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Bitcoin tops $66,000, sets record as crypto goes mainstream

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NEW YORK — Bitcoin stormed above $66,000 for the first time Wednesday, riding a wave of excitement about how the financial establishment is increasingly accepting the digital currency’s rise.

Bitcoin was trading at $66,631, up 5.2%, in afternoon trading Wednesday, after earlier climbing as high as $66,974.77. It has roared back after sinking below $30,000 during the summer to top its prior record set in April. That previous all-time high was nearly $64,889, according to CoinDesk.

The surge has come as more businesses, professional investors and even the government of El Salvador buy into Bitcoin, further broadening its base beyond its initial core of fanatics.

The latest converts came into the world of crypto on Tuesday, when the first exchange-traded fund linked to Bitcoin found huge interest from investors. Shares of the ProShares BitCoin Strategy ETF changed hands 24.1 million times in a resounding debut.

The ETF doesn’t invest directly in Bitcoin. It instead invests in the futures market tied to Bitcoin, but the industry sees the ETF bringing in a new class of investors. Someone with an old-fashioned brokerage account can buy the ETF without having to open a trading account for crypto.

Investors are getting more interested in Bitcoin because they’re always looking for assets whose prices move independently of everything else in their portfolios. One school of thought says Bitcoin can offer investors protection from high inflation, and some fans see it as akin to “digital gold,” though it doesn’t have a long track record to back that up.

More high-minded fans say digital assets are simply the future of finance, allowing transactions to sidestep middlemen and fees with a currency that’s not beholden to any government.

Cryptocurrencies are notorious for their volatility, a reason for which is the wide range of possibilities for the future, said Gil Luria, technology strategist at D.A. Davidson.

On one end, Bitcoin could go to zero if it ends up being a fad or if another cryptocurrency supplants it. On the other, it could usurp the role of the U.S. dollar and other currencies and become “all of money.” More people take a position in the middle, believing that Bitcoin can be useful and has some value.

Luria said he sees only a 1% probability of the “all of money” scenario happening, but that’s a better chance than he saw five years ago.

“To become all of money, you have to get a lot of people on board,” he said. And the last year has seen many new people come into Bitcoin as it’s hit records and become more mainstream.

“The higher Bitcoin goes,” he said, “it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

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Full Boston pension database: Your Tax Dollars at Work

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Full Boston pension database: Your Tax Dollars at Work

For the first time, here are the 12,700 City of Boston retirees listed by name, annual pension, date of retirement and last job.

To search on this database, click the magnifying glass icon (at right) and enter names and more. Use the scroll bar at bottom to move the data over to the right to sort by highest to lowest. Send any tips or questions to [email protected] See other payroll databases here. Follow the Watchdog newsletter for related coverage.

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Geoff Diehl demands Charlie Baker veto coronavirus spending bill over inadequate unemployment funding

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Geoff Diehl demands Charlie Baker veto coronavirus spending bill over inadequate unemployment funding

The sole major Republican candidate for governor in next year’s election is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to veto a $4 billion coronavirus relief spending bill he says saddles billions of dollars of unemployment debt on the backs of businesses.

“There is a clear and present need to protect Massachusetts businesses — and through them, the workers they employ — from the imminent threat of higher taxes,” said Geoff Diehl, a former Whitman state representative. “For our state to allocate recently received federal funding without adequately protecting our state’s economy from potential disaster is irresponsible and must be corrected.”

Lawmakers agreed to funnel $500 million to help pay back what could amount to up to $7 billion in debt after the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund paid out a historic number of claims amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Business industry leaders have said a minimum contribution of $2 billion from the state is needed to relieve the burden on businesses that fund the UI account through a payroll tax.

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Shelley Joseph’s appeal goes before First Circuit Court of Appeals

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Shelley Joseph’s appeal goes before First Circuit Court of Appeals

Suspended Newton Judge Shelley Joseph’s case finally went before the First Circuit appeals panel with justices questioning why she let an illegal immigrant escape from ICE agents in her court.

The panel questioned the intent behind Joseph’s actions, according to the National Law Journal. “Judicial immunity” was front and center at the hearing Monday.

“The way you laid out the case, you would say that there was no possible argument for corruption. But suppose that that is a jury issue, and the government says, ‘Actually we can and we’ll make a case of corruption.’ And so there are issues of fact, and that makes this fall into the usual category that you can never dismiss an indictment if there are issues of fact,” said Judge Sandra Lynch, the Journal reported.

No decision was announced. Joseph is trying to overturn a lower court’s denial of her appeal to have all her charges dismissed.

Joseph, still receiving her $184,000-a-year paycheck while facing a federal obstruction of justice charge, is accused of aiding an illegal immigrant’s escape from an ICE agent in her Newton district courtroom in 2018.

Retired court officer Wesley MacGregor is also facing the charge for allegedly leading the illegal immigrant through the courtroom’s lockup and exit.

The Journal reported the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts has argued that Joseph and MacGregor were corrupt because the purpose of their actions was to “frustrate the ICE agent.” The feds add judicial immunity typically extends only to civil cases, not criminal ones.

In a motion filed last year, Joseph criticized an alleged “extraordinary sweetheart deal” granting immunity to the illegal immigrant’s defense attorney, who Joseph pins as the “architect and ringleader” of the plan to allow his client’s escape through the courthouse lockup.

Joseph’s motion filing also alleged claims of bias by then-U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a Herald op-ed and television interview as well as former President Donald Trump’s public criticism of judges.

Thomas Hoopes, Joseph’s attorney, also cited in the motion 16 interviews of Todd Lyons, ICE Boston acting field director, by Herald columnist Howie Carr dating back to September 2018.

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins has been nominated by President Biden to take over at the federal court in Boston now that Lelling is gone. A vote on her appointment is now heading to the full Senate. Rollins advanced through a preliminary vote in the U.S. Senate last week.

But Republicans, most centrally Arkansas U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, are seeking to make an example out of the progressive Rollins, making her the avatar of what Cotton characterized as “pro-criminal Soros prosecutors” hell-bent on “destroying our legal system from the inside.”

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