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World at a Glance: Korean Peninsula’s Agreement, Stricter Marijuana Laws, and Bitcoin

Natalie Sherrill, Staff Reporter

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This is a quick look at events that have happened since the new year.

North Korea and South Korea discuss military relations and Winter Olympics

October 31, 2017 was the official deadline to accept the spot in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un announced on New Year’s Day that he wants his country’s athletes to compete.

Ever since Kim Jong-un announced that North Korea will be attending the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Kim and Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s leader, have been working to improve their relations.

Officials from both countries met in person for the first time in several years; their goal was that they were attempting to relieve some tensions between their militaries.

In addition to these talks in early January, the leaders of North and South Korea also met on January 15th to discuss more about the Olympics. They will march under one flag at the Opening Ceremony, and they will have a joint women’s ice hockey team, which would be the first Korean collaboration at the Olympics. This teamwork is a huge step forward in the relations between the countries.

Jeff Sessions calls for stricter marijuana laws

Washington and Oregon are among the few states that have legalized recreational marijuana, although the federal government has not legalized it. This debate between a strong central government vs strong state governments has been continuing for many years, and marijuana legalization in certain states adds more complexity into the debate.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently repealed memos placed by President Obama that stated the federal government would not interfere with states who have legalized marijuana, meaning citizens of these states could freely use marijuana without worrying about being charged under federal law.

This switch to a more involved approach will cause federal prosecutors to observe each individual case separately, rather than allowing state governments to have complete control over the decision to legalize marijuana.

Even in states where recreational marijuana is legal, the government has the ability to charge marijuana users under federal law, which means that people caught with the drug by a federal employee can be charged with an offense against federal law.

Bitcoin gaining popularity

For those of you who don’t know, Bitcoin is a completely digital, decentralized form of currency. This means that there is nothing tangible that is exchanged and it doesn’t come from a government. In spite of this, it has continued to gain popularity over the past several months and even eBay purchases can be paid for with Bitcoin.

The fascination with Bitcoin is that it is not a traditional form of currency, as it is solely online. To unlock a Bitcoin, people can “mine” for blockchains, which means they discover Bitcoins by searching through millions of mathematical equations to find one Bitcoin. After one is located, the miners can sell the Bitcoin to make a profit.

Bitcoin has been in the news a lot recently because of its growing popularity and value, hitting a high of over $19,000 in December 2017. However the value has been unpredictable, rising and falling rapidly.

As of January 16th, 2018, the value had dropped over 12% in just 24 hours, to around $11,000. Even though its value has dropped significantly since December, its overall value is still much higher than last year, more than 1,200% higher.

Although people have made money off Bitcoin, it can be risky because there are cybercriminals who attempt to steal Bitcoins or create fraudulent transactions. These actions are irreversible because it is not like a credit card that offers protection; there is no way of tracking down a specific Bitcoin to try to get money back.

Creative Commons photo source:[email protected]/4610367867/

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About the Writer
Natalie Sherrill, Staff Reporter

Natalie is a senior this year at La Salle. She plays tennis and likes to listen to music, play guitar, hike, and hang out with friends. Natalie is attending University of Washington in Seattle and plans to study Business/Marketing and Spanish.

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World at a Glance: Korean Peninsula’s Agreement, Stricter Marijuana Laws, and Bitcoin