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September 2, 2011

Amazon offers to build facilities in bid to end sales tax fight

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:08 am

The Internet giant proposes investing up to $500 million in at least two new distribution centers and hiring as many as 7,000 workers if California lawmakers temporarily stop trying to force the retailer to collect state sales tax.

By Marc Lifsher Inc. is offering to build at least two distribution centers and hire as many as 7,000 workers if lawmakers back away — at least temporarily — from trying to force the Internet giant to collect sales taxes on purchases made by California customers.

The proposal, along with promises to invest as much as $500 million in the new facilities, was made in the form of draft legislation at a meeting Tuesday night between Amazon lobbyists and representatives of companies that belong to the California Retailers Assn.

The retailers trade group and other supporters of California’s effort to collect more than $300 million a year in unpaid taxes on Internet sales dismissed the Amazon compromise as a ploy.

“The so-called deal that Amazon has proposed is not serious,” said Bill Dombrowski, president of the retailers group. Lenny Goldberg of the California Tax Reform Assn. called it “a totally cynical maneuver that’s part of the game that they try to play in every state.”

According to an informal memo obtained by The Times, Amazon wants the state Legislature to repeal a law that took effect July 1. The statute requires Amazon and other out-of-state Internet sellers to collect California sales taxes.

Amazon, so far, has said it would not collect the taxes and has spent more than $5 million on a referendum campaign that would ask voters to rescind the law. more

February 8, 2011

A Literary Glass Ceiling?

Why magazines aren’t reviewing more female writers.

Ruth Franklin

The first shots were fired last summer, when Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult called the New York Times Book Review a boys’ club. (I weighed in then, too, calling on the Times to respond to statistics posted by Double X regarding the disparity between books by male authors and female authors reviewed in their pages.) Now, the war is on. A few days ago, VIDA, a women’s literary organization, posted on its website a stark illustration of what appears to be gender bias in the book review sections of magazines and literary journals. In 2010, as VIDA illustrated with pie charts, these publications printed vastly more book reviews by men than by women. They also reviewed more books by male authors.

The numbers are startling.   …read more

December 23, 2010

SA’s best reads of 2010

Selected by employees and critics at The Times, and compiled by Andrew Donaldson

IN A STRANGE ROOM, Damon Galgut (Atlantic)

The Times of London described it as “absolutely brilliant”. Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Galgut’s intense and acclaimed triptych – a collection, if you will, of three novellas – has drawn the inevitable comparisons with JM Coetzee, but Galgut’s really is a unique and original voice in South African fiction. In the stories here, a young man embarks upon a series of journeys, through Greece, India and Africa, in a search for love, identity and home.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MYSELF, Nelson Mandela (Macmillan)

Gathered from unpublished writings, diary entries and correspondence in a seemingly raw and unmediated manner, Conversations gave us the most moving and intimate portrait of the former president. Certainly, it refreshed parts that A Long Walk to Freedom failed to reach. Though Mandela took great care to mask his emotions and feelings, his letters to his wife and children reveal a loneliness and isolation that is utterly heartbreaking.

TELLING TIMES: WRITING AND LIVING, 1950 – 2010, Nadine Gordimer (Bloomsbury)

A companion of sorts to Life Times, an anthology of her best short fiction, this hefty volume gathers up a half-century of non-fiction and reveals Gordimer’s life as a moral activist, political visionary and literary icon. The range of this book is staggering, and stretches back to the dying days of colonial rule to the present-day conflicts of HIV/Aids, xenophobia and globalisation. Throughout all this, of course, was the scourge of racism and apartheid, and it is Gordimer’s brave and commendable engagement with the Nationalist government and the order it sought to impose upon us that particularly enthrall.

SUMMERTIME, JM Coetzee (Vintage)

Completing the trilogy of “memoirs” that began with Boy and Youth, Summertime is a story about a young biographer working on a book about a dead writer, John Coetzee, by focusing on the 1970s when the awkward and bookish Coetzee was finding his feet as a writer. So the biographer interviews a married woman with whom he had an affair, a favourite cousin, a dancer whose daughter was taught English by Coetzee, as well as other colleagues and friends. Praised as edgy, black, remorselessly human, Summertime was also humorous and offbeat, even wacky a portrait of the artist as outsider….read more

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