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Quality of fake 'supernotes' found in Seoul fan suspicions that North Korea is forging $100 bills

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:10

Suspicions are growing that North Korea has resumed forging $100 dollar bills that are so realistic that they are virtually indistinguishable from genuine currency. It took a team of forgery specialists at South Korea's KEB Hana Bank to confirm that a single $100 bill found at a branch in Seoul in November was a fake. The discovery has triggered alarm because authorities have no idea how many similar "supernotes" - named because they are so similar to real banknotes - are now in circulation. While previous "supernotes" were dated either 2001 or 2003, the new forgeries are dated 2006 and are even more sophisticated in the ink, the printing processes and the material that they use. The forgeries also change colour when they are viewed from a different angle, just as genuine notes should, while the slightly rough texture of the note has also been accurately copied, a spokesman for Hana Bank told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The quality of the forgeries has immediately led to suspicion falling on North Korea, which has a track record of forging foreign banknotes in order to earn hard currency for the regime. Pyongyang is also in increasingly dire need of funds as international sanctions imposed due to the regime's ongoing development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles begin to bite. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting Mount Paektu in Ryanggang Province Credit:  AFP "It seems that whoever printed these supernotes has the facilities and high level of technology matching that of a government", Lee Ho-jung, a bank spokesman said. "They are made with special ink that changes colour depending on the angle, patterned paper and Intaglio printing that gives texture to the surface of a note". Another bank source told The Hankyoreh newspaper, "To print supernote-level forgeries, you need a minting corporation-level production line in place, which costs hundreds of billions of won. "This makes if difficult for ordinary criminal organisations to produce them". Earlier versions of supernotes have been around for at least 15 years, with US government officials estimating in 2006 that as much as $250 million worth of fake $100 bills could be in circulation worldwide. Case study | Counterfeit cash in the UK In recent years, Pyongyang appears to have scaled back its forging operation, which is reportedly overseen by the shadowy Division 39, although that may have changed given the pressure that the regime is now under. In the past, North Korea was believed to distribute the bills overseas through criminal groups and by transporting them abroad through the diplomatic pouch to embassies from where they could be slipped into circulation. In December 2011, the Irish High Court dismissed an application from the US to extradite Sean Garland, the alleged chief of staff of the Official Irish Republican Army, in connection with passing fake supernotes. Mr Garland had been observed travelling to Moscow and visiting the North Korean embassy in the company of a number of former KGB officials. Fake notes were later allegedly smuggled into Ireland and the UK and exchanged for pounds or other currencies.


Ellen DeGeneres Evacuates Her Pets As California Fire Bears Down

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:00

Ellen DeGeneres tweeted Sunday that she and wife Portia de Rossi evacuated their pets as California’s raging Thomas Fire closed in on their home in Santa Barbara County, an area packed with celebrities.


Celebrities Urge Alabamians To Stay On #RightSideOfHistory As Election Looms

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 06:37

With Tuesday’s nail-biter of a special Senate election approaching in Alabama, celebrities and others have been taking to social media to urge the state’s voters to stay on the #RightSideOfHistory.


Serial Killer Taunts Police In New Letter, Claims There Are More Victims

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 04:04

A convicted serial killer sent a letter to a South Carolina newspaper claiming police hadn’t found all of his victims ― and he’s not planning to help them.


Sen. Scott: Trump assault accusations 'were a part of the campaign'

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 02:46

In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) tells Chuck Todd that voters have had their say over allegations of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump.


Surveillance footage captures man detonating pipe bomb in New York terror attack

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:00

Officials identify the man as Akayed Ullah, who moved to New York from Bangladesh seven years ago.


Florida Doctor Delivers Baby At Gas Station

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 17:18

A gas station in Florida became a makeshift delivery room this weekend after an obstetrician was flagged down while filling up his car


Hannibal Buress Arrested For Disorderly Intoxication In Miami

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 15:53

Hannibal Buress was arrested in Miami on Saturday on charges of disorderly intoxication, People reported.


Jessica Alba Celebrates Her Baby Shower in Chic Theme Party

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 15:08

Jessica Alba hosted a tea-party themed baby shower as she celebrated the upcoming birth of her third child with husband Cash Warren.


Nobel Peace Prize winners warn nuclear war is 'a tantrum away'

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 12:29

Mankind's destruction caused by a nuclear war is just one "impulsive tantrum away", the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), warned on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over the nation's nuclear tests. "Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?" ICAN head Beatrice Fihn said in a speech after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear group.


Cory Booker Calls On Donald Trump To Resign Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 11:50

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is calling on President Donald Trump to resign over the more than a dozen sexual misconduct allegations against him.


Serial Killer, Who Murdered 7 People, Confesses to More Slayings

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 10:27

He wrote an eight page letter to a local newspaper.


Racial dispute at beloved bakery roils liberal college town

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 09:54

OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) — Students at Oberlin College have long enjoyed pastries, bagels and chocolates from Gibson's Bakery, a century-old, family-owned business near campus. That sweet relationship has turned bitter amid hotly disputed accusations of racism, roiling a school and town long known for their liberal politics.


Funeral held for Thai cadet at centre of army abuse scandal

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 09:40

A Thai army recruit whose death captured national attention after his organs were removed in mysterious circumstances showed signs of being physically assaulted, his family said Sunday, citing the results of an autopsy ahead of the teenager's funeral. The army said 18-year-old Pakapong Tanyakan died of heart failure at a training school outside Bangkok in October. Supicha Tanyakan, Pakapong's sister, told AFP that a second autopsy by the Central Institute of Forensic Science concluded he was physically assaulted because "internal bruising was found".


