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News Daily: Amazon tax bill falls and Zimbabwe result

Hello. Here's your morning briefing:
Amazon tax take
Amazon's UK tax bill fell last year despite rising profits and surging sales. The online retail giant made an operating profit of almost ?80m in the UK last year, up from ?48m in 2016. However, in the same period it paid just ?1.7m in corporation tax to the Treasury.The affairs of Amazon, Google and Apple have long been under scrutiny as countries struggle to adapt tax codes written for a different era to the age of the technology multinational. Amazon's critics accuse it of aggressive tax avoidance - staying within the law but stretching it to its limits - but a company spokesman insisted it paid all the tax it was required to "in the UK and every country where we operate". Amazon's UK sales hit nearly ?2bn in 2017, but that's not what matters - companies only have to pay corporation tax on any profits they declare in the UK rather than the value of their sales here. As for why its tax bill is actually falling, much of the explanation for that comes down to the way it pays staff, as the BBC's business editor Simon Jack explains.
'The crocodile' takes victory
Zimbabwe's presidential election result has finally been declared and the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has won the disputed vote, narrowly avoiding a run-off with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. The opposition, the MDC, say it was rigged, but the country's electoral commission says there was "absolutely no skulduggery".
The president-elect - known as "the crocodile" for his political cunning - called the result "a new beginning" for Zimbabwe. In reality, though, his victory continues the decades-long reign of Zanu-PF - the party of long-time leader Robert Mugabe, who was ousted last year. Mugabe's repressive rule left Zimbabwe an international pariah, but as the BBC's Pumza Fihlani explains, there remains a lot of loyalty to Zanu-PF in rural areas in particular. Young people and the urban poor had though, in the main, been rooting for Mr Chamisa, and things turned nasty in the capital, Harare, when it became clear their hopes had been dashed.
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Holiday safety warning
Hiring a moped is a holiday rite of passage for many British tourists, but they're being warned to think twice because of the risk of accidents. The Association of British Travel Agents also says holidaymakers should only use quad bikes - popular in places such as Cape Verde, Greece and Turkey - as part of organised tours. As well as physical dangers, tourists face being hit with huge financial costs if they have accidents abroad, ABTA warns, because many travel insurance policies do not cover such activities.
The scandal Norway doesn't talk about
By Tim Whewell, BBC NewsThe UN rates Norway, the first country to appoint a Children's Ombudsman, as one of the best countries for a child to grow up in. And yet, according to many Norwegian experts, its child protection system is "dysfunctional" - too many children, they say, are taken into care without good reason. The conviction of a top child protection psychiatrist for downloading child abuse images is now raising further serious questions.Read the full article
What the papers say
Amazon's tax bill angers several of Friday's papers. The Daily Mirror says some struggling high street firms "pay up to 20 times more" than the "web juggernaut". The Daily Mail claims the company is "taking us for fools". Elsewhere, the decision to raise interest rates to 0.75% is seen by the i as the end of the "ultra-cheap credit age". The Times feels the move was right, but acknowledges it is a risk at a time when the British economy is experiencing sluggish growth and only moderate inflationary pressures. For Matthew Lynn, in the Daily Telegraph, it's too little, too late - but at least, he says, the Bank of England has finally summoned up the courage to act. The Financial Times, though, calls it a bad decision. There is no compelling reason, argues the FT, to increase the cost of borrowing, but there is definitely good cause to wait.
Daily digest
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Lookahead
Today The Royal British Legion launches a movement to say "Thank You" to the World War I generation - 100 years after the conflict ended 20:00 The English domestic football season kicks off
On this day
2003 The Anglican Church in the US votes to appoint its first openly gay bishop
From elsewhere
Reunited: An immigrant family tries to put their life back together (New Yorker)The new Illiberal International (New Statesman)How the UK plans to ensure 'Ethical AI'Marrying your holiday fling: It's not plain sailing but a happy ending is possible (Daily Telegraph)
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