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A depiction of Amsterdam’s proposed Erotic Center © AMSTERDAM.NL

| EU AGENCY EMA AGAINST CREATION OF AMSTERDAM’S ‘MEGA BROTHEL’ NEAR HEADQUARTERS

« EMA is very concerned that this will create safety, security and nuisance issues” for staff and for visiting delegates, who often have to leave late in the evening, the regulator said in a statement »’ adding « The change of the location of the red light district is motivated by concerns of nuisance, drug-dealing, drunkenness and disorderly behaviour. Locating the Erotic Centre in close proximity to EMA’s building is likely to bring the same negative impacts to the adjacent area ».

“With the establishment of the Erotic Center we are reducing the pressure on the Red Light District and creating a place where sex workers can work safely and undisturbed. A place where sexuality and eroticism are also connected to culture and entertainment.” says Mayor Halsema adding: “Sex work is part of Amsterdam and will never disappear. But the situation in the city center is not sustainable. The quality of life for residents has been under pressure for years due to the flow of tourists for whom the windows are only an attraction,”.

The center will have approximately 100 workplaces for sex workers: women, men, trans persons/LGBTIQ+. There will also be spaces for care, safety, catering, entertainment, culture and education.

| CYBERMYTH: WITH MY IBAN, ADDRESS AND A COPY OF MY ID CARD, MY ONLINE BANKING ACCOUNT CAN BE HACKED

© EDM
In many types of fraud, the attackers demand personal details such as name, address and telephone number. In some cases, they also ask for an IBAN or ask the victim to send a copy of a passport or ID card. A widespread myth is that it is possible to hack an online banking account with this information alone.

Nowadays, everyone should know that we should be very careful when giving out credit card details and passwords. In various fraud attempts, however, fraudsters also demand other information such as IBAN, address, name or even a copy of an ID card or passport. Most of the time, this data is not relevant for the actual fraud, and only serves to build trust with the victims and to reinforce the supposed seriousness of the offer. Even if the fraud is noticed in good time, a queasy feeling remains if such information has already been passed on to the fraudsters. For example, the NCSC receives reports every week from people who are afraid that their online banking account could be hacked or money could be stolen in some other way using such information, or even that the fraudsters are suddenly ringing their doorbell.

No danger for online banking accounts

The good news first: an IBAN and a copy of someone’s ID card are not sufficient to withdraw money from an account. Such information has to be provided in many business processes and is not particularly sensitive. For example, you have no doubt handed over your passport many times when checking into a hotel, or given a copy of your ID card during other transactions.

The NCSC is also not aware of a single case where fraudsters have appeared in person at a victim’s home. The fraudsters usually operate from abroad and fraud is a mass business: if a victim does not take the bait or notice the fraud, they simply move on to the next person.

Possible fraud using the identities of others

However, any data provided can be used for other scams. In order to make their offers look serious, the fraudsters use such stolen identities and include the name and ID as proof that the offer comes from Switzerland and is genuine.

Is it possible to misuse an IBAN?

Theoretically, it is possible for someone to use your IBAN to make a direct debit payment to an online shop. However, this payment option is not widespread among Swiss online shops, and you can easily make a complaint to your bank about such fraudulent payment orders for up to a year and have them reversed. This option is therefore not lucrative for fraudsters.

Always be sceptical

It is generally important to be sceptical if you receive emails that require action on your part and that carry a threat of consequences (loss of money, criminal charges or criminal proceedings, blocking of an account or card, missed chance, misfortune) if you do not do what is required. Always be cautious about providing personal details.

If you have provided your IBAN or identity details and you are feeling unsure, consider the following:

  • Regularly check your account statements so that you can spot in good time if a direct debit payment has been made that you did not initiate.
  • If you notice any inconsistencies, contact your bank immediately.
  • Do not pay invoices for orders you have not placed. Contact the company concerned as soon as possible if you suspect that someone has made purchases using your name and IBAN.
  • If you have provided your passport or ID card as part of a fraud attempt, we recommend that you report the incident to a police station or directly to an ID centre.

Source : ncsc.admin.ch

| SECOND OIL AND GAS DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR NEAR THE TROLL FIELD IN THE NORTH SEA

The Troll B helicopter deck © HARALD PETTERSEN / EQUINOR ASA

Equinor (1) has again struck oil and gas near the Troll field in the North Sea. This is Equinor’s eighth discovery in the area since 2019.

