Australian retailers are required to collect 10% Value Added Tax on every sale; Amazon's Australia store collects this tax, but the company has rejected any suggestion that its non-Australian stores should collect the tax on shipments bound for Australia.
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The Passport Index features beautiful high-resolution images of the covers of all the world's passports, with interactive features ranking passports by how much visa-free travel they entitle their bearers to, and the ability to assemble grids of the places your passport(s) permit entry to. (via Dark Roasted Blend)
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In much of the world, addresses are difficult to convey because they refer to locations on unnamed streets, in unnumbered buildings, in unincorporated townships, sometimes in disputed national boundaries (I have often corresponded with people in rural Costa Rica whose addresses were "So-and-so, Road Without Name, 300m west of the bus stop, village, nearest town, region").
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When Facebook was desperately trying to game the Indian regulatory process to get approval for its "zero-rating" system (where it would bribe Indian ISPs to give it the power to decide which services would be free to access, and which would be capped and metered), one of the frequent arguments in favor of this "poor internet for poor people" was that the Wikimedia Foundation had struck similar deals in poor countries around the world, freeflagging Wikipedia use on networks that were otherwise strictly capped and metered.
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Josh from Fight for the Future writes, "The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is threatening to rollback its net neutrality protections, which help make the Internet a place of equal opportunity and international innovation." Read the rest
As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here's a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country -- The Netherlands -- to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it's helpful to look at a liberal, politically stable country with a strong and open economy. Also known as Holland, the country does not have the same history and culture that creates the inherent social and economic problems in the U.S., but it is clearly moving in the right direction -- forward.
It's a great destination for liberal ex-patriates looking for a place to live and work -- especially in the tech sector -- that already has its shit together, in case you really are now considering moving out of the country. Staying or going, it makes sense to see what a liberal society looks like and how it works.
We've compiled a list of facts about The Netherlands to show you what humans can do when they're not fighting en masse on Twitter:
The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025
Healthiest country in the world for diet
Keeps closing prisons due to a lack of prisoners
First to legalize same-sex marriage
Highest concentration of museums in the world
Highest English-proficiency in the world where it is not first language
Highest population density in Europe
Home to more bikes than people
Cycling in the Netherlands is the safest in the world
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world
83 percent of the population live in urban areas but there are few high rises
Largely secular country: up to 40 percent of Dutch say they have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, and 20 percent are Protestant. Read the rest
Marcell Shehwaro's magnificent, sarcastic, angry essay in Global Voices expresses her gratitude for her Syrian passport, because it has allowed her to see how states are willing to punish the already brutalized out of rage and fear. Read the rest
Pete from Doctors Without Borders writes, "Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders have today launched MapSwipe, an app that enables anyone with a smartphone to map the most vulnerable communities in the world. Geo-data is vital for aid agencies responding to emergencies such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters and MapSwipe now gives everybody the ability to contribute directly to these responses. So, instead of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, you can now do something meaningful on your commute! (MSF has developed MapSwipe as part of the Missing Maps project, where thousands of volunteers assist NGOs by mapping their areas of operations on OpenStreetMap.)" Read the rest
Francis Gurry, the fair-use hating, web-hating, North Korea embargo-breaking, witch-hunting, blackmailing head of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has a new pick to run copyright at the UN agency: Sylvie Forbin, a lobbyist for for French entertainment giant Vivendi. Read the rest
Gus Van Harten is a law professor at York University's Osgoode Hall and a well-respected expert on trade law; he's published a damning report on the Trans Pacific Partnership deal. Read the rest
Reps from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam just gathered in Peru to announce the formation of the "Vulnerable 20" group, a coalition of 20 nations threatened by climate change. Read the rest
Greenpeace has handed newspapers 240 pages of current negotiating documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly conducted trade deal between the USA and the EU, which has run in parallel with the notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Read the rest
In Winners and Losers in the Global Economy, a new Caribou Digital report funded by Mozilla, surveys the top apps from 37 countries and analyzes where they come from and how the revenue from them flows around the world. Read the rest
As the UK government passes increasingly far-reaching surveillance laws that bind companies to capture, store and share data on their customers' activities, US tech giants like Facebook and Google are caught in a dilemma: much of what the UK government demands of them, the US government prohibits. Read the rest
It's not just dissident Hong Kong booksellers who're being snatched -- China's snatch-squads have kidnapped expatriate dissidents (including those with foreign passports) from Sweden, Burma and Thailand. Read the rest
Historically, US companies have been able to get around the (relatively stringent) European data-protection rules thanks to a "Safe Harbor" agreement between the US and the EU -- but Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist, has successfully argued that the NSA's mass surveillance programs violate European law and invalidates the Safe Harbor. Read the rest
The Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against
Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers [PDF] (AKA "The Snowden Treaty") was created by David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's partner, who was detained by UK police under terrorism legislation while transiting through London's Heathrow airport with a encrypted thumbdrive containing some of the Snowden leaks. Read the rest