Egypt: A Woman Singer Points To Lack of Freedom of Speech in Egypt – Banned From Performing In Egypt – by Samy Smagdy (AP) 23 March 2019

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian singer has been banned from performing in her home country after suggesting that it does not respect free speech.

A video clip circulated online shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, during a performance in Bahrain, saying: “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.”

Egypt’s Musicians Union responded late Friday by barring the singer, popularly known by her first name, from performing. It also summoned her for questioning.

Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint against the singer accusing her of “insulting Egypt and inviting suspicious rights groups to interfere in Egypt’s affairs.”

Last year, Sherine was sentenced to six months in prison over a similar clip from a concert in which she joked that the Nile is polluted. The sentence was suspended upon appeal. She apologized for the remark, calling it a “bad joke.”

The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of “The Voice,” apologized again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking.

“I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt,” she said.

Egyptian authorities have waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The local media is dominated by pro-government outlets that attack anyone seen as criticizing the country or its leaders, and several people have been jailed or fined for violating vaguely written laws outlawing such criticism.

Thousands of people have been jailed or forced to leave the country since el-Sissi came to power, mainly Islamists but also a large number of secular activists, politicians and artists.



Tesla Motors is accusing a former employee of stealing self-driving tech and giving it to a Chinese rival – by Sherisse Pham (CNN Business) 22 March 2019

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Tesla is accusing a former employee of stealing intellectual property worth hundreds of millions of dollars and sharing it with a Chinese rival.

The electric car maker filed a lawsuit in the United States on Thursday, alleging that engineer Guangzhi Cao stole key details from Tesla’s self-driving car project and took them to Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese electric vehicle startup. Elon Musk’s company is seeking damages and to stop Cao from using the information.
Tesla (TSLA) says Cao uploaded complete copies of the company’s self-driving source code to his personal Apple (AAPL) iCloud account. He took more than 300,000 files and
directories, according to a complaint filed in US District Court in California.
After accepting a job with Xiaopeng, Cao then deleted 120,000 files from his work computer and disconnected his iCloud account from it, the complaint says. He then repeatedly logged into Tesla’s networks and cleared his browser history before leaving Tesla in early January.
Cao now works at XMotors, Xiaopeng’s US subsidiary.
Xiaopeng said in a statement that it has started an internal investigation but is unaware of any alleged misconduct by Cao, adding that it did not ask him to “misappropriate trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information of Tesla.”
“XMotors fully respects any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information,” it said.
Cao could not immediately be reached for comment.
Xiaopeng started selling its electric SUV, the Xpeng G3, in December.

Chinese efforts to get hold of American companies’ tech secrets are a sensitive issue. It’s one of the main reasons cited by the Trump administration for launching a trade war with China last year.
The Tesla lawsuit is the second time in less than a year that someone hired by Xiaopeng has been accused of stealing self-driving trade secrets from a big US tech firm.
In July, engineer Xiaolang Zhang was arrested and charged with stealing trade secrets from Apple’s self-driving project. Xiaopeng said that no Apple-related information was transferred to the company, and that Zhang had been dismissed. Zhang has pleaded not guilty.
Xiaopeng has so far raised 100 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) from some of Asia’s biggest tech companies, including Alibaba (BABA), Foxconn (HNHPF) and Xiaomi. It started selling its first and only electric vehicle, the XPeng G3, in China in December. The SUV includes a self-driving feature called X-Pilot. Tesla’s self-driving feature is called Autopilot.
Tesla is accusing the Chinese company of blatant theft, saying in the complaint that it “has transparently imitated Tesla’s design, technology, and even its business model” and that XMotors currently employs at least five of Tesla’s former Autopilot employees, including Cao.
“Tesla believes Cao and his new employer, XMotors, will continue to have unfettered access to Tesla’s marquee technology, the product of more than five years’ work and … hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, which they have no legal right to possess,” the complaint says.
The Tesla Model X on display in Hong Kong. Tesla accuses a former employee of stealing self-driving tech and sharing it with Chinese rival Xiaopeng Motors.

The US company is suing Cao for punitive damages and seeking a court order to prevent him from retaining and using Tesla’s trade secrets and confidential information.
There’s a lot of Tesla already inside Xiaopeng’s car, according to Tu Le, founder of research firm Sino Auto Insights.
“The XPeng G3 is in a lot of ways a poor man’s Tesla Model X,” he said.

Uber Drivers Make $9.21 an Hour – by Michael Sainato (Guardian) 22 March 2019

‘I made $3.75 an hour’: Lyft and Uber drivers push to unionize for better pay

Drivers for the rideshare companies are seeing much of their pay go to expenses while Lyft and Uber prepare for their IPOs


‘There is no reason this job should be the fastest growing low-wage job in America,’ said Nicole Moore, who currently drives for Lyft.
‘There is no reason this job should be the fastest growing low-wage job in America,’ said Nicole Moore, who currently drives for Lyft. Photograph: Dan Tuffs/The Guardian

For over a year Rob Mead has worked as an Uber driver in Reno, Nevada, to supplement his income as a public sector worker. Now he’s wondering if it is worth it. “After gas, added monthly rideshare insurance, wear-and-tear, constant oil changes and taxes that $300 for 30 hours of work I thought I made in a week actually averages down to about $90 after expenses,” said Mead.

“A few weeks ago I drove four passengers in a one-hour period. I looked at my profits and I made only $12 It was snowing, traffic was crazy and I basically risked my life to make that $12. After expenses I made $3.75 that entire hour.”

Mead’s wages contrast sharply with the fortunes that the executives at the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are about to reap. This week Lyft started its investor roadshow as it prepares for its stock market listing. Lyft’s cofounders, Logan Green and John Zimmer, stand to make hundreds of millions from the sale, currently valued at $23bn. Uber plans to follow Lyft’s initial public offering (IPO) in April – a share sale estimated to be worth $125bn that will create a new generation of millionaires and billionaires from its executive class.

Both companies plan to use some of that money to develop autonomous vehicles – technology Lyft has conceded is likely to lead to the “loss of income to human drivers.

Uber and Lyft are planning to give some long-term drivers money to buy stock, granting them access to the hotly anticipated IPOs. But only a minority will be eligible and in the meantime drivers are organizing for better wages rather than bonuses.

“I’m not interested in what stingy package they’re going to offer,” said James Hicks, an Uber driver in Los Angeles for about four years. He has not heard anything from Uber regarding stock grants for drivers, but said he had recently had his pay slashed by the company. “You can’t tell me a billion-dollar company can’t afford to pay their drivers when all they really need to worry about is marketing and upkeep of the app.”

James Hicks, an Uber driver in Los Angeles for about four year: ‘You can’t tell me a billion-dollar company can’t afford to pay their drivers.’
James Hicks, an Uber driver in Los Angeles for about four year: ‘You can’t tell me a billion-dollar company can’t afford to pay their drivers.’ Photograph: Dan Tuffs/The Guardian

According to Uber, there are currently 900,000 active Uber drivers throughout the United States (and close to 3 million globally), many of whom have reported often making less than minimum wage and struggling to cover the expenses associated with driving.

A May 2018 report published by the Economic Policy Institute found the median wage for Uber drivers after expenses and fees is $9.21 an hour. The low pay and high expenses have resulted in high employee turnover. An April 2017 report found only 4% of Uber drivers continue driving for the rideshare company after one year on the job.

“If I didn’t owe so much on the car I bought just to do Uber I would stop driving for them,” said Baron Migs, who has worked in San Francisco, California, as a full-time Uber driver for three years. Uber recently changed the bonus scale for drivers, a move Migs said drastically reduced his pay. His Uber employee account has been hacked twice, and Migs spent several weeks without pay while the issue was sorted.

Efforts by drivers across the United States to organize and push for better working conditions and wages have been met with significant resistance from the companies.

“Transportation network drivers have no rights or protections on the job,” said Beverley Brakeman, the director of United Auto Workers (UAW) region 9A. The UAW is currently backing a bill in Connecticut to increase wages for rideshare drivers and protect them from retaliation for organizing to improve working conditions.

The companies have hired well-paid lobbyists to kill the bill, she said. “I’m confident the drivers will prevail as they advocate for a level playing field with other transportation workers and seek to make a living wage for their families.”

