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Strange Business: Bitcoin Mining Has a Real Impact on the Environment

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Plus, Samsung chairman doesn't appear to be concerned about a war between North Korea and South Korea.

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Is Bitcoin Bad for the Environment?

It sounds odd but creating new Bitcoins, a virtual currency, does impact the real-world environment. The currency exists only on the Internet, but the process of expanding the money supply -- a process called "mining" -- requires powerful, specialized computers. The "miners" solve mathematical proofs to expand the money supply, but the proofs themselves need increasing amounts of energy to be solved as they grow in complexity.

Blockchain.info, which tracks data on Bitcoin, states that within the past day, Bitcoin miners used $147,000 worth of electricity to run their hardware, assuming an average price of $0.15 per kilowatt hour. In the same period, 982 megawatt hours were used, or enough to power 31,000 homes in the US. Just as gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) and silver miners (NYSEARCA:SIL) expended considerable resources to dig up money in past centuries, Bitcoin miners use resources to grow the money supply.

Samsung CEO's Return to Seoul Brings Sighs of Relief

The return of Samsung's (KRX:005935) chairman Lee Kun-hee to Seoul last weekend, after he had spent three months travelling to Hawaii and Japan, has provided some comfort to South Koreans, who fear the breakout of an armed conflict with North Korea. South Koreans joke that his return signifies no war will occur because he would be one of the first to know of an imminent attack due to his prominence. Of course, his return indicates nothing, but it does make sense to assume that he would be one of the first individuals outside the government and military to know of a pending military strike.

Call the McDonald's Therapy Hotline?

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) landed itself in PR trouble in Boston after it used an advertisement displaying a distraught woman with her face in her hands. What caused the problem? The ad on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway trains stated, "You Are Not Alone" at the top followed by the words, "Millions of people love the Big Mac" and a 1-800 number that connected a caller to a McDonald's customer satisfaction representative. Consumers complained about its parody of mental illness, and some feared individuals under emotional duress would take the poster seriously and call the number, not realizing that it was a spoof. McDonald's announced it pulled the ad yesterday and blamed a local ad agency for the content.

A Billion Dollar Donation
Leonard A. Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) fortune, donated his collection of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pieces of art valued over $1 billion include 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Légers, and 14 works of Gris. The Met's board approved the donation at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The generous donation will put the Met at the forefront of early 20th century art.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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