Apple Agrees to Pay €318m in Italy Tax Fraud Case

Apple’s behaviour in regards to tax avoidance has alerted the Italian authorities due to irregularities in their tax bill which led to a thorough investigation. In a similar vein to other multinational corporations, Apple has been accused of engaging in complicated measures to avoid paying tax which they have a legal right to pay. Of course, Apple isn’t the only company employing such unscrupulous activities as this is a common theme across numerous big businesses. According to La Repubblica and translated by the BBC, Apple failed to pay €880m in tax between 2008 and 2013.

This is just another example of Apple’s strategy, as the company has been “parking” revenues in Ireland which has a significantly lower tax rate (12.5%) than the USA and Italy. Italian investigators found evidence of wrongdoing and a massive gap between the company’s revenue and taxation. Shockingly, Apple’s revenue exceeded €1bn between 2008 and 2013 but only paid a mere €30m in tax. In lieu of the strong evidence, Apple’s Italian division has agreed to settle for €318m in court and avoid any further legal proceedings. This demonstrates that Apple is admitting the error of their ways and knows that they didn’t pay the correct amount of tax. Hopefully, this sends a clear message to other companies as well as Apple to stop trying to avoid paying tax in the future.

PayPal’s One Touch Feature Expands to Other Non-US Markets

PayPal introduced the One Touch feature last year when it first rolled out to mobile devices in the US. Retailers who already had a PayPal payment feature could switch automatically and allow customers to make payments without the need of entering their passwords again. This was ideal for people who wanted to quickly check out their products, but it was available just for mobile.

A month ago, PayPal launched the feature for the web in the US. This meant that you could log into a website, place everything you wanted in your basket and then quickly make a PayPal One Touch check-out. While no official stats have been disclosed, the feature seems to be so popular that PayPal now wants to make it available in other markets too.

The company said that it will make their One Touch feature for web available for Canada and the UK at first, but more countries are on the list. The mobile version is said to also be live in Australia, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain, with more countries being considered for the near future.

The move also comes after Apple announced that it is expanding the Apple Pay feature to the UK, so it’s likely that PayPal wants to join its service with Apple’s own payment feature once it gets released in other countries. Still, I think we will have to wait a bit longer for people to actually get comfortable with paying in stores with their iPhones.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Android Trade-in Program Launches Today at Apple Retail Stores

Today Apple is launching a trade-in program for select non-iPhone smartphones at its Apple Retail Store locations. The program will allow credit towards an immediate purchase of a new iPhone model for users who trade in their select Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry phones.

Apple is aiming to drive more business from people who will trade in their current working devices to get something better. The standard Apple iPhone trade-in program was first started in 2013 and last year opened up to include iPads. Now the program is accepting select Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices for in-store credit to users immediately buying an iPhone. The program is so far only available in the US, France, Italy, and the UK.  You can check if your store has the program on its individual store page. The online Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is now open for users to trade in a Windows notebook or desktop for an Apple Store gift card.

Source: 9to5 Mac

WhatsApp Involved in Almost Half of All Italian Divorces

A new article by GlobalPost says that nearly half of all divorce proceedings in Italy refer to WhatsApp.

The Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers told the publication that WhatsApp is cited more so than any other source of information that acts as the cause of a divorce. They say that partners more than often find evidence of infidelity via snooping on their other half’s sent and received messages in the app.

“No one is saying WhatsApp is the cause of the divorces,” says Gian Ettore Gassani, president of the Matrimonial Lawyers group. “The leading cause is infidelity, but WhatsApp is now the most common way for one partner to discover infidelity in the other.”

Interestingly, they also say that men more so than women are the ones that get caught out due to WhatsApp, as females are more quick to delete sensitive messages than males.

“Men are most likely to save messages or photos from lovers they can go back to,” Gassani says. “Women are more likely to take one look and then delete.”

The article is an interesting look into the blend of traditional Italian attitudes towards infidelity with modern communication technology.

Source: GlobalPost

Gold iPhone Being Sold with Vladimir Putin’s Face, Costs only $4,300

Gold smarphones have been a trend targeting people who afford them. From iPhones to HTCs and others, gold smartphones are being released by different luxurious manufacturers in limited quantities. Italian manufacturer Caviar/Perla Penna however released an ‘interesting’ iPhone 5s design, having Vladimir Putin’s face on it.