In 2015, Seattle became the first city to pass an ordinance to allow rideshare drivers to unionize, but it has faced ongoing legal challenges from Uber and the US Chamber of Commerce to invalidate the law.

“What we’ve seen is the combination of Uber and other corporate interests, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Trump administration in a sense ganging up on this effort to unionize,” said the Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, who was involved in passing the ordinance in 2015. “No matter what law we succeed in passing in city hall, we know Uber is not going to lie still. Obviously they will go after it yet again and again.”

Sawant said her office is focusing on meeting with and organizing Uber drivers to build a movement of rideshare workers similar to the one in New York City, where drivers have won several victories due to their organizing efforts.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union protest in support of Uber and Lyft drivers in New York on 27 September 2016.
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union protest in support of Uber and Lyft drivers in New York on 27 September 2016. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In January 2019, New York City enacted a $17.22 minimum wage after expenses for all rideshare drivers. The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents around 70,000 rideshare drivers in New York City, estimate the wage increase will boost the annual salaries of drivers by $9,600. The wage increase is the first in the US for rideshare drivers and comes in the wake of a July 2018 report commissioned by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission that found nearly 20% of rideshare drivers receive food stamps, 40% receive Medicaid and 16% have no health insurance.

“This raise is long overdue,” said Aziz Bah, a rideshare driver for five years currently working for Uber, Lyft and Juno. “Drivers are making more money and spending some of that time to work less and spend time with their families, so that makes a big difference.”

New York’s success has encouraged other drivers to act. In Los Angeles, 2,700 rideshare drivers are currently organizing themselves under Rideshare Drivers United to fight for higher wages, a grievance procedure against deactivation and for rideshare companies to recognize the union to negotiate with them on behalf of drivers.

“There is no reason this job should be the fastest-growing low-wage job in America,” said Nicole Moore, who has driven for Uber and currently for Lyft while organizing with Rideshare Drivers United. “Some days we’re lucky after expenses to make $8 an hour.”

She doesn’t expect the companies’ share sale to benefit drivers.

“Uber is getting ready for their IPO, they want to look really good for their investors, and are creating situations where people may be put on the street homeless because they can’t pay their rent,” added Moore. “That’s why we’re organizing.”


Hellas: Russian consulate in Athens Explosion ‘probably’ caused by hand grenade – Assailants on Motorbike – by Lefteris Papadimas (Reuters) 22 March 2019

Russian Consulate Athens

Attackers on a motorcycle threw an explosive device, possibly a hand grenade, at the Russian consulate in Athens early on Friday, police said.

“It was probably a hand grenade. No one was injured,” a police official told Reuters, adding that it was not a powerful explosion.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack on the consulate in the Athens suburb of Chalandri, where police cordoned off the area.

In 2016, a security guard was wounded in a similar incident at the French embassy in central Athens.

Small-scale attacks on businesses, police, politicians and embassies are frequent in Greece, with its long history of political violence

Russian Embassy Athens


US Congress’s Liberal Democratic “Mean Girls” Are Trump’s Offspring – by Peggy Noonan (WSJ) 21 March 2019

Omar and Ocasio-Cortez equate roughness with authenticity. So does the man they despise.

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar in Washington, Feb. 7.
Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar in Washington, Feb. 7 2019

We’re in a time of absorbed but subtle and not fully noticed shifts. Old-time liberals and conservatives seem to understand each other more deeply, more generously than they did in the past: In some new way they see the other’s basic political decency. On the other hand the parties they’ve been aligned with offer constant confusion and surprise.

I am not talking about ideology but something else, some kind of judgment. I look at Beto O’Rourke and see a handsome, glistening creature who is obviously eccentric and probably shallow. He once wrote a short story about murdering children. Ben Terris of the Washington Post had a striking piece this week in which he reports Mr. O’Rourke ate dirt for its “regenerative powers” after losing to Ted Cruz, has pranked his wife with “Psycho”-style scenes in the shower, and once placed his child’s feces in a bowl and told his wife it was an avocado. (Neither would confirm the stories but Mr. O’Rourke told Mr. Terris it sounded like him.)

And yet he raised a hearty $6 million in the 24 hours after his announcement for the presidency, and draws adoring crowds.

