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Are the good times coming to bitcoin? The cryptocurrency’s value surged past $4,200 for the first time after a processing upgrade raised hopes of speedier transactions. Because of a cap on the amount of data processed by bitcoin’s blockchain, booming popularity was slowing things down. But a faster solution, called SegWit2x, was activated last week. Bitcoin has risen more than threefold this year. — Leila Taha and Andy Reinhardt
After Charlottesville. The CEO of American drugmaker Merck & Co. resigned from President Trump’s council of manufacturing executives as a “matter of personal conscience,” following the violent weekend clashes in Virginia and Trump’s failure to criticize white supremacist groups. Trump immediately lashed out at Ken Frazier via Twitter, saying that the drug exec, who is black, now “will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Germany campaigns. German voters go to the polls on Sept. 24 for what may be the biggest decision in a year of key European elections: whether to give Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term. Political rivals facing her daunting lead in the polls are attacking her over the diesel scandal and her ties to Donald Trump. Germany’s electoral system is more complex than many other parliamentary democracies, so we’ve broken down how voters will go about choosing the next government.
Keep your friends close. As cabinet secretary, Avichai Mandelblit saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda through parliamentary battles and actual wars. Now attorney general, he has to decide whether his political patron should be indicted on corruption charges stemming from allegations involving champagne, cigars and billionaires.
Bye-bye to free insights. You may already get one or more morning briefings from brokers offering their takes on everything from politics and the markets to culture and married life. But under the EU’s new MiFID II market rules set to come into effect in January, such free insights will likely be banned. MiFID II requires firms to charge clients for research, and e-mail newsletters may fall in that category.
Serbian sensation. Belgrade isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking of technology startups, but a local videogame maker called Nordeus has grabbed the world’s attention with a football app called “Top Eleven.” It’s been downloaded more than 170 million times and has developed a cult following among enthusiasts. The company’s trio of founders is determined to stay independent.
Ringing silence. Big Ben, the bell inside London’s most famous clock, will fall quiet for four years starting Monday Aug. 21. The 13.7-ton bell, which sounds every 15 minutes, will stop ringing to ensure the safety of the people working on the renovation of Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower. It has rung largely uninterrupted for the last 157 years.
It’s just protein. Fancy a burger made of beetle larvae or some mealworm meatballs — perhaps spiced up with oregano and chili? Swiss shoppers at the Coop supermarket chain will soon be able to test their appetite for less-common alternatives to beef and pork.
“These products are perfectly suited for those who want to learn about the culinary diversity of insects,” says Coop procurement manager Silvio Baselgia.
Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha