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French lawmakers adopt ‘anti-Amazon’ bill to help out small bookshops

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French lawmakers adopted a bill on Thursday that will prevent Amazon and other online giants from offering free deliveries of discounted books, in a bid to support the country’s small bookshops.

The Senate gave its approval for the bill, which had already been unanimously backed in the lower house National Assembly, and it is expected to be signed into law by President Francois Hollande within the next two weeks.

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The bill bans online giants such as Amazon from delivering books without charge, but still allows them to set discounts of up to five percent, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981 the government ruled that publishers must set a standard selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers and set a limit of five percent on any discount.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti welcomed the parliamentary approval, saying it showed “the nation’s deep attachment to books.”

While the measure adopted on Thursday is not specifically aimed at Amazon, Filippetti has singled out the US giant’s practices in the past, attacking both free deliveries and the firm’s tax arrangements.

The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the duchy’s relatively low corporate tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

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Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union’s single market rules.

Filippetti has also attacked Amazon for its “dumping strategy” and for selling books at a loss.

“Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up,” she said last year.

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France is proud of a network of bookstores it says is “unique in the world” and crucial for culture to reach small towns.

The country has about 3,500 such stores — including 600 to 800 so-called independent retailers that do not belong to a publishing house, a chain or a supermarket — compared to just 1,000 in Britain.

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There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness

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As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.

He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”

It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.

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This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend

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As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.

At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.

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The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.

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Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health

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On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.

"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."

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