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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Hackers Supporting Assange Strike Back; Results of the Cancun Summit; New Chinese Tech Companies Trading on Wall Street; Playboy Art up for Auction

Aired December 8, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Hala Gorani at the CNN Center, here are your headlines. Outraged supporters of jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are striking back. Hackers apparently targeted the Swedish prosecution agency's website, forcing it offline for a time. Another apparent cyber attack closed down MasterCard's corporate website. Assange's supporters are furious that MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal have stopped processing payments to WikiLeaks.

The Middle East peace process is in limbo after the announcement that the United States will not press Israel to renew its settlement construction freeze. A Palestinian negotiator says Israel's move -- decision to move ahead with construction on the West Bank is, quote, "the last nail in the coffin of the peace process."

Street violence erupted in Haiti's capital Tuesday night, and the headquarters of Haiti's ruling party were reported torched after the protege of President Rene Preval officially got enough votes to gain a spot in next month's presidential runoff. The government has been accused of fraud in the original voting. The runoff is scheduled for next month.

The medical world is hailing a tuberculosis breakthrough. A new test can now diagnose the disease in hours instead of months. Last year alone, nearly two million people died from the disease worldwide. Experts believe rapid diagnosis will reduce the number of fatalities.

And that is a look at your headlines. I'm Hala Gorani. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS starts now.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: The message, "Don't mess with WikiLeaks." A new battle space opened, the hackers strike back.

"X" marks the day. British students are going up for a wave of protest.

And it's a winning formula. Why Bernie Eccleston's black eye could be advertising gold. I'm Richard Quest, we have an hour together, and I Mean Business.

Good evening. The battle lines are drawn tonight. A cyber struggle between the financial world and internet activists, and it's all about WikiLeaks. Pay sites like PayPal and MasterCard, who have refused to channel donations to WikiLeaks are now finding themselves under attack.

The supporters of WikiLeaks are taking revenge by hitting the websites. MasterCard's site has been hit. It's all to do with Anonymous. The Swedish prosecutor's site has been hit a few hours ago, as well, as apparent revenge for seeking extradition of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, on sex crimes.

Now, the hackers are calling all of this "Operation Payback," and they go by the name of Anonymous. A loose band of so-called "hacktivists." As you look at this, WikiLeaks is in the middle, Anonymous, who are against these companies are launching their attacks even as we speak.

Their motives are many, the implications for the business world are enormous. MasterCard, the biggest company affected tonight, Jim Boulden's with us.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, remember last Friday, we put up a list of all the companies in which you could use to donate to WikiLeaks. It was just an idea of the companies that are involved, even on the edges, of WikiLeaks. And we weren't sure, of course, what would happen.

Within hours, the list changed. Now, let me show you. This is what it looked like last Friday. Now, as of today, it looks quite different. And that's because you loose PayPal and you loose PostFinance.

Now, of course, PayPal within hours decided it was no longer going to take payments -- donations to WikiLeaks. PostFinance, which is a company in Bern, Switzerland, closed down Julian Assange's account, saying that he was not domiciled in Switzerland so, therefore, they could no longer keep that account. So, that's why those two are gone. Landsbanki, I tried to contact today, no word from them.

And then, these other issues. DataCell. This is the credit cards. This is the company based in Switzerland. It's very unhappy, in fact, that the credit card companies have decided not to use them anymore, and that they said they're denying the service there. And DataCell says that it will take immediate legal actions to restore payments, so watch this space on that one.

Now, let's move over here to PostFinance. PostFinance also decided, like PayPal, to stop taking any of those donations. The website was hacked within hours, they tell me, on Tuesday, when they made the decision.

Then, on Wednesday, they said they did some things to restore service. Today, "the website is working better." That's the quote from PostFinance. I asked them again if they regret making the decision to stop these payments. They said absolutely not.

Finally, as we talked about Mastercard.com, we should stress it's their website for the corporate that was not working. I checked it again an hour ago, you still could not get into that. MasterCard, though, has said, and I quote, "We are working to restore a normal speed of service. There is no impact whatsoever on our cardholders' ability to use their cards for secure transactions. Richard?

QUEST: All right. Now, let's just put this into perspective. We saw this group called Anonymous. I presume a rag bag of hackerama that takes place. Do we do know how many are involved in all of this?

BOULDEN: No. No, I don't know that -- there was a group that said they had four individuals, and that was one group. But what's so interesting is that it doesn't really matter who's doing it, does it? It's the fact that they can do it.

And companies who were on the edges -- this is about donations to, arguably, a company that a lot of people -- an organization a lot of people didn't even know about six months ago or a year ago. And they were just taking transactions. Some of these companies didn't even realize, as we talked about last week, that they were hosting parts of WikiLeaks.

So, the companies which are on the fringes, then get themselves deeply involved, like Amazon, and then have to make decisions. And these decisions they're making are very unpopular for those who support WikiLeaks.

