The EU Is Mad At Apple, The EU’s Cabdrivers Are Mad At Uber and Nobody’s Mad At Expedia

An Apple a day isn’t keeping the EU away…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apple (AAPL), Starbucks and other major American corporations are being investigated by the European Commission for tax evasion. It’s only fair, after all, since the US started this whole tax evasion investigation business going after Swiss banks and their clients. It seems that some countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and even teeny tiny Luxembourg are very gracious to certain large corporations when it comes to how much they charge them in taxes. Apple apparently paid only about 2% on tens of billions of dollars in foreign income by putting that chunk of cash through a subsidiary in Ireland “with no declared tax residency.”  Yeesh. It sounds like the average US citizen pays a higher rate on his or her taxes than a company that just offered a seven to one split. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook swears that every dollar that was owed to Uncle Sam was duly handed over. Which brings us back to the United States and the whole big raging debate on how much corporations should be taxed and then what to do with that money. Enter the politicians and well…you can be sure nothing will get resolved.

Offensive driving?

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Speaking of Europe, our neighbors across the pond experienced some traffic issues today courtesy of cab drivers in London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin…While ride-sharing app Uber was busy getting a $1.2 billion investment infusion from multiple investors, cab drivers overseas were busy planning protests to show their lack of appreciation for this innovative technology. Cab drivers are a wee bit irritated over the service, arguing the app threatens their livelihood, is unregulated and unsafe. However, what makes it anymore unsafe than riding in a traditional cab is unclear. EU drivers also have to put up $270,000 to get a license. Uber drivers do not. Just to be certain their voices were heard, they took great pains to snarl traffic, block tourist centers and shopping districts and leave thousands of potential passengers stranded and frustrated.

A bit of excitement at Expedia…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You can now congratulate Expedia on being the largest (though not the only) travel website to officially accept bitcoin for hotel payments. It has teamed up with bitcoin payment processor Coinbase to help out with the virtual/crypto-currency which has had exchange rates from $395-$659. It joins a growing illustrious and industrious list of companies accepting bitcoin for a variety of goods and services, including trips to space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. You can start spending all those bitcoins at Expedia on Wednesday…assuming you have any.

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Spacing Out Thanks to the FAA, Will France Say Adieu to $10 Billion? True or False: $59 Fares

Cleared for liftoff…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sir Richard Branson and his impending fantastic space voyage are good to go as far as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is concerned. Virgin Galactic, co-owned by Branson and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments mapped out an agreement with the FAA over how the intergalactic adventure will work with US airspace. It hopes to launch its first flight on SpaceShipTwo by the end of 2014. Hundreds of people have already signed up for a flight that only sets them back about $250,000 – and is, of course, payable via super-cool and super un-regulated bitcoins.

Au revoir, BNP?

Image courtesy of 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

France’s biggest bank, BNP Paribas, is already in some tres hot water over violating US sanctions against unpleasant countries like Iran and Sudan. The Justice Department has been conducting its investigation for quite a while and feels the time has come for BNP Paribas to finally pay for its wrongdoings to the hefty sum of $10 billion. What’s so special about this figure, besides its enormity is that it would be the biggest fine ever imposed on a misbehaving bank –by fives times as much. BNP, however, feels it should only have to pay around $8 billion. But Attorney General Eric Holder has even bigger plans as he is eager to remind the banking industry that none of them are “too big to jail.” He wants to bar BNP from even trading assets ( or as it’s called on The Street, dollar clearing) besides throwing the responsible individuals into the less than illustrious ranks of the unemployed.

Southwest. Oops. They did it again. And Again…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Southwest was in a whole heap of trouble yesterday and had to pay some embarrassing and avoidable fines (hey, just like BNP will likely do, almost). The trouble began when Southwest posted $59 fares on its website flying from Atlanta to LA, Chicago and New York. Of course those fares were too good to be true. Would be travelers were told that those fares were not available and were a mistake and never meant to be part of the sale even though they were heavily advertised. Hmmm. The US Department of Transportation didn’t care for this show of false advertising and let them know it. Lucky, for the airline it only had to pony up $300,000 which is probably what it earns in the time it takes you to read this paragraph. Despite its questionable sales tactics, shares of the airline have gone up over 40% this year. Another hmmm.