Here's How Many Billions America's Richest Would Save On Estate Tax Repeal

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:38

Mother Jones magazine and the progressive organization Americans for Tax Fairness have taken a look at the more lavish of the House and Senate measures to cut taxes for the richest people in America ― a mammoth break on estate taxes.


The unusual suspects: Rise of the mafia godmothers

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:21

They say it's a family business, but traditionally women in the Italian mafia were prison messengers or bargaining chips in dynasty marriages to create alliances between clans. Now as male mob bosses languish in jail, mafiosas are increasingly stepping up to head crime families - and getting caught in the process.    After seven years behind bars, one such godmother - Maria Angela Di Trapani - was freed from prison in 2015 and for the last two years has allegedly been quietly moving up through the secretive, male-dominated ranks of Sicily's Cosa Nostra. On Tuesday, the 49-year-old wife of notorious boss Salvino Madonia was among 25 people arrested in a sweeping Palermo raid, accused once again of mafia crimes, including orchestrating bold intimidation tactics to scare business owners into paying a feared mafia tax known as the pizzo.  “She operates like a man,” various mob bosses were recorded saying in prison about Di Trapani - the ultimate compliment in the man-of-honour hyper macho world of Cosa Nostra, which always gave an important role to women behind the scenes, but rarely officially. Investigators say one popular cake shop in Palermo paid €5000 in extortion money. Another bar in a well-known central square named after Pope John Paul II paid €750 at Easter, and again at Christmas. A bustling pizzeria shelled out €3000. Italian anti-Mafia and counterterrorism prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho delivers his speech during a meeting in Milan, Italy Credit: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni “I'll never forget the look she gave me from her balcony when she called out to me, warning me to be careful what I said,” said one businesswoman in Di Trapani’s neighbourhood. “Her eyes were like ice.” The Resuttana clan paid visits to tyre shops, local gyms, and some shopkeepers who didn’t pay went to work the next morning to find their rolldown storefront gates superglued shut or set alight.  This apparent increase in equal opportunities is a sign the mob is weakening, says John Dickie, professor of Italian Studies at University College London and author of several bestselling books about organised crime. About Italian Mafias “It is actually a symptom of crisis that we are seeing more women in Cosa Nostra,” he says. “It is an attempt to shore up the organisation in trouble, they are the avatars of the men – the wives and sisters of particularly fearsome or prestigious bosses, but they wouldn’t be doing it if loads of men weren’t in jail.” A crackdown on organised crime over the last three decades has failed to take down the mafia, but has effectively put a generation of bosses behind bars. Some of them are dying there, including two of the top Godfathers from the Corleone faction, Bernardo Provenzano, who died of cancer in 2016 while serving time in a Milan prison, and Salvatore “Toto’ Riina” who died of cancer last month while imprisoned in Parma.  The day after he died, Riina’s daughter changed her Facebook profile picture to a woman with her finger to her lips and the message “shhh.” Investigators said this week that Di Trapani was involved in the reshuffling going on between clans loyal to the Corleonesi in the wake of Riina’s death. “Since many of the male bosses are in prison, the women, who know everything that is happening in the mafia families, are not only the connection between the bosses in prison and the outside world, but are increasingly filling the gaps and doing what their husbands, brothers or fathers did,” said Italian journalist and mafia expert Attilio Bolzoni on RepubblicaTV. The younger sister of the Graviano brothers, Filippo and Giuseppe, has gained influence for her capacity to quickly and effectively move large amounts of money, even though both boss brothers are in prison. Those who aren’t caught, like Italy’s most wanted fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro – often turn to the women in their families for help hiding. Messina Denaro’s sister, Patrizia, took over several roles in his absence and was among the few who knew how to find him, until she too, landed in jail, where she remains today, still silent about her brother’s whereabouts.


The Army's Has Over 100,000 'New' M4A1 Rifles - Here's What They Can Do

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:10

To date, the Army has completed more than 117,000 M4A1 upgrades on the way to the eventual transformation of more than 480,000 M4 rifles. As a result, it is entirely conceivable that the Army will explore new requirements and technologies for the M4A1 as time goes on. The service’s so-called M4 Product Improvement Program, or PIP, is a far-reaching initiative to upgrade the Army’s entire current inventory of M4 rifles into higher-tech, durable and more lethal M4A1 weapons, Army spokesman Pete Rowland, spokesman for PM Soldier Weapons, told Scout Warrior in an interview.


We Now Have Evidence Russia Seems Pleased with Its Military in Syria

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 07:43

In the final days of November 2017, the Russian High Command reshuffled several positions, most notably both the Eastern and Central Military Districts received new commanders. Immediately striking is the fact that Alexander Lapin, the new Central Military District commander, is a Lieutenant General (in Russia, this is a two-star rank) whereas all the other military districts are commanded by Colonel Generals (three-stars), including General Lapin’s predecessor. The new commander in the Eastern Military District, Col. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlyov, was the commander of the Russian Group of Forces in Syria from July to December 2016.


Tim Scott: Republicans Exploring How to Handle 'High-Tax States'

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 02:05

In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) tells Chuck Todd that Republicans are trying to "sweeten the SALT" changes in the tax bill.


Al Franken Makes Santa's Naughty List On 'SNL,' But Roy Moore Makes The 'Registry'

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 00:30

Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) December 10, 2017 “Saturday Night Live’s” take on politics this week featured elf Kate McKinnon and Santa Kenan Thompson in the cold open listening to a line-up of smart kids asking about everything from opioids to Colin Kaepernick and toys — more specifically, Matt Lauer’s sex toys.


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