QUEST: We'll hear from a WikiLeaks spokesman in just a moment on exactly how they intend to continue if their financing has been restricted. Many thanks, Jim Boulden. But we need to talk a little bit more about the way in which these continue.

Make no mistake. Whether it is a part-time hacker or a state- sponsored form of attack, this is having serious implications, of course, for the companies involved. And Greg Day is with me, the director of security response at the software security company McAfee.

Greg, companies know that they can be hacked. They know that they can be taken down. So, what's different now?

GREG DAY, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY RESPONSE, MCAFEE, INC.: I think, really, what's changed is, in years gone by, they knew they could be hacked by professionals. Unfortunately, today, the tools, the knowledge, the skill to do this is out there on the web, and it really means, now, anybody can do this kind of thing.

QUEST: Is it difficult?

DAY: Unfortunately not. You can literally get everything from the Windows-based in fakes that you go, click, click, click attack, to the far more technical grandiose script tools. So, really, it's down to what level you want to engage with these tools.

QUEST: And I think -- of course, we saw the Iranian nuclear facilities that were attacked, obviously on a massive scale by all those government-sponsored hacking. We've seen Google in China, as the WikiLeaks themselves make clear, under attack. Put it all together, and our vulnerability's become clear.

DAY: Absolutely. And I think the reality is that our dependencies today on technology are ever greater than they have been. And, certainly, there's been a lot of discussion around, in the last year or so, that what is our critical in structure? It used to be those things in the High Street, water sewage, transport. Now, a lot of it is technology-based or technology-related.

QUEST: If that is the case, and we are inevitably going to be one pace behind, are we destined to a rather sorry existence of just plugging leaks in our security infrastructure?

DAY: I think -- maybe, to give it an analogy, in the real world, there isn't such a thing as the perfectly secure facility. And we have to look at the same online and say, we can put the right defenses in place to try and stop attacks. But what we also have to do --

QUEST: Who's that involve, what does that involve?

DAY: That involved everything from thinking about who wants to do it, where are they going to do it from? Is it from a singular source I can block, is it coming from my genuine customers that I've got to try and filter out? Is it coming from within my own organization? So, there's a lot of different factors to consider.

QUEST: Taking WikiLeaks as just an example of something that's happened. We've got, first of all, the WikiLeaks itself, the ability of somebody to steal the information from the US State Department. Then we have the ability of companies to decided to take WikiLeaks down. And now we have the ability of hackers to take down those companies that won't take money. WikiLeaks is turning into an example par excellence.

DAY: Absolutely. And I think it's a real eye-opener for many people that this, truly, is something that anybody can do and actually can impact a very broad scope of people, both businesses and individuals.

QUEST: I don't want to sound apocalyptic, Greg, but is this the real threat for this part of the century?

DAY: This is probably one of the most high-profile threats that I think governments and industry are focusing on.

QUEST: All right. Greg, many thanks, indeed. We'll talk to you again.

DAY: Thank you.

QUEST: More about this. Greg from McAfee, one of the, of course, the security companies that gives antivirus software and beyond.

I promised you the response from WikiLeaks. As the websites cope with the attack, a spokesman for WikiLeaks has told us their website would be able to withstand the pressure of having funding cut off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTINN HRAFNSSON, WIKILEAKS SPOKESMAN: We have funds to survive, and there are always ways and means to get donations to us, if you're talking about the economical issue here. I'm sure we would have volunteers take buckets to the streets to collect coins for us, if it comes to that.

But I just think this is an outrageous attack on WikiLeaks, and there have been claims that this is done because we are involved in illegal activity, which is wrong. Nobody has even pointed to any legal code, nobody has pressed charges against WikiLeaks, so it's outrageous that those businesses would attack WikiLeaks in this way under government pressure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: If we have time before the end of the program, I'll have some of your Ask Richard Question comments to our -- or to my Twitter account, where you can -- we've been asking you that question all day. That's assuming, of course, you haven't hacked into my laptop here and it hasn't gone all a bit funny.

When we come back, we're off to sunny Cancun. Crunch time at COP 16 climate change talks, and we will hear from the OECD about what they want, and whether or not it's economically viable, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: The last few days of the climate change talks at COP 16 in Cancun in Mexico, the delegates desperately hoping to avoid last year's washout at the summit in Copenhagen, but frankly, the expectations are very low, and the results might be even less.

One of the officials in Mexico is Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the OECD, and the secretary-general joins me now. The truth is, Secretary-General, people have few expectations and fewer beliefs of what is possible at this talks, do they?

ANGEL GURRIA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, OECD: Yes, but I think the Mexicans have been very intelligent in this, setting the expectations low, but there are possibilities of making progress. Progress actually is being made in a number of areas. The discussion of financing, the discussion of adaptation, the discussion about the rules of procedure in general about how to take decisions that are going forward. And also, we're going to be discussing the role of cities.

