London (CNN) – I have always been fascinated by the international date line; The arbitrary line where one day gives way to the next. When flying across the Pacific I often try to stay awake for that moment when you gain or lose a day as you cross this artificial barrier. So Samoa’s decision to shift its dateline has enthralled me.
Samoa is slap-bang in the middle of the Pacific, just 20 miles from the U.S. side of the line. Currently, Los Angeles is two hours ahead, and Sydney, Australia - on the other side - a whopping 21 hours ahead. (Ed's note: Many thanks to everyone who pointed out our own time zone slip, which is now corrected.) According to the country, most business is done with Australia and New Zealand, so Samoans are losing out on two days of business, because of the timings of work weeks and weekends.
So on Thursday, at the stroke of midnight, Samoa will shift the line. And it will instantly be Saturday morning, just after midnight.
Friday would never have existed for those who live in Samoa. Vamooshed. (I know how it works, but I still can’t get my head around it).
Hong Kong (CNN) – The official mourning period for Kim Jong Il is over and the world's eyes - and in many cases fears - are now focused on Kim Jong Un.
We still don't know with any certainly how old he is, let alone whether he is capable of running a country.
At first, he will have plenty of help from his father's trusted circle of advisers. But analysts say one of the reasons he was chosen over his two brothers to succeed Kim Jong Il is that he most closely resembles his grand-father, Kim Il Sung, founder of the Communist north. If that is the case, it is unlikely to be long before he begins to flex his muscles, political or otherwise.
Kim Jong Un (above center, in a handout picture from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency) faces a clear - and intriguing - choice.
Does he follow the path of his father and grandfather and keep his country in isolation and his people cowed? This would mean he would remain beholden to China for his very survival while being shunned by most of the rest of the world.
Or does he look at his very own neighborhood and learn from two of the most economically successful models in the world: South Korea and China?
When Kim Il Sung founded Communist North Korea in 1948, the country had a bigger industrial base than the South and many more riches in the ground.
London (CNN) – Who owns a Twitter name and the followers that go with it? Such an obvious question, but suddenly one that has companies and lawyers scratching around to reach an answer.
It seems obvious if it's just your own name and you use it for purely personal purposes but what about if the account is also used to help promote your employer’s business?
Noah Kravitz posted tweets under the name @phoneDog_Noah but changed when he left the employ of PhoneDog which is now suing him for damages for the 17,000 followers, claiming they belong to the company. They are claiming $2.50 per month for every follower.
This has every one of us who tweets as part of our personal and working life scratching our heads and thinking about it. Who does have the right to benefit from my Twitter followers' names?
London (CNN) – Most of us have an idea of what we want to buy in the January sales - and maybe have budgeted the money in our holiday spending. I know I want to pick up a pair of jeans and some new brogue shoes. I would also like to buy a new espresso maker and maybe some towels. BUT - and this it the big point - ONLY if the price is right. I think I am not alone.
Christmas has been and gone and now in its wake we see a last-minute rush to sell before the end of the year. In the post-Christmas retailing blizzard the shoppers are there and some of them are even spending….. sales are expected to be up by up to 5% on last year’s. In London the shops were exceptionally busy with some stores seeing record numbers. (The day was marred by two high street stabbings that left one man dead).
When I went into the Gap store and saw them selling sweaters for £10 ($15), I realized that this was going to be a much harder time for the retailers - desperate to get rid of inventory, raise revenue and try to re-balance what has been a lackluster holiday season.
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – This time last year a match was lit by a fruit vendor in Tunis, which triggered uprisings throughout the region. Countries big, Egypt, and small, Tunisia, have witnessed wholesale change and the toppling of governments.
But at the one year mark, those on the ground here in the region are asking a simple question: Are we better off today than we were before the Arab Spring? People talk of a “The New Middle East” with a mixture of both optimism and despair, from Bahrain to Yemen.
Clearly the voice of the people has been heard and resonates on the streets of Cairo, for example, but unemployment is at a decade long high in Egypt, tourism is down officially by a quarter from a year ago and the Cairo Stock Exchange is the world’s worst performer of 2011.
“This country is literally and figuratively burning and we are approaching the threshold which it will become very hard to rebuild trust in the system,” says Mohamad Al-Ississ, a professor of economics at the American University of Cairo.
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.
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.
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.
Hong Kong (CNN) – There are a lot of critical meetings scheduled this week in Europe, and Asia is watching.
There's no more talk now of financial decoupling from developed economies. The global economy is tightly interwoven and as Yonghao Pu, chief investment strategist of UBS Asia Pacific, frankly says, "At the moment, we (Asia) are kind of a hostage to what's going on in Europe."
We're seeing the weakness in the global economy force China's hand.
Beijing recently relaxed capital reserve requirements of its major banks after already loosening requirements for some rural banks. This was to make it easier for the banks to make loans and to partially offset the ripple effects of the global economy. China's latest PMI data have shown manufacturing contracting because of reduced demand. Europe is China's biggest export market. If Europe goes into a recession, Asian exports will certainly suffer a huge dip.
London (CNN) - Sir Mervyn King’s words today are chilling. The eurozone crisis is “extraordinarily serious and threatening” the Governor of the Bank of England said, and the UK’s central bank was drawing up contingency plans in case the zone breaks up.
This is the icing on the cake that has seen more and more politicians and commentators postulate the unthinkable: a breakup of the zone and the currency. The Economist starts this week’s lead article “even as the eurozone hurtles towards a crash.”
For some weeks now I have believed that such an event was nigh on impossible - surely, I reasoned, politicians would do what is necessary. The Economist says the “consequences are so catastrophic that no sensible policy maker could stand by and let it happen." With such ringing words I think it is worth distinguishing exactly what we are talking about.
Editor's note: Watch CNN's new business show, Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.
(CNN) – As the Arab Spring continues to cause unrest in the Middle East, King Abdullah of Jordan is speeding up political and economic reform in his country.
In an exclusive interview with CNN's John Defterios, he explains why Jordan is moving on from the Arab Spring, and preparing for national elections next year. The king tells CNN the country is moving from "the Arab Spring to the Arab Summer."
However, the king has "great concern" about Syria, where thousands have been killed in anti-government demonstrations over the past eight months.
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