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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One of Silicon Valley’s latest stars isn’t on television or a music mogul. His name is Jeremy Gardner, dubbed a cryptocelebrity.One source of his riches? Bitcoin.Gardner, who calls himself a venture capitalist and cryptocurrency evangelist, even lives in a San Francisco house known as the Crypto Castle.“When my startup first moved to San Francisco, we lived in a dingy two-bedroom apartment with six people and we called it the ‘bitcoin basement,’” Gardner, 26, told ABC News during a tour of the three-bedroom house he now shares with other diehard cryptocurrency believers.“When we found a new house with spectacular views that really feel castle-like, Crypto Castle made sense. Little did I know it would become such a well-known name,” he added.Imagine a dorm room combined with a think tank with a revolving door of “cryptonomads.” One notable guest, he says, was Vitalik Buterin, the 24-year-old founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum who’s reportedly worth more than $400 million.If residents prefer, Gardner will accept rent payment in bitcoin, meaning the $1,600 rent could fluctuate with the volatility of the cryptocurrency.“I ran out of USD [U.S. dollars] and needed a place to live, so I knew Jeremy would let me pay rent in crypto,” Jinglan Wang, a cryptonomad and executive director of the Blockchain Education Network, said.What exactly is bitcoin?The cryptocurrency is a digital currency that uses encryption techniques to control its creation and secure transactions, independent of a central bank. The encryption techniques make it notably difficult to create any kind of counterfeit.“Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet,” according to bitcoin.org.People can purchase bitcoins or fractions of a bitcoin through online exchanges or from an individual and store them in a virtual wallet.“If you hold a U.S. dollar, the value really comes from a belief that the Federal Reserve, the central bank, won't print too many other dollars,” finance professor David Yermack of the New York University Stern School of Business said.“In the case of bitcoin and other digital currencies, you're really relying on the mathematics and probabilities behind them that provide the basis for security that you believe that there won't be too many issued because you can see the equations and the criteria for adding more units of currency,” added Yermack, who also teaches a course on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.There is a finite amount of bitcoin, only 21 million, that can ever be created, which is achieved through a virtual process called “mining.” Mining has been likened to gold mining; the more that is mined, the more difficult it is to find.Bitcoin mining requires a special computer program that is used to compete with other miners to solve complicated mathematical problems.Several companies, from Expedia to Overstock.com, have started accepting bitcoin for payment. Every bitcoin transaction is recorded in a secure, public, digital ledger called “the blockchain.”“The logic of a blockchain is that you have records of data that are stored in blocks, and the blocks are arranged in a sequence such that the prior block is an input to the next block.” Yermack said.Yermack cited the security of blockchain technology as one of the biggest benefits of bitcoin. The blockchain is “extremely resistant to hacking and sabotage in a way that the current financial system really is no,” he said.Other benefits, Yermack said, include the speed and low cost of transferring.“It's much cheaper and quicker than the financial system that we have now,” he said. “Typically, if you pay for something with a Visa card, there's a fee in the background, paid usually by the merchant, but it drives up the cost of the transaction about 3 percent. There's no 3 percent fee like th
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  • ABC News(LONDON) -- KFC has temporarily closed hundreds of locations in the UK and Ireland on Monday night after its shops ran out of chicken following delivery problems.The fast food chain switched its delivery contract to German shipping giant DHL, which had promised to “set a new delivery standard” after winning the contract with KFC.On Monday, 575 KFC restaurants were closed. Stores had initially run out of chicken over the weekend.“Due to administrative issues, a number of deliveries have been incomplete or delayed. We are doing our utmost to rectify the situation as soon as possible and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” a DHL spokesperson said.KFC’s UK division addressed the crisis in a tweet: “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.”The company added, “Getting fresh chicken out to 900 restaurants across the country is pretty complex!”KFC fans across the UK have been sharing their disappointment.One person wrote on Twitter, "Drove to two separate @KFC_UKI to find one had no chicken and one was closed. What even is my luck. Just want some fried chicken."Another tweeted, "Disaster. Took the Grandkids out to dinner at KFC only to see that it's shut down. Some chicken shortage. Took them to McDonald's but it's not the same. Crying in the bathroom. Can't show weakness in front of them. #KFCCrisis."In another example of the sense of national panic gripping the UK, a London-based local politician wrote on Twitter that constituents have written to him to express their disappointment over the KFC Borough High Street closure: "I've been contacted by disappointed #KFC customers on Borough High St #SE1 & Walworth Rd #SE17 today."
