A recently discovered species of deep sea snail, the Alviconcha strummeri, has been named by scientists in honor of the Clash frontman Joe Strummer.
Why? “Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute that discovered the snail, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The Alviconcha strummeri is the size of a golf ball, lives at the bottom of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans in depths of up to 11,500 feet (3,500 meters), and, most importantly, has a cool yellow spiky shell.
To be precise, Joe Strummer wasn’t the one known for sporting blond spikes (that was his fellow Clash City rocker Paul Simonon) and only traded his rockabilly slicked back hairstyle for a Mohawk just before the Clash broke up.
The strummeri is one of five new Alviconcha species identified earlier this year by the team of scientists and reported in a publication in the scientific journal Systematics and Biodiversity this month. But the strummeri was the only one to get a fancy musical moniker, with the others getting stuck with names of research facilities or snail experts, according to The Guardian.
Explaining the etymology, the scientists wrote that “the name highlights the ‘hardcore’ nature of Alviniconcha snails, that inhabit the hottest, most acidic and most sulphidic microhabitats at Indo-Pacific hydrothermal vents. The name also recognizes the surface of Alviniconcha shells: the spiky periostracum resembles the fashion of punk rock bands.”
The Alviconcha strummeri joins a long list of living organisms that were named after musicians, celebrities or historic figures, including the Aptostichus angelinajolieae, the Aleiodes shakirae, the Aptostichus stephencolberti, the Eristalis gatesi, the Gnathia marleyi, the Loureedia, the Mandelia mirocornata or even the Aegrotocatellus jaggeri. Scientists are said to do this, no doubt to have fun and pay tribute to people they admire (hopefully not in the case of the Anophthalmus hitleri), but also to draw attention to their work and to such scientific matters.
It’s also not the first time Joe Strummer lends his name to an entity. Last year, a city plaza was named in his honor in Granada, Spain, which gets a shout out in the London Calling track “Spanish Bombs.”
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 but the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors.
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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