Robert Smith and Keith Romer | Planet Money
Charlie Shrem had a prison epiphany. Instead of using packets of mackerel to buy and sell things, inmates should use something more like the digital currency Bitcoin. He even came up with a way it could work in prison, never mind that it was Bitcoin that got him arrested in the first place.
Before getting locked up, Shrem had run the company BitInstant. BitInstant made buying Bitcoin as easy as purchasing a money order. By the time he was 22, Shrem had hired dozens of employees, found a brand new office in Manhattan, and was processing a million dollars a day.
Shrem though ended up helping some of the wrong people trade dollars for Bitcoin: buyers and sellers of illegal drugs on the website Silk Road. As he was getting off a plane from Europe to New York, Shrem was arrested. He was convicted of aiding and abetting an unlicensed money transmitter, and sentenced to two years in federal prison.
While Shrem was behind bars he began to see Bitcoin in a new light. So did the rest of the world. Now he's got a new idea, and he's trying to convince investors to give him a second chance.
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“Beneath Ukraine's Battlefields, Some Sanctuary And Sparkling Wine”
Christopher Miller | Radio Free Europe
Yuriy, who asks that his last name not be used, continues to host connoisseurs or the simply curious here at Artwinery, a maze of winemaking and climate-controlled caves originally opened in honor of Soviet leader Josef Stalin's birthday in 1950.
Aboveground, signs of the only active war in Europe are omnipresent in this historic salt-mining city of about 100,000 residents just 20 kilometers from the front lines where Russia-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian government troops.
Checkpoints are in place at every entrance to the city. Armed soldiers in fatigues roam streets scarred by tank tracks. Apartment buildings are spray-painted with the words "bomb shelter" in Russian. There is more foot traffic in and out of military apparel shops than the city's fashion boutiques. Helicopters routinely buzz overhead, delivering wounded troops from flashpoint areas like Avdiyivka to the hospital here.
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“The Jobs Americans Do”
Binyamin Appelbaum, Elise Craig, Jazmine Hughes, Ben Austen, Jaime Lowe, Eric Steuer, Abe Streep, Lizzie O’Leary, Amanda Fortini, and Carlo Rotella | The New York Times
The emerging face of the American working class is a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor. That’s not the kind of work much of the working class does anymore. Instead of making things, they are more often paid to serve people: to care for someone else’s children or someone else’s parents; to clean another family’s home.
The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers. Technological progress has made American farms and factories more productive than ever, creating great wealth and cutting the cost of food and most other products. But the work no longer requires large numbers of workers. In 1900, factories and farms employed 60 percent of the work force. By 1950, a half-century later, those two sectors employed 36 percent. In 2014, they employed less than 10 percent.
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