Ever wonder where bitcoins come from? The digital currency is really little more than a recordkeeping system, with the price of a bitcoin set by supply and demand. You can't hold a bitcoin in your hand.
The genius behind the system is that the people who do the computerized work of recording and checking all the transactions are paid in newly-mined bitcoins. But there's a rub. You have to constantly break new codes to unlock the new bitcoins (and verify the transactions,) so you have to chip away at math problems — that's the origin of the term bitcoin mining. The problems get harder as more bitcoins are mined, requiring faster and more powerful computer processors, linked in vast arrays.
The website TheCoinsman recently visited and snapped photos of a brand new, gigantic Bitcoin mining operation in China. The site reports that the four warehouses of computer processes — each 3,000 square meters, or 32,000 square feet — use $1 million worth of electricity a month and require vast cooling systems to disperse the heat. If you want to learn more about the mining process, we like CNBC's explanation of it.
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In Kazakhstan, an ad for a gay club ruffles some beards
Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and Kazakh composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly are two of the best-known cultural icons in Kazakhstan — even though they both died more than 100 years ago. So when a gay nightclub in Almaty, the Kazakh capital, was looking to advertise itself, it decided to depict the two men in a passionate embrace. The club, conveniently, sits at the intersection of streets named after the men.
Now, Almaty is one of the most liberal cities in that part of the world, but the ad didn't go over well. Twenty activists filed a lawsuit against the ad agency that created the poster, the government said it received an official complaint and, according to The Guardian, a descendant of Kurmangazy's has threatened to sue, as well. The ad won an award for the ad agency at an international competition, but in the wake of the controversy, the agency has apologized and promised not to use the image in public.
This is the essential book for Islamic terrorist wannabes
When two British men decided to go to Syria to join the Islamist extremists at ISIS, they decided they needed to brush up on their knowledge of Islam — so they bought copies of "The Koran for Dummies." Turns out, it's actually a popular selection for would-be terrorists who are hoping to fit in with the groups they aspire to join. But it also shows just how divorced from actual Islam these would-be terrorists are.
PRI's The World talked to Sohaib Nazeer Sultan, the author of the book, about what he thinks of its popularity with would-be terrorists. Sultan says they may be buying his book, but he doubts they are reading it. In his book, he says, he goes to great lengths to explain how Islam does not support the sort of violence and extremism being practiced by ISIS and other terrorist networks across the Middle East.
Superstitions over albinism turn cruel in Tanzania
Albinism, the genetic disorder where people lack all or most pigment in their skin, has led to bizarre superstitions the world over. But in Tanzania, those superstitions are taking a horribly violent turn, with albinos being attacked and their skin and body parts sliced from their bodies.
The attacks are motivated by a belief among practitioners of witchcraft that albino body parts will bring them good luck. VICE magazine traveled to Tanzania and met some of the men and women, boys and girls, who have been victims of these horrific attacks. Body parts from albinos can sell for $600 or more and are relatively popular with gold miners and fishermen, who have been reported to use bones from albinos to improve their odds.
There have been at least 147 known, separate attacks in Tanazania, but many go unreported. Most sickeningly, there have been reports of a surge in demand before elections, when political candidates are believed to seek the body parts to increase their odds of winning.
Journalists find fresh evidence of Russian soldiers operating in eastern Ukraine
The rebellion in eastern Ukraine has been largely fueled by Russian authorities, but Russia claims it has not intervened directly. Now, new signs are emerging that Russia has deployed its own forces into eastern Ukraine, to reverse what has become a rout of Russia-backed rebels by Ukraine's military.
The Ukrainian government has provided what it says is evidence of Russian forces, and now journalists in Russia have found evidence of their own. Global Voices reports that journalists have found fresh graves at a military cemetery near Estonia — and Ukraine claims Russian soldiers are coming from there — and more than 100 Russian soldiers were admitted to a hospital in St. Petersburg under suspicious circumstances. These reports, though, have been largely confined to the independent press in Russia, with no coverage by mainstream, state-owned media.
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Weather around the world
At least five people are dead and others missing after flash floods swept through South Korea on Monday. In some places, as much as 10 inches of rain dropped in the space of just a few hours. The rains were particularly harsh in Busan, the country's second-largest city, according to Al Jazeera.