The volumes are estimated at between 24 and 84 million barrels of oil equivalent, with slightly more oil than gas. Named Heisenberg, the discovery well was drilled by the Deepsea Stavanger drilling rig. Equinor is the operator, and DNO is a partner.

The discovery is considered commercially interesting, partly because it can utilise existing infrastructure connected to the Troll B platform. However, an appraisal well is needed to get a more precise estimate of the size before it can be concluded whether the volumes can be recovered. The parties are considering drilling the appraisal well in 2024.

“Our Troll exploration play keeps delivering. With discoveries in eight out of nine exploration wells, we are approaching a success rate of 90%. We plan to further explore the area, while looking at possible development solutions for the discoveries that have been made. We have a good infrastructure in the area and can quickly bring competitive barrels from here to the market at low cost and with low CO2 emissions,” says Geir Sørtveit, Equinor’s senior vice president for exploration and production west.

Geir Sørtveit, Equinor’s senior vice president for exploration and production west
© ALINE MASSUCA / EQUINOR

Five of the eight discoveries have been made in licences awarded through APA rounds.

It is just over a month since Equinor together with partners made the Røver South discovery in the same area. Through acquisitions two weeks ago, Equinor increased its ownership interests in four of the discoveries made in the area.

The seven previous discoveries are: Echino South, Swisher, Røver North, Blasto, Toppand, Kveikje and Røver South.

Equinor is an international energy company committed to long-term value creation in a low-carbon future. Equinor’s portfolio of projects encompasses oil and gas, renewables and low-carbon solutions, with an ambition of becoming a net-zero energy company by 2050. Headquartered in Stavanger (Norway), Equinor is the leading operator on the Norwegian continental shelf. Equinor is present in around 30 countries worldwide.

| IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS REAPPOINTS DIRECTOR GENERAL GROSSI FOR NEW 4-YEAR TERM

Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General © IAEA

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reappointed Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi for a second four-year term in office beginning in early December 2023.

In a decision adopted at its regular meeting this week, the 35-nation Board requested that the General Conference – the annual meeting of the IAEA’s 176 Member States – approve the reappointment when it meets in September.

“I’m deeply honoured by the Board’s unanimous decision to appoint me for another term in office, and very grateful for the confidence and trust Member States continue to place in me as head of this truly remarkable organization. It comes at a time when we face many major challenges and I’m fully committed to continue to do everything in my power to implement the IAEA’s crucial mission in support of global peace and development,” Director General Grossi said.

“In the different areas of our work based on nuclear science and technology – preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, ensuring nuclear safety and security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, fighting cancer and much else – the Agency’s role and work are more important than ever. This is an organization that delivers very real and tangible benefits to people all over the world. As a result, our workload is constantly increasing. I will make sure that we continue to deliver and meet the growing demands and expectations of all our Member States, whose continued support is indispensable,” he said.

Director General Grossi took up his first term of office on 2 December 2019, following the General Conference’s approval of his appointment by the Board. His second term starts on 3 December this year and runs until 2 December 2027. He is the sixth Director General since the IAEA was established in 1957.

| JETBLUE STARTING NON STOP FLIGHTS FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS

To Celebrate JFK-CDG Launch, Limited Roundtrip Fares Starting $479 and €399 in Core Available

The US based airline company JetBlue today announced its highly anticipated entrance to Continental Europe with nonstop service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). Service will begin June 29, 2023.

This marks JetBlue’s second transatlantic market debut, following the airline’s successful launch of London service in August 2021. With the introduction of Paris, another long-requested and top destination, JetBlue will play a unique role in disrupting high-fare legacy carriers that have dominated this route for decades.

“Our successful London service proves customers can book low fares without compromising great service,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue. “We are excited to continue disrupting the transatlantic market and offer business and leisure customers traveling to and from Paris an opportunity to experience our highly acclaimed Mint and core products in a market that has suffered from high fares by legacy carriers for far too long.”

Flights will operate daily on JetBlue’s Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft with 24 redesigned Mint Suite® seats, 114 core seats and the sleek and spacious Airspace cabin interior.

Seats on the new Paris route are on sale with low fares for U.S.-originating travelers starting at $479 roundtrip for the airline’s award-winning core experience and starting at $1,899 for JetBlue’s premium Mint experience, available on jetblue.com (a).

