North Korea spy chief, accused in deadly attacks on South Korea, to lead Olympic delegation at closing ceremony

North Korea hard-line general to attend Olympics finale

A former North Korean intelligence chief, believed to be the mastermind behind a deadly attack on South Korea, will lead the Hermit Kingdom’s high-level delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony — acting the part of diplomat in the same country he spent his life trying to topple.

Kim Yong Chol will join an eight-member delegation to South Korea for a visit expected to last three days, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Thursday. Kim, the vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, and other high-level North Korean officials are set to arrive Sunday for the closing ceremony, where President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be leading the U.S. delegation.

Kim’s visit to the South is sure to stir up controversy after he was accused of carrying out atrocities against South Koreans during his time as the head of North Korean military intelligence.

Kim Yong Chol will be leading the North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony.

Kim, 72, is believed to have plotted the attack on Cheonan, a South Korean warship, and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 that left 46 sailors dead. He’s also accused of planting landmines across the Demilitarized Zone, according to Yonhap News Agency. Two South Korean soldiers have been severely wounded by landmines — though North Korea vehemently denied any involvement.

During Kim’s time in the intelligence agency, which is called the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea was suspected of carrying out the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The department is tasked with carrying out cyber warfare and intelligence operations against other countries.

The North Korean general is also blacklisted under the unilateral sanctions in South Korea and the U.S. The South’s Unification Ministry said Thursday the blacklist status shouldn’t be an issue because the sanctions don’t include a travel ban.

Kim Yong Chol is accused of carrying out several attacks on South Korea, including one that killed 46 sailors.

It’s unclear if Trump will meet with Kim when they cross paths at the closing ceremony.

Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and other North Korean officials attended the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang for a three-day visit. She became the first member of the Kim family to travel to South Korea.

Kim Yong Chol is currently the vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee.

That visit racked up a $223,237 bill spent on housing the delegation in a five-star hotel, food and transportation, Reuters reported.

In comparison, the Hermit Kingdom spent about $50,000 to train and prepare 22 North Korean Olympics athletes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Evidence Linking Alleged Florida Shooter To White Supremacist Group Is Really Thin

WASHINGTON ― Law enforcement officials in Florida have reportedly not yet found ties between the Parkland school shooting suspect and the white supremacist paramilitary group Republic of Florida, despite claims from the group’s leader. Those claims were widely circulated by news outlets on Thursday.

As of Thursday evening, it was seemingly too soon to say what might have motivated Nikolas Cruz, 19, to allegedly shoot at least 17 people to death at his former high school. It was likewise too soon to say whether Cruz held any white supremacist views. So far, though, the evidence linking him to this specific white supremacist group is thin. (We will update this story if that changes.)

Jordan Jereb, an ROF leader, told the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday that Cruz participated in training exercises with the group, but that the group hadn’t ordered Cruz to carry out the school shooting. Multiple media outlets, including HuffPost, picked up the ADL’s report and repeated the claim that Cruz was an ROF member. In several reports, Jereb, an obscure white nationalist figure, was the sole source.

“We are still doing some work, but we have no known ties between the ROF, Jordan Jereb or the Broward shooter,” a Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesman told the Tallahassee Democrat. The sheriff’s office has arrested Jereb at least four times since January 2014 and has been monitoring ROF’s membership, The Associated Press reported.

By Thursday evening, Jereb appeared to be backing down from his claim.

“There was a misunderstanding because we have MULTIPLE people named Nicholas in ROF,” a user named @JordanJereb posted on Gab, a social media platform popular among fascists and racists. “Are you really going to blame ME for the lying jew media? We know they are liars. Fuck em,” the user wrote. (HuffPost messaged the user, who had posted about ROF months before Wednesday’s shooting, but was not immediately able to confirm his identity.)

HuffPost has not found evidence that Cruz was affiliated with ROF — or that he had even interacted with anyone in the group. Jereb did not respond to repeated requests for proof of Cruz’s involvement with ROF. Cruz’s Facebook and Instagram were taken down after the shooting. On one of his since-deleted Instagram profiles, Cruz wore a “Make America Great Again” hat and shared pictures of an assortment of guns and knives.

The FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the shooting, declined to comment.

The existing reporting on the supposed ties between Jereb and Cruz is inconsistent. Jereb told the Miami Herald he has never personally met Cruz. But ABC reported that three former classmates of Cruz identified him as part of the ROF. The former classmates claimed that Cruz was “often seen with Jereb.” Jereb’s last address listed in public records is in Tallahassee, 430 miles from where the shooting took place. ABC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how it verified the identities of Cruz’s former classmates.

A spokesman for the ADL, which first reported the supposed tie between the ROF and Cruz, told HuffPost on Thursday that “it is for law enforcement to 100% confirm that he was a part of this group.”

“Given what we found today and the timing of the case, there is no doubt the information raises a red flag and should be investigated further,” the spokesman said.

As reports of Cruz’s supposed link to ROF appeared in the media, members of an “alt-right” white supremacist forum claimed the entire story was an attention-grab by Jereb, or possibly a hoax aimed at tricking media outlets into pushing a false narrative.

Jereb already comes across as a caricature of a Florida white nationalist, and he has been seeking attention for his views for years. “Jereb was a weird character even in the extremist underworld to which he so badly wanted to belong,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, wrote in 2014. Most white supremacists avoid the SPLC, but Jereb “wanted desperately to be mentioned in these pages,” the group wrote. “He flooded us with pleas for attention.”

The SPLC has not been able to confirm any ties between Cruz and ROF, Heidi Beirich, the director of the group’s intelligence project, told HuffPost. “It may seem odd that Jereb would bring attention to his group by claiming a connection to Cruz, but Jereb has always been somewhat of a publicity seeker,” Beirich said.

In 2016, Jereb was arrested for allegedly threatening a high-ranking staffer of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). The Tallahassee Democrat reported at the time that Jereb was “known to ride a bike through neighborhoods wearing para-military garb. He has filmed numerous run-ins with law enforcement.”

On Thursday afternoon, members of The Right Stuff, a white supremacist forum, claimed that the story of Cruz being tied to ROF was false. “Started out as an inside joke until Jordan Jereb literally told the media that it was true and that he was affiliated with a school shooter,” a TRS user posting under the name “Jordan Fash” wrote.

Fash posted screenshots of an ABC reporter messaging a user named “Ethan” on Instagram asking for information about Cruz. Ethan told the reporter that Cruz was an ROF member. “It was common knowledge he did rallies with ROF, I frequently saw him conversing with Jordan Jereb in person,” the user said.

The ABC reporter declined to comment. ABC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how it reported its story.

It didn’t take long for other far-right extremists to latch onto a possible reporting flub as a way to attack the entirety of the mainstream media. Cameron Padgett, the campus fixer for Richard Spencer’s college speaking engagements, tweeted that the media “will do anything to smear white people.”

In his quotes to the media, Jereb elevated anti-feminist and anti-Semitic views, and claimed that Cruz “probably used that training [with ROF] to do what he did”— an apparent effort to raise the profile of ROF, a fringe white supremacist group.

There tends to be an information vacuum after a mass shooting, and trolls and propagandists often take advantage of the confusion in order to promote their own interests. After the shooting at a Texas church last year, right-wing conspiracy theorists were quick to claim that their political enemies — everyone from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to anti-fascist protesters — were somehow connected to the shooter. Trolls will also routinely claim that Sam Hyde, a real-life comedian, is behind a mass shooting before the real shooter has been identified. In the immediate aftermath of a shooting, it’s easy for false information to spread rapidly.

In 1999, Bill White, a former leader of the National Socialist Movement, injected himself into the conversation surrounding the Columbine High School massacre by suggesting that shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold might have visited White’s extremist website before the rampage. White, who identified as an anarchist at the time, managed to garner national attention for his obscure website, which urged kids to build bombs, blow up schools and slaughter football players.

Ashley Feinberg contributed reporting.

