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TOPIC: crypto

Future

Will Hack For Nukes: Inside North Korea's Cryptocurrency Extortion Ring

North Korea has industrialized the theft of cryptocurrency to finance its nuclear weapons program and its state-sponsored hackers are getting better at emptying digital wallets. But global law enforcement agents are in hot pursuit, and cashing in crypto is harder than ever.

The threat on the screen was clear and simple enough: I've encrypted your files — and if you don't pay me within a week, you'll never be able to recover them.

At noon on May 12, 2017, a red alert page popped up on the computer screens of more than 300,000 Windows users worldwide, asking them to transfer approximately $300 worth of Bitcoin to recover their files.

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NFTs Are Not Dead — They May Be Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Despite turbulence in the crypto market, NFT advocates think the digital objects could revolutionize how films and television series are financed and produced.

PARIS — Advocates of a "participatory internet" (or Web 3.0) dream of an NFT future for cinematic works and animated films, despite the fact that Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency generally) is struggling. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets based on blockchain technology.

NFT converts say that digital objects could profoundly change the link between the general public and creators of cinematic content by revolutionizing the way animated films and TV series are financed. Even if, by their own admission, none of the experiments currently underway have so far amounted to much.

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Russian Oligarchs Turn To Crypto To Skirt Sanctions

Faced with a $32 billion drop in their wealth this year, Russian oligarchs are looking for assets to allow them to overcome sanctions that will increase with the invasion of Ukraine. Familiar with crises, they see bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as an escape from the hegemony of the dollar, and a way to diversify their holdings.

With the European Union and the United States delivering the harshest ever sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, ultra-wealthy Russians are turning to new tech to preserve their financial assets. Cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin (circa $32,000) and ethereum (circa $2,470) can be seen, rightly or wrongly, as life savers during financial and geopolitical crises that threaten private assets.

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A Nomad's Christmas Brood: On Crypto, COVID And The Speed Of Time

Our roving Swedish reporter's darkish holiday dispatch from Sofia, Bulgaria.

SOFIA — It was the Scottish poet Alexander Smith who called Christmas the day that holds all time together.

While that is obviously true in the Gregorian sense, Smith likely had in mind something more cosmic; perhaps that simultaneous longing for the past and future that only deep nostalgia can serve up. Yet for those of us who’ve spent our adult lives hopscotching around the world, Christmas memories tend to be an incoherent blend of vacated offices and hotel rooms and awkward well-wishing with dressed-up strangers.

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Economy
Laurence Boisseau

Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money for a blockchain-powered e-commerce app. But the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors. A cautionary tale for the crypto economy.

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.

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BBC

The Latest: Sep. 11 Troop Withdrawal, Vaccine Doubts, Even Bigger Christ In Brazil

Welcome to Wednesday, where Joe Biden chooses a major anniversary for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout is stopped and there's an even taller Christ statue in Brazil. We also look at how different countries are finding creative ways to commemorate the COVID-19 victims.

U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan: U.S. President Joe Biden has officially announced the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that led to the 2001 invasion. It is a short extension of a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal made in an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban.

New questions about vaccines made in U.S. and China: The United States, the European Union and South Africa temporarily halt the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine rollout, after a few rare cases of blood clots have been reported. Meanwhile, new questions are raised about the effectiveness of China's Sinovac vaccine, which has been distributed in such countries as Brazil and Indonesia.

Violence continues in Minneapolis after police resignations: A third night of unrest was reported in Minneapolis, following the resignation of police officer Kim Potter two days after fatally shooting Daunte Wright. The police chief in the nearby town where the killing happened also resigned after calling the shooting an accident. The latest killing happened just a few miles from where George Floyd was killed last year by police officer Derek Chauvin, who is currently on trial for murder.

20 children die in Niger school fire: Investigators are probing the cause of a fire that killed 20 children died yesterday at a school in Niamey, Niger's capital city.

Coinbase listing marks crypto landmark: The largest cryptocurrency exchange, called Coinbase, lists today on the Nasdaq stock market, a milestone for the blockchain-backed currency economy.

Somalia's president extends his mandate: President Mohamed Abdullahi has signed a controversial law that extends his mandate for two more years, according to a state news agency. Adullahi's four-year term expired in February without a successor.

World's longest rabbit is missing: Darius, the 129 cm-long continental giant rabbit has been stolen from its home in Worcestershire, in the UK, according to police officials. His owner has offered a £1,000 ($1,378) reward for his return.

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Future
Lionel Laurent

Why Big Tech Hasn't Joined The Crypto-Revolution

Internet giants have now started flirting with decentralization, to try and replace the so-far failed hopes of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

LONDON — Pop quiz: Which of Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. has shouted most to investors about Bitcoin or blockchain?

The answer is ... none of the above. Bloomberg's database of regulatory filings shows no mention of either blockchain or Bitcoin in these companies' disclosures since 2008. The closest was Netflix CFO David Wells, who said on an earnings call last year that a "borderless currency" within the next decade might be nice.

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Switzerland
Mehdi Atmani and Mathilde Farine

When Bitcoin Arrives At A Quiet Swiss Hotel

In Switzerland, famous and infamous for its secretive banks, the digital currency Bitcoin is already arriving in the real economy.

BRUGG — After 125 years of quiet existence, the Gotthard hotel, in this small Swiss town, has suddenly landed in the spotlight. Its owner Roger Widmer and his poker partner, Martin Ammann, decided to jump on the worldwide Bitcoin payment bandwagon as a way to "look cool" and attract students from surrounding universities.

The idea worked. Along with the students, journalists and television cameras, as well as a wave of Bitcoin enthusiasts from Switzerland and Germany, have arrived in the hotel in Brugg for a chance to see what it's like to use the new digital currency in the real economy of the Swiss Alps.

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