France-originating travelers can enjoy special introductory roundtrip fares starting at €399 for core and €1,299 for Mint when booked through their preferred travel agent or online travel provider.

| LIFE SYSEL BOOSTS EUROPEAN GROUND SQUIRREL NUMBERS IN SLOVAKIA 

Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) © Charles J. Sharp

In Slovakia, LIFE Sysel has increased the population of European ground squirrels from 20 000 in 2020 to 36 000 today.

The European ground squirrel is a rodent found in central and southeastern Europe. Its numbers have dropped significantly due to a lack of grassland management and urbanisation. Parasites, diseases, flooding, trapping, poisoning and poaching also threaten the species.

The ongoing LIFE Sysel project aims to improve the European ground squirrel’s conservation status in selected parts of Slovakia, Czechia and Poland.

Actions include:

– Improving the grassland management of habitats where the squirrels tend to be found.

– Increasing food availability and decreasing predation pressures.

– Taking care of individuals as required.

The project says that the recent rise in squirrel numbers was helped by translocating them among isolated colonies. Doing this has improved the genetic fitness and reproduction of populations. Also, providing more food in bad weather and reintroducing grazing in areas where it had been absent for many years helped significantly.

The team plans on creating at least 190 hectares of new grazing habitats for ground squirrels in Slovakia. This is area the size of around 300 football pitches. They also want to ensure the long-term sustainable management of grasslands by working with local stakeholders.

Data on the squirrel, especially its genetic structure, will be collected and examined. Despite the population of ground squirrels dwindling across Europe, the numbers are rising in Slovakia. This is a direct result of the LIFE project’s work.

‘We think the population of ground squirrels will continue to rise in Slovakia. So, we will keep taking the lead, and hopefully, other EU countries that are home to the species will follow,’ says LIFE Sysel project coordinator Katarína Tuhárska. To this end, the aim is to replicate the project’s results in different EU countries where the ground squirrel lives.

LIFE Sysel supports the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030EN••• and the Nature Restoration Law.EN••• It also contributes to the EU’s Habitats Directive.

| MEP INVESTIGATED FOR FRAUD INVOLVING PARLIAMENTARY ALLOWANCES:
EPPO SEIZES OVER €170 000

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Milan (Italy) has executed a seizure of more than €170 000 against Ms Stefania Zambelli, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and four of her assistants, as part of an investigation into possible fraud involving parliamentary allowances.

The investigation, led by the EPPO and carried out by the Brescia branch of the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza), concerns a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, regarding the remuneration of four parliamentary assistants hired in Italy.

Stefania Zambelli © europa.eu

According to the evidence, the four members of staff did not carry out the activities related to the function for which they were hired, or only carried them out partially, falsely documenting their activities to the European Parliament. In addition, they misrepresented their qualifications, having declared educational and professional skills that they did not have, according to the investigation.

It is believed that the MEP, who is closely related to at least one of the people hired, also benefited from the sums paid by the European Parliament for the work activities that the staff should have performed.

The estimated damages to the EU budget amount to €172 148.82. The execution of the seizure order was completed last Thursday, 23 February, by the Italian Financial Police, and included bank accounts and luxury cars.

The judicial measures were issued based on the evidence gathered during the preliminary investigation. All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is an independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU. These include several types of fraud, VAT fraud with damages above 10 million euro, money laundering, corruption, etc.

Since starting its operations on 1 June 2021, EPPO has registered more than 4000 crime reports from participating EU Member States and private parties; over 929 investigations have been opened (as of June 2022)

| THE NEW NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY – OPEN 22 JUNE 2023

© National Gallery

The Inspiring People project is transforming the National Portrait Gallery. Designed by Jamie Fobert Architects and made possible by major grants from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ross Foundation, the project comprises a complete re-presentation of the Collection, combined with a significant refurbishment of the building, the creation of public spaces, a more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt, and a new Learning Centre.

In order to complete the building project, the Gallery in St Martin’s Place closed to the public in spring 2020. Since then Inspiring People has seen the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities, working in partnership with museums, communities and schools across the UK and reaching new audiences locally, regionally and online.

The project provides the unique opportunity to re-display the entire Collection as well as upgrade the gallery spaces, while celebrating the existing architecture and decorative features. Maintaining a chronological approach, this comprehensive top-to-bottom re-hang will display works that are relevant to a wide range of audiences and present missing or hidden stories from British history. Set amongst the Gallery’s best-loved paintings will be more works from its collection of 250,000 photographs, ranging from 1840 to the present day.

