VIRGINIA KILLER A â€œHUMAN POWDER KEGâ€
A man claiming to be Bryce Williams, the assumed name of the gunman who killed Virginia journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward during a live broadcast yesterday, sent a fax to ABC News afterward in which he described himself as a â€œhuman powder keg.â€ Williams, whose real name was Vester Flanagan, died in the hospital after shooting himself during a police chase. In the 23-page document, he described racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying while he was a reporter for the local WDBJ TV affiliate, where the two victims worked. The fax, which the killer described as a â€œsuicide note,â€ also cited the Charleston church killings in June, when a white man murdered nine black people, as motivation for his attack. WDBJ manager Jeff Marks called the manifesto â€œnonsenseâ€ and described Williams as an â€œunhappy manâ€ who had to be escorted out of the building when he was fired in 2013. According to internal WDBJ memos published by The Guardian today, Williams had been told â€œto seek medical helpâ€ after â€œcolleagues repeatedly complained about him.â€ Read more in our Extra! feature.
â€œWith all those reservations that we have, we will sign this document,â€ South Sudanese President Salva Kiir told regional African leaders during a ceremony yesterday, before signing a peace agreement aiming to end a 20-month conflict that has killed thousands of rebels, Jeune Afrique reports. Under the deal, rebel leader Riek Machar will become the countryâ€™s first vice president. Kiir refused to sign the peace agreement last week, but the UNâ€™s Security Council said it would take immediate action if he didnâ€™t sign it Wednesday.
50 BODIES FOUND ON MIGRANT BOAT
About 50 bodies were discovered in the hold of a wooden migrant boat off Libyaâ€™s coast yesterday, La Repubblica quoted Italian authorities as saying. The deaths were likely caused by asphyxiation from the boatâ€™s gas fumes. The discovery was made by the Poseidon, a Swedish boat participating in migrant rescue missions as part of the EU Frontex border agencyâ€™s operations. The ship also rescued 439 people who were on board. Frontex said it received distress signals from 10 other boats in the area and rescued at least 1,900 people Wednesday morning alone. Since the beginning of the year, at least 2,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.
According to a new study led by six French doctors on 1,700 medical school students and young graduates, about one in three of them is using psychostimulants to improve their mental capacities, the daily 20 minutes reports. And weâ€™re not talking Vitamin C or coffee.
12 ARRESTED FOR TIANJIN BLASTS
Chinese authorities have arrested 12 people for the two Aug. 12 explosions that killed at least 139 people in Tianjin, China, state news agency Xinhua reports. The president, vice president and three deputy general managers of the company, Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd., are among them. Authorities have also accused 11 officials of abuse of power and dereliction of duty.
TOMAYTO, TOMAHTO, TOMATINA
Photo: Kai Fasterling/EFE/ZUMA
Thousands of people participated in todayâ€™s traditional La Tomatina festival in Bunol, near Valencia, Spain. This year marked the 70th annual world-famous tomato battle, which boasted a record 150 tons of them.
LIFE SENTENCE FOR AURORA GUNMAN
James Holmes, the gunman convicted of the 2012 murders of 12 people at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, The Denver Post reports. Jurors had previously decided against the death penalty after his lawyers argued he was mentally ill at the time of the shooting.
Le Monde made a visit to Kenyaâ€™s training site after recent media revelations about performance-enhancing drugs cast a pall over the countryâ€™s storied long-distance running team. â€œThis should have been an occasion for smiles and good cheer,â€ journalist Bruno Meyerfeld writes. â€œInstead the atmosphere is all gloom. We had already been warned that the team would not talk to the international press. Dennis Kimetto, the worldâ€™s fastest marathon runner, isnâ€™t even here. The interview that had been planned was canceled at the last minute. The problem â€" the subject dominating everyoneâ€™s silent thoughts â€" is the specter of doping, which has haunted the team since early August, when the German television network ARD and the British weekly The Sunday Times made bombshell revelations involving athletes from a number of countries, including Kenya.â€
Read the full article, Inside The Doping Crisis Facing Kenyaâ€™â€‹s Legendary Runners.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
INDIA DEPLOYS ARMY TO RIOT-HIT AREAS
Indian authorities have deployed thousands of army troops to the western state of Gujarat after two days of caste-related riots left at least seven people dead, including protesters and one police officer, Al Jazeera reports. The violence was apparently sparked by Tuesdayâ€™s detention of a Patel caste leader whose community was demanding preferential treatment for government jobs and university places. About 500,000 people rallied in the city of Ahmedabad Tuesday, when 40 police stations and 70 buses were set ablaze.
ON THIS DAY
Itâ€™s thanks to the first Guinness Book of Records (now called Guinness World Records) being published 60 years ago today that we can track who made the farthest backwards basketball shot and who has the largest collection of Nintendo Entertainment System paraphernalia. That and more in todayâ€™s shot of history.
TURKISH LINK PROBED IN BANGKOK BLAST
Thai authorities said today they were investigating the arrival of more than 20 Turkish nationals into Thailand days before the Aug. 17 bomb attack that killed 20 people, the Bangkok Post reports. Police have raised the possibility of a connection to the Uighur community, a Turkish-speaking minority from western China. In July, more than 100 Uighur were deported from Thailand to China, a move that sparked violent protests outside Thailandâ€™s consulate in Istanbul.
HOME ALONEâ€™S TRAPS RANKED
Macaulay Culkin turned 35 yesterday (yeah, we know), so MTV ranked every single one of Home Aloneâ€™s evil, genius traps.
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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