So, there are a number of areas, not necessarily a binding set of rules with targets this particular occasion, but a very important stop on the way to COP 17 in South Africa.

QUEST: Isn't the truth of this that everyone there is tinkering at the edges, and until there is real commitment by developing and developed countries to put this on the front of the agenda, it's going nowhere?

GURRIA: Yes, but the commitment is reflected by very specific things, which are being discussed here. For example, the so-called monitoring and reporting and verifying is critical. If you don't have an evaluation and monitoring, no agreement will stand the test of time. So, these are the building blocks that need to be agreed upon before the countries put their commitments on the table.

The other thing is, the commitments that we know today, that the countries have put on the table after Copenhagen or during Copenhagen are not enough to do the trick. Developed countries need to increase by about 50 percent the commitments that are on the table in order to get to the targets that we need, which are maximum two degrees warming over the next few decades.

QUEST: Right.

GURRIA: The other thing is the financing of this exercise. Who pays for what? And there's 30 billion short-term, that's being put together, it's almost there, 100 billion over the long-term to 2020. That's something we have to focus on, how are we going to finance it. It's possible to do it through taxes, it's possible to do it through marketing emissions of CO2.

QUEST: Right.

GURRIA: But we know who the enemy is. The enemy is carbon. And we should fight carbon, we should price carbon, we should hit carbon.

QUEST: We need to, you and I, just have a quick chat about current matters economically. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe, which we've talked about before, are you a little bit more relaxed that it might be coming to an end, or do you still think that the Europeans have to do more to get a big pan-Europe, euro zone solution?

GURRIA: The Europeans always take long to take decisions, because they're 27 that are intervening, they're all sovereign countries. But it's happening.

They ring-fenced Greece. Now, they're ring-fencing Ireland. The rest of the countries are in relatively good shape, and that includes Portugal and Spain, because they've done their homework. They sent the right messages, they took the right policy decisions, they're cutting their deficit. And when Portugal's deficit next year is going to be lower than that of France, or even of Spain.

So, they are taking the tough political decisions and biting the bullet. And I think we're going to be better off.

QUEST: And, finally, were you more or less optimistic after you hard Ben Bernanke on Monday? He might do a bit more QE, he might not. It might take four to five years to get back to full employment, the US has tax deal with the Republicans. Is the scenario in the US better or worse?

GURRIA: I think the fact that a decisions was taken is good, as opposed to paralysis or an impasse. It's not a perfect decision. Compromises always reflect both sides. This is what President Obama could get.

Obviously, the part where the Democrats are hurting is having kept those tax cuts for the high income people, but that was the price of extending the benefits, also, to the people who are unemployed, and there are about two million people who are going to benefit from that. And that's going to stimulate the economy. This is another way of stimulating the US economy and that, of course, is good for the whole of the economy in the world.

QUEST: Secretary-General, I am envious of you, tonight, enjoying the warmth of Mexico as I'm freezing the extremities here in London. But we thank you, as always, Mr. Secretary-General.

GURRIA: We just came in from Washington, which was very cold. We launched PISA, the study on education in Washington. It was very cold. So we're thawing, here.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed. Send some sun our way. The secretary- general of the OECD joining me from Cancun.

The Wall Street numbers, now, and we need to head to the street of dreams. There were two big Chinese internet businesses that debuted, and they're having an interesting session on the first public day of trading. Carter Evans is at the New York Stock Exchange. Why were these companies important?

CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, because everybody is really into Chinese tech companies right now. And these two have interesting names, for sure. Youku.com and China Dangdang, and they are on fire right now after making their debut here at the New York Stock Exchange today.

OK. Youku.com executives rang the opening bell. Youku's IPO was priced at $12.80. Currently, it is up 177 percent, trading at $34.17. Youku is basically the YouTube of China. This is a very big deal for the company. It's China's top online video site, and it's just one of five Chinese firms that are hitting the market this week.

Demand is surging right now, especially for these China-based internet companies. According to government figures, the country had 420 million internet users in June. Popular American sites like YouTube and Hulu are either blocked or they don't stream video in China. So that's allowing for these domestic companies like Youku to fill the void.

Meantime, let's talk about China Dangdang. It's going to ring the closing bell here today. This is, essentially, the Amazon of China. Dangdang opened at $16 a share. Currently, it is trading up 86 percent, and you can buy a share of China Dangdang right now for $29.80.

The pair joined other Chinese tech companies that have performed very well in 2010. You know Baidu, that's China's largest search engine. It's up 163 percent this year. Richard?

QUEST: All right, many thanks, Carter Evans at the New York Stock Exchange. And a look at how European markets have ended the day. Well, as you see from the numbers, it's slightly a bit odds and a bit mixed. In fact, it doesn't get much more mixed than two down and two up. Minings were down, they lost Tuesday's gains. Rio Tinto off three percent, car makers VW down 5.6 percent after gaining on Tuesday.

