As per 23rd February:
01 NOR Gold 13-Silver 14-Bronze 10-Total 37
02 GER Gold 13-Silver 07-Bronze 06-Total 26
03 CAN Gold 10-Silver 08-Bronze 09-Total 27
04 USA Gold 08-Silver 07-Bronze 06-Total 21
The Netherlands are doing their best to be better for the environment. Sometimes I think: are the Netherlands not doing a little too much? Cooking on gas is not allowed anymore, driving a car is bad and using energy is actually never good, even if you have green electricity.
There was a friend visiting my roommate Ahmed. We drank tea together. She said that she always comes by bike, because even public transport is bad for the environment. She also buys second-hand clothing. She had pants that were only 15 euros. Aha! I also have trousers of 15 euros, I told them. From the Primark. No, that is not good either, she said. Because the clothing is made far away by people who get too little money for it. This friend really thinks about everything. She even thinks about the salaries of people on the other side of the world.
I drank my tea quickly and I went to my own room. I thought: if I wait a little longer, she says that life is bad for the environment. Although it is good to think about the environment, I hope that the Dutch do not dig too far into it. Otherwise, in a couple of years we will go through Arnhem by horse and cart. Then we light a fire in the garden to get our food warm and we play football with a ball of paper. Then we only have to put a very large lid over the Netherlands to keep our oxygen fresh. Because I am not sure whether the countries alongside us want to participate. I think I’m going for horseback lessons for safety.
Zijlstra told on a party meeting in 2016, that he had been present in the “dacha” of President Poetin of Russia. Poetin would have declared, according to Halbe Zijlstra, that the goal of the Russian president was to recreate the “Bigger Russia”: Baltic states, White Russia, Ukraine and “Kazachstan was also nice to have”. In short, the former USSR.
This is a disaster for PM Mark Rutte: Halbe was a very close friend of Rutte; Zijlstra was also the architect of the present coalition, although it lasted seven months to get all four parties with their noses in the same direction. The elections were March 15 last year, the new ministers were presented last October. Since then Halbe Zijlstra, as minister of Foreign Affairs, did a good job. But a journalist of a Dutch morning paper found traces of lies and that was why Zijlstra handed the King his resignation.
A Heathrow Airport worker has died after an accident which meant hundreds of passengers were evacuated from planes on the tarmac. Emergency teams have been rushed to the scene after the incident which happened around 6am at Terminal 5. Hundreds of people have been stuck on their planes, and many have complained of confusion and delays. There was a crash between two vehicles on the airfield, injuring two members of staff. One man, in his 40s, was taken to a West London hospital and later died. In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “Police were called at 6.06am on Wednesday, February 14, following a collision between two airport vehicles on the taxiway at Heathrow Airport.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We can confirm that following a serious accident involving two vehicles on our airfield, an airport colleague has passed away. Our deepest condolences go to the family and friends affected by this accident. We will be fully cooperating with the Police in the investigation which will follow.” More than 20 flights have been delayed this morning, mostly from Terminal 5, with some held back for more than an hour. The airport confirmed the incident on Twitter and said it is unlikely to cause delays. However, passengers have complained that they have been delayed. One Twitter user wrote: “Apparently there has been an accident on one of the runways at @HeathrowAirport and many planes (including this one) are parked on the apron with unspecified delays of ‘hours’. No public news of this and no useful updates from @British_Airways — anyone out there know any more?” Another said: “With respect, it is impacting journeys departing B gates – BA710 to Zurich delayed by +2 hrs and aircraft change required. Sending good wishes to injured staff.” And another wrote: “Well that’s disingenuous when 200 people in this plane are stuck. Tosh.” One passenger who had been on a Zurich-bound flight, told The Sun: “We boarded and waited and then the captain gave a series of apologies and further delay announcements. “It looks like some airport or airline staff may have been injured and police required an area to be closed off which prevented some planes from leaving their gates.” “The gate was surrounded by various airport service vehicles including two fire engines. There were blue lights everywhere.” British Airways confirmed: “We have apologised to customers for the delay to a small number of our flights this morning, following a serious incident involving two operational vehicles at the airport. We are doing all we can to ensure they will be able to depart as soon as possible. “
Disciplines per date where the Dutch Olympic Team (Team NL) participates:
There is a lot to be said for learning at the feet of the master. But as if being coached by one of the country’s greatest Olympic figure skaters was not enough, Britain’s Winter Olympic hopefuls are now borrowing some of his routines. Christopher Dean, who famously won gold with Jayne Torvill at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo, has been working with Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes as they aim to improve on their tenth place finish four years ago. He has even let them use one of his and Torvill’s most famous routines at the games, now taking place in Pyeongchang. Buckland, 28, said: “We are recreating a routine that Torvill and Dean used when they won the bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics [in Lillehammer, Norway] and that’s very special”. “It’s a really iconic routine in the skating world and we’ve modernised it and I’m so excited to perform it. It’s just a huge privilege to work with him, hours seem like minutes when we are working together, it’s so fun bouncing ideas off him.” Buckland, who is appearing at his third Games, added: “To work with him and for him to sanction us to skate a piece they’ve previously performed at the Olympics, I can’t think of a greater honour. We just feel a great responsibility to do it well.
