North Korea Holds Massive Military Parade Ahead Of 2018 Winter Olympics

North Korea staged a large military parade on Thursday, just one day before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The parade was reportedly held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of founding of the country’s armed forces, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News, but it also marks a display of power mere hours before the North is expected to march under a unified flag with the delegation from South Korea. 

The Associated Press reported that tens of thousands of people watched and participated in the parade, but Yonhap noted that the display was both smaller and shorter than past similar events. The parade was also not broadcast live, a decision that Yonhap described as “an attempt to keep it low-key.”

North Korean state television broadcast footage of the parade a few hours after it concluded. The footage appeared to have been edited, the AP noted.

Foreign media was largely absent at the event, but Michael Spavor, the head of a non-profit consulting firm that facilitates work in North Korea, tweeted several video and photos he said were taken from the sidelines of the parade:

Images taken at the parade showed a procession of trucks carrying soldiers and military personnel passing large crowds, followed by a contingent of tanks. Footage from the official broadcast also showed what looked like several intercontinental ballistic missiles, including the newly developed Hwasong-15s, which North Korea claims is capable of hitting the U.S. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also delivered a speech celebrating the country’s military prowess.

Nearly 300 North Koreans crossed the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries on Wednesday to participate in the Olympics, including 229 women that were part of a large “cheering squad,” The Washington Post reported. They will soon be joined by a high-level delegation of senior officials, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong. They are scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday.

The Post notes that if the visit goes forward, she would be the first member of the Kim family to ever visit the South, a significant development in the fraught relationship between the two nations.

Kim is expected to arrive on Friday for the Opening Ceremony and stay for three days. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is also attending the games this week, told reporters on Thursday that he has no plans to meet with North Korean officials.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Netanyahu Lauds Pence Ahead of Israel Arrival: ‘There Is No Substitute for U.S. Leadership’

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Cryptocurrency crime wave could be dead ahead

Along with the unprecedented surge in value, cryptocurrencies saw an equally unprecedented number of controversies. In December, the US Securities and Exchange Commission acted for the first time to halt a fast-moving Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fraud that had raised up to $15 million from thousands of investors by promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month. The same month, leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase suspended trading due to suspicions of insider dealing.

While fraud, as well as insider trading, are seen as inherent risks for digital currencies, it is still hacking that poses a far more severe threat for investors eager to gain from the new asset. Cyber-theft is increasingly widespread and extremely difficult for the average person to avoid.

Cybercrime has been a sore point in the industry from the very beginning. Nearly 33 percent of bitcoin exchanges were hacked between 2009 and 2015, according to a report from the US Department of Homeland Security, published in 2016. The agency also highlighted one-off scams and attacks on individual investors throughout that time.

However, if bitcoin and its peers continue to grow despite the recent plunge in value, it may trigger many more hacker attacks, as cybercriminals go where the money is, and the money is definitely in bitcoin at the moment. Cyberheists are highly profitable with a single attack able to bring in millions of dollars. So, a further surge in crypto markets may lead to the extension of traditional malware operations beyond banking Trojans, ransomware, carding, with cryptocurrency investors expected to fall victims as well.

Cryptocurrency savings are highly vulnerable to hacking and investors can do very little to stop them. Moreover, those assets cannot be legally protected as there is no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance for cryptocurrency, which could mean all the losses due to theft or fraud would not be reimbursed.

Digital exchanges, virtual wallets, ICOs, Decentralized Autonomous Organization, mining firms, virtual private servers and hosting services have been attacked by hackers for years. Bitcoin mining corporation NiceHash was hacked on December 7th with its customers losing over $60 million, reports Yahoo Finance. Moreover, Tether was reportedly hacked for $31 million last year. The cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex lost $77 million after a hack attack the previous year.

The collapsed bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was hacked for $450 million in 2014. In 2012, hackers stole $200,000 and $250,000 from Online web host Linode and the bitcoin exchange BitFloor. Some $225 million has been stolen from cryptocurrency investors last year alone, according to a report presented by New York-based research firm Chainalysis.

According to recent news reports, there has been a massive growth in a new type of malware that targets virtual currencies with cybercriminals mastering new ways of stealing bitcoins. Via so-called phone-porting, a hacker is able to hijack a person’s bitcoin account by first stealing their phone number. According to the US security services Dell SecureWorks, this type of malware increased by 1,123 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Security measures individual investors may take to defend their accounts from heists include; installing antivirus with anti-phishing support, setting up a firewall, protecting internet connections with a VPN, adding two-factor authentication and password managers to safeguard logins, and using hardware wallets to store the cryptocurrency, says Jason Glassberg, a co-founder of Casaba Security.

