March 29th, 2012
07:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos plans to dive 14,000 feet below the surface and raise the F-1 engines that fired Neil Armstrong to the moon in July 1969.

Just days earlier, producer and director James Cameron lived out his own real-life adventure, plunging solo to the deepest point known in the world’s ocean – 35,800 feet under the surface.

Not to be outdone, British businessman Richard Branson has announced plans for his own deep dive. “The Puerto Rico Trench is the deepest place in the Atlantic and is deeper than Mount Everest is high,” Branson says on the website.

“It should prove to be quite an adventure.”

A bevy of wealthy entrepreneurs are setting off for extremes, be it the depth of the ocean or the widths of space.
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March 23rd, 2012
05:07 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Amid a rough political battle of the U.S. Republican presidential candidates, being caught in the middle is not something companies usually want.

But Ohio Art, producer of the child’s toy Etch A Sketch, is not complaining after a political firestorm in the U.S. caused the company’s share value to more than double in less than three days.
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March 16th, 2012
05:29 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Earlier this week, voters in Switzerland went to the polls and said "no" to an additional two weeks vacation a year.

In a national referendum, 66.5% opposed the chance to put Switzerland in line with its neighbor Germany, where employees enjoy six-week paid vacation every year.

The Swiss apparently considered previous warnings of the government and business representatives who claimed that an additional fortnight of paid holidays increase labor costs and put their economy at risk.
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March 9th, 2012
06:44 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - China’s state-owned cigarette monopoly, the China National Tobacco Corporation, may have a larger annual net profit than HSBC and Walmart, according to a report released this week by the Industrial Bank Co Ltd.

A rare glimpse into the tobacco-giant’s finances revealed a net income of 117.7 billion yuan (US$18.7 billion) in 2010 on sales of 770.4 billion yuan.

According to Bloomberg, HSBC reported $16.8 billion of profit for its most recent fiscal year while Wal-Mart reported a net income of $15.7 billion. The 2011 figures of China National Tobacco Corp. were not given.
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March 1st, 2012
06:55 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - The men’s magazine FHM has come under fire again after a saucy cover of Filipina actress Bela Padilla was claimed as racist.

The cover shows fair-skinned Padilla coming forward of a group of dark-skinned Filipina models with the caption, “Bela Padilla stepping out of the shadows.”

Padilla is not the first case of Asian FHM covers launching controversies. In December last year, Pakistani actress Veena Malik (shown above) appeared on the Indian edition of FHM, wearing nothing but the tattoo bearing the initials ISI, the acronym for the Pakistan’s inter-services Intelligence agency.

Malik said that that FHM doctored the cover to show her without clothes. FHM India said Malik was aware of the conditions and approved the photographs.

The local FHM publisher in the Philippines, Summit Media, dumped the March cover in favor of a less controversial Padilla shot after the company previewed the racy cover on its Facebook page last Saturday, triggering heated reaction on social media and the magazine’s website.
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February 27th, 2012
06:31 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – It’s the stuff of urban myth that if a billion Chinese all jumped off a chair at the same time, the earth would shift off its axis.

Now the World Bank is considering just such a question in the context of China’s breakneck growth: Can a billion Chinese become middle class without disrupting the world, fouling the environment and tearing apart the fabric of their own society?

The World Bank report “China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society,” released on Monday, says China has the potential to become a modern and creative high-income society – but it won’t be easy.
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February 27th, 2012
06:18 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – A local airline has found itself in hot water with environmentalists over a recent cargo flight of dolphins.

According to the Chinese newspaper China Daily, the airline transported five dolphins from Japan to Vietnam on January 16. An internal memo to the airline staff was leaked boasting of the transaction’s success saying that it earned the company HK$850,000 (US $110,000) in cargo revenue. The memo also included a photograph of the dolphins lying in shallow, narrow containers with their fins protruding, inside the Boeing 733F cargo plane.

The controversy has sparking an online petition at change.org pressuring Hong Kong Airlines to stop carrying live dolphins as cargo. So far, 4000 people have signed.
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February 21st, 2012
09:20 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – While Hong Kong cashes in on China’s staggering economic growth, many of the city’s residents are choking as a result of it.

If it isn’t air pollution that is causing health issues among locals: it’s light pollution.

While the bright tantalizing lights of Hong Kong’s skyline are iconic of Hong Kong’s image, they are also keeping people awake, rising stress levels and causing insomnia for residents like Wesley Wai, who put together a video called the “Lucifer Effect” to show how much light bleeds into his bedroom at night.  With rising property prices, residents like Wai often have few choices but to live in densely crowded, bright night areas.
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February 17th, 2012
07:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Ten years after the Spanish currency, the peseta, was phased out, a rural town in Spain has revolted. Against the backdrop of the ailing euro, about 30 shops in Villamayor de Santiago last month began accepting the old currency, which was phased out in 2002 when Spain joined the eurozone.

According to Luis Miguel Campayo, chairman of the local merchant’s association, the move has been especially popular with older clientele, many of whom kept hold of old bills and coins in case the euro failed. "We wanted to persuade them to spend them," he told the Guardian. Shopkeepers have earned more than 1 million pesetas (about $7,900). Shopkeepers exchange the pesetas for euros at the Bank of Spain in Madrid.

The villagers in Spain are not alone. Currencies new and old have sprung up in towns in Italy, the UK, the U.S. and Mexico in the wake of the financial crisis and eurozone debt woes.
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February 15th, 2012
05:46 AM GMT
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Zurich has overtaken Tokyo to rank as the world’s most expensive city for the first time in 20 years, according to the  Economist Intelligence Unit's latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.  The Swiss city was joined in the top five by Geneva, which rose to third place to tie with Osaka.

Whilst Switzerland has long been home to some of the priciest places to live, its upswing in the rankings can be attributed to the heavy investment in the Swiss franc, which is seen as a relatively safe currency outside of the embattled Eurozone, according to the report. Local price inflation in Switzerland has been low, but the report explained that "local inflation in mature markets always has far less influence on the relative cost of living than the currency movements of the countries in question."

Cities in the Asia-Pacific make up half of the top ten—in addition to Tokyo and Osaka, Sydney and Melbourne placed seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Singapore. Seoul climbed 13 places over the last year to 27th place, and Chinese cities are also increasingly expensive, with Shanghai surpassing New York by two places to rank 42nd.
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