“We are huge Torvill and Dean fans and they’ve done so much for the sport, I’ve watched all their routines so many times online, I think we know them better than they do because we’ve seen them so many times.” Perhaps it’s modesty, but Buckland and Coomes are stopping short at recreating the famous Bolero routine which scored Torvill and Dean a string of perfect sixes at the 1984 Games, in front of a worldwide TV audience of 24 million. “You don’t touch Bolero, it’s just too perfect, but this routine is probably their second most famous routine in the skating world, you couldn’t do it without his blessing and I know they’ll both be watching very closely,” he said. Buckland and Coomes claimed their first major medal at the European Championships four years ago, winning bronze. Since then Coomes has struggled with a knee injury that threatened her entire career. She shattered her kneecap in eight places and was forced to undergo two operations and months of rehabilitation, forcing Buckland to train on his own in America. At one point she was told she would never compete again, but is now ready to take part in her third Winter Olympics with Buckland. They were left disappointed by their seventh place at the recent European Championships, but have since made significant changes to their routine ahead of the Olympics. “We’ve made lots of changes and we’re really excited about it,” said Buckland. “There is new music, new choreography and I think it’s probably my favourite programme we’ve done and that makes us feel very confident.”
Pyeongchang, normally a sleepy rural ski resort, lies just 50 miles from the demilitarised zone, and the very presence of North Koreans here comes at a time when Donald Trump is talking openly of the US capacity to wipe the communist dictatorship off the map. Bach, though, would have us believe that his show is a politics-free lair, where all animosities are wiped away by the hand of Olympic friendship. It is, of course, nothing of the kind. Just a few hours earlier, Russia had reacted furiously to the announcement that bans on 47 of its athletes had been upheld. Still, in one of the great IOC fudges, 169 of them will still compete as independents. For a country that perpetrated the gravest doping scandal of recent memory at the last Winter Games in Sochi – drugging its competitors with cocktails of whisky and anabolic steroids while exchanging dirty urine samples for clean ones through a hole in a laboratory wall – it seems a laughably light penance.
In spite of Russia, there are also lashings of romance. For all that Tonga’s Taufatofua might be a shameless self-publicist, defying any predictions that he would wrap up sensibly against the chill by slathering on the baby oil again, he is also a classic Olympic cult hero, having swapped his former taekwondo career for an experiment in cross-country skiing. The next 16 days will be full of triers in the same mould. Skeleton racing, for example, brings us Ghana’s Akwasi Frimpong, who first moved to Holland as an illegal immigrant and who has financed his way here by selling vacuum cleaners. As for Britain, the prognosis is uncertain. Elise Christie, as watertight a medal prospect as Britain has, opens her campaign on Saturday in short-track speed skating, but elsewhere, the outlook has been dampened by the withdrawal of snowboarder Katie Ormerod with a fractured heel. Even Lizzy Yarnold, the flagbearer on this crispest of nights, has seen her powers attenuate dramatically since winning skeleton gold in 2014. For all that Britain has grown accustomed to Olympic medal bounties in summer, the haul of precious metal from the depths of this South Korean winter is unlikely to be lavish.
We can, at least, rely upon Sir Hugh Robertson to tell it as it is. While the chairman of the British Olympic Association has been instructing the country’s athletes to screen out any political distractions in Pyeongchang, he has also cast doubt on the IOC’s grandiose boasts of healing the rift between the two Koreas. “You want to be careful about over-claiming on this,” he said. “It’s great for the Games that there has been a rapprochement, but people watch sport for great sporting moments, not for what it is contributing to international diplomacy.” Try telling that to the choreographers of Friday’s ceremony. In one ethereal passage, the five children, the emblems of the evening, crossed a vast buckwheat field on a raft. In their wake flowed the River of Time, stirred up by a storm designed to signify the turmoil of Korean history. And yet, from among the buckwheat blossoms, iridescent fireflies – each representing a dream of the people, supposedly – glowed and rose into the cold night sky. Truly, you cannot fault the Olympics for the money spent on elaborate metaphors. The denouement, at least, was beautiful in its simplicity, as final torchbearer Yuna Kim, winner of figure skating gold in 2010, stood at the top of a slope and lit the flame, 30 rings of fire shooting towards a white, moon-shaped porcelain cauldron. Outside the stadium, a frozen river was framed by a blaze of pyrotechnics. It was a stunning coup de theatre, which not even a half-naked Tongan could upstage.