“However, in an age when even well-resourced corporations and government agencies struggle to contain the hacker threat, no one will ever be 100 percent safe. Those who invest in cryptocurrency need to be prepared for losses,” Glassberg wrote.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Son’s NYE murder ‘countdown’ posted online ahead of gruesome attack

The 61-year-old woman died at a house in the French town of Remouillé in the early hours of January 1, after receiving stab wounds to the throat, reported Presse Ocean. A second person, a man, also received injuries in the attack, which police suspect was carried out by the 36-year-old son of the couple.

It’s since emerged that a grisly countdown to murder was posted on the internet prior to the New Year’s Eve attack. A screengrab of the countdown, obtained by France TV Info, reveals that it is titled: “Decapitation of Therese H.”

The post sets the date for the gruesome act as January 1, and identifies a location for the attack near Nantes.

It is thought the suspect turned up at the house in Remouillé just before midnight on December 31 as a party was underway. The 36-year-old suspect, whose identity is yet to be released, will now appear in court charged in connection with the death of the woman and the attempted murder of the male victim.

He will also undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to Le Parisien. has contacted the Remouillé police for further comment.

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US ready to talk to N Korea: ‘It’s a breakthrough, but many twists & turns might be ahead’

The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington is willing to engage in direct talks with North Korea over the country’s nuclear program.

“We’re ready to talk anytime they’d like to talk,” Tillerson said about North Korea on Tuesday afternoon at an Atlantic Council think-tank event in Washington.

The statement came two weeks after North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.

RT: Rex Tillerson admitted the possibility of peace talks with North Korea. Do you think talks could actually happen?

Joseph Cheng: I guess so. Obviously, the negotiations will be very frustrating, they will be quite slow, but this is a very important breakthrough in a sense that the Donald Trump administration has finally come around and accepted the importance of negotiations. In the past weeks, it has been proven that various attempts to indicate the use of violence has been proven empty and ineffective. The use of military means on the part of the US does not have the support of Seoul and meets significant opposition from Beijing and Moscow. At least, the parties concerned are willing to talk, and that is important that Rex Tillerson has indicated that negotiations hopefully will begin without any preconditions.

RT: Back in October, Trump said talks with North Korea would be a “waste of time.” Are we seeing a reversal of US policy on North Korea?

JC: We all know that Donald Trump is rather unpredictable and there may be different views existing in his administration. At least, this is an important beginning. There may well be a lot of twists and turns and a lot of pitfalls ahead, but the world has got to understand that negotiations are possible and that the Donald Trump administration is at least willing to try to negotiate.

RT: To what extent has previous warnings from the Trump administration (about destroying North Korea) damaged the prospect of peace talks?

JC: Negotiations normally demand an appropriate atmosphere; the threat of the use of force, fiery rhetoric does not help. Especially, when the Donald Trump administration and Kim Jong-Un administration are both very concerned with the respective images and international standing. The indication of the willingness to talk is just the beginning, and there are many difficulties ahead. One can rest assured that rational governments understand the tremendous danger of a nuclear war and the danger of intentional or unintentional escalation leading to the prospects for the possibility of war.

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May clinches Brexit divorce deal: Here’s what still lies on the long road ahead

Although everyone seemed ecstatic that an agreement had been reached, it’s far from being there yet. First, the UK government needs to put forward the draft agreement to the European Council (EC) so the other 27 members of the European Union can add their seal of approval to the proposed deal.

In a two-day meeting on December 14 and 15, the EC will review the most recent developments in the Brexit negotiations.

The 27-chair EU committee will discuss whether “sufficient progress” has been achieved on the three big issues for Brexit: the Irish border, Brexit financial obligations, and the rights of citizens on both sides of the EU/UK fence.

Once all 27 EU parties have signed off on May’s Brexit agreement, discussions can finally advance to phase two – trade negotiations.
The UK government and the EU will hash out what future trade agreements will look like post-Brexit.

If all goes well and there are no further delays (fingers crossed for Theresa May), Britain will leave the EU at 11pm UK time on Friday 29 March, 2019.

So with 476 days left to go until the UK is supposed to leave the EU, the one big question remains – will Theresa May’s government actually get Brexit through on time?

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