The iPhone 5s is said to be encrusted in 18-karat-gold, featuring a hand-engraved portrait of Putin alongside the first lines of the Russian national anthem and the Russian coat of arms. The selling price for such a luxurious piece of work is set at $4,300 and is targeting “people of the highest circle” as the company stated.

“President Vladimir Putin has become a symbol of a new generation, strong-willed and a decisive leader,” the company’s description of the phone reads, according to Google Translate. “Caviar jewelers chose him as among the most important figures of our time.”

It is said that Putin now has joined the ranks of notable figures found on Caviar phones, including Muhammad Ali and Leonardo da Vinci. In addition to the latter, The Moscow Times reports that Russian approval of Putin has been skyrocketing since the annexation of Crimea, having patriotic accessories with the president’s face on them increasing in sales.

Giving that the first diamond-and-gold iPhone released back in 2013, priced at $15 million, sold in less than a few weeks, it makes sense for Caviar to release such a personalised iPhone available for Russia’s “higher circle”.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Mashable

GameStop Italy Bundles Condoms & RedBull With inFamous As Pre-Order Bonus

inFamous: Second Son’s is living up to its reputation as the Italian side of the GameStop family award the title a pre-order bonus that could gain some infamy of its own. Those pre-ordering the title will find that it comes bundled along side glow-in-the-dark condoms and Red Bull… and we have no idea why.

Sucker Punch’s upcoming action game is hotly tipped to be one of this year biggest sellers, the hype has been building for a long time for this one and I’m sure people will be pre-ordering into some pretty significant numbers, eager to get the game on day one. Just so happens they’ll also be walking out of the store with two cans of energy drink and a pack of glowing condoms too.

“A fill of energy for an explosion of pleasure! Enjoy your power!” reads the pre-order bundle packaging (see above).

It seems like a completely random bundle of stuff with this pre-order bonus, and as far as a promotion goes it seems a little strange, or at least it would seem strange if it wasn’t for the fact that their latest marketing stunt is working… you’re reading about it after all. I’m not sure it’ll actually boost pre-order figures though.

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Eurogamer.

Latin American Nations Withdraw Ambassadors From Europe After Jet Incident

Russia Today reports that the backlash against Europe after the Bolivian Jet incident is now growing in Latin America. After having a serious emergency meeting already four countries have now decided to withdraw their ambassadors from European nations involved in the incident.

Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay will all withdraw their ambassadors from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy in retaliation against their decision to block airspace for Bolivian president Evo Morales and his state jet – pictured above.

Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, stated that:

“We’ve taken a number of actions in order to compel public explanations and apologies from the European nations that assaulted our brother Evo Morales”

Both the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) and trade-bloc Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur) have condemned the actions of Europe as imperialist and neo-colonialist. This entire diplomatic spat has emerged from the belief that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard the Bolivian State Jet. Since then the situation has escalated with the majority of Latin America condemning Western Europe and the USA, and many Latin American nations offering Edward Snowden asylum in protest.

Image courtesy of AFP Photo/Patrick Domingo

Turkish Hackers Claim To Have Leaked 40,000 Sony Italy Account Details

According to “Maxney” on Twitter, a member of the Turkish Ajan hacking group, Sony Italy has been breached revealing the details and passwords of 40,000 customers. What’s worrying is that these passwords are plain text meaning that they are not encrypted and can be easily read by anyone.

The information, stolen from web.sony.it, includes account names, usernames, addresses, dates of births, plain text passwords and many more details. The hackers posted the details online onto SpeedyShare but the file has since been removed. Though it was probably online long enough for enough people to get their hands on it and start distributing it to criminal organisations and forums.

So a word of warning to all our Italian based readers – if you were a Sony Italy customer and you use the same password with the same email for any other service then change your passwords immediately as you are at great risk. As far as Sony is concerned the lack of security is just amateur, passwords should never be left unencrypted when there are so many details at stake here. It is not the first time Sony has had security breaches, in the UK they were fined after a huge breach of the PlayStation Network.