The Gallery will reopen to the public on 22 June 2023 – to guarantee entry book your free ticket now.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
+44(0)20 7306 0055

| OLAF FINDS IRREGULARITIES IN DIGITAL PROJECT FOR SCHOOLS IN HUNGARY

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) finalised an investigation into a digital project in Hungary with a recommendation to recover more than €3.6 million of EU funding.

The project, financed by the European Social Fund, had the scope to modernise educational facilities while enhancing and increasing access to e-learning. One of the principal elements of the project was the purchase of IT equipment for elementary and high schools and to provide the relevant e-learning training for teachers.

OLAF’s investigation identified a number of breaches in the public procurement procedure. These included a last minute modification of the technical specifications of the call and the exclusion of the cheapest bid that gave competitive advantage to the winning company. OLAF found that the irregularities had an impact not only on EU taxpayers but also on the learning experience of the students, as superior hardware could have been purchased for the same price with the correct project implementation.

Ville Itälä, Director-General of OLAF

Ville Itälä, Director-General of OLAF, said: “The EU has been investing important resources into making Europe digital, and into making sure that this transformation works for people and businesses. Digitalisation is also one of the pillars of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. It is crucial for our resilience and innovative potential. In this case, OLAF’s investigators found that the impact of the digital project was lower than expected and did not make a good use of the money of European taxpayers.”

OLAF’s financial recommendation for the recovery of €3.6 million was sent to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

The mission of OLAF

The European Union budget finances a wide range of programmes and projects which improve the lives of citizens across the EU and beyond. The improper use of funds provided by the EU budget or the evasion of the taxes, duties and levies, which fund the EU budget directly harms European citizens and prejudices the entire European project.

OLAF fulfils its mission by:

  • carrying out independent investigations into fraud and corruption involving EU funds, so as to ensure that all EU taxpayers’ money reaches projects that can create jobs and growth in Europe;
  • contributing to strengthening citizens’ trust in the EU Institutions by investigating serious misconduct by EU staff and members of the EU Institutions;
  • developing a sound EU anti-fraud policy.
What can OLAF investigate

OLAF can investigate matters relating to fraud, corruption and other offences affecting the EU financial interests concerning:

  • all EU expenditure: the main spending categories are Structural Funds, agricultural policy and rural development funds, direct expenditure and external aid;
  • some areas of EU revenue, mainly customs duties;
  • suspicions of serious misconduct by EU staff and members of the EU institutions.

| AIRBUS WELCOMES BOEING TO H175M TASK FORCE FOR UK NEW MEDIUM HELICOPTER COMPETITION

H175M helicopter © Airbus Helicopters

Oxford, Boeing has become the latest and final defence and aerospace company to join the H175M Task Force addressing the UK New Medium Helicopter requirement.

As training services partner, Boeing Defence UK will provide aircrew, groundcrew and maintenance training, if the super-medium class Airbus H175M, to be built at Broughton in Wales, is selected to replace the Airbus Puma HC2.

The company joins a UK-based industry team created to offer, supply and support the British-built H175M which includes some of the most respected players in international aerospace.

Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK, Lenny Brown © LennyBrownAHUK

Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK, Lenny Brown, said: “Boeing Defence UK is rightly respected in this country for its long-standing support of the British Chinook and Apache fleets. As training services partner it completes a rock-solid line-up of UK-based first tier aerospace partners who bring a guarantee of world-class service provision to the UK Ministry of Defence for decades to come.”

“We are delighted to collaborate with Airbus and join their innovative team of aerospace leaders to meet the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement”, said Steve Burnell, managing director of Boeing Defence UK. “Our local team has supported the British armed forces for decades, sustaining hundreds of jobs across the country in helicopter training. As a member of the H175M Task Force, we look forward to leveraging our current expertise to ensure availability and readiness for the UK’s future helicopter fleets.”

Launched at the UK’s RIAT 2022 airshow, the H175M Task Force also includes defence and helicopter specialist Babcock fulfilling the critical role of support partner for the H175M in UK service at military operating locations.

Martin Baker, at Denham, Middlesex, with more than 70 years of aerospace experience, is providing specialist troop seating and cabin integration services.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland and Prestwick, Scotland Spirit AeroSystems, already an Airbus partner on the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft, has begun extensive detailed design and manufacturing activities on the H175M.

In addition, Pratt & Whitney Canada, is formally partnering in the team for which it supplies and supports the highly reputed PT6C-67E turboshaft engines from its market leading family of powerplants.

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