out where!

The tool being used is called Dynamic Currency Conversion and it allows an immediate translation into the final charge you will face in your own familiar currency. It will even print you a receipt with these details.

So why wouldn't everyone do this?

You've guessed it: The exchange rate you get with the converter is not the same as the one you would get should the charge go through the banking system to your home bank.

It may well have been set by the merchant, who now has the ability to change the rate, daily, hourly or whenever they want.

Even worse, the banks involved will probably be charging you a higher commission for the privilege of knowing how much you are paying, which may well be shared with merchant.

So what are the advantages? I know the final amount and I have a receipt detailing this which I can use for my expenses, already in my home currency.

But, since expenses software will usually do the exchange rate calculation for you, or I can submit my credit card bill to show the charge, this seems a fleeting benefit.

I put the two systems to the test recently. I made two withdrawals of CFH50 [$52.30] in Zurich. I chose one to be charged in local Swiss francs and the other in British pounds.

Two days later I compared both charges as they hit my account. In pounds, the conversion was £34.96, nine pence more expensive than taking out the local currency.

For nervous or inexperienced travellers there may be a comfort in having the certainty of knowledge. But I think it is a false security. If they knew they were paying more or getting less, I am pretty sure even the most anxious traveller would decide to keep their more of their own money for themselves.

Dynamic Currency Conversion seems to be just another way to charge us more  for the same service. For me, from now on....the rule will be always pay in the local currency.

May 30th, 2012
12:41 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – ANONYMOUS – Some violence and sexual content
CONTAGION – Disturbing content and some language
COURAGEOUS – Violence and drug content
CRAZY STUPID LOVE – Coarse humor, sexual content and language
DOLPHIN TALE – Some mild thematic elements
DRIVE – Strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity
FOOTLOOSE – Some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, language
FRIGHT NIGHT – Bloody horror, language including some sexual references
IDES OF MARCH – Pervasive language
IMMORTALS – Sequences of strong bloody violence, sexuality
PUSS IN BOOTS – Adventure action and mild rude humor
REAL STEEL – Intense action
INCEPTION – Sequences of violence and action throughout

Flying across the Atlantic I was browsing through the selection of movies on the Video on Demand.  It soon became clear that the censor who rates the movies for United Airlines takes their job very seriously indeed. Not for them, the normal ratings 14, 16 or Adult. Oh no. That would be far too simple. These days the censors have to give us a real rundown of the experiences we might expect.


May 30th, 2012
05:07 AM GMT
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Editor’s note: The Millennials are a generation that are constantly plugged in and moving fast to make their mark on the world. CNN’s Quest Means Business is tracking four of them.

(CNN) – The unemployment crisis is not only about a lack of jobs – it is also about a lack of skilled candidates. Recruitment company Manpower says there is a global skills gap that shows no sign of narrowing.

But not all members of the young workforce are struggling with skills. A Millennial will become a jack of all trades if it means getting ahead.

This week, the Millennials focus on Milla Bongela in South Africa as she launches her new brand blog – and has some tough decisions to make. But she worries if doing it all puts quality at risk.

Filed under: The Millennials

May 29th, 2012
12:19 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – In just a few days more than 60 million subjects across the United Kingdom will prepare to mark their monarch’s 60th year on the throne.

The occasion will come as a welcome anaesthetic to dull the pain of unwavering austerity and an economy mired in its first double dip since Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in the 1970s.

Follow CNN's Diamond Jubilee coverage

So, during times of austerity and hardship is Britain’s monarchy a help or a hindrance to the nation’s finances?

Branding expert David Haigh has tried to put a figure on the value of Britain’s Royal Family as a brand.

The sum he came up with: A whopping £44 billion - or $70 billion.

What does the Queen actually do?

Royalists might say the country’s monarchy is priceless; Republicans on the other hand will probably tell you the money could be better spent.

But whatever your constitutional slant most number crunchers will say "Brand Britain" gets more bang for its buck with a monarchy than minus one.