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Bill and Melinda Gates have tackled some of the biggest problems in the world -- from poverty to education and health care -- through their multibillion-dollar Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.And the couple of 25 years is not afraid to tackle the hard topics at home with each other either, Melinda Gates said."I don’t think either of us is afraid of a little bit of grist in the conversation because that’s how you get better," she said today on "Good Morning America" in response to a viewer's question asking what the couple's "arguments are like." "Sometimes one of us will learn something first, we’ll see it out in the field in Africa or we’ll read something, and so we bring that to the conversation but always with that shared goal in mind."We agree on the broad goals of where we’re going as a couple with this foundation so that’s first and foremost," Melinda Gates said. "We always have that in mind."The Gates, the parents of three children, today released their foundation's annual letter, a publication that outlines the goals of their philanthropic organization.To mark the letter's 10th anniversary, the Gates this year chose to answer the 10 toughest questions they're asked by the public, taking on their influence, achievements and the political climate."We thought the 10th anniversary, we get asked these tough questions and we are super ambitious for the world -- I mean, we want children to survive and thrive -- but these kinds of questions pressure-test for us the work that we’re doing, pressure-test our optimism," Melinda Gates, 53, explained."And I think they help us be more transparent and take people on the learning journey that we’ve had during this time."The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation employs more than 1,400 people and has distributed $41.3 billion in grants since its inception in 2000, according to its website.In the annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates write that despite headlines of political divisions, violence and natural disasters, "We see a world that's getting better.""Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago. The world is healthier and safer than ever," they write. "The number of children who die every year has been cut in half since 1990 and keeps going down. The number of mothers who die has also dropped dramatically. So has extreme poverty—declining by nearly half in just 20 years. More children are attending school. The list goes on and on."Bill Gates, 62, explained that being optimistic, and objective, about the state of the world helps them solve problems faster."Being objective about the progress the world has made, whether it’s less violence in the United States or childhood deaths going down, that allows us to see the exemplars, the heroes, the innovation and actually drive that progress even faster," he said today.Bill Gates hopes the next generation of young people is both inspired by the innovations of today and looking ahead to the problems of tomorrow, he added."I hope you can see strong models and look at how the miracles of science, the miracles of non-profit organizations, the frontiers of curing disease, letting people communicate in new ways, that you get to drive that to a new level," he said."The new generation has a lot of problems to solve so I’m excited that you’ll step up and see that our generation solved some problems but we left plenty for you to work on."Melinda Gates, who travels the world with her husband for their humanitarian work, said she stays optimistic partly by witnessing all that humans have in common."If you travel as much as I’m lucky to do, you see the commonality we have as human beings," she said."When you see a mom and a dad who care as much for that child and want to educate them as much as we do in the United States and for them to grow up, not just healthy but thrive and reach their full potential, those are our shared
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  • ABC News(VANCOUVER) -- It’s a rainy afternoon in January in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, and commuters are dashing into Burrard Station to get out of the weather and onto their trains. Above the rush, a dozen or so sleeping pigeons are sitting quietly on the roof.That is, until Avro the peregrine falcon arrives.