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Is President Trump right about Amazon? Here’s a reality check

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President Donald Trump stepped up his attack on Amazon on Thursday, firing off a tweet that accused the internet retail giant of having a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.

Trump claimed the retailer was not paying its share of state and local taxes, was putting retailers out of business and was sucking much-needed resources from the United States Postal Service.

Amazon declined NBC News’ request to comment on the tweet.

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Amazon has long been Trump’s favorite corporate punching bag on Twitter, and this is not the first time the president has laid into Amazon regarding taxes, jobs, and its use of the postal service. However, the tweet comes one day after Axios reported that Trump wants to “go after” Amazon, despite reports there are no current plans to enact new regulations or taxes against the retailer.

The news rattled investors. Amazon shares dipped 4.4 percent on Wednesday amid fears of regulation and general volatility in the tech sector brought about by Facebook’s data privacy scandal.

Taking the president’s tweet at face value would be incorrect. When it comes to Trump’s statements about Amazon, there’s a bit more to unpack.

State and local taxes

Trump claims Amazon is paying little to no state and local sales taxes in some places. He is likely referencing the fact Amazon doesn’t collect state sales tax from third-party sellers in parts of the United States. In some cases, those sellers are required to collect the tax.

Additionally, Amazon collects sales tax in the 45 states that require it. However, there is a patchwork of regulations at the local level that dictate whether or not taxes are collected and if so, whether it is the job of Amazon or the third-party seller.

Sound confusing? It is. Amazon has expressed its support in the past for federal legislation to create a uniform plan for collecting sales online, but there has yet to be movement on that front.

In a memo on Thursday, Lloyd Walmsley, a Deutsche Bank analyst, said the “ship has sailed’ when it comes to quibbles over Amazon collecting state sales tax, a practice the company enacted last April.

“In a way, we think charging sales tax has been a boon to Amazon because it now has extensive fulfillment facilities close to consumers such that it can lead the way in offering faster and more reliable deliveries,” he wrote, according to CNBC. “Whether Congress enacts a special tax on Amazon, simply because President Trump wants it, remains to be seen.”

Is the United States Postal Service being ripped off?

Amazon ships millions of packages around the U.S. each year, but Trump’s claims that the retailer is unfairly using the United States Postal Service and causing “tremendous loss” is incorrect.

In a December tweet, Trump said the USPS is losing “many billions of dollars a year” and should be charging Amazon more money.

The USPS is losing money, but delivering packages has been the bright spot in its annual financial report. Last year, mail volume declined by 5 billion pieces, but the number of packages increased by 589 million — some of which is certainly attributable to Amazon.

Amazon’s partnership is reviewed each year by the Postal Regulatory Commission, which requires the agreement be profitable for the postal service.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon doesn’t use the postal service the same way most people and small businesses do.

Instead of relying on the postal service to move parcels across the state or country, Amazon relies on its network of fulfillment and sortation centers to get everything ready and then deliver the parcel to the post office that is closest to the customer. The postal service then takes care of the last mile or so, making sure the order gets into the hands of the customer.

Where are all the retail jobs going?

Then there’s the question of how Amazon is affecting U.S. retail jobs. Trump has previously accused Amazon of hurting retailers. “Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!” he tweeted.

In reality, while brick and mortar retail may be struggling, Amazon and the e-commerce sector has more than made up for the job losses, according to a report from the Progressive Policy Institute.

“We found that the e-commerce sector added 355,000 jobs from 2007 to 2016 — more than enough to compensate for the 51,000 jobs lost in the general retail sector,” the report said.

Additionally, wages and salary payments to e-commerce employees increased by nearly $18 billion from 2007 to 2016, with the same payments in general retail increasing by less than $1 billion, according to the report.

Amazon has created more than 200,000 jobs in the United States, said the company investor relations team. The internet giant hired nearly 130,000 people globally last year, excluding its acquisitions, chief among them, Whole Foods.

More jobs are also on the way. In January, Amazon whittled down a list of 238 proposals to host its second headquarters – called HQ2 – down to just 20 contenders. Amazon has committed to investing $5 billion on the winning proposal and creating at least 50,000 high-paying jobs at the new campus.

The cities still in the running, including Austin, Atlanta, Nashville and New York City, are pulling out all the stops to impress Amazon, including dangling tax incentives and other promises in hopes of being the winner.

Amazon added $38 billion to the economy of its hometown, Seattle, from 2010 to 2016, according to the company. With HQ2 being an equal to the first headquarters, it is likely the chosen city will also experience a major infusion into its economy.



