a new law in France prohibits free shipping discount books. France is known to invent law against technical progress which is going as far as adopting a law under which private taxi providers are prohibited to let their customers wait less than 15 minutes at the airport. No, this is not a joke, that's true!
Now Paris wants to protect private run bookshops against competition from the Internet. France's Parliament adopted on Thursday by a vote in the Senate a law that prohibits mail-order companies to send already discounted books for free. The idea is is bookstores will be better protected against competition from on-line retailers like Amazon. But then I benefit from Amazon from selling my own work and most of all, living in the Provence where good bookstores are not really present. Amazon is the source of half of my purchases (Kindle not included) the other half comes from all these car-boot sales "brocante" markets because they are old French books you would not find on Amazon anyway..
So how is these protecting law going to work in our "free-market" inside the EU? Its not new and everybody knows that global retailers, such as Amazon, do what they want: hiring armies of lawyers to figure out every loophole to avoid paying taxes in the country where they make their profits. Fair wages are illusive if systematically the most cost-effective, legal solution is used to pay just the absolute minimum to employees and "business-partners" (e.g; in Germany Amazon states its a "transportation company" when it comes to pay employees because). These tricks the root of the problem because savings made with such practice allows global retailers to offer exorbitant discounts, a local bookstore could even dream of because he has to pay its employees a proper wage to ensure professional advices to costumers.
That's why traditional bookstores view discounted book sales as unfair competition. For a local bookshop the margin is so important because it has to cover the running monthly costs. Amazon does not even have to be on the high street and has become a global WalMart or Alibaba. Maybe because of Amazons random sales of all kind of products the Socialist government in Paris had particularly accused Amazon of price dumping: the on-line retailer combined admissible discounts of five percent to the conditions established by the book fixing prices with free shipping.
To underpin a useless regulation the French government needed to complain about the fact that the U.S. retail-group is hardly paying taxes in France, because Amazon has its European HQ in Luxembourg. EC's future president, Mr Junker, who has implemented during his presidency in Luxembourg a such cozy taxation regulations for foreign investors that David Cameron is actually jealous. I would not even be surprised when we will will see the birth the much anticipated "Free-Trade Union" between USA & EU during Junker's EU presidency. Given the EU's anarchistic fiscal system which is still under national jurisdiction of its member-states the global its cowboy style will find a bonanza with sleepy national politicians who will be chronically tricked through the back door by the EU lobbyists,- but it is not illegal.
Ironically the text of this law, known as the "anti-Amazon law", was already introduced by the conservative opposition to protect French publishing companies. The socialist government now has just adopted this law unanimously in the Senate. Amazon of course had the law criticized instantly as "discriminatory" and harmful to the purchasing power of the French. Hypocrisy pure!
How many regions are there in France ? The country is divided into 22 administrative regions, which in turn are divided into departments. Each region has its own character, traditions, cuisine and even French dialects. Ever since Hollande came to power rumors have been, if not rampant in terms of news coverage at least bubbling gently under the surface.
So finally the French president, François Hollande, made up his mind. He is fully in line with the European Union who's future lies in direct negotiations with the region of each member state and not so much with national governments. So the president released last week his "vision" of a how new administratively slim-lined France could look. The maxims "divide et imper"a and divide ut regnes were utilized some time earlier on by the Roman ruler Caesar and even by the Corsican emperor Napoleon.
Well Hollande says he wants to reduce the number of regions in France from the current 22 to 14, to "reduce regional bureaucracies and cut back on spending". This idea could possible save around 25 Billion per year. Prime minister, Manuel Valls, promptly showing up on TV to explain the mechanics of passing the proposals through parliament and how, if they were approved, the process of transition would take place. I'm pretty sure the the high-flyer government of the EU in Brussels & Strasbourg has already some use for these savings in mind. Maybe to liberate to Ukraine from some gang in the East... For eure the mercenaries of these countless lobby pundits from the corporate world are waiting for lucrative contracts to return the expectations to meet its creditors or investors.
It may initially be an open question whether the reduction in the number of regions is useful or not - the fact is, that it is not simple to separate all these officials from their offices. So where are then the saving to be made, if not there? Also, I think it's good if I can turn quickly and directly to my town hall if there is to clarify anything. Writing long letters or shimmy through complex websites is certainly not everybody's thing to gather comprehensively the information you need. The danger that this plan will result in even more anonymous collection of data without producing results is very large.
Sure, at a time when France is looking to cut back on public spending, that can't be a bad thing I hear people saying and agree to the point that also the current over-staffing does not bring particularly more results, - but at least there is an obligation for accountability for decision-makers in a specific region. This then stops when it can be said "blame the EU..."
Most telling perhaps was as Vals said that there could well be some room for maneuver, the debate had just begun and that the 14 regions outlined might not be the final figure, - it would be complicated. Yep, that's what it will become if FN who is winning in regions is taking on the challenge. That would satisfy the "petite bourgeois" who is loosing his work to eastern European countries and then contributing to China's GDP with the money he is receiving from the social services.
What I find very funny is this well known McKinsy / Anderson semantics: "The key is to reduce the number of regions to make them stronger and more competitive. There needs to be change and it has to be done." This so over-saturated speeches most people are finding more boring then tough. Living now for so many years here in France, I think Prime Minister Vals is right: "it would be complicated". The real beneficiary will be the EU-administration in Brussels, so it will take time for the French people and they will think it over and over again.
La Fête de la musique a lieu à travers le monde le 21 juin, principalement le soir et la nuit jusqu'au lendemain matin. Elle est actuellement célébrée dans une centaine de pays. Le nom du groupe de la deuxième minute est "No Stress".
This 2000 year old grave stones are evidence of the existence of thousands of years old Kurdish history. You can follow on the engravings the historical development of the region. The sign of the Sun stands for Kurdish identity and you find it again in today's in the Kurdish national flag. If these Saudi-Wahhabi sponsored ISIS lunatics penetrate into Iraqi Kurdistan and then achieve control such historical monuments would be destroyed immediately. Those fundamentalist Wahhabi's love to destroy the history of other peoples cultures to impose then the Sharia (chopping off limbs, cutting off heads, stoning woman) as the "legal" system.
I'm sure the Kurdish peshmergas will certainly give these religious ISIS fanatics a nice awakening. For an example: as in Kosovo Sunni-Wahhabis, disguised as an NGO employees, demanded from the Albanians clear up and resolve their "tomb-parcs", was this even too much for the Albanians and they just threw the "helpers" including their in their religious delusions out of Kosovo. The Kurds will be less squeamish. They really don't like any kind of "Arab" supression, - thanks to their experiences with Saddam...
For lovers of the game, in his celebrated masterpiece Soccer in Sun and Shadow, the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano long ago caught the way the spectacle of soccer and the spectacle of reality intertwined.
Politically we know since the billions South Africa poured into hosting the World Cup were touted as a form of development. The result? The month-long euphoria of the contests was followed by the hangover of dealing with an expensive unused or underused stadium infrastructure scattered across that developing country. (Host countries pay FIFA for the privilege of hosting the competition, then foot the bill for most of the tournament, while FIFA takes most of the revenues.) And in fact this is just one symptom of a corporate takeover of “the beautiful game” that has reached the saturation point.
If you want to read more about "the beautiful game" click here. It is a piece writen by Eduardo Galeano, "The World Cup and the Corporatization of Soccer" hosted on one of my famous sources for information TomDispatch.com
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