Accusations from South Korean intelligence that North Korean hackers may be guilty of the theft of $530 million of virtual coins from a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange last month have added to fears that Pyongyang may be shifting its formidable cyber prowess towards digital currency markets. The pariah regime has already been blamed for some of the world’s most audacious cyber crimes. In December, the US confirmed that it was behind May’s WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries and crippled the NHS in Britain. While the world has obsessed over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, its shadowy cyberwarfare agency, Bureau 121, has silently built a handpicked sophisticated cyber army capable of plundering international banks, military espionage and attacking critical infrastructure. But the latest accusation, suggests that Kim Jong-un’s elite computer geniuses, or hacking groups like Lazarus, who are said to be linked to North Korea, are evolving beyond the targeting of traditional banking systems to focus on the lucrative potential of plundering cryptocurrencies. South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency, speaking to a parliamentary committee this week, did not provide any evidence that the North could be behind the looting of Japan’s Coincheck, one of the largest cryptocurrency heists in history, but they have been monitoring developments closely. Intelligence officers revealed that North Korea last year sent phishing emails to cryptocurrency exchanges and stole the passwords of a significant number of members, reported South Korean newspaper, Hankyoreh.
In December suspected North Korean hackers targeted a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, stealing at least $7m worth of digital money and forcing one company, Youbit, into bankruptcy. Financial security experts believe the reclusive state is honing in on virtual coin markets to inject cash into its flagging economy, which is struggling under the weight of severe international sanctions. The targeting of digital cryptocurrencies is a recent development in North Korea’s cyber operations, noted Bryce Boland, chief technology officer for Asia Pacific at cybersecurity company FireEye. “It’s completely reasonable to expect that they are using crypto-currencies to bypass sanctions,” he said. Experts have warned that a cryptocurrency, with its anonymity, loose regulations and ability to be converted into hard currency, also offers rogue regimes like North Korea more opportunities to profit from crime.
In her recently released book, North Korea, the Country We Love to Hate, Economist Loretta Napoleoni, a terrorist financing and money-laundering expert, concludes that the country is already “ensconsed” in cryptocurrencies and most likely using it for money-laundering. Citing cyber security expert, Jeremy Samide, she points out that cybercurrencies make it easier to trade in weapons, drugs and other illicit goods. North Korea stands accused of using digital money to sell arms and buy oil from Iran and Libya. And in a sign of the importance that North Korea attaches to its cyber operations, its recruits, who mainly come from the prestigious University of Automation, are rewarded with good housing facilities and other special privileges. The theft of from the Japanese exchange is just the latest disaster among digital wallets and shows bitcoin is not the only currency to be targeted. It also demonstrated that while the networks like bitcoin and ethereum are seen as almost unhackable, the exchanges that many people rely on to store their money are vulnerable.
A new Kennedy will be on the spotlight tonight on behalf of the Democrats for the reply to Trump’s “State of the Union”. Donald Trump may be dreaming of his own political dynasty with daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner as future leaders, tonight he gets to say with a much more famous name from American politics. After the president has spoken in the State of the Union, the annual speech of the US Congress, the Democrats’ response to a scion comes from perhaps the most well-known political race in the country.
Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert Kennedy and second cousin of President John F. Kennedy – both were murdered – speaks to the nation after President Donald Trump. Despite his famous name, the red-haired son of former deputy Joe Kennedy II of Massachusetts has always been in the background. He studied at the elite universities Stanford and Harvard and worked as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic for the American Peace Corps, founded by JFK. Then he went into politics with the same economic and social opportunities for the underprivileged. Kennedy will answer from a secondary school in Fall River, near Boston.
The performance of the young Kennedy is clearly meant to hijack something from what should become a glorious and presidential moment for Trump with his first State of the Union. The moment of speaking by a Kennedy is also fraught because it is the 50th anniversary of the murder of his grandfather, Robert Kennedy. The 37-year-old Kennedy was chosen by the Democratic Party because he is “a tireless fighter for the rights of the American workers,” according to the Democratic topwoman Nancy Pelosi. The intention is to set him off against Trump, who always says a lot to do for American workers. The choice for Kennedy is also remarkable in another respect. He belongs to a rising generation of thirties in a party run by seventies. Since the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, the party is still struck and swarming.
The answer to the president’s speech is usually a formality, but the choice for a Kennedy will not be appreciated by the White House. Just like the special guest of TV presenter Jimmy Kimmel tonight in his show: Stormy Daniels, the prostitute with whom Trump in 2006 would have had a relationship.
Joe Kennedy has said he wants to build a political career carefully. If a spot is released, he wants to go for a Senate seat. That magic sticks to his name is clear. A video from a speech on Facebook drew three million viewers last year.