As the grandfather said at the end of “Moonstruck,” “I’m confused.”

In comparison no one seems to be talking about Elizabeth Warren. What I see there, for all the Pocahontas and DNA gaffes, is earnestness and seriousness of purpose. She was a progressive before progressivism was cool. She is absorbed by policy. She is an undervalued stock.

A basic fact of this presidential cycle: When Donald Trump walked through the door, he burst off the jambs and made the opening bigger and more jagged, forever. Now almost anyone can walk through.

A second fact is that the Democratic Party has been tugged dramatically to the left. But there is another dynamic this presidential campaign, and I will use Bernie Sanders to make the point.

I always thought that if he’d gotten his party’s nomination in 2016 he would have beaten Donald Trump. America was going left, he had been in Congress 25 years compared with Trump’s zero political experience, he was a new face and yet an old one, and not thought corrupt.

Mr. Sanders had something else, an unseen asset. In 2016 voters who wanted major change, who wanted greater economic equality or more-expansive programs, knew that if they hired Bernie Sanders he’d come in and push things in the direction they desired.

They also knew Republicans in Congress would push back. And because of that pushback nothing insane would happen. Things would tilt left but a Sanders administration would likely not be extreme because it would not be allowed to be.

Now that’s changed. Republicans lost the House and hold the Senate only closely, their power to push back is diminished. Voters know this. If a hard-line lefty were chosen as the nominee next year, extreme things would seem quite possible. Which will give a lot of voters pause.

The new lefties are a minority in the House but have become the face of the party, its brand. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is more famous than candidates for president. The left has the energy, the excitement, the media pull.

Readers know how I feel about the current political atmosphere. I decry the air of accusation on social media and in our broader political life, and the spirit of the struggle sessions of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Last weekend there was the video of a pregnant Chelsea Clinton being accosted by a New York University student who screamed at her and waved her finger in her face. It reminded me of a struggle session, but the student herself, in her certitude, self-righteousness and chic, also reminded me of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her friends in Congress.

In less than three months in office they have established a new mood, an approach to national politics that is combative, angry, polarizing. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota surely meant to oppose U.S. policy toward Israel but somehow couldn’t quite manage to do it without being obviously anti-Semitic—“Israel has hypnotized the world,” “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She implied that members of the US congress, both Democrats and Republicans, put the interests of Israel before the interests of the United States because of Jewish campaign financial contributions.   It caused an uproar, she apologized, but it seems never to have occurred to her that you can’t talk about your fellow Americans that way. Or that she is a public figure and has to actually model admirable behavior.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is quick—quicker—to aggression. Her default position, behind the smiles and hugs and warmth and dancing, is the pointed, accusatory finger. From just the past two weeks: The New Deal was “an extremely economically racist policy,” Ronald Reagan “pitted white working-class Americans against brown and black working Americans in order to just screw over all working-class Americans,” so he too was racist. Pretty much everyone on the political scene was racist until Ms. Ocasio-Cortez arrived.

I am not talking about mere comportment, and none of this is a misfortune of temperament. It is a strategy and it is working. Polarization yields prominence. They equate peacefulness with complacency. Politico’s Tim Alberta spoke with Ms. Omar this week. “I am certainly not looking to be comfortable, and I don’t want everyone necessarily to feel comfortable around me,” she said. “I think really the most exciting things happen when people are extremely uncomfortable.”

I’m sure she’ll do what she can to keep things exciting.

As for the imitators of the new style, they are making category errors. Courtesy, for instance, is not cowardice. It is not shrinking from real truths or their bracing expression. Courtesy is simply an act of public or private respect that comes from self-discipline, and self-discipline is not boring and antique, it’s a heroic little item that helps civilization to continue.

There is always a great temptation among the young in politics, and especially of the left, to see common respect as an admission of insincerity in opposing injustice. If you were sincere you’d be passionate—fierce and rude. They see courtesy as acceding to bourgeois political norms, when they are certain the bourgeoise established those norms so they’d never be called out and forced to admit their culpability.

They believe that to be enraged is to demonstrate seriousness. It is to show that you understand the urgency of the moment, even if others don’t. To behave in a way that shows respect for the humanity of others is to concede too much. After all, if they were truly human they’d be just as enraged as you are.

