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Airbus takes €3.6bn hit to settle bribery and corruption claims | Business News

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Airbus has agreed to settle bribery and corruption allegations by UK, US and French authorities in a deal that will cost it €3.6bn (£3bn).

The European aeroplane maker, based in Toulouse, disclosed the scale of the financial hit hours after confirming that it had reached an “agreement in principle” with authorities in each country.

Court hearings will take place in each of the three jurisdictions on Friday to give final approval to the deal.

Airbus said it would book a €3.6bn provision for the penalties in its annual accounts for 2019.

It did not give a breakdown in its statement of how much would go to each country or what part of the total was accounted for by other costs.

Still, the scale of the provision makes it likely that the settlement surpasses the £671m penalties handed to Rolls-Royce for similar allegations two years ago.

Airbus said its case related to “allegations of bribery and corruption and to inaccuracies in filings made with the US authorities pursuant to the US international traffic in arms regulations”.

In Britain, the Serious Fraud Office confirmed in a separate statement that it had reached a deferred prosecution agreement in principle with the company, subject to court approval.

It said no further information could be provided until after the hearing.

The SFO and the French financial prosecutor’s office had begun investigating Airbus in 2016 with the US Department of Justice joining in 2018.

The allegations related to irregularities concerning third party consultants.

Airbus employs more than 130,000 people worldwide including 13,500 in the UK at sites in Bristol, north Wales, Newport, Portsmouth and Stevenage.

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Trump booed and heckled by mourners while paying respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg | US News

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Donald Trump has been booed and heckled while paying his respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death has triggered a political row.

The president and wife Melania, both wearing masks, stood a few metres behind the late Supreme Court Justice’s coffin in Washington DC as her body lay in repose at the country’s highest court.

On Friday, she will be moved to lie in state at the US Capitol – the first woman to receive such an honour, before being buried next week in a private service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg honoured in Court ceremony
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A ceremony took place on Wednesday for Justice Ginsburg at the country’s highest court

Mr Trump has sparked controversy by planning to replace her on the court before November’s presidential election.

Moments after he arrived at the court, booing could be heard from some in the crowd who then briefly chanted: “Vote him out”.

He is set to announce on Saturday his nominee to fill the seat of the liberal-leaning justice and women’s rights champion.

The 87-year-old, also known as RBG, had sat on the Supreme Court since 1993 until her death on Friday due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

Her dying wish was reportedly that she would not be replaced until a new president was installed.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has accused Mr Trump of an “abuse of power” over his plans to replace her before the 3 November poll.

Mr Biden urged Senate Republicans to delay any vote on her replacement until after the election.

Democrats argue that voters should have their say first on election day and the winner of the White House battle should fill the post.

The procedure for appointing a Supreme Court justice allows the president to nominate a candidate and then requires the Senate to confirm them.

This would give Mr Trump the opportunity to expand the court’s conservative majority to 6-3, from 5-4.

It had previously been made up of an even balance of four liberal justices and four conservatives, with Anthony Kennedy considered a more neutral member of the court who would frequently become the swing vote in 5-4 decisions.

Mr Trump replaced him with conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh when he retired in 2018.

Democrats have pointed to the Republican Senate’s refusal in 2016 to act on then president Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Conservative Antonin Scalia had died 10 months before that year’s election, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell then said the Senate should not act on a nominee during an election year.

It was Justice Ginsburg's dying wish to not be replaced until a new president is in power
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Justice Ginsburg was a liberal and a women’s rights champion

But McConnell has reversed his stance this time and is pushing ahead with plans to begin the confirmation process, vowing to vote this year on Mr Trump’s nominee.

It would take four Republicans to break ranks to keep Mr Trump’s nominee off the court.

The president has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November’s election and said he believes the Supreme Court could end up deciding the result.

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Announcing a nominee on Saturday would leave less than 40 days for the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election.

No nominee has won confirmation that quickly since Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 1981.

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Coronavirus: Italy president fires back at Boris Johnson over COVID remark | Politics News

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Italy’s president has hit back at Boris Johnson after he suggested the UK had higher coronavirus infection rates because it was a more “freedom-loving country”.

In parliament this week, the prime minister was quizzed about why Germany and Italy appeared to have lower COVID-19 rates than the Britain.