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Two children among four dead after migrant boat sinks off French coast | World News

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Four people, including two children, have died after a migrant boat sank off the coast of France, authorities have confirmed.

The children were aged five and eight years old.

Eighteen people have been taken to hospitals in Calais and Dunkirk, according to a statement by the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea.

The statement said a widespread search and rescue operation is looking for other passengers.

“The boat carrying the migrants sank. An investigation was opened by the public prosecutor of Dunkirk to identify the causes of this sinking,” the statement read.

A sailboat raised the alarm after it spotted the vessel – which was travelling in wind gusts of up to 18mph – in difficulty near Dunkirk.

Customs and Navy patrol boats from France and Belgium went to the area, along with a lifeboat and fishing vessel.

It is believed there were about 20 people on the boat, who were trying to get to the UK.

In a statement, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is “truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning” and that her thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s loved ones.

“We are in touch with our French counterparts who are leading on the response and have offered whatever support they need as they investigate this incident,” she said.

“This tragic news highlights the dangers that come with crossing the channel and I will do everything I can to stop callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people.”

Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley said the refugee community in Calais is “utterly devastated”.

She said: “We are grieving for the victims, we stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families and friends.

“It is cruel and horrifying that this time, young children are among the victims.

“This unnecessary loss of life has to stop. No one should ever feel they have to get into a fragile craft and risk their lives crossing the Channel, least of all vulnerable children.”

In the past year, more than 7,000 migrants have made it across the English Channel to the UK – up from 1,800 the previous year.

According to the prefecture, four people died making the journey in 2019 and four so far this year.

Sky’s Home Affairs Correspondent Mark White said the issue is significant for France and the UK.

“The British Government has been warning for some time about the potential for a significant tragedy,” he said.

“Home Secretary Priti Patel says she has met with her French counterpart on number of occasions and has made clear she wants France to do more,” he said.

“It appears we are certainly witnessing a tragedy that is unfolding today.”

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Search and rescue operation launched after migrant boat sinks near France | World News

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Eighteen people have been taken to hospital after a migrant boat sunk off the coast of France.

A widespread rescue operation is searching for other passengers.

A sailboat raised the alarm after it spotted the vessel – which was travelling in wind gusts of up to 18mph – in difficulty near Dunkirk.

Customs and Navy patrol boats from France and Belgium went to the area, along with a lifeboat and fishing vessel.

Eighteen people were been taken to hospitals in Calais and Dunkirk, according to the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea.

It’s believed the people on the boat were trying to get to the UK.

The Dunkirk public prosecutor is investigating what caused the sinking.

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‘Jurassic Park’ project poses no threat to Komodo dragons, says Indonesia | World News

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Indonesia has sought to calm concerns raised by environmentalists after a photo of a Komodo dragon in the path of a lorry went viral on social media.

The picture prompted an outpouring of anger about perceived threats to the natural habitat of the vulnerable species.

Construction work on a project dubbed “Jurassic Park”, catering to tourists visiting the Komodo National Park, is under way and due for completion in June.

An official at the country’s environment ministry told Reuters news agency park rangers would ensure the safety of dragons roaming near the building site, which will include an elevated deck, a dam and an information centre.

“They will intensively make checks of whether the Komodo dragons are under the buildings, remnants of buildings, and under the trucks carrying material,” the statement said.

The image which sparked concerns was reportedly taken on Rinca Island, part of the national park, according to an activist group called Save Komodo Now.

Over the weekend, the group shared the image on Twitter, writing: “This is the first time Komodos are hearing the roar of engines and the smell of smoke. What will the future impact of these projects be? Does anyone still care about conservation?”

The authenticity of the photograph has not been independently verified.

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2019: Komodo dragon hatches in time-lapse footage

In 2019 the Indonesian government said Komodo Island would close to tourists in 2020 to protect the animals after more than 40 Komodo dragons were smuggled and sold for £27,000 each.

This decision was later reversed in favour of a $1,000 tourist entry fee, which could be introduced to keep visitor numbers down instead.

Environmentalists have said the construction must stop in order to protect the animals.

“Komodo needs to be the main priority. They need to be protected in a designated area,” said Umbu Wulang Tanaamahu Paranggi, director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.

“What’s going on now is a destruction of the dragons’ living spaces.”

Social media users have dubbed the construction project “Jurassic Park” after architects shared a video of the project set to the music from the dinosaur film franchise.

Indonesia’s current Komodo population is about 3,000, according to government data.

The national park as a whole is a Unesco World Heritage site and is made up of three larger islands; Komodo, Padar and Rinca and 26 smaller ones.



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