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Britons in Europe: How have you been affected by the drop in the value of the pound?

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.



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Alec Baldwin: ‘Rust’ case arrives in court with trial against armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed | Culture

Two years and four months after the death of Halyna Hutchins, someone is finally sitting in the dock. On Wednesday, the first trial began after the cinematographer was accidentally shot while filming the movie Rust on October 21, 2021. That day, a real bullet was shot from a revolver held by Alec Baldwin, killing Hutchins and injuring Joel Souza, the director of the independent western. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the person in charge of the production’s armory who loaded the gun, will be the first to respond to the accusations made by New Mexico prosecutors in a trial that will extend until March 6.

On Wednesday, the trial in Santa Fe began with the process of selecting the 12 jurors who will decide whether Gutierrez-Reed was accountable for Hutchins’ death. The weapons supervisor was 24 years old when the accident occurred. She has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and another of tampering with evidence. Gutierrez Reed has pleaded not guilty. If she is found guilty, the armorer could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The trial against Alec Baldwin was set for August, but has been rescheduled following a judge reassignment.

For the jury selection process, the defense and the prosecution interviewed a pool of 70 residents from the Santa Fe area. It was a difficult process, as the lawyers sought to find people who had not been exposed to the intense media coverage surrounding the case. According to AP, the lawyers interviewed non-English speakers, a welder, a teacher, a graduate student and a mother who provides for six children. Sixteen jurors — including four alternates — were sworn in for trial.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense team intends to argue that their client — one of the youngest and least powerful people on set — has been used as a scapegoat. Rust was only the second film the armorer had worked on. Gutierrez-Reed started in the industry in August 2021 with a western in Montana starring Nicolas Cage. However, her family is no stranger to the industry. Gutierrez-Reed’s stepfather is Thell Reed, an experienced Hollywood firearms consultant who worked on major productions such as L.A. Confidential, Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma.

The defendant’s lawyers will seek to blame the film’s producers, including Baldwin, for the poor security measures on set, which was located on a Bonanza Creek ranch. On the day of the accident, the Rust camera crew had walked off the set to protest the poor safety conditions. Gutierrez-Reed admits to loading the .45 Colt revolver that killed Hutchins. However, her lawyers claim that she tried to get David Halls, first assistant director, to check the weapon before the rehearsal where the fateful accident took place. In a December 2022 deposition, Gutierrez-Reed said that Halls had said there was “no time” to do the weapons check.

Halls, another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty to one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months probation as part of a plea deal.

New Mexico prosecutors have other plans for the armorer. They intend to paint an unflattering profile of Gutierrez-Reed in court: that of a careless employee who may have been working under the influence of drugs. She is charged with evidence tampering for allegedly handing off drugs to another person on the day of the on-set shooting.

In the next two weeks, about 40 people will come to court to give testimony. This list of witnesses includes the police officers who found six real bullets among prop projectiles. These were found in boxes, on a belt and a shoulder bag that were part of Baldwin’s wardrobe. Authorities believe that one of the armorer’s responsibilities was to have differentiated between dummy rounds and real bullets.

The producers of the film were fined $100,000 by the government of New Mexico for failures in security protocols. The body in charge of workplace and occupational safety wrote a report claiming that those responsible for the film did not make any changes following a series of earlier accidents, where weapons had been fired due to carelessness.

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Yorkshire Ripper: ‘The Long Shadow’, the story of a serial killer | Culture

The Long Shadow is an excellent British series, and its viewers would do well to keep in the mind the decade in which its plot takes place. During the 1970s, London was experiencing a liberating social and culture shake-up, while in Yorkshire County, police were trying to arrest a serial murderer who targeted women. Complicated times, in which economic crisis and unemployment forced some housewives to turn to sex work to be able to feed their family. This was the demographic from which the so-called “Yorkshire Ripper” initially chose his victims.

Largely avoiding special effects and any morbid fixation, the sobering series, which can be seen on Amazon Prime and ITVX, makes use of remarkable locations and wardrobe from the aforementioned decade. To them, it adds an important take on the deep-rooted machismo that characterized the vast majority of the police officers who were involved in the long-lasting investigation. The cops display intolerable contempt towards women in general, and their female colleagues in particular. And before we satisfy ourselves by thinking that such relatively recent bias is a British thing, consider the fact that it wasn’t until 1974, when the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, that women’s right to open their own bank account without a signature from their husband was recognized in the United States. Not to mention, that there was no national plan to combat gender-based violence until just last year.

