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Bitcoin ransoms just are not what they used to be

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Give me bitcoin or your life. Seriously?

The people behind a rash of bomb threats made across the United States and Canada on Thursday demanded a $20,000 ransom to be paid in bitcoin. Authorities said none of the threats – emailed to hundreds of businesses, public offices and schools – appeared credible.

Frankly, the perpetrators would have been better off asking for Turkish lira.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long been a favorite ransom tender for cyber criminals thanks to the currencies’ anonymous nature. U.S. cyber security firm Chainalysis estimates that from 2012 through 2017, global ransom payments using bitcoin totaled at least $31 million.

Anonymity aside, of course, the big appeal was an incredible run-up in bitcoin’s value over that time. It shot from $5 a coin at the start of 2012 to nearly $20,000 at this time last year, according to data from Bitstamp, one of the larger bitcoin exchanges.

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Today? Not so hot.

Bitcoin on Thursday was trading at around $3,250, down more than 80 percent from its record high. In the last three months alone it has plunged 50 percent.

Even the currencies of some crisis-hit economies like Turkey have done better: The lira is up 30 percent since August.

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Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfus and Anna Irrera in New York; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Matthew Lewis


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Here’s the ugly racist history behind tipping — and how it still persists today

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On Saturday, writing for Politico, minister and civil rights activist Rev. Dr. William Barber applauded House Democrats' plans to not only raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, but eliminate the much lower "tipped wage" of $2.13 an hour and require tipped workers to also be paid at least the minimum.

This is important, wrote Barber, because the roots of businesses forcing their workers to rely on tips for a proper wage is deeply rooted in America's history of racial tension.

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Black GOP strategist called on the carpet by Joy Reid for trying to sidestep Trump’s racist rally as ’empowering’ voters

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An "AM Joy" panel on MSNBC descended into talking over each other as host Joy Reid confronted a black GOP consultant over Donald Trump's racist rally in North Carolina.

Presenting the conservative point of view, Republican strategist Lenny McAllister was asked point-blank by the host, "Lenny, hold on a second, because you as a man of color yourself -- do you feel comfortable in a party that does rallies like that?"

McAllister pushed back saying he had walked away from just those type of events, before admitting, "To the greater point. They're using racism as an avenue through which people feel empowered, they lend you the loyalty, they give you the vote. What Republicans need to do is continue to empower people, but not by using racism and not by using phobia."

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Dershowitz and Trump should both be worried what Jeffrey Epstein will reveal when he looks to cut a deal: ex-prosecutor

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On Saturday, Georgetown Law professor and former federal prosecutor Paul Butler discussed the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case with MSNBC's Joy Reid, and the conversation turned to Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz's increasingly furious battle with David Boies, a prominent lawyer representing some of Epstein's alleged victims. Dershowitz has been accused by one of the women of also abusing her at one of Epstein's parties, a claim he categorically denies.

"I've had sex with one woman since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein," said Dershowitz in a Fox News clip Reid played for her viewers. "I challenge David Boies to say under oath that he's only had sex with one woman during that same period of time, he couldn't do it. So he has an enormous amount of chutzpah to attack me and to challenge my perfect, perfect sex life during the relevant period of time."

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