The banking sector showed to the good. In Paris, Soc (ph) jet up three percent, Credit Suisse up 1.7.

When we return, Playboy's having a clearout. Hundreds of works are up for auction. We'll take a look at them. Don't get too excited, it's not the saucy stuff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight, Christie's Auction House is awash with Playboys. Right now, hundreds of pieces owned by the magazine are going under the hammer. Maggie Lake joins us from New York. We need to make it quite clear. Anybody that's looking for a little salacious titillation in the early evening entertainment is going to be -- well, besides having Maggie Lake amongst us, of course, is going to be disappointed otherwise. Help me out, here, Maggie.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes, Richard. No, it is true. This is the art of Playboy.

QUEST: Ah.

LAKE: Although there are some centerfolds, and that auction just getting underway as we speak, 124 items to be exact. And they really range in price, from anywhere from a few hundred dollars all the way up into the millions. At least, that's the hope.

I got a little preview the other day, and you'd really be surprised by the scope of what's in this auction, this exhibition, as well as the reason the company's doing it. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE (voice-over): Mouth Number Eight, the star attraction at what Christie's is calling the Year of the Rabbit, and not what you might expect at a Playboy auction.

CATHY ELKIES, CHIRISTIE'S: It's estimated at two to three million. It's a fantastic Wesselmann, it's mid-60s, so it's really in that sweet spot of his artistic career. This was done for a series in 1966, the Art of the Playmate.

LAKE (on camera): And we also have people like Salvador Dali's in here.

ELKIES: Dali's in here.

LAKE: It's a mix of all different -- because it's not just photos, too. There's actually paintings.

ELKIES: There's some paintings, there's some sculpture, we have a George Segal work.

LAKE: That one that we're looking at right here, yes.

ELKIES: It's great, it's Pregnant Woman. Again, a female form.

LAKE: Right.

ELKIES: Are this big. But we have a great corner of what I call the Men of Playboy.

LAKE: Right.

ELKIES: Some really great portraiture of people like Bill Cosby very, very young. Charles Shir -- Schultz. Very much with their finger on the cultural pulse at the time.

LAKE (voice-over): Fans of Playboy's more traditional artwork should not panic. Some of its most iconic centerfolds will be going under the hammer. The auction is expected to raise more than $4 million, but CEO Scott Flanders says it's not about the money.

SCOTT FLANDERS, CEO, PLAYBOY: This is a very small piece of our total collection, 125 pieces. We have 5,000 originally commissioned pieces of artwork, we have 20 million photos. And this is 125. So, this really is just a drop in the bucket of our total collection.

This is going to be great for us. It's creating visibility, you're talking to me now.

LAKE (on camera): Right. It's part of the brand management scheme.

FLANDERS: Part of the brand building.

LAKE (voice-over): Or more like redirecting it. As magazine sales decline, Flanders is betting big on night clubs, clothes, and expansion into Asia. Playboy just opened a night club in Macau.

But it's not clear founder Hugh Hefner is completely comfortable with the shift away from publishing. In a surprise announcement this July, Hefner revealed plans to buy up outstanding stock and take the company private. The board of directors has been reviewing the bid, but Flanders was closed-lipped about the outcome.

FLANDERS: I'm as eager to find out as every one of Playboy's employees.

LAKE (on camera): What do you think is best for Playboy?

FLANDERS: Look. My strategy's going to be the same whether we're public or private. We're transforming the company from being a broad-based media operator to a brand management company.

LAKE (voice-over): Public or private, the company must find a way to appeal to a new generation while, at the same time, staying true to its celebrated past.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKE: You know, Richard, I thought that was really remarkably candid. They're really moving direction totally to this brand management. An interesting fact Flanders told me, 80 percent of the purchases of the merchandise, the Playboy merchandise, is made by women, which is really surprising.

So, he's really latched onto that. He's only been on the job a little over a year. Really latched onto that, that's the direction he wants to go. He says it's fine either way, public or private. Investors are not so sure, though. Hefner's really dedicated to that magazine, so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Again, the auction taking place as we speak. They're streaming it live onto the web for anyone who's interested in making a little bid. I don't know, Richard, it might be you.

QUEST: Yes. Me, I met Hugh Hefner once. I did an interview with him. One of the most interesting men, frankly --

LAKE: Yes.

QUEST: That I've ever interviewed, period. It was absolutely fascinating.

LAKE: And he's still a major force at the company. That's what's interesting. So, investors are not quite sure what to make of it. In general, they like this direction towards merchandising clubs, though.

QUEST: Maggie Lake, who we'll find some suitable trinket to buy for Christmas. Many thanks. Now, when we come back in just a moment, looking on the bright side through a black eye. It was the F One boss Bernie Eccleston, but how he turned a mugging into an opportunity is just extraordinary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

This is CNN. And on this network, well, the news always comes first.