Image courtesy of Turkish Ajan

Latin American Countries Host Emergency Meeting, Condemn The USA

The Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the incident in which Bolivia’s President Evo Morales had his plane forcibly grounded amid suspicions NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard. The incident triggered outrage from many Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador while other nations attended to show their support for the conclusion of the UNASUR meeting. Colombia, Chile and Peru all have very strong ties with the USA and thus did not attend but expressed their solidarity with Bolivia.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro stated that “Violation of international law against Evo Morales is against all of us” while Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa said “We are here to support Bolivia”. Bolivia had much strong words to say calling the incident a “flagrant violation of international treaties” and demanded an apology from all involved parties. Furthermore, Evo Morales of Bolivia threatened to shut down the U.S embassy in his country. 

Of the denounced nations (The USA, Spain, Italy, France and Portugal) only Spain have responded stating “Spain doesn’t have to ask pardon in anyway because its airspace was never closed“. Some big rhetoric is now going down in Latin American with the USA and who knowes we might see Edward Snowden granted asylum as a political weapon against the USA.

Image courtesy of UNASUR

Snowden’s Asylum Options: 1 Withdrawn 10 Rejected 10 Pending

According to reports by RT.com Snowden’s options for political asylum are rapidly evaporating. The NSA whistleblower has withdrawn his application for Asylum to Russia after they told him he could only have asylum if he stopped “damaging” the USA, a condition he was not prepared to agree to. Furthermore Finland, Brazil, Poland, India and Germany all rejected his asylum claim outright stating they were not willing to accept him. Spain, Norway, Italy, Ecuador and Austria also rejected Snowden’s asylum request on the grounds that he had to be already inside the country for it to be processed. These rejections bring the total numbers of rejections to 10, and with the single withdrawal, 11 of Snowden’s options have already been vaporised.

So what options are left for the NSA whistleblower? Well he still has Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Switzerland and Venezuela left to reply. Of those ten remaining options China says it is not aware of the request and France has denied ever receiving such an Asylum request and since they also recently blocked a Bolivian Jet from flying through their airspace because of suspicions that Edward Snowden was onboard it could easily turn out that France will reject the request too.

As of writing the most likely nations to accept seem to be Venezuela and Bolivia after they both expressed anti-USA sentiments and stated their willingness to protect Snowden.

Image courtesy of the Guardian

Bolivian Jet Grounded Over Claims Snowden Is Onboard, UN Complaint Ensues

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales was flying back from Russia where he was attending an energy summit when his plane was forced to land in Austria. The reason? Italy, France, Spain and Portugal had all refused to allow his jet to pass through their airspace on the justification that they believed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard. After being forced to land in Vienna Austria the plane was searched by Austrian officials and it was revealed that Edward Snowden was not on the plane. Furthermore Evo Morales strongly refuted such claims stating that these were rumours made up by the U.S government. Additionally other Latin American leaders are furious over the whole situation stating Evo Morales was “kidnapped by imperalism”.

Bolivia’s UN Envoy is now stepping in to file complaints against the USA, Austria, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain describing the event as “An act of aggression and violation of international law” as the USA desperately tries to bring Edward Snowden into their custody. Bolivia’s UN Envoy member Sacha Llorrentty Soliz told press in New York that the decision to search the plane almost definitely originated in the USA. With Bolivia and Venezuela both pledging their support to Edward Snowden in recent times it is likely the U.S government will try and do anything against them to stop Edward Snowden reaching their territories.

Image courtesy of AFP Photo/Patrick Domingo

Snowden Releases List Of Countries Contacted For Political Asylum Requests

While it is now relatively common knowledge that the famous internet surveillance NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, it hasn’t been well documented where he was seeking political asylum up until now. We’ve known he has been in talks with Ecuador, but with that starting to unfold who else has he been trying to seek political asylum with? Well surprisingly his options aren’t as limited as you might think. According to an official statement made by the whistleblower organisation WikiLeaks Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in the following nation-states:

  • Austria
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • The Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russia (where he is situated now)
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Venezuela

Surprisingly, Ecuador is now off the list after President Correa seems to be bowing to American pressure. He has gone from pledging his support to Snowden at all costs to saying that he now offered Snowden help “by mistake”. It is also worth noting that Russia have also refused to offer Edward Snowden political asylum unless he stops releasing documents that are harming the USA.

Edward Snowden is currently seeking asylum on the grounds of persecution risk if he is forced to return back to the USA.

We will be sure to keep you updated with how this goes for Edward Snowden. He is easily becoming one of the most important figures of our generation.

Image courtesy of the Guardian