Peter Sutcliffe murdered a total of 13 women in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, and it took five years for police to identify and arrest the assassin. In the series, investigators are played by heavyweight British actors like Toby Jones and David Morrissey, the latter in the role of George Olfield, who was the head of the police operation for the majority of those years, and who was highly criticized for his fixation on following clues that went nowhere. Special mention should be made of the splendid self-criticism exhibited in the seven episodes of The Long Shadow, which was written by George Kay and directed by Lewis Arnold, an apt account of the events that caused the very foundations of British society to tremble.

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‘The Bill Gates Problem’ – The Case Against World’s Richest Man

The Case Against World’s Richest Man

When Clinton assumed the presidency of the United States, there was eager anticipation from the Chinese, not for Clinton himself, but for Bill Gates. This was during the late 1990s, a period when the internet was still in its nascent stages, and the digital boom of the early 2000s had not yet reached its peak. The enigmatic persona that captivated the attention of the burgeoning Asian powerhouse is now portrayed in “The Bill Gates Problem” as a “domineering, brusque figure” whose demeanor is likened to “a cauldron of passions that freely erupts.” According to a former employee cited in the book, Gates was perceived as “a complete and utter jerk to people 70% of the time,” while the remaining 30% saw him as a “harmless, enjoyable, exceptionally intelligent nerd.”

The 1990s were also the decade of the conflict between Microsoft and the now defunct Netscape browser, which challenged what was already being openly described as the former’s monopolistic practices. Gates was investigated and accused in Congress for such practices; he ultimately won the battle, but the case harmed his reputation, and in 2000 he resigned as CEO of his company. From there he undertook an expansion of the foundation that he had established with his wife and to which he has dedicated his main efforts in the last two decades. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

With a personal fortune of $100 billion and tens of billions more in his private foundation, Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for decades, and the foundation has been the most generous organization of its kind, specializing above all in health aid, education and child nutrition, with a large presence in Africa and India among other regions of what was formerly known as the Third World. Tim Schwab, a contributor to the weekly left-wing newspaper The Nation, undertook a detailed investigation to denounce something that in truth was already known: that American foundations are largely a way for billionaires to avoid taxes.

To prove this, he thoroughly looked into the accounts and procedures of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the failures and occasional successes of its philanthropic policies, and came to the conclusion that behind this facade of help to the needy hides an operation of power. He is ruthless in his criticism, although accurate in his analysis of the growing inequality in the world. Absorbed by the revolutionary rhetoric, he laments that the Gates Foundation has remained “deadly silent” regarding movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which demand social change in the face of the “excess wealth and ‘white savior’ mentality that drives Bill Gates’ philanthropic work.” He does attribute some good intentions, but his criticism is merciless, sometimes even coarse, while the absence of solutions for the problems he denounces — other than the calls for do-goodism — is frustrating.

His abilities as an investigative journalist are thus overshadowed by a somewhat naive militancy against the creative capitalism that Gates promotes and an evident intention to discredit not only his work but, above all, him. The demands he makes for transparency and the accusations of obscurity are dulled by the author himself in the pages he dedicates to Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the famous corruptor of minors at the service of the international jet set. Gates has explained his meetings and interviews with him on countless occasions, and in no case has any type of relationship, other than their commercial relations or some confusing efforts to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, been proved. Still, Schwab raises, with no evidence whatsoever, the possibility that their relationship “could have had something to do with Epstein’s principal activities in life: sexual gratification and the exercise of power.” The book is full of this kind of opinions and speculations, to the detriment of a more serious analysis of Gates’ mistakes in the management of his foundation, the problems of shielding the intellectual property of vaccines in the hands of the pharmaceutical industries and, ultimately, the objective power that big technology companies have in global society.

He signed a collaboration agreement with the RAE to improve Microsoft’s grammar checker and was interested in the substantial unity of the Spanish language in all the countries where almost 600 million people speak it. That man was very far from the sexist, arrogant, miserable predator that Schwab portrays. Nor did we deduce — and this can be applied to the personal adventure of Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — that his life’s goal was world domination, as suggested by this book. If they have achieved it, or may achieve it, it is due to the dynamics of digital civilization and the objective difficulties in governing it. The deregulation of financial capitalism, which has increased inequality among humankind, is due to the incompetence of obsolete political institutions and to leaders who care more about their own fates than those of their people. The criticism against “lame and wasteful government bureaucracies” might be part of the propaganda promoted by the world’s wealthy, but lately we have also heard it from small-scale farmers across Europe.

In conclusion, we found the book to be more entertaining than interesting. It provides a lot of information — we’re not sure if it’s entirely verified — and plenty of cheap ideology. Above all, one can see the personal crusade of the author, determined to prove that Bill Gates is a problem for democracy and that millionaire philanthropists are a bunch of swindlers. The world needs their money; maybe managed by party bureaucracies, that much is not clear. Bill Gates’ money, that is, but not Bill Gates himself.


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