You must be crude to show the authenticity of your contempt for injustice. A gentle word is a useless word. But in reality you can’t have justice without mercy, it doesn’t work.

I think we all know where this started, the political brutishness, the ignoring of traditions and norms. Donald Trump is both origin and rationale.

The mean girls of Congress have learned at his knee. They have taken their tactics from him. They claim to be his reluctant imitators but I think they admire his ferocity. They have a taste for it, and a talent.

They are good at being the thing they supposedly despise. They are not the antidote to the current brutality but an iteration of it.

They are his natural children.

US: New data shows more than half of young people don’t have a romantic partner – by Lisa Bonos and Emily Guskin (BezoWaPo) 21 March 2019

Austin Spivey, a 24-year-old woman in Washington, has been looking for a relationship for years. She’s been on several dating apps – OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Tinder, Bumble. She’s on a volleyball team, where she has a chance to meet people with similar interests in a casual setting. She’s even let The Washington Post set her up.

“I’m a very optimistic dater,” Spivey says, adding that she’s “always energetic to keep trying.” But it can get a little frustrating, she adds, when she’s talking to someone on a dating app and they disappear mid-conversation. (She’s vanished too, she admits.)

Spivey has a lot of company in her frustration, and in her singledom. Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 – 51 percent of them – said they do not have a steady romantic partner, according to data from the General Social Survey released this week. That 2018 figure is up significantly from 33 percent in 2004 – the lowest figure since the question was first asked in 1986 – and up slightly from 45 percent in 2016. The shift has helped drive singledom to a record high among the overall public, among whom 35 percent say they have no steady partner, but only up slightly from 33 percent in 2016 and 2014.

There are several other trends that go along with the increase in young single Americans. Women are having fewer children, and they’re having them later in life. The median age of first marriage is increasing. And according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, among those who have never married but are open to it, most say a major reason is because they haven’t found the right person.

Of course, not everyone who’s under 35 and single is looking to change that. Caitlin Phillips, a 22-year-old student at the University of Georgia, is open to love if it walked into her life, but she’s not actively looking for it. “I’m too busy, honestly. I travel a lot and I have a great group of friends that I hang out with,” Phillips said in a phone interview, adding that she’s working in addition to studying for a degree in journalism.

Ford Torney, a 26-year-old man in Baltimore, does want a steady partner – he just hasn’t found the right connection yet. Torney says he occasionally feels isolated in his social circle, because most of his friends are married or in serious relationships. He has to remind himself, he says, “that most people my age aren’t married, and I just have an outlier in terms of my social group.” Among his guy friends who are single and around his age, most of them aren’t looking for relationships, he says.

The GSS survey reflects similar trends from the federal Current Population Survey as analyzed by the Pew Research Center. The CPS data asked about living with a spouse or partner as opposed to simply having one. The Pew analysis found 42 percent of American adults who did not live with a spouse or partner in 2017, up from 39 percent in 2007. It also found an increase in the share of adults under 35 who didn’t live with a spouse or partner over that period, from 56 percent to 61 percent.

According to the General Social Survey data, 41 percent of Democrats are without a steady partner, compared with only 29 percent of Republicans. Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to not have a steady partner: 51 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively.

The share of non-partnered Americans is also higher among those unemployed – 54 percent, up from 44 percent in 2016. Just under a third – 32 percent – of employed adults don’t have a steady partner.

The General Social Survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago using in-person interviews of a random national sample of 2,348 adults from April 12 to Nov. 10, 2018. Results on the partner question is based on a subsample of 1,181 interviews and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Laura Lane, co-host of the podcast “This Is Why You’re Single” and co-author of a book by the same name, says in an interview that her brother and his girlfriend got together when he was looking for a job and living with his parents. But Lane has also seen unemployment affecting a person’s confidence and, in turn, torpedoing their efforts to find a steady partner. In her early 20s, she dated someone who had recently finished graduate school and was wondering what he was going to do with his life. “He was very much struggling with his sense of self,” Lane recalls, and as a result their budding connection didn’t turn into something solid. “Now he has a start-up and is doing great.”