“Birds know birds,” falconer Kim Kamstra told ABC News. “Predators send out a message. The prey is looking for that message. So, when he acts natural and looks at them in a certain way, the pigeons leave.”In December, Kamstra, co-owner of Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey with his wife, Karen Kamstra, were contracted to be part of a six-week, six station pilot program launched by the city’s mass transit company, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), a subsidiary of TransLink. The mission was simple: Scare the pigeons away from the city's SkyTrain stations.According to TransLink officials, the SkyTrain rail system is fully automated, so trains rely on sensors in its 53 stations to brake if objects are detected on the track. Last year, 142 delays were caused by birds setting off the sensors, accounting for a nearly 20 percent in delays.Plus, pigeon feces have been linked to several diseases, which TransLink officials said could raise health concerns."It's fair to say that the pigeons are a problem at most of our stations. Many are above ground and exposed to the elements, and even in underground stations, pigeons somehow get in there," Chris Bryans, a spokesman for TransLink, told ABC News.The pigeon problem has been around since 1985, when the rail system went into effect, he noted.“We’ve tried many things… we’ve tried spikes, nets and even mimicking the sounds of various birds that are predators,” Vivienne King, president of BCRTC, told ABC News. “Apparently we played with this many years ago with the falcons and [we] sort of said ‘Hey, you know, we could try a natural approach because it’s very humane.'”The theory behind the project is that if raptors and their handlers make enough appearances at stations in a semi-irregular pattern, the pigeons will associate the stations as predator territory and go elsewhere.Back at Burrard Station, Avro excitedly squawks as Kamstra delicately hoists him out of his travel crate and tethers him to his gloved fist.“Are you excited?” Kamstra jokes to Avro as the falcon squeals.Once Avro is comfortably in place, Kamstra walks casually to the station’s front courtyard and almost immediately pigeons flee out of fear. Soon after, other birds start circling and cawing from above.“Those are gulls flying up above us, and when they make that crying noise, that’s actually an alarm call that there’s a predator in the neighborhood,” Kamstra said. “And nobody likes the predators living in the neighborhood.”Avro doesn’t seem fazed by the chaos ensuing around him. Occasionally he tries to fly off Kamstra’s fist, only to be thwarted by his tether.“Some days I think he’s questioning me like, ‘Why can’t I just fly around and scare them?’ That definitely has got to be going through his head,” Kamstra said.Of the 30 raptors that Kim and Karen Kamstra keep on their 2-acre property in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Avro is Mr. Kamstra’s favorite. Mrs. Kamstra jokes they’re “two peas in a pod” because “he trusts Kim more. Just because Kim and Avro spend so much time together.”Avro, 6, was adopted by Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey when he was around 3 months old. In addition to the railway pilot program, Kamstra and Avro have also worked in orchards, blueberry fields, educational events and one of Vancouver’s busiest tourist hotspots, Granville Island.“As you heard him earlier, he does like to talk,” Kamstra said of Avro’s personality. “And tha
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  • Jacopo Raule/GC Images(NEW YORK) -- Talks between TWC and a group of investors led by former Small Business Administration chief Maria Contreras-Sweet broke down after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit Sunday evening, a source familiar with the negotiations told ABC News.At this point a sale is looking "unlikely," the source said.Schneiderman and Contreras-Sweet were supposed to talk Monday about the terms of the deal, which she had not been able to discuss due to a non-disclosure agreement, the source said. The lawsuit made that conversation moot.Schneiderman filed a lawsuit that named the company, Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein as the deal was about to close in part out of fear alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct would not be properly compensated."It is critically important that any deal to buy the company's assets ensure first that victims will be adequately compensated, that employees will be protected moving forward and that company executives who perpetuated or enabled the pervasive sexual misconduct at TWC not be rewarded," Schneiderman said.The investor group had offered to put aside $50 million for victim compensation and re-imagined the company as female-led. Schneiderman disputed that those terms had been assured."As of yesterday there was no deal that would have met these standards," Schneiderman said.He added that he is open to a sale, noting that at this stage he is not seeking a temporary restraining order to block one.Representatives for The Weinstein Company and Bob Weinstein could not be reached over the weekend to discuss the lawsuit, though Harvey Weinstein's attorney Ben Brafman said that many of the allegations against his client are "without merit.""While Mr. Weinstein's behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or TWC," Brafman said. "If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation. If the purpose however is to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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