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Hold My Purse: China Just Banned Cryptocurrency

Here’s a timeline of how we got here.

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On Friday, China officially declared all cryptocurrency-based financial transactions illegal.

The announcement was made alongside a nationwide ban on mining any and all cryptocurrencies.

In the wake of the announcement, bitcoin dropped nearly 7 percent, floating just above the $40,000 mark. Since then, the cryptocurrency leader has regained some of those losses.

As the repercussions of China’s ban trickle throughout the financial world, context is essential.

From the inception of cryptocurrency, China has been resistant.

Hoping to maintain control of its population’s finances, China has consistently sought to regulate cryptocurrency transactions.

China is barreling towards the implementation of a digital yuan—aka the country’s central bank digital currency—early next year.

Here is a timeline of the history of cryptocurrency and China:

June 2009: Only a few months after the launch of bitcoin, China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Culture bans residents from using digital currencies as means of making payments for real-world goods and services. This ban also includes the use of digital currencies utilized within video games.

December 2013: The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) takes a first step in regulating bitcoin by ordering all financial institutions and third-party providers to stop using bitcoin. The cost of bitcoin plummeted by 50 percent.

April 2014: The PBOC orders commercial banks and all payment companies to cease bitcoin trading and to close bitcoin accounts within 14 days.

September 2017: Chinese authorities ban ICOs, effectively stopping the sale of tokens. In addition, the government forces all cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country to terminate services by the end of the month. Authorities cite ties between cryptocurrency and criminal activities as a rationale for the move.

January 2018: The PBOC announces that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange will crack down on bitcoin mining through the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation.

August 2018: Authorities officially ban cryptocurrency activities in all capacities. The document calls out communication channels such as WeChat, prohibiting them from hosting any events or activities related to cryptocurrency.

April 2019: A draft from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) claims the regulator is working to eliminate permanently all cryptocurrency activities in China.

May 2020: Authorities in the province of Sichuan, the Chinese hub of cryptocurrency mining, begins seeking approval to ban mining.

October 2020: Officials threaten fines of five times the value of the cryptocurrency funds in offenders’ accounts if found to be trading cryptocurrencies.

December 2020: Authorities in the province of Yunnan, which is home to the largest mining hubs in China, are ordered to stop providing power to miners, resulting in a steep drop in bitcoin’s hash rate.

May 2021: Officials ban financial institutions and all payment organizations from providing any transaction-related service related to cryptocurrency, leading to the banning of payment gateways. Authorities also warn users against speculative trading.

June 2021: Over 1,100 people are arrested for using cryptocurrencies in alleged illegal activities, including laundering and internet scams. Weeks later, the government cracks down on mining in the province of Sichuan, citing environment pollution and resource consumption concerns. The move sparks a global conversation about the future homes of large-scale mining operations.

July 2021: The PBOC shuts down an unnamed company believed to allowing cryptocurrency transactions and warns other institutions against allowing any service related to a virtual currency.

September 2021: The Chinese government declares all cryptocurrency transactions illegal, escalating its war on cryptocurrency.

In light of last week’s decision, I hosted an emergency episode of Hold My Purse with the host of the podcast The Cheat Code, Cami Nwokedi, which you can find below.

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Delta 8 THC- What’s Behind the Suddenly Very Available but Questionable Products?

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis”

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AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File

The hemp boom is over, and now we’re seeing the results of an industry chasing profit margins.

“The industry is rolling into a green rush derivative,” explains pharmacologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Greg Gerdeman. He wants to educate the public on cannabis, especially when it comes to the latest fads. For instance, products containing Delta-8 THC have become popular, especially in states where cannabis is still prohibited. Delta-8′ s legality is a bit murky because its a synthetic compound, something Dr. Gerdeman says is a misdirection from the promises of both cannabis flower and industrial hemp.

In our recent conversation on the Erupt app, Gerdeman talked about Delta-8, reminding us that “D-8” is not a specific strain.

“Delta-8 flower is hemp flower that’s been sprayed with synthetic D-8, that’s what D-8 flower is.”

“D-8 occurs in very low concentrations in cannabis plants, as far as has been discovered to date,” says Gerdeman. None of it is being extracted directly, it’s being converted from something else in a synthetic process, and there’s no D-8 producing strains. Any flower you get that’s sold as D-8 flower is hemp that was sprayed with D-8 that was made in somebody’s lab.”

Gerdeman compared the current D-8 craze to the CBD boom of the past few years. There was a massive amount of CBD produced in 2019 after the farming of hemp became legal.

A farm field near Sisters, Oregon is readied for another hemp crop (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

“Farmers were promised the moon as though they were gonna make tens of thousands of dollars per acre growing CBD, and it was a false premise,” Gerdeman says.

Due to a skyrocketing hemp supply, with little infrastructure to turn the newly-legal crop around, the industry took a nose-dive, and experts say it could take years for the hemp market to mature.