Mr Johnson disputed a claim that the relative success of different countries’ test and trace schemes was a factor.

And the PM added that there was “an important difference between our country and many other countries around the world: our country is a freedom-loving country”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation with the coronavirus pandemic.
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The PM had told MPs: ‘Our country is a freedom-loving country’

“If we look at the history of this country over the past 300 years, virtually every advance, from free speech to democracy, has come from this country,” he continued.

“It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary.”

Asked about Mr Johnson’s comments, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Thursday: “We Italians also love freedom, but we also care about seriousness.”

The Reuters news agency reported Mr Mattarella was asked about Mr Johnson during a private conversation, but his words were swiftly reported in the local media and his office confirmed the remarks.

According to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University, the UK has been the worst-affected country in Europe from COVID-19 in terms of death, ahead of Italy, France and then Spain.



Boris Johnson battles thunder to get his message about coronavirus out







PM’s app message during thunderclap

Germany has suffered less than one-quarter of the number of deaths the UK has, according to the tally.

It is not the first time Mr Johnson’s comments have prompted a response from an Italian politician.

In 2016, Mr Johnson – then foreign secretary – was accused of “insulting” the country’s government by claiming Italy should support a generous post-Brexit trade deal in order to prevent a decline in its exports of prosecco.

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The prime minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds, was this week photographed in Lake Como, northern Italy, with the Daily Mail website reporting she had been spending a few days with the couple’s baby, WIlfred, and friends.

Downing Street recently condemned “completely untrue” claims that Mr Johnson travelled through Perugia airport on a secretive trip this month.

And the president of the airport said on Monday there had been an “error” in a previous statement and that Mr Johnson did not recently land there.

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Mystery of Jupiter’s polygon storms solved by scientists | Science & Tech News

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Scientists have solved the mystery of Jupiter’s polygon storms, which were first spotted by NASA’s Juno space probe in 2019.

At the gas giant’s south pole, hidden from view from Earth, is a herd of storms arranged in a perfect geometric pattern.

This is unlike anything else humanity has observed in the universe. The most comparable gas giant we know of, Saturn, has single massive storms at each of its poles – not a collection of them arranged in such a mathematical formation.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, with two of its satellites, Io on the left and Europa on the right
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The gas giant held a secret geometric pattern at its south pole

But a research team at the California Institute of Technology, working in the Andy Ingersoll laboratory, has now figured out why the storms arrange themselves in this pattern.

The answer – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – was inspired by a mathematical proof developed long before the space age – and almost 150 years ago by the British mathematical physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin.

Working alongside American physicist Alfred Mayer, he observed in 1878 that when circular magnets were floated in a pool of water, they would spontaneously arrange themselves into geometric shapes.

“Back in the 19th century, people were thinking about how spinning pieces of fluid would arrange themselves into polygons,” Professor Ingersoll said.

“Although there were lots of laboratory studies of these fluid polygons, no one had thought of applying that to a planetary surface.”

This is what the scientists at Ingersoll’s laboratory did, building a computer model of what might be happening on Jupiter and running the simulations to see if their model held any value.

The storms are very similar to those on Earth, which form close to the equator and drift towards the poles – but on Earth the hurricanes and typhoons tend to dissipate when they get too far away from the equator.

However, because Jupiter’s storms do not experience any friction from the land or the oceans, they keep on going until they reach the poles.

Pic: Jupiter and several of its large moons appear above the mountains of Utah. Pic: NASA/Bill Dunford
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Jupiter’s south pole was hidden from eyes on Earth

In the early trial runs of the simulations, the team found that the cyclones tended “to merge at the pole due to the rotation of the planet” said Dr Cheng Li, lead author of the study and a researcher at UC Berkeley.

But they found that the stable geometric arrangement could occur when the storms were each surrounded by a ring of winds turning in the opposite direction to the storms themselves, called an anticyclonic ring.

The made the storms repel each other rather than merge.

This phenomenon could help researchers understand how Earth’s weather behaves – but also solves a particularly fascinating and modern mystery.

“Other planets provide a much wider range of behaviours than what you see on Earth, so you study the weather on other planets in order to stress-test your theories,” Professor Ingersoll said.

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