November 8th, 2011
01:42 PM GMT
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Bangkok (CNN) – After a month of devastating floods, Thailand faces the prospect of a dry spell it could do without.

From Bangkok to Phuket, bars and supermarkets are starting to report shortages of beer - such as local favourite Singha - as distributors struggle to get their product out.

Singha, which has many of its production facilities based in flood-hit central provinces such as Phathum Thani, was recently forced to close one brewery that was effectively surrounded by water. A company spokesperson told CNN production has been severely disrupted.

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October 25th, 2011
03:32 AM GMT
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(CNN) – While it lacked the winding queues and applause normally associated with an Apple launch, the release of Steve Jobs' authorized biography still made a splash.

It hit stores earlier than planned, as publishers Simon & Schuster moved to meet the wave of public interest in Jobs following his death. Before it was even unveiled, the book was a blockbuster. FULL POST

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October 19th, 2011
05:44 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – It’s not everyday that I wake up to the smell of £250,000.

So, when I saw what was on offer this morning – create an orderly plan for countries to exit the euro and win just shy of US$400,000  – I started to think of my options.

But what would be my plan? Is an exit from the euro even viable?

Some background: Lord Wolfson, CEO of retailer Next, announced the Wolfson Economics Prize, the second largest economics cash prize next to the Nobel, to be awarded to the person who comes up with the least painful way for European nations to disentangle themselves from the European Monetary Union, which unites 17 nations under a single currency.

October 5th, 2011
05:29 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – The heated rivalry between two of the world’s technology giants just got hotter. Samsung intends to file court injunctions in France and Italy to stop Apple selling its latest flagship iPhone model, the iPhone 4S, in both countries when it releases later this month.

Samsung is accusing Apple of two patent infringements, both dealing with wireless telecommunications technology.

Samsung’s move will not come as much of a surprise to Apple or its lawyers. Both companies have been aggressively pursuing each other through the international legal system for most of 2011 with over 20 claims filed in 10 countries since April.

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September 29th, 2011
02:02 AM GMT
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Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) – The hunt for heat is part of the lure of many Asian cuisines. China has its addictive, mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn. Thailand has the "do I dare" burn of the bird's eye chili.

In Cambodia, heat comes in the form of a Kampot peppercorn, tiny but bursting with spice and an additional depth that ranges from citrus to nutty.

Grown in the Kampot province in Southern Cambodia, this special pepper reached its hey-day in the mid-20th century, when chefs in Europe prized its unique strength and flavor.

The pepper disappeared off the world stage though in the 1970s, when the destructive Khmer Rouge regime isolated Cambodia from the outside world. Farmers neglected their pepper fields and exports from Cambodia were cut off. FULL POST

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September 15th, 2011
06:22 PM GMT
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London (CNN) - Greece is almost certain to default on its debts, but the type of default – and its impact on the markets, Europe and the world – is yet to play out.

A default can come in three different forms:

A “selective default”. Under the terms of the second bail-out, some creditors can roll over their debt and take a “hair-cut”, or losses on the money they are owed. This is done to protect against the possibility of greater losses in the future. It is limited, controlled and understood. Crucially, it is expected.

The greater fear is that Greece defaults on a much greater scale. An “orderly default” would be one that is planned for, so creditors – and the markets - are prepared and have a plan to deal with losses in the value of their investments. While markets will be volatile, there will be soothing statements from eurozone leaders and it will be controlled.

The worst case scenario is that Greece defaults outright and without warning. This is what people are referring to as a "disorderly default,” and that is the big fear. This would be hugely significant because it will almost certainly lead to contagion. It will not necessarily lead to Greece being kicked out of the euro, nor the collapse thereof. It will however pose fundamental questions about the foundations of the euro project. Market reaction could be as bad as when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

August 15th, 2011
11:12 PM GMT
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London (CNN)–Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola is a huge bet both financially - this being its biggest ever acquisition - and strategically.

Android, the operating system which Google built and developed to bring its money making services such as Search to the mobile phone, dominates the low-to-mid price smart-phone market.

It does this by offering phone makers such as Samsung and HTC powerful software to run on their hardware. With this set-up the phone makers do what they do well - make the phones - while Google provides the software.

By buying Motorola Mobility, a hardware company, they appear to be shifting away from that strategy.

So why do it?


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August 2nd, 2011
10:40 AM GMT
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Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East before 15 years of civil war ripped the city apart.

Then the country's late Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, established building company Soildere to recreate the city centre from scratch. The company created a glamorous new area in downtown Beirut, packed with luxury brands.

But Solidere remains controversial due its wide legal mandate, which gave it almost total control over the future of Beirut’s downtown area.

As the city continues to recover from the war, proponents such as Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati are trying to silence the critics.

July 18th, 2011
01:19 PM GMT
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(CNN) - As a service to entrepreneurs everywhere, this occasional column exists to identify market opportunities open to fast-moving operators. What the world economy needs at this time can be listed by sector:


A “Smart” Ceiling: Innovative construction technology required for dilapidated house in Washington. U.S. experts are warning of a risk of the roof falling in, unless a method can be found of raising the ceiling. Warning: The house’s neighbors will not tolerate any repairs that fall below their exacting standards. Those to the right object to methods that result in taxes being increased, while those to the left object to methods that result in taxes not being increased. Value of job: Available on application, but between $14.3 trillion and the entire world economy.

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June 28th, 2011
05:50 PM GMT
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(CNN) - Foursquare, the internet business which started out as a social game, allowed users to 'check-in' to locations, pick up 'badges' and become 'mayors.'

That was then, but things change fast in the faddish world of online. Its focus is now moving to the more serious, real world business of payments, coupons, offers and retail.

To fuel this reinvention, co-founder Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai announced that the business recently raised $50 million from their current Silicon Valley venture capital backers who have a good track record of picking winners (think Facebook, Skype, Groupon and Twitter).

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