MAN DIES AS MIGRANTS STORM CHUNNEL
A Sudanese man died overnight in the French city of Calais after some 1,500 migrants tried to storm the Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, to reach the UK, Le Monde reports. French police believe he may have been crushed by a truck exiting one of the shuttles that transport vehicles through the tunnel. He is the ninth migrant to have died there since June as illegal attempts to cross the Channel increase. The night before, the company Eurotunnel said that close to 2,000 people had attempted to enter the tunnel. More than 37,000 such attempts have been blocked since January.
For more on the migrant hub, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch article, Calais Crossing: An Inside Look At The Ugly Business Of Human Trafficking.
â€œThe safe zone is intended to stop the Kurds, not ISIS,â€ Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of Turkeyâ€™s pro-Kurdish party told the BBC, accusing the government of using the fight against ISIS to hit the Kurdish rebellion. â€œThe Turkish government was seriously disturbed by Kurds trying to create an autonomous state in Syria,â€ Demirtas added, just hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters it was â€œnot possibleâ€ for Ankara to continue a two-year-long peace process with the Kurds, who he said â€œthreaten our national unity and brotherhood.â€
Beirut has been facing a major trash collection crisis for nearly two weeks after the city's primary landfill site was declared full and closed. Without a place to dispose of the 3,000 tons of trash generated daily in Lebanonâ€™s capital, it's everywhere. But as the situation begins to change, Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal"s Wednesday edition features two contrasting photos. A street filled with garbage is pictured alongside one of a street being cleaned up by employees of Sukleen, a private company in charge of garbage removal in the capital. Read more in our Extra! feature.
TALIBAN LEADER MULLAH OMAR IS DEAD
Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader who backed Osama Bin Laden in 2001, is dead, the BBC quoted official sources in Afghanistan as saying. According to both the government and intelligence sources, the reclusive leader who hasnâ€™t been seen in public since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 died two or three years ago.
AMAZON PROPOSES DELIVERY DRONE AIRSPACE
Online retailer Amazon has laid out plans to create airspace at 200 feet above cities around the world for the exclusive use of drones as part of the companyâ€™s ambition to deliver orders by flying robots within 30 minutes. Read more from The Guardian.
The European Commission is investigating allegations that Disneyland Paris is overcharging customers from Britain and Germany, in breach of Brusselsâ€™ laws. According to the Financial Times, British visitors who wish to purchase a premium package are charged up to 1,870 euros and Germans a whopping 2,447 euros while the French pay just 1,346 euros.
U.S. RULES OUT PUERTO RICO BAILOUT
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the federal government had no intention of bailing out cash-strapped Puerto Rico, as the U.S. territory struggles with $72 billion in public debt that it canâ€™t repay. Instead, Lew called on Congress to revise bankruptcy rules so that Puerto Ricoâ€™s debt could be restructured. Read more from The Wall Street Journal.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
With Islam at its cultural and religious core, even a country like Turkey canâ€™t find its way into the modern era, Zafer Senocak writes in a provocative Die Welt opinion piece. What remains is a negative, aggressive â€œdiscount Islamâ€ that creates problems around the world. â€œThe incurability of the Muslim psyche is directly linked to the loss of Islamic cultureâ€™s creative forces,â€ Senocak writes. â€œMuslims grow up in a world that is dominated by dependencies. Women are dependent on men, young Muslims are dependent on their elders, and the entirety of the Islamic world is dependent on the rest of the superior world. â€¦ There can be no humility where humiliation reigns. The Islamic culture has lost all its humility because it is subjected to constant humiliation. A part of the incurability of the Muslim complex is the belief in conspiracy theory. Everyone else but them is responsible for their misery. The U.S., the West or Israel are favorite targets of Muslim paranoia. And nowhere else is the fragility of these conspiracy theories more evident than in Turkey.â€
Read the full article, Modern Islam And The Disease Within.
BRAZILâ€™S CONSTRUCTION GIANT LEADER CHARGED
The ongoing corruption scandal involving Brazilâ€™s state oil giant Petrobras reached new highs yesterday after 13 people were charged, including Marcelo Odebrecht, the CEO of one of Brazilâ€™s largest construction firms, O Globo reports. Odebrecht, who was charged with corruption, money laundering and criminal conspiracy, is accused of having paid more than $17 million in bribes between 2006 and 2014 to senior officials at Petrobras in exchange for lucrative construction contracts. Read more in English from the BBC.
ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday, NASA. The U.S. civilian space program was created 57 years ago today. Time for your shot of history.
After serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying on the U.S. on behalf of Israel, former Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard will be released Nov. 20. Some suggest his release is a sweetener for Israel after the Iran nuclear deal, though officials have denied any such connection.
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.
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.
The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down
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".
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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