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Bitcoin, Other Cryptocurrencies Plummet This Weekend

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 22:34
"The mania that drove crypto assets to records as Coinbase went public last week turned on itself on the weekend," report Bloomberg — as the price of bitcoin took a big dive: The world's biggest cryptocurrency plunged as much as 15% on Sunday, just days after reaching a record of $64,869. It subsequently pared some of the losses and was trading at about $56,440 at around 8:25 a.m. in Tokyo Monday. Ether, the second-biggest token, dropped as much as 18% to below $2,000 before also paring losses. The volatility buffeted Binance Coin, XRP and Cardano too. Dogecoin — the token started as a joke — bucked the trend and is up 7% over 24 hours, according to CoinGecko. The weekend carnage came after a heady period for the industry that saw the value of all coins surge past $2.25 trillion amid a frenzy of demand for all things crypto in the runup to Coinbase's direct listing on Wednesday. The largest U.S. crypto exchange ended the week valued at $68 billion, more than the owner of the New York Stock Exchange... Dogecoin, which has limited use and no fundamentals, rallied last week to be worth about $50 billion at one point before stumbling Saturday. Demand was so brisk for the token that investors trying to trade it on Robinhood crashed the site a few times Friday, the online exchange said in a blog post. There was also speculation Sunday in several online reports that the crypto plunge was related to concerns the U.S. Treasury may crack down on money laundering carried out through digital assets... Besides the "unsubstantiated" report of a U.S. Treasury crackdown, Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto lender Nexo, said factors for the declines may have included "excess leverage, Coinbase insiders dumping equity after the direct listing and a mass outage in China's Xinjiang province hitting Bitcoin miners."

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Edward Snowden's NFT Self-Portrait Sells for $5.4 Million in Charity Auction

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 20:34
Gizmodo reports: The latest big name to get in on the NFT craze is former intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who on Friday auctioned off an original NFT art piece for roughly $5.4 million worth of the cryptocurrency Ether. Titled "Stay Free", it's a digital self-portrait made out of pages from a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that ruled the National Security Agency's widespread surveillance of phone records violated the law, a practice Snowden brought to light in 2013 by leaking classified NSA secrets to journalists... The NFT sold for 2,224 Ether, worth just over $5.4 million at the time of publishing. All proceeds from this sale will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit that develops open-source tools for whistleblowers and works to shield journalists from state-sponsored hackers and government surveillance. Snowden has led the organization as president since 2017.

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What Happened After Elite Universities Made Standardized Test Scores Optional?

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 18:36
The New York Times reports: Whether college admissions have changed for the long haul remains unclear. But early data suggests that many elite universities have admitted a higher proportion of traditionally underrepresented students this year — Black, Hispanic and those who were from lower-income communities or were the first generation in their families to go to college, or some combination — than ever before... The easing of the reliance on standardized tests, which critics say often work to the advantage of more educated and affluent families who can afford tutors and test prep, was most likely the most important factor in encouraging minority applicants. Only 46 percent of applications this year came from students who reported a test score, down from 77 percent last year, according to Common App, the not-for-profit organization that offers the application used by more than 900 schools... Schools had been dropping the testing requirement for years, but during the pandemic a wave of 650 schools joined in. In most cases, a student with good scores could still submit them and have them considered; a student who had good grades and recommendations but fell short on test scores could leave them out. Most schools have announced that they will continue the test-optional experiment next year, as the normal rhythm of the school year is still roiled by the pandemic. It is unclear whether the shift foretells a permanent change in how students are selected.

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Proposing an Alternative To Renting or Owning a House: Publicly-Owned Housing

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 17:37
"Renting is terrible. Owning is worse. A third option is necessary," argues a recent article in the Atlantic, "a way to rent without making someone else rich." It's written by Shane Phillips, who's the Housing Inititiative Project Manager at UCLA's Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies: Largely as a consequence of housing prices, Generation X held less than half as much wealth in 2019 as Baby Boomers of the same age did two decades earlier, and Millennials are on course to hold even less. Something has gone catastrophically wrong, and the problem won't be solved by doubling down on homeownership; we've seen where that leads. But our current model of renting — a lifetime of uncertainty only to make someone else rich — won't do the job either. We need something new, an innovation on par with the government's development of 30-year mortgages nearly a century ago. We need a housing option that combines the accessibility, flexibility, and limited risk of renting with some of the stability and wealth-generating potential of homeownership. His suggested solutiion? A public-ownership rental option: The foundation of the program would be quite simple: public ownership of housing, acquired or built with government loans — though run by local for-profit or nonprofit property managers — and rented at market prices. No saving for a down payment (or being given one by family) and no qualifying for a mortgage. The only requirements for participation in the public-ownership option would be (1) move in, and (2) pay rent. As the loans were paid down, the equity would accrue to the tenants, minus the cost of operating and maintaining the building, administrative costs, and so on. Unlike rent-to-own programs, however, this option would never require that the tenant take out a mortgage. A renter would never truly "own" her unit. But she would claim a stake in the public portfolio of properties and be able to draw on that asset, perhaps in the form of monthly payments after a few years of renting, or larger dividends later in life, much like Social Security. The benefit could be transferred to any publicly owned apartment, allowing tenants to build wealth without being locked in place. After 35 or 40 years, a tenant might no longer owe any rent at all... Renting in a public-ownership building would be an option for the large number of middle-income individuals who lack the resources or the immediate desire to become homeowners.

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How a True-Crime Podcast Led to an Arrest in a 25-Year-Old Cold Case

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 16:37
"A true-crime podcast has been credited with providing valuable information in a missing person case from the 1990s after two men were arrested," reports Newsweek: Kristin Smart, 19, of Stockton, California, went missing in May 1996 after returning to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo. The case received widespread attention from Chris Lambert's Your Own Backyard podcast dedicated to investigating Smart's disappearance, which he began in September 2019. The last person who was thought to have seen Smart alive was Paul Flores, 44, who was also a freshman at the time, when he offered to walk Smart back to her dorm. Since Smart's disappearance, Flores has been a person of interest, suspect, and prime suspect. Now, District Attorney Dan Dow alleges that Flores killed her in his dorm room following an attempted rape. On Tuesday, April 13, Flores was arrested for her murder, and his father Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested as an accessory to murder for allegedly helping his son conceal Smart's body, which has never been found. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said that they arrested the father and son on Tuesday after a search at Ruben Flores' home using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs last month resulted in new evidence linked to Smart's disappearance... Parkinson also credited the Your Own Backyard podcast with raising awareness of the case which resulted in "valuable information" after a key witness came forward. The Associated Press calls it "the latest in a line of true-crime podcasts credited with producing results in court," noting investigations by the Up and Vanished podcast also "led a man to confess to killing a Georgia beauty queen." And they list some of the "compelling clues" uncovered by the podcaster investigating Kristin Smart's disappearance: A former colleague of Paul Flores' mother, Susan Flores, told him Mrs. Flores came into work after Memorial Day weekend 1996 — when Smart went missing — saying she didn't sleep well because her husband had gotten a phone call in the middle of the night and left in his car. "The speculation has been all along that Paul called his dad in the middle of the night and his dad came up and helped him get rid of Kristin's body," Lambert said. A tenant who lived for a year at Susan Flores' home told him she heard a watch alarm every morning at 4:20 a.m. Smart had worked as a lifeguard at 5 a.m. at the Cal Poly pool, so it's possible she set her watch to wake up at that early hour.

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