And as we've been telling you, a cyber war is underway tonight over WikiLeaks. Supporters of the founder, Julian Assange, said they've attacked numerous Web sites. And they're calling it Operation Payback. MasterCard.com is one of the sites under attack. The company's Web site has been down for hours. MasterCard says use of the credit cards is not affected. WikiLeaks and its supporters are complaining, of course, at what has been taking place.

An early morning fire at a Chilean prison has killed at least 83 people, including four rescuers. Fourteen others are in hospital in critical condition. It happened at a prison in San Miguel, south of Santiago. The mayor says the fire broke out after inmates began rioting.

The Obama administration has given up its push for a freeze on Israel's settlement construction. The settlement expansion plans have blocked progress toward Middle East peace process. The Palestinians have refused to return to direct talks unless construction is stopped. Both sides are due in Washington next week for indirect talks.

NASA says the capsule from a private company's cargo rocket successfully splashed down just moments ago in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning. It's the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft into orbit and brought it safely back to Earth.

Authorities in the U.S. state of Maryland have arrested a 21-year-old American described as a convert to Islam who's accused of plotting to bomb a military recruiting station. Law enforcement sources say he was caught in an undercover sting operation after trying to recruit help for his attack on Facebook.

Mugging is clearly no laughing matter.

So why then, has a British newspaper advertisement made a joke of it?

Well, have a look and make up your own mind. This is the F1, Formula 1 chief, Bernie Ecclestone, who is battered and bruised after being mugged in London last month. The culprits made off with his $17,000 Hublot watch. However, making light of the situation, Ecclestone sent the watch makers this photograph saying, "See what the people will do for a Hublot."

Now look and see. This is the result -- a humorous and slightly shocking advert in "The Financial Times" on the "International Herald Tribune," basically, along the same lines, what would you do for a Hublot watch?

Earlier, Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot's chief exec, told me why he went along with such an unusual undertaking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEAN-CLAUDE BIVER, CEO, HUBLOT: It was the idea of Mr. Ecclestone. Bernie, he showed us the picture on Thursday, last Thursday. And he looked at that. And he told me, "Look what they've done to me."

And we were all shocked because it seemed -- it was very strong, you know, and a quite emotional picture.

And then, when he saw our emotion, he said, you know, guys, you should use it. You should make some ads with it. I'll give you the rights. It's on the little phone of my wife. Maybe you can transport it in the high definition and you can use it.

And we said, "Yes, that's a good idea, because today, luxury is not only glamour and botox, it's also the truth. It's also the reality. It's also life. We are living in the new century and the symbol of luxury is not only the glamour of (INAUDIBLE). And I told him this is a difficult (INAUDIBLE) humor, number one; number two, it shows an incredible courage of Bernie, the courage when you start to understand why he was successful. And, number three, it shows how much of our relation is not based on business, but based on friendship...

QUEST: All right...

BIVER: -- because on business, he would never have given us the rights to do it.

QUEST: The poor man and, in fact were -- were -- had the bejesus beaten out of them and even the idea, it's amazing how far people will go to get a luxury watch, is it in good taste?

Or am I just being a little bit po-faced?

BIVER: The bad taste are the people who make the robbery. The bad taste, the bad -- the bad taste is the violence of today. The bad taste is the insecurity -- the insecurity of today. Now, to show it, to show the reality is not necessarily a bad thing. Now, again, I am not master of taste, you know...

QUEST: Have you replaced the watch?

Are you going to replace the watch or maybe you've already replaced the watch?

BIVER: We already. We went on Thursday to -- to London. And, of course, we couldn't go with empty hands. So we came to his home. And, of course, we had, among other little presents, we had the -- the replacement watch. Yes, of course.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Mr. Biver is very welcome to pay me a visit, as well, if he doesn't come empty-handed.

Well, hey, you know, and you heard what the man said, he couldn't arrive empty-handed.

When we continue in just a moment, austerity and anger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Europe's austerity drive is well and truly underway. And across the continent, we're seeing more proof that you can't have cutbacks without consequences.

For instance, if you look at some examples, Italy's Senate has passed the 2011 budget. It's designed to cut the deficit through spending cuts and taxes. Lawmakers can now go head-to-head. But a no confidence vote for Silvio Berlusconi's government is scheduled for next Tuesday. That's Italy.

Ireland has unveiled its budget last night. The prime minister, Brian Cowen, has promised early elections next year after it's passed. It's a fight Mr. Cowan -- far be it from me to preempt the Irish various, but if the polls are true, he is unlikely to win.

In the U.K., members of parliament will vote on plans to allow universities to triple tuition fees. It's threatening to push aside coca - - cohesion within the coalition government, as the Lib Dems tore -- tear themselves apart on the issue.

As Dan Rivers now reports, students aren't taking the changes lying down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): The age of austerity is rapidly descending into the age of activism. From subprime mortgages to subversive mayhem in just two years -- the political landscape of Europe has been transformed by the bursting of the credit bubble.