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Family Health Care and Aesthetic Clinic

Medical services for humans begin at birth. Vaccinations are important for babies who grow until early teens taking vaccines as medical practitioner advises. Vaccines are immunity against diseases prone to strike children and adults. Vaccines for adults curb new sickness e.g. Hepatitis. Thus, medical services are general home services important for children, male and female adults, and elders. There is medical and aesthetic clinic that takes care of medical emergencies and keeping up with the body beautiful.

In the old times, medical help was limited and therefore there were different treatment centers for different purposes. Paediatricians, gynecologists, general physicians, and dermatologists give medical help to people in need. How good it would be today that all of the medical requirements are available at one place and with special care. There are many clinics and one is Curamed medical and aesthetic clinic.

Medical care is obtainable at Curamed from minor to major health conditions. Minor illness could be home wounds, homesickness, and disorders of any kind. Major health problems could be life-threatening. There is urgent medical help for important cases. Medical examination and check-ups at Curamed help patients get better early and soon.

Aesthetic cares are important for a beautiful world around us. We feel happy in a beautiful world. Aesthetic care helps people keeping up with beauty, health, and well-being. Different skin ailments such as wrinkles, acne, scars, acne, oily and dull skins exist in people who look ahead for treatment at an aesthetic clinic. Scars, dullness, and dark areas around eyes intercepts with the body beautiful. These are giving away their existence by specialized medical treatment at the clinic.

Curamed is treating people of all ages to good health. An appointment is required to be booked prior to meeting a professional for consultations. Details to book an appointment and contacts are on the clinic’s website.

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I Am Moving into My New Condo Soon

My friend sent me the link for a website about the New Futura condo development. This was no surprise because she had been trying to get me to move for a couple of years now. While I was not thrilled with where I was living, I did not want to move somewhere else that made me feel the same way. The only way I was going to move would be if I got very happy to be coming home. So far, I had not found a place that called to me like that.

All of that changed when I looked at the website link that she had emailed to me. I always humored her when she sent me a link, and I would be quite witty in my reply back on why I could definitely not move to where ever she wanted me at that particular moment. However, that did not happen this time. Read More

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Regulators Bullish On Cryptocurrency, Yet Experts Predict Years Of Uncertainty

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to address the voracious growth of cryptocurrency markets. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo offered a bullish perspective on blockchain-based assets. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton delivered a resounding warning to blockchain startups when he said: “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.” Regulators urged congress to create new federal policies.

When Virginia Senator Mark Warner optimistically compared bitcoin adoption to cell phones, the bitcoin community rejoiced. “It was clear from today’s hearing that they also understand, as Senator Warner suggested, that it may be as transformational as mobile telephony, that Americans have a right to own and use cryptocurrencies and tokens,” Jerry Brito, executive director of the nonprofit Coin Center, told International Business Times in an email.

However, most cryptocurrency experts predict months of regulatory uncertainty, followed by years of confusion as congress hammers out new laws.

I was an early investor in cell phones back in the '80s, and I believe #blockchain has the potential to be just as transformational as cell phones. As our government begins to look at #crypto, I don't think you can separate #cryptocurrencies from the technology they're based on.

— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) February 6, 2018

Partisan gridlock continues to plague congress. Disagreements over financial policies currently threaten to cripple the federal government. Perianne Boring, the founder of a Washington, DC-based blockchain industry trade association called the Chamber of Digital Commerce, estimates it will take years for congress to shape a regulatory infrastructure for the cryptocurrency market.

“The feds and the states are literally suing each other over who has jurisdiction over what,” Boring told IBT. “Even on the strictly federal level you have a patchwork of regulatory bodies that look at this through their own lenses…for example FINCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), which said it views bitcoin as a digital currency, and the IRS, which views it as property. Both part of the same Treasury Department.”

The plethora of applicable laws are cumbersome for businesses and confusing for individual users. Boring would prefer a cohesive federal solution. “A big part of what we’re doing is helping build a regulatory framework that helps promote innovation but also addresses consumer protection issues, protecting the retail investor,” she said. The CDC’s Token Alliance, which includes more than 160 blockchain experts, plans to publish a “best practices” guide to help businesses self-regulate and build trust. This falls in line with CFTC commissioner Brian Quintenz’s advice to “self-regulate” while lawmakers sort this out.