Lane says a lot of people who write in to her podcast looking for love advice are unhappy with their lives – and they think another person will fix that. “You really have to find that yourself,” she says, adding that nothing really clicked, romantically, for her or for her co-host Angela Spera “until we had something personally exciting that we were doing. I think it was an energetic thing where we attracted people into our lives.”

They’re both in happy relationships now.

New Zealand Bookseller Bans Canadian Liberal Academic Jordan Peterson’s Book ’12 Rules For Life’ Because Fan Wore Islamizationphobic T-Shirt – by Daniel Rutledge (NZ Newshub) 22 March 2019

Jordan Peterson line drawing
(Jordan Peterson graphic) 

A Jordan Peterson book is no longer for sale from Whitcoulls in New Zealand following the Christchurch terror attack.

Jordan Peterson book covers

The controversial Canadian professor visited Aotearoa in February, weeks before a gunman killed 50 people and injured dozens more at two mosques in Christchurch.

Jordan Peterson 12 in

Although Peterson’s book promotes self-help rather than violence or racism, he was photographed in New Zealand embracing a fan wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “I’m a proud Islamaphobe”, along with a list of various inflammatory accusations about Muslims.

Jordan Peterson 12 Rule text 2


Whitcoulls doesn’t specify the exact reason for dumping Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, but the Islamaphobe T-shirt photo could be a part of the “disturbing material” referred to in replies to customer enquiries.

“Unfortunately 12 Rules for Life is currently unavailable, which is a decision that Whitcoulls has made in light of some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during and after the Christchurch attacks,” Whitcoulls says in an email.


“As a business which takes our responsibilities to our communities very seriously, we believe it would be wrong to support the author at this time. Apologies that we’re not able to sell it to you, but we appreciate your understanding.”

Whitcoulls has been approached for further comment.

ACT Party leader David Seymour told Newshub he isn’t impressed.

“You don’t fight neo-Nazism by suppressing reading and books. Anyone who knows any history knows that’s the opposite of how you fight these kind of ideas,” said Seymour.  “A self-help book is an incredibly strange thing to suppress. I think Whitcoulls have made the wrong decision, but I respect they’re a private company, it’s their right”.

Searches for ’12 Rules for Life’ and ‘Jordan Peterson’ both currently return no results on Whitcoulls’ New Zealand website. When Newshub phoned Whitcoulls shops to ask if they had copies of the book in stock, we were told it’s “unavailable”.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos does not contain the word ‘Islam’ and only contains the word ‘Muslim’ once, but not in a negative context.

The Islamic holy book the Koran is still available at Whicoulls.

Koran Quotes 33

Koran quotes

Meanwhile, other titles about Islam, and the Koran, are still available – including Islam Unmasked by Henry Malone, which claims to expose “the lies behind [Islamic] doctrines” and “the futility of [Islamic] practices”.

Koran quotes 2

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is also still available for purchase from Whitcoulls.

Newshub. –



Whitcoulls is one of New Zealand’s oldest companies, and was one of the first to be registered under the Companies Act 1882.

It began in 1882 in Cashel St, Christchurch, as a partnership between bookseller George Whitcombe and printer George Tombs. Whitcombe and Tombs dominated publishing in NZ for decades and became the Southern Hemisphere’s largest educational publisher.

In 1971, it merged with Dunedin office supplies company Coulls Somerville Wilkie.

It was renamed Whitcoulls in 1973 and shifted its focus to retailing.

The chain has had a string of high-profile owners over the past three decades, including Ron Brierley’s Brierley Investments, Graeme Hart’s Rank Group, Eric Watson’s Blue Star Group, British bookseller WH Smith, and finally Australian private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners.

1991: Rank Group pays Brierley Investments $71 million for a majority stake in Whitcoulls, moving to a full buy-out in 1996. It also buys Australian chain Angus & Robertson.

1996: Blue Star pays $320 million for both chains.

2001: Both chains are bought by WH Smith for $126 million.

2004: PEP buys both chains for $135 million; adds Australian newsagency chain Supanews, plus 32 Borders stores in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, as well as the Calendar Club chain, which sells calendars in malls over the Christmas period.

2011 – New administrators are brought in to close stores and trim staff as business slows down in bookselling.