"There’s little doubt that, as an institution, the monarchy adds significant annual earnings and long term economic value to the UK," says Haigh, chief executive and founder of Brand Finance Plc.

See the Crown Jewels on display

"Just the media coverage they generate internationally is worth hundreds of millions in free publicity for the country. For companies with a Royal Warrant or Coat of Arms these are powerful tools for changing people’s perceptions," he says.

"If a product has the royal seal of approval people will automatically think it is a luxury good."

Haigh reckons such schemes are worth £4.4 billion to British brands alone. An extra help for the myriad of businesses, small and large, which enjoy royal patronage and endorsement.

Brand Finance places the monarchy’s intangible value at £26 billion, and the tangible benefit attributed to the Queen and her royal retinue at £18 billion.

This year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with a royal wedding which was watched the world over last year, have cemented the family’s role as revenue generators like never before.

All the Queen's presidents

Take the official four-day jubilee celebrations set to kick off this weekend: Haigh reckons the festivities alone with likely generate an extra £2.4 billion in revenues, including a £924 million boost for the UK’s leisure and tourism industry.

Mind you, partying hard costs money: Lost earnings due to a public holiday to mark the event work out at a hefty £1.2 billion.

So that’s how much the monarchy could be worth - but how much does it cost?

There's the £461 million Civil List, funds allocated to royals to perform their duties, a £387 million bill for building maintenance and £3.2 billion in security expenses. The monarchy doesn’t come cheap.

Haigh and his colleagues value the total long-term outflows associated with having a royal family at £7.6 billion.

"But how much would a presidency cost instead? Perhaps more," he cautions.

"Actually I don’t think the royal family presents itself particularly well economically," says Haigh. "If you used the same multiples used to value Facebook and applied them to Britain’s Monarchy their worth would be more like £100 billion too. And who’s worth more? Mark Zuckerberg or Queen Elizabeth?"

The difference is we all have a stake already.

Filed under: Business

May 28th, 2012
07:00 PM GMT
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Dhaka (CNN) - Life in low-lying Dhaka can be a paradox. Flood waters rise up to a meter in the monsoon months, but there is an ongoing shortage of clean drinking water.

The Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) is working with WaterAid in some of the country’s biggest and most unsanitary slums to improve access to safe, legal drinking water connections, and build toilet units.

Filed under: Future Cities

May 28th, 2012
05:38 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – You’d be forgiven if the mild bounce in the markets Monday had you dreaming of better times for Greece and the eurozone. Your wakeup call comes to you courtesy Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, former French Finance Minister and the latest establishment figure to heap scorn on Greece.

In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian newspaper, Lagarde may have for the first time uttered in public what some suspect many European politicians are saying behind closed doors. It’s payback time for Greece.

May 25th, 2012
11:36 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Much of the beleaguered eurozone will grind to a halt Saturday for the Eurovision Song Contest, that continent-wide musical tussle of campness and political bickering watched by 120 million-plus TV viewers worldwide, which has launched Abba and Celine Dion among others.

But this year, one suspects, certain European countries may be quietly relieved if their own acts come an honourable second – or even draw the dreaded nul points.


May 25th, 2012
08:03 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Despite the financial crisis and the implosion of businesses like Enron over shady business practices, senior executives are now more likely to pay bribes to win business, according to a survey by Ernst & Young.

Of the nearly 400 CFO’s polled from November to February, 15% would make cash payments to win or retain business – up from 9% two years ago.

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Filed under: Business

May 24th, 2012
01:46 PM GMT
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India and Pakistan’s border in Kashmir is one of the most dangerous in the world. But the "Line of Control" dividing them has been opened to trade, in the hope that it can boost the local economy and help build peace between the two nations.

Kashmir has been a major flashpoint for India and Pakistan since the countries were partitioned at the end of British rule in 1947. Both say Kashmir belongs to them.

There's still a heavy security presence throughout the area, but the situation is much better than it was a few years ago, say local residents. And the relative calm is bolstering trade.


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CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.

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