In the meantime, all the extra hemp that was produced without a market to buy it, is being cooked and boiled into CBD products.

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis,” said Dr. Gerdeman.

You can watch our full conversation below and on the Erupt app.

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Alphabet Mafia: The Necessary Difficulty of Building Queer Spaces

With the launch of Serif, a new type of queer space is beginning to take shape, but it is harder than ever.

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Growing up, Serif CEO Brian Tran never found himself at home inside of gay bars. He found it alienating that bars are the central hub of queerness.

“It really starts with what I first experienced when I first came out… I was constantly looking at what was around me… I do remember the first feeling was like, ‘I know I am gay but I just can’t identify with what I am seeing.’”

Continuing, he beckons the question that is echoed by Serif’s executive producer, Kristen Laffey, around how to build alternative queer spaces. Within our conversation, Laffey consistently reminds us about the necessity of furthering the scope of focus for queer spaces.

The undeniable truth, which both Laffey and Tran mention, is that gay bars have historically been the center of orbit of queer life. The three of us also agree that this reality has bred toxicity in the community.

Serif exists to rid of this toxicity and to replace it with a new way of community building.

“Serif is designed to be a space where LGBTQIA+ people can have meaningful connections through experiences that we produce. Through these experiences we can form connections through conversations that happen right in front of you and then you get to connect afterwards.”

Serif members are encouraged to take part in a spectrum of both virtual and in-person events. Each experience is catered to unique subsets of the community and attempts to shine a light on specific areas that are often underrepresented.

This attempt to truly create safety and equity for the entire community, as Tran points out, is at the core of the brand’s mission. We all agree that a majority of queer spaces give centralized importance to cis-gendered, gay men. Serif wants to change that.

Tran and Laffey each vocalize how exciting it is to be able to build something unique in its focus, particularly when more and more of the community becomes disenchanted with the idea of queer spaces.

But how does one manage that while attempting to launch a business? I bring up The Wing, an organization creating safe spaces for women in business, as a potential harbinger for how these spaces may collapse in on themselves. Over time, The Wing began to face endless challenges with sustainable equity, particularly for trans women. As I bring this up, the Serif leaders admit these challenges are inevitable for them as well. Tran knows Serif’s every move is being watched and dissected by the community. But this does not scare him. In fact, Serif encourages this feedback and a sense of community led evolution.

Find out more about how Serif plans to tackle this issue and more on our latest episode of Alphabet Mafia. You can watch this episode of Alphabet Mafia below as well as many others on the Erupt app.

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Striketober May Be Step One in the Employee Revolution

October is seeing more strikes than any month in recent memory, prompting many to consider the power of the employee and the future of corporate business.

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Talk to anyone about the labor market and two words will immediately enter the conversation: shortages and strikes.

Although the Hollywood IATSE strike was averted over the weekend, the United States is currently seeing an uptick in strikes in almost every field. As the BBC reported last week, more than 100,000 U.S. employees are currently striking. From John Deere workers to school bus drivers to symphony musicians to Kaiser employees, strikes are taking place all over the country.

While strikes are not uncommon, this month’s strikes are notable for their labor power. The strike by John Deere employees in multiple states encompasses more on 10,000 workers who are dissatisfied with their current pay and the pay raises handed to executives.

More than 28,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente in California and Oregon are also striking in hopes of having their new contract demands approved.

The Kaiser workers are only the latest in the health care sector to strike. More than 2,000 healthcare employees in Buffalo conducted a walkout at the beginning of the month. Those workers also cited better pay and conditions as rationales for their strike.

The strikes are arriving as the entire U.S. economy is struggling to return to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Are these strikes the beginning of an employment revolution?

Throughout the pandemic, the American zeitgeist around work and employees seems to have shifted. For most of the summer, labor shortages were the highlight of economic conversation, even as more businesses began to return to work. After a sequence of government stimulus packages and expanded unemployment benefits, finding employees willing to return to pre-pandemic wages was nearly impossible in a wide range of sectors.

There appears to be a new status quo for the everyday American worker and that may prove to be a reckoning for corporate business.

On top of that, according to a Gallup poll conducted in September, opinions of unions also seem to be shifting. Union support is now officially at its highest point since 1965.

Another key element in the labor shortage and resulting strikes is the complexity of immigration. Currently, more than nine million qualified immigrants are awaiting to permanent residence in the U.S. With the U.S. Labor Department’s most recent jobs report showing nearly 10.5 million job openings, immigrants could play a key role in solving the current crises.

But solving the labor shortage issue will not alleviate the pressure placed on large businesses. As strikes continue and more voices come together to demand change for employees, the corporate world will have to respond. Its response may trigger further strikes or may bring forth a new wave of employee rights.

For now, what direction this situation heads next is to be determined.

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