Self-regulation is necessary in the meantime, but hardly enough. Business Insider reported the initial coin offering boom raked in $5.6 billion in 2017. Many of these projects are considered “scams” by both regulators and bitcoin veterans. Cryptocurrency newbies are often swindled by questionable investment schemes wrapped in high-tech buzzwords. Boring believes education, plus cooperation between regulators and technologists, is key.

Blockchain Education Day session #2 smart contracts briefing on Capitol Hill featuring @circlepay @SymbiontIO @Microsoft @NLawGlobal

— Perianne Boring (@PerianneDC) July 11, 2017

Some of token sale projects self-regulate by limiting access to wealthy investors. Many cryptocurrency veterans worry this contradicts bitcoin’s decentralization ethos and threatens to simply recreate elitist economic structures. Broader education could help curb such wealth inequality. “If we are able to overcome this education gap, then we’ll see more people being able to use blockchain-based assets,” Boring said. “It’s hard to say how we should regulate this technology, or definitively what it is, because it is still so young. Just look at the maturation over the past three years.”

According to CoinMarketCap, bitcoin sold for roughly $222.53 on Feb. 9, 2015, yet now costs closer to $8,246.62. The community grew to include millions of users around the world, some of which see bitcoin as a global store of value or a conduit for censorship resistant commerce across borders. Meanwhile, OnChainFX estimates the value of ether tokens grew 18,837 percent over the past two years. Now Canada is exploring Ethereum’s potential for recording government contracts. Russia is tinkering with an Ethereum-based voting platform. Cryptocurrency is more than just money. Unlike paper bills, software is programmable.

This complexity makes harmonious regulation tricky at best. States such as Tennessee, Florida, Arizona and Nebraska have all taken disparate, albeit relatively welcoming, legal approaches to smart contracts. “Blockchain technology can take on this chameleon effect,” Boring said. “We shouldn’t apply laws that were written in the ‘30s or the ‘70s and expect that to work in the 21st century…It’s going to be quite a while until the industry is ready for retail consumers.”

Despite the hard road ahead, cryptocurrency experts are generally optimistic about the approach outlined in Tuesday’s congressional hearing. “It’s always exciting to have regulators come out with a positive outlook on this technology,” Elizabeth Rossiello, founder and CEO of the Nairobi-based blockchain startup BitPesa, told IBT. “It influences regulators around the world…I was recently at Davos [ World Economic Forum ] introducing regulators from my [African] jurisdictions to other regulators, sharing the progress that has been made.”

Incredible to meet @UNCTADKituyi and share @BitPesa's success in Africa with Kenyan Minister of ICT @mucheru and Energy @ketercharles at the Global Blockchain Business Council @GBBCouncil meeting in @Davos. Important discussions on power of transparent regulation for innovation!

— Elizabeth Rossiello (@e_rossiello) January 24, 2018

The World Bank ran a blockchain-pilot program for Kenyan bonds in 2017, while Japan and Singapore passed crypto-friendly legislation. The United Kingdom’s central bank is also busy exploring cryptocurrency’s potential use cases. American lawmakers may be late to the game, yet have so much to gain from the blockchain industry. “We’re seeing, one by one, the map turn green,” Rossiello said. “It takes some time for regulators.”

For now, cryptocurrency is still extremely risky. Regardless, incumbent tech companies keep flocking to the cryptocurrency boom. Telegram, makers of the messaging app with 180 million users, is planning a $2 billion ICO this year. Many experts are cautious about such ventures. All cryptocurrencies are not created equal. It takes a high level of technical expertise to find the rare, promising initiatives. “We are still in the very early days of the industry. Buyers beware,” Boring said. “If you don’t understand what you are buying, you should not buy it.”

Editor’s note: This is not investment advice. Any following statements are not legal pronouncements or endorsements regarding any specific technology. This article is merely an illustrative reflection of the opinions expressed by interviewed experts.

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