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A fiery Jeanette Winterson has called for the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain's beleaguered public libraries.
In an impassioned speech at the British Library this evening, the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit said: "Libraries cost about a billion a year to run right now. Make it two billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here. Or if they want to go on paying fancy lawyers to legally avoid their moral duties, then perhaps those companies could do an Andrew Carnegie and build us new kinds of libraries for a new kind of future in a fairer and better world?"
Winterson was referring to the meeting at parliament's public accounts committee last Monday which saw executives from the three companies vigorously quizzed by MPs over their tax affairs, and accused of diverting UK profits to tax havens. Her lecture was to mark the 10th anniversary of the independent charity The Reading Agency, and was attended by fellow authors including David Nicholls, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope and Sarah Waters.
From November 11-29 Librarians Without Borders' hosts their Guatemalan partner, Jorge Chojolán, on a speaking tour in five North American cities: Toronto, London (Ontario), Ottawa, Montreal, and Los Angeles.
Jorge is the founder and director of the Asturias Academy, a progressive K-12 school that offers education for students from low-income and indigenous families. The speaking events will focus on education reform, leadership, libraries, literacy, and indigenous issues and culture in Guatemala.
Since 2009, Librarians Without Borders has worked with Jorge and the Asturias Academy to promote literacy and libraries in Guatemala. Through many hours of fundraising, planning and hard work, Asturias was able to open a community library to students and their families in January 2011.
For detailed information on the events, time, and places, read more here. All these events are free and open to the public.
Further to our previous story on a Kindle reader's library being wiped by Amazon, Stephen K. has posted an update (as comment), which deserves to be its own story.
From Computer World UK Simon Phipps continues the saga of Linn, the Norwegian individual who purchased a Kindle in the UK.
The story first emerged on a friend's blog, where a sequence of e-mails from Michael Murphy, a customer support representative at Amazon.co.uk were posted. These painted a picture some interpreted as Amazon remotely erasing a customer's Kindle, but in conversation with Linn I discovered that was not what had happened - something just as bad did, though.
Linn lives in Norway, where Amazon does not operate (Amazon.no redirects to the Amazon Europe page). She bought a Kindle in the UK, liked it and read a number of books on it. She then gave that Kindle to her mother, and bought a used Kindle on a Danish classifieds site to which she transferred her account. She has been happily reading on it for some time, purchasing her books with a Norwegian address and credit card. She told me she'd read 30 or 40 books on it.
Sadly, the device developed a fault (actually a second time, it was also replaced in 2011 for the same reason) and started to display black lines on the screen (something I've heard from other friends as it happens). She called Amazon customer service, and they agreed to replace it if she returned it, although they insisted on shipping the replacement to a UK address rather to her in Norway.
More from Computer World UK.
Syrian journalist and writer Samar Yazbek, who was forced into exile after criticizing President Bashar al-Assad, has won PEN's Pinter International Writer of Courage Award.
Yazbek, who fled her homeland late last year after repeated run-ins with the state security services, was recognized for her book, "A Woman In The Crossfire", an account of the early stages of the Syrian revolution.
In line with the late playwright Harold Pinter's Nobel speech in which he spoke of casting "an unflinching, unswerving gaze upon the world", the prize is awarded annually to a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.
"The great thing about this prize is that it highlights figures who might not otherwise get the recognition they deserve," Heather Norman Soderlind, Deputy Director of English PEN, told Reuters.
Yazbek insists, though, that while grateful for the honor, she doesn't see this as a personal accolade. "I felt that beyond me this was a prize for the Syrian Revolution," she said.
Story from Reuters.
"People can borrow, take home, bring back or keep," says Guanlao, 60, a former Filipino tax accountant, ice-cream salesman and government employee known by all as Nanie. "Or they can share and pass on to another. But basically they should just take, take!" Guanlao reckons books "have lives, and have to lead them. They have work to do. And the act of giving a book …it makes you complete. It makes your life meaningful and abundant."
This week's episode features a chat with Dan Lynch of Sixgun Productions in Liverpool about changes in the UK library world relative to the UK government reviewing the possibility of e-book lending there. Madam Producer also discusses a new report by Freedom House about Internet Freedom in the context of this week being Banned Books Week.
Download here (MP3) (ogg), or subscribe to the podcast (MP3) to have episodes delivered to your media player. We suggest subscribing by way of a service like gpodder.net. Support and subsistence items for the production team can be purchased and sent from here.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/.
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Swedish News (in English): Following a storm of media criticism, officials at the Kulturhuset library in Stockholm have reversed their decision to remove Tintin comic books from its shelves, saying the move happened "too fast".
"The decision happened too fast," Kulturhuset head Eric Sjöström and the organization's artistic director, Behrang Miri, said in a statement released late Tuesday morning.
The reversal comes after a report in Tuesday's Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper in which Miri said the library planned to remove Tintin comics from its shelves.
“The image the Tintin books give of Africans is Afro-phobic, for example. Africans are a bit dumb, while Arabs sit on flying carpets and Turks smoke water pipes,” he told the paper.
But after criticism of the move erupted in Swedish media on Monday morning, Miri changed his stance.
"I wanted to highlight an opinion piece about issues of discrimination, but realize now that it's wrong to ban books," Miri said in a statement.
However, Kulturhuset head Sjöström applauded Miri for prompting a discussion about discrimination.
"The issues of discrimination, equality and norms continue to be debated and discussed," Sjöström said in a statement.
From Tumblr: Bookyard is a project where Massimo Bartolini brings the public library to the great outdoors.
In Ghent, Belgium, St. Peter’s Abbey Vineyard has been a part of the town landscape since the Middle Ages. Now this historic vineyard has gotten a beautiful new addition, dubbed Bookyard, which was recently installed by the Italian artist Massimo Bartolini. Designed as part of the art festival Track: A Contemporary City Conversation, 12 sweeping bookcases align with the Abbey’s grapevines and harken back to an old world Europe that was once filled with bounded print, and free from digital forms.
From the Malaysian Digest, news that a Borders store manager in Kuala Lumpur is facing possible arrest for stocking a Canadian title that Muslim religious authorities find objectionable.
Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court for allegedly violating the Hukum Syarak by distributing or selling Irshad Manji’s book Allah, Liberty and Love.
“The management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd who own and operate the Borders bookstore chain in Malaysia is very disappointed that our store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz has today been charged by Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court for distributing a book by Canadian author Irshad Manji deemed to be against the Islamic Law (Hukum Syarak) and banned in Malaysia. The charge was brought under Section 13(1) of Prime Minister’s Department for Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom have also been named as respondents in the application for judicial review."
People in the Netherlands have reason to celebrate today, following the expected passing into law of new net neutrality regulation. The legislation in question was agreed upon back in June last year, but it's only on Tuesday that the nation's second legislative chamber gave its blessing to the move, making everything official. Under the new law, mobile internet providers like KPN won't be able to charge for access to particular services like Skype or throttle traffic through them — both techniques that the company was intent on using to manage its mobile traffic.
Some exceptional reasons, such as network congestion and security, are allowed for slowing down users' connections, but the general thrust of the law is that operators ought to be blind to the traffic they carry and treat all of it equally. Dutch lobbying group Bits of Freedom also notes that the net neutrality law includes anti-wiretapping provisions, making it unlawful to use deep packet inspection on users' internet communications without their express consent or a legal warrant. All in all, it's a good day for privacy and internet freedom in the Netherlands, now how about we spread the good cheer throughout the whole European Union? [ed- and North America?]