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Date: 8 November 2017

Paradise Papers: Bernard Arnault is fighting back

Bernard Arnault, the first French asset manager and owner of LVMH, said on Wednesday that the assets cited by Le Monde as part of the “Paradise Papers” were “constituted in a perfectly legal manner”, in a statement sent to the AFP.

The French daily – which is part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which has been unveiling investigations since Sunday based on the leakage of millions of financial documents – claims that Bernard Arnault has “called on at least eight different consulting firms to locate its assets in six different tax havens”.

“All the assets mentioned in this article have been constituted in a perfectly legal manner and are of course known to the tax authorities,”Mr. Arnault said in his statement.

The billionaire denounces “a journalistic operation of this medium to create a sensation by using[his] patrimony”, and denounces the fact that some of his investments were “presented as hidden and undeclared goods, taxally reprehensible, or on the brink of legality”.

In his article, Le Monde cites in particular a property north of London of 4,300 m2, the owner of which used to appear in the British cadastre as “a simple company registered in Jersey”: but “the investigations of Le Monde in the +Paradise Papers+ reveal” that”Bernard Arnault”, writes the daily.

This property “has been declared to the French tax authorities as English from the outset and has been subject, since its acquisition, to the payment of the ISF”, says Bernard Arnault.

It also assures that the “mode of holding” of the property did not “give it any tax advantage, as did the other assets mentioned”.

Catalonia: Constitutional Court overturns declaration of independence

Madrid – The Spanish Constitutional Court on Wednesday annulled the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia adopted on 27 October by the regional parliament, announced a spokesperson.

“The declaration of independence of 27 October was declared void and unconstitutional,”she said at the end of the sitting at which the Court’s magistrates handed down the ruling.

The Court has systematically annulled the resolutions and votes of the Catalan Parliament aimed at leading the region towards unilateral secession.

In particular, it banned the holding of a referendum on self-determination in this region where 16% of the Spanish live, considering that it is up to all the Spanish people to express their views on issues relating to national sovereignty.

But the independentists, unaware of his arrests, went ahead with the elections on 1 October.

Then, estimating that they had won with 90% of the votes and a turnout of 43%, they voted on 27 October for the creation in Catalonia of an “independent state in the form of a republic”, an unprecedented breakthrough in Spain.

The resolution was adopted by 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, in the absence of a majority of the opposition members who had left the Chamber.

The separatist parties – from the far left to the centre-right – held a majority (72 out of 135) in parliament.

A few hours later, Mariano Rajoy’s Conservative government obtained permission from the Senate to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution – never before applied – which allowed it to de facto suspend the autonomy of the region. He then dissolved the Catalan parliament and called regional elections for 21 December.

Startup Navya is looking for growth

Paris – After deploying driverless shuttles all over the world, the Lyon-based start-up Navya wants to revolutionise urban transport via autonomous taxis with 100% electric propulsion, full of artificial intelligence.

On Tuesday evening, in the Cité du cinéma (north of Paris), more than a hundred people gathered to attend the presentation of a new kind of taxi.

Called +Autonom Cab+, this hyper-connected and futuristic taxi can accommodate up to six people. On board, they can make an interactive tour of the city, order movie or museum tickets or compose the playlist of their choice. All this without having to speak to a driver, because the vehicle is completely autonomous.

“We are the first to market a robot-taxi type vehicle without steering wheel and pedals, nobody does that in the world,”said Christophe Sapet, Navya’s president.

Robot taxis, which are in the interest of several manufacturers, including the French Renault, are one of the revolutions promised to the individual transport sector. According to a study by Roland Berger, such machines could even account for 40% of the world automotive sector’s profits in 2030.

Navya’s trademark, created in 2014: a concentrate of technologies to improve public transport in urban and peripheral areas.

Between 25 and 45 km/h –

“Autonom Cab” wants to take its eldest example on its “Autonom Shuttle”, formerly “Arma”, a small shuttle of 15 seats lined with cameras, radars, lidars and other sensors.

During the experimentation phase, the minibus managed to find its way. It is already operational in Lyon, in the Confluence district, and in La Défense near Paris recently. The journey continues outside France, as he also embarks on board Switzerland, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Although it does not require any special infrastructure, it is nevertheless obliged to travel on pre-established routes, which is mandatory by regulation.

In total, more than 50 vehicles have been deployed and nearly 200,000 passengers transported to cities or private places (businesses, amusement parks, hotels, airports, etc.) for a unit price of around 230,000 euros.

“The vehicle doesn’t drive very fast” (between 25 and 45 km/h), concedes Mr. Sapet,”but people are satisfied”. The ecological dimension of these machines and the guarantee of their safety are important arguments,”he assures.

Serial entrepreneur “- Serial entrepreneur” –

The issue of relieving congestion in urban centres is also crucial, while according to UN forecasts, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, according to Navya’s president, who believes that”we can no longer continue like this”.

“Christophe Sapet has always been immersed in the automobile, coming from a family of dealers for more than 70 years.

“The knowledge of the vehicle and technology has given me a vision of what tomorrow’s transportation could be. Navya is an emanation of that reflection,”he says.

On the financing side, the start-up benefited from a €30 million capital raising after two years of existence, with the entry into its capital of the French Keolis (subsidiary of SNCF) and Valeo, as well as the qatari Group8.

With a turnover expected to exceed 10 million euros in 2017, the company hopes to accelerate the pace of growth, and is aiming to exceed 100 million euros by 2019.

