Calais To Lampedusa, And Back Again

Following weeks of planning, the operation finally began this morning before daybreak: It was time to dismantle the infamous Calais “Jungle.” Again. The Jungle is home to an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 migrants, most of them are young men from Africa and the Middle East, living in squalid conditions who wish to cross the Channel to the UK. Buses started to leave Calais this morning, transporting the migrants to refugee centers scattered across France. Britain, meanwhile, has agreed to take in part of the 1,300 unaccompanied minors from the camp.

But many are already suggesting that the move, which required some 1,250 French police, will do little to solve a situation that often seems Sisyphean. Opponents in France say the move is too little, too late, and have denounced the distribution of the migrants across the country, which in various cases has been the subject of protests in towns and villages.

This isn’t the first time the Jungle has been dismantled. Another attempt happened earlier this year, but the very first operation of this kind took place back in 2002. Though Europe’s migration crisis has made for major worldwide headlines the past two years, the issue is hardly new. And Clare Moseley, the British founder of Care4Calais, says it won’t be different this time around: “I think people will still come. With refugees, deterrents don’t matter because a refugee by definition is fleeing something,” The Guardian quoted her as saying. “In February, they demolished over half of the camp and yet here we are seven months later, with a camp bigger than it’s ever been.”

Whether it is permanently eliminated or rises again, Calais is no doubt destined to be a symbol of the desperation and intractability of these mass movements of people. The same could be said for another emblematic location, the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa. According to La Stampa, Italian coast guard boats rescued 4,292 migrants who were trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, in various operations over the past day. Eighteen people died.



The Turkish air force carried out airstrikes against ISIS positions around Mosul yesterday, after Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters requested their assistance, Al Jazeera reports. The anti-ISIS coalition is now reported just three miles from the city.


An EU ultimatum for Belgium’s federal government to secure Wallonia’s backing of a proposed EU-Canada trade deal expires late today with little chance of a change. Paul Magnette, the leader of the Wallonia region which is blocking the deal, rejected the ultimatum yesterday and said that such an approach “is not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights.”


The United Nations was founded on this day 71 years ago. But there’s more, in your 57-second shot of history.


Spain’s caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will be able to form a minority government, after his Socialist rivals decided yesterday not to block him and his Popular Party from a second term in office, El País reports. The decision puts an end to 10 months of a political stalemate and removes the prospect of a third general election in less than a year.


Nobody expects parents to be 100% available for their children, all the time. But with the rise of smartphones and tablets, German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Werner Bartens asks if the internet is bad for your parenting skills. “Parents ... say they feel overwhelmed by the information overload, that they’re under constant pressure to spend time at work and with their children, and cultivate a social life as well.

Parents also described how mobile communication influences their mood. If bad news concerning work trickles in, the parent gets annoyed and starts focusing on his or her phone screen. Children increasingly try to attract the parent’s attention, which may prompt the parents â€" even more annoyed â€" start yelling at them.”

Read the full article, Parenting In Our Digital Age, Kids Suffer From Your Distraction.


Hanjin Shipping, one of the world’s largest container carriers, announced today it would soon close its European business, in what The Wall Street Journal says is “the latest sign that the troubled company is heading toward liquidation.” The South Korean company’s shares plunged after the announcement.


Infernal Dante â€" Ravenna, 1969


The Chicago Cubs will be going to the World Series for the first time since 1945, so ticket prices are naturally going through the roof. The cheapest ticket for Game 3 on Friday, the first one in Chicago, has already reached $2,233, with the average ticket costing more than $8,600.



Check out this expand=1] timelapse video of a seriously talented Seattle artist painting a giant portrait of David Bowie as Major Tom, in the bottom of a swimming pool.

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Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money for a blockchain-powered e-commerce app. But the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors. A cautionary tale for the crypto economy.

Sky is the crypto limit

Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.

Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.

Share capital of one billion 

The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).

The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.

Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.

While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.

screenshot of the typo that revealed the Air Next scam

The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down

compta online

Raising Initial Coin Offering 

Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.

For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."

What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".

Finding culprits 

Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.

Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.

Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.

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