The new gold rush
Iceland is expected to use more energy "mining" bitcoins and other virtual currencies this year than it uses to power its homes. With massive amounts of electricity needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, large virtual currency companies have established a base in the North Atlantic island nation blessed with an abundance of renewable energy. The new industry’s relatively sudden growth prompted lawmaker Smari McCarthy of Iceland’s Pirate Party to suggest taxing the profits of bitcoin mines. The initiative is likely to be well received by Icelanders, who are skeptical of speculative financial ventures after the country’s catastrophic 2008 banking crash. "Under normal circumstances, companies that are creating value in Iceland pay a certain amount of tax to the government," McCarthy told the Associated Press. "These companies are not doing that, and we might want to ask ourselves whether they should." The energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing and collecting virtual currencies. Computers are used to make the complex calculations that verify a running ledger of all the transactions in virtual currencies around the world.
Plane crash kills 71
A plane carrying 71 people crashed near Moscow minutes after takeoff Sunday, killing all on board. Flight 703, operated by Saratov Airlines, was carrying 65 passengers and six crew members. The small jet went down near the snowy village of Stepanovskoe, according to federal officials. There were no survivors. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. On Sunday, officials posted the names of the people on board with ages ranging from 5 to 79. A Saratov Airlines representative told Interfax that no technical malfunction was found before departure.
Also making news
• Brazil: Sunday’s Carnival parade at Rio’s Sambadrome featured entries that blast the country’s political leadership at a moment of economic slump and political scandal. The samba parades used to be a magnet for politicians before a sprawling corruption investigation around state-run oil giant Petrobras began in 2014. Now, officeholders fear boos.
• Bolivia: The death toll from the Saturday explosion of a gas canister at a Carnival parade in Oruro rose to eight — including three kids — and authorities said at least 40 people were injured. Police believe hot oil spilled and burned a hose connected to the tank, releasing gas that exploded. — tbt* wires