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NEWS BRIEF: Week of June 5, 2017

Catch up on current events with these news highlights from last week.


Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and digital payment system, “reached a record high on Tuesday, climbing above $2,900 for the first time. That’s more than double the price at the beginning of May, and an incredible 500-fold increase over the past five years.” Experts attribute the currency’s recent growth to soaring demand in Asia where speculation has driven users to buy and sell bitcoin. Market optimism may have been influenced by “the Japanese government’s formal recognition of the cryptocurrency in April, giving it greater legitimacy in Asia’s richest major economy.”


Following Kansas City, Missouri and areas of Ohio, Washington State has become the third state to have counties without any Obamacare insurers on their exchanges next year unless other carriers join. “The development in Washington, however, is surprising because the state is one of the few to run its own marketplace, and officials are very supportive of the health reform law.

Both the commissioner and the state exchange’s CEO blamed President Trump and Republicans in Congress for fueling problems. Insurers are mainly concerned that the White House is undermining the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to buy coverage, and won’t commit to continue funding the cost-sharing subidies that reduce deductibles and co-pays for lower-income Obamacare enrollees.”


Former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday. “Comey talked for close to three hours, answering a range of questions about the FBI’s Russia investigation, and his private interactions with Trump and his thinking about how he handled the Hillary Clinton email probe.”


“Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday, a finding that rewrites the story of mankind’s origins and suggests that our species evolved in multiple locations across the African continent” rather than a single “‘cradle of mankind’ somewhere in East Africa.” “Until now, the oldest known fossils of our species dated back just 195,000 years. The Moroccan fossils, by contrast, are roughly 300,000 years old. Remarkably, they indicate that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.”


“British Prime Minister Theresa May called a general election in April, three years before it was required by UK electoral law, saying that she wanted an increased majority to “strengthen her hand” in Brexit talks.” The exit poll conducted for the main UK broadcasters is predicting that the gamble failed and that her Conservative Party has lost its parliamentary majority. Now without her party’s parliamentary majority, May’s personal authority has been diminished, calling into question what will happen with Brexit.


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