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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-03-26

Independent UK booksellers fight Amazon

Independent booksellers in the UK launch a challenge to Amazon. China’s new First Lady becomes an instant internet sensation. And thanks to Google Docs, budding authors can now collaborate with the likes of Shakespeare.

Independent UK booksellers fight Amazon

British booksellers Frances and Keith Smith are reaching out to the UK government with this message: "We pay our taxes and so should Amazon". They launched an online petition condemning the American online retailing giant’s tax avoidance. They have now reached the 100,000 signatures required to present the petition to the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

UK booksellers have been on Amazon’s case for several months now. They say the well-known ecommerce website has an unfair advantage because as its headquarters are based in Luxembourg it does not pay any UK tax on any UK earnings. Although this is not illegal practice, it has fueled anger in austerity hit Britain, where residents have decided to boycott the brand in favour of small businesses which do pay their fair share of taxes.

The aim is to make Amazon look into its tax affairs in the UK, in the same way Starbucks was convinced last year with a similar campaign. After being brought to task by the British government, the American coffee house chain agreed to pay corporate tax in the UK.

Multinationals are also being targeted by the authorities in France where Amazon was recently subsidized in a job creation investment, despite the fact French tax authorities are currently claiming around 198 million euros in back tax. 

China’s new First Lady becomes Internet sensation

When China’s president Xi Jinping embarked on his first official foreign visit since assuming office, it was his wife Peng Liyuan who stole the show. When the new First Lady appeared alongside her husband as they stepped off the aircraft in Moscow, she became an instant Internet sensation back home.

Countless social networkers have been praising the 50-year-old woman’s composure and elegance. This web user for example says she represents a new force in Chinese diplomacy and will no doubt do wonders for China’s reputation abroad.

Others are pleasantly surprised by this change in protocol. Until now the private lives of China’s leaders and their families has been a taboo topic in China, and the wives of Xi Jinping’s predecessors have traditionally kept a low profile. 

But Peng Liyuan is used to being in the spotlight. A well-known singer for the People’s Liberation Army, she was a household name well before her husband came to power and regularly performed at the annual New Year gala show extravaganza broadcast on state owned television.

And just like Michelle Obama, she looks set to become a fashion icon. Soon after her appearance in Moscow online retailers in China started directing local web users to coats and handbags similar to those worn by their new First Lady.

Now trending on social networks

Over 1 million people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on the 8 December 1980. This sad statement was posted to Twitter last week by the widow of the former Beatle, Yoko Ono, along with a series of other tweets calling for tougher gun control. She has also posted a photo of the blood-stained glasses apparently worn by John Lennon on the day he was murdered; she condemns the escalating gun violence across the US saying the grief is still raw, 33 years on from his tragic death…

Google Docs lets web users collaborate with dead writers

Becoming a writer is hard work, so wouldn’t some input from Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Poe or Dostoyevsky be fantastic? With Google Docs, budding authors take a blank document, get writing and the ghosts of dead and long gone writers then, through the medium of a robot, start interjecting with comments and suggestions. Currently available in English only, this tool is a pretty fun demonstration of how multiple people can edit a document. 

Video of the day

The trailer for the latest episode in the Star Trek saga due to hit cinema screens this summer… in Lego! Painstaking work indeed, with pretty impressive results, it’s more or less an exact replica of the original

By Electron Libre

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