The next step is to replicate the success of its shuttle with Autonom Cab, which will be presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January, while the first deliveries are expected in the 3rd quarter of 2018. The robot-taxi should be tested in the streets of Paris next year.

Taiwan nails its Mirage to the ground after the disappearance of an airplane

Taipei – The Taiwanese Air Force announced Wednesday that it has nailed its Mirage to the ground, as it is looking for a pilot missing during training at the controls of the French fighter plane.

Captain Ho Tzu-yu’s Mirage-2000 had disappeared from radar on Tuesday at 18:43 (10:43 GMT) off the north-east of the island, 34 minutes after take-off, the army said.

The authorities mobilized 17 military aircraft and 10 navy ships to track him down. But the research is not yet fruitful.

“We hope that Ho will be rescued soon,”said General Chang Che-ping, deputy commander of the Air Force, adding that all Taiwanese Mirage were kept on the ground.

General Chang described Mr. Ho as an”excellent pilot”, adding that there were no signs of problems or irregularities after taking off from a base near the town of Hsinchu in the northwestern part of the country.

The high-ranking officer also swept away the idea that the pilot could deliberately fly at low altitude to escape the radars and deflect to the People’s Republic.

“He wasn’t alone. They were flying in formation. It is impossible that he could not have defected by flying at low altitude” undetected, said General Chang.

Taiwan had purchased in 1992 from the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault 60 Mirage 2000-5, the last of which was delivered in 2001.

Four Mirage accidents occurred in Taiwan between 1999 and 2013, killing three pilots.

In 2012, the Taiwanese Air Force temporarily grounded its entire Mirage fleet after a similar aircraft crashed in France, causing the death of its Taiwanese pilot.

The 1992 contract had provoked the rage of Beijing, which still regards the island as a part of its territory destined to return to its borders, even though Taiwan has been following its own destiny since 1949.

US China Trade deficit: still problematic

Beijing – Nearly 20 trade agreements worth $9 billion were signed on Wednesday in Beijing between Chinese and U. S. companies on the first day of U. S. President Donald Trump’s visit to China.

Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Wang Yang called the agreements “warm-up” ahead of Thursday’s Sino-American summit, where Trump and his counterpart, Xi Jinping, are expected to preside over the signing of contracts in areas such as gas and soybeans.

In this first round, the companies involved – whose names were revealed in Mandarin – included Bell Helicopters, the Smithfield Foods agri-food group (controlled by the Chinese Shuanghui) and a Montana Federation of cattle breeders for a beef delivery agreement.

The amounts and details of the transactions were not disclosed immediately.

The Honeywell industrialist, who is also concerned, stated in a press release that he had reached an agreement with the Chinese airline Spring Airlines for equipment for its future Airbus A320neo fleet, without disclosing any financial commitments.

Smithfield Foods, for its part, announced on 24 October its agreement with JD. com, a Chinese online retailer, to sell its pork products on its platform, again without mentioning the terms of the partnership.

The agreements signed on Wednesday were signed in the presence of U. S. Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross, in the solemn setting of the People’s Palace, which overlooks Tiananmen Square.

“Responding to the trade imbalance with China is at the heart of discussions between President Trump and President Xi,”Ross said.

“Achieving fair and reciprocal treatment for business is a common goal,”he said.

With the issue of North Korea’s nuclear programme, trade relations should be the focus of Donald Trump’s first visit to China, which during his Beijing campaign accused him of “stealing” millions of jobs in the United States.

On board the plane that took Trump to Beijing, a senior official of the US administration spoke of “serious imbalances” in bilateral economic relations,”not just the trade deficit but also unfair rules, such as technology transfers imposed on US companies”.

The U. S. trade deficit with China shows no sign of deflation one year after the election of Donald Trump.

As it landed in Beijing, Chinese customs reported a trade surplus of $223 billion with the United States over the first 10 months of the year, up 8% from the same period in 2016.

Trump Just Admitted He Lied To Supporters

President-elect Donald Trump made a lot of insane promises to his supporters because he knew it would rile up all the hate that was too afraid to be voiced before they’d found their bigot leader. Some of these promises included building a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, banning Muslims from coming into the United States, punishing women for having abortions, getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and many more.

And of course, because Trump is actually a reality television star that has no real understanding of how the government (or the world) works, he’s already had to backtrack several of the things he told his moronic minions. Just a few days after winning the election, he’s already had to tell his fans that he won’t really be getting rid of Obamacare completely. You can only imagine how furious his rabid supporters are about that. More recently, Trump walked back his comments about “ripping up” the historic nuclear peace treaty President Barack Obama had created with the Islamic Republic of Iran!

Seriously, Trump is trolling his own supporters right now – and it’s only because of his own stupidity. In an interview with BBC, Trump advisor Walid Phares announced this change of heart:

“Ripping up is maybe a too strong of word, he’s gonna take that agreement, it’s been done before in international context, and then review it. He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion.”

So…just to clarify. Trump had once called this nuclear peace treaty “the worst deal ever negotiated” and a “disaster” – but now there are only “a few issues” with it? Either Trump’s flip-flopping is a marker of his insanity, or someone just told him that he can’t just do away with major international deals whenever he feels like it. Or perhaps Trump actually noticed that Obama’s treaty has helped keep America safe, protecting us from potential nuclear weapons. Either way, his supporters are NOT going to be happy with how his presidency is starting to look.

It hasn’t even been a week after Trump won the election, but already his presidency is looking far different from what his supporters thought it would be. It is his own fault, but he’s riled up so much hate in this country that they might just turn on him if they don’t get their way.