In Greece, the ax fell on government jobs, affecting one in five workers.

In France, it was pensions that ignited anger. The retirement age raised along with the political temperature.

In Ireland, protesters are furious at slashed budgets, bank bailouts and a proposed IMF emergency loan.

And now in the U.K., student protests against rising fees are reaching a crescendo.

At the London School of Economics, they're preparing for a showdown. This has never been a bastion of radicalism, but faced with more debt, students are staging an occupation of university offices, furious at the perceived Americanization of higher education.

CHARLOTTE GARADE, STUDENT UNION LEADER, LSE: It will deter students from lower backgrounds and we have to say, we don't like the American system. We don't want to go that way. And this step is -- is basically a step toward privatization. And we'll end up like the States. We like the difference between the U.K. and the States. And we want to keep it that way.

RIVERS: Those who actually come from the U.S. system, like Jessica Dell, say back home, student debt is a fact of life -- free college education an unrealistic dream.

JESSICA DELL, STUDENT: In the U.S., there's not that expectation of that kind of education, I mean in part because of the taxes we pay. Here, they're obviously more. So then with the higher taxes comes increased expectations of education.

RIVERS: This all having massive political consequences in Britain. The government's junior coalition partners promised very publicly not to raise tuition fees. Now, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, has had to perform a U-turn, leaving his party in disarray.

GREG MULHOLLAND, BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARLIAMENT MEMBER: It's a mess. And it's a mess that we -- we needn't be in and in my opinion, we -- we shouldn't be in. And that's why I've been calling this week for the government to actually abandon the -- the vote on fees.

RIVERS: But the rise in fees looks certain to become law. And despite the splits and arm twisting and recriminations, fees look almost certain to rise. But politicos here say it will forever tarnish the Liberal Democrat image.

RODNEY BARKER, PROFIT OF GOVERNMENT, LSE: It is very damaging for the -- for -- it -- it's not that they're having to set an impossible path, they're having to set about four impossible paths simultaneously. So they do look like tightrope walkers who've got their tightropes tangled, yes.

RIVERS (on camera): And that tangle will only get worse, as austerity faces its first big political test. But this is only the beginning. Across Europe, the cuts have yet to be implemented. When they're translated into real pain and real job looses, expect a lot more trouble on the streets.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: At the heart of so much of the discontent in many European countries and in the United States, is, of course, the question of unemployment and the seemingly never-ending limits of joblessness. No matter how fast economic growth is moving forward, the number of people out of work doesn't seem to be coming down that much.

Manpower, the international agency, says the Europeans, at the moment, face the patchiest of recoveries. Germans. And Italians can expect an improvement on the job front. But it is minimal and more job losses are forecast in Greece and in Ireland, obviously, with their -- as they go into recession from their budgetary constraints -- and Spain, all countries with huge debts.

Things are better in Asia. There, of course, hardly surprising, the economic recovery is the strongest. And despite news that the U.S. unemployment rate hit 9.8 just last week, Manpower does believe that the U.S. situation is looking up.

Jeff Joerres is the chief exec of Manpower, who conducted the survey.

He joined me yesterday.

And I asked him, when he thought, in the U.S. case, that the recovery in jobs would take hold.

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JEFF JOERRES, CEO, MANPOWER: And I think what we're still seeing is, is that there's demand out there. Companies are experiencing demand. But it's not strong enough for them to really have to make any big moves into hiring. Which is why you're seeing temporary help hiring actually moving along, 40,000 jobs created in temporary help in November. That's primarily because there's demand, there's just not enough. There's uncertainty. And companies are going to be agile, quick and make sure they don't get themselves caught in the wrong way.

QUEST: When Ben Bernanke said earlier this week, in his "60 Minutes" interview, Mr. Bernanke said four to five years before unemployment might come back to previous -- previous normal levels.

Were you surprised at that number?

JOERRES: No, no, not at all. In fact, I think we're in danger of not being able to get back to that beautiful 5 percent. We might get closer to 6 or 7. And -- and, actually, if you just do the math, there were a total of eight-and-a-half million jobs lost in the downturn. Divide that by 32 or 40 or 45 months, you get to a number like 200,000. We're not adding 200,000. So we are three, four, five years away before we're able to absorb that.

The concern will be, do we have long-term unemployment challenges which really kind of antiquates skills. And now leaves those people behind, which really puts a lot of burden on the state and a lot of burden on companies to train the new talent coming in.

QUEST: The answer to that is, yes, probably. And we're certainly seeing that. Forgive me, I'm answering your question. It should be the other way around here. But we're seeing that in Europe, as well, aren't we, Spain still 19, 20 percent. France is very high. The U.K. is going to have its austerity and loss of jobs over the next four years.

JOERRES: No doubt. I mean what we've been seeing and hearing about is youth unemployment and the challenges with long-term youth unemployment. No doubt, you need safety net services. I'm just a fan -- having kind of hiring and -- and interviewing, is we've got to create safety net services associated with training and development programs to keep these people fresh. And at least close to being able to reenter that market, when, in fact, we get a little bit more demand and better GDP growth.

QUEST: So -- so where are the jobs?

We know that Christmas has temporary employment. We know that there is some temporary service sector work out there.

But what's the longer-term full time pay outlook?

JOERRES: Yes, I mean it really does depend on your geography. If you're in the U.S., clearly, what we're seeing right now is a move toward services and professional services, the I.S. sector, the engineering sector, where companies can spend money to improve efficiency and productivity, they're willing to do that, the jobs are there and probably will be there for a long time.

When you're in more the emerging countries, you're clearly into the whole plethora of jobs, from entry level manufacturing to management all the way to the high skilled positions.

So it really depends where you are. The U.S. market is services oriented. And, frankly, I would say, you know, Central Europe is heading that way, too, as more and more jobs that are -- that are manufacturing and entry level manufacturing are going to Eastern Europe or even further offshore. It's going to create more of that service economy, which is a little difficult to handle, at times.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: The chief executive of Manpower on the jobs situation.

Now, ahead of this weekend's OPEC meeting in Ecuador, the price of crude moved briefly above $90 a barrel. There is a cold winter in the northern Hemisphere. It don't bode well for the price of oil.

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QUEST: In the battle for economic and return to growth, the price of oil, of course, has been one of the key factors. Now, it fell back very briefly today, as futures dropped when a U.S. government report showed an unexpected increase in supplies.

But that has to be counter-balanced. As the price moved above $90 over the past 10 days, prices have gained almost $10. And it all comes had of Saturday's OPEC meeting in Quito in Ecuador.

Gary Ross is with me, the chief executive of the international energy consulting firm, PIRA Group, which specializes in the analysis of this -- of this important area.

Gary, are we -- are we headed, inexorably, for oil back over $100 a barrel by winter's end?

GARY ROSS, CEO, PIRA GROUP: Probably not. But I think we will see $100 a barrel in 2011. I think the fundamentals will get tighter. Demand is going to grow faster than non-OPEC supplies. OPEC buying will have to rise substantially. There are a lot of risks to the supply, particularly in like Nigeria.

So I think the probability of seeing $100 in 2011 is -- is relatively high.

QUEST: But this winter, we've got a very cold snap in both the U.S. and in Europe. Supply is -- is OK, but it's by no means robust.

ROSS: Well, that's true. And we're getting 25 percent colder than normal weather in Europe in December. The U.S. is 20 percent. That's adding maybe upwards of a million barrels a day to demand. (INAUDIBLE)...

QUEST: So why isn't that really pushing prices up?

ROSS: It's helping to push price, but there are things countering that. OPEC is going to meet on Saturday,, as you say. And I don't think Saudi Arabia is going to embrace $90 oil. I think Saudi Arabia, this price is too high and the implication of that is they'll probably start fully supplying, if not more than fully supplying, their customers in the months ahead. So that direction will be a negative.

The Chinese look like they're going to be raising interest rates, worrying about inflation. And there's a lot of economic mine fields out there.

QUEST: So it's the economics again (INAUDIBLE) the physical effects, that might keep us under $100 over the winter.

Then what happens next year that reverses that trend?

ROSS: Well, I think what happens is that economic fundamentals in these OPEC countries, their requirements for revenue keep on growing. The Saudis keep on needing more money. So as the economy directionally approves, and particularly with the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the U.S. is doing better, but the world economy will be able to absorb higher prices at the same time as OPEC needs higher prices and directionally, the fundamentals are tightening in their favor.

As we look forward over the next several years, OPEC is going to run down their spare capacity pretty rapidly. And that's going to require higher prices to slow down potentially very strong demand growth.

QUEST: Let's look at the -- the politics within OPEC at the moment. There are those countries within OPEC and the Saudis, as you mentioned, want to continue pumping hard and fast for the revenue that it creates.

But at the same time, they know, also, if priced too high, it pushes the developed world back into a -- in -- toward recession or at least a slowdown.

ROSS: That's Saudi Arabia. That's what they're worried about. I don't think Iran and Venezuela are worried about $100 oil.

QUEST: No, no, no.

ROSS: As long as Saudi Arabia is worried about it. They're the ones with the -- the bulk of the world's spare capacity. They're the ones most responsive to the industrialized world's concerns. So they are very concerned. That's why they will not embrace $90 oil. It's too high for them at the time. I think they're -- they're quite pleased, in some sense, to see the price not stay at $70, move to the higher...

QUEST: The reference -- for the reference price.

ROSS: That's right.

QUEST: Which was, what...

ROSS: Well, uno...

QUEST: -- $65 to $75?

ROSS: -- unofficial reference price.

QUEST: The unofficial reference, $65 to $75. There were...

ROSS: Well, $70 to $80, I think. But I think that $90 is bit high. And they'll start getting worried about $100... And they think that the world economic situation is just not ready for $100 oil. So they'll step up on the production side.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed.

Fascinating stuff, isn't it?

ROSS: Oh, it's interesting.

QUEST: Many thanks, indeed.

And Gary joining us there.

Now, we were talking there about the price of oil and the effect of growth on the international exchanges. One of the most relevant factors, the physical factors, is the cold weather that takes place at the moment.

Jenny Harrison is at the World Weather Center.

I was chatting to Maggie Lake earlier in the -- in the program off air and we were basically doing a, "who's got the coldest weather at the moment?"

And she claimed she has, but I think I have.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I think you win that one, Richard. I really do.

QUEST: Yes!

HARRISON: And there's actually...

QUEST: Yes! Yes!

HARRISON: You do. You win that one. But I can tell you, there's a bit of a -- a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, actually, because the temperatures across the west of Europe.

But let me start out by showing you the satellite, because, once again, all this cloud you're seeing really is bringing weather with it.

Now, across the south, we've seen some very heavy amounts of rain. In fact, Portugal and Spain, severe problems there, not because of snow, but because of the rain. At least two people have died in Spain because of flash floods. And in Portugal, about 30 people injured in very, very strong winds that took -- downed trees and so -- and the rest.

And then you can see here, further to the north, across Central Europe, this is where we have been seeing most of the snow. These are the temperatures currently, so well below freezing. And then you need to factor in the wind, because the wind has been causing so many problems, as well. And that is when you can see these temperatures getting to such low levels.

Now, let me just show you some of the images. We've seen these already, but this has just been now, what, 10 days, probably, in Scotland. And it really has reached a very critical situation. Some of the roads beginning to open. But for the main part, the majority of the major roads are shut.

So as you might expect, with all those lorries, as well, delivering, hopefully, food, literally some of the stores are running out of food.

And this is the front. It's been fairly stationed in the last few hours. So this is what has been giving the problems today, particularly, in France. Let's have a look at some of the pictures coming out of there.

Now, I can tell you, the Charles de Gaulle Airport suspended flights Wednesday afternoon. The airport is now open, but only operating one of four runways. At Orly, also a huge backlog of flights there, into France. And then in Germany, Berlin and Frankfurt, as well, some long delays there. Into Austria, we've got delays in Vienna. And you can see the state of the roads. And many of the residents, particularly in Paris itself, are saying they're just not used to this, they can't cope with this sort of weather. The Eiffel Tower was shut. That is because the authorities there don't want to put any salt on the actual floor of the tower because it may well damage the iron work.

So really, really exceptionally winter -- except winter conditions across, really, the bulk of mainland Europe.

And let me just say get back to the map and show you what's going to happen, because, as I say, this very cold air is still in place. But it's going to swing its way eastward.

Now, ahead of this, we've got some slightly milder air, so some rain. But this could be heavy at times. Then that nasty line where we see a mix of the two. But these are the temperatures. And you can see the time stamp here. So by the end of week, the really, really cold air will just be behind that front. So it will actually get a little bit milder, if you like, out toward the west. And look at this. A better day in London, nearly up to the average; in fact, Friday and Saturday. A similar story in Paris. So the actual snow that's there really shouldn't be staying for too long.

And then Berlin also getting to the average. But Eastern Europe, look at those temperatures. This is where that cold air is heading your way. So that is really the next region of Europe to see the very heavy snow and these bitterly, bitterly low temperatures -- Richard.

QUEST: I'll be in Tel Aviv by then, where I think we might be doing one or two warmer temperatures.

HARRISON: Yes, it's that time. And you look like you're tanned, don't you?

I know, you get like...

QUEST: Oh, yes.

HARRISON: (INAUDIBLE).

QUEST: Oh. Too right. Too right. Too right. Jenny Harrison -- I learned it all from you.

Jenny Harrison at the World Weather Center.

When I come back, a Profitable Moment -- and there's much to talk about with WikiLeaks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment.

And this has been the scene today -- anonymous WikiLeaks and the companies that have been hit by the cyber attacks. Well, those of us who have had e-mail and bank accounts hacked into our, our computers have stopped working because of malicious virus and bugs, we know only too well that these are the new weapons of everyday mass destruction.

The WikiLeaks' attacks show that we are standing on the cliff, looking to a future where the sources of these attacks are many, the nature is global, the potential damage is huge. Cyber attacks against individuals, business, government are a serious threat to commercial activity.

Is the best we can hope for anti-virus software against a common Internet rogue?

What about more sophisticated operations that can hack into major systems?

In the end, we are all going to be the victims of what takes place.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I'm Richard Quest.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.

"WORLD ONE" starts now.

END