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September 12, 2018

Cryptocurrencies have quickly gone from buzz to bust.

"The Great Crypto Crash of 2018" is now even more drastic than when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Virtual currencies have plummeted 80 percent since January, and selloffs are only poised to worsen this month.

Even during the worst of the dot-com bust, the Nasdaq Composite Index showed a decline of 78 percent. Crypto-defenders point out that the industry recovered and went on to make a revolutionary changes to society, but for now, those who bet big on Bitcoin may be swallowing their pride to accept some major losses.

The new low among top cryptocurrencies may mean that one currency may come out on top as a "winner takes all" result. Experts told Bloomberg that winner would likely be Bitcoin, which fell the least compared to its competitors. Fervor over crypto's potential to reinvent industries all over the world had early adopters racing to buy up blockchain-powered currency, but security flaws and tightened regulations reportedly sent wary buyers running.

"It just shows what a massive, speculative bubble the whole crypto thing was — as many of us at the time warned,” Neil Wilson, a market analyst, told Bloomberg. Summer Meza

2:54p.m.

If you've previously found Star Wars' lack of Pedro Pascal disturbing, Disney is about to remedy that.

The Game of Thrones and Narcos actor is in negotiations to lead the upcoming live-action Star Wars show The Mandalorian, Variety reports. He'll apparently be playing the titular Mandalorian, a lone gunfighter whose adventures in the far reaches of the galaxy are central to the series. An image of that main character was already released last month, but he had a helmet on and his face wasn't visible. At the time, Pascal was rumored to be involved. No other members of the cast have been announced yet, though, and Lucasfilm has not yet officially confirmed Pascal's casting.

The Mandalorian is one of two live-action Star Wars shows currently in development, both for Disney's upcoming Netflix competitor, streaming service Disney+. The other is an untitled series about Cassian Andor from Rogue One, which will star Pascal's Narcos co-star Diego Luna reprising his role from that 2016 movie. While the Cassian show is set prior to the events of the original Star Wars, The Mandalorian takes place a few years after the events of 1983's Return of the Jedi but long before 2015's The Force Awakens. It's currently in production and looks likely to debut in late 2019, when Disney+ officially launches. Brendan Morrow

2:21p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton doesn't think he owes Monica Lewinsky an apology, but Lewinsky says he would be a better man if he offered one.

Lewinsky penned an essay in Vanity Fair this week ahead of the premiere of The Clinton Affair, a new A&E documentary premiering Nov. 18 for which she gave 20 hours worth of detailed interviews. In the essay, Lewinsky references the fact that Bill Clinton has never apologized to her privately; he said earlier this year he doesn't owe her an apology. Lewinsky writes that she is "disappointed for him" because "he would be a better man" if he apologized to her. "What feels more important to me than whether I am owed or deserving of a personal apology is my belief that Bill Clinton should want to apologize," she says.

Lewinsky also says that if she were to run into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in person, she would tell her "how very sorry I am." Clinton last month argued that her husband's affair with Lewinsky was not an abuse of power because Lewinsky was "an adult." Lewinsky was a 22-year-old White House intern at the time of the affair, and she has since said that Clinton abused his power over her.

The former president's actions have come under increased scrutiny in light of the #MeToo movement, and Lewinsky in her essay criticizes the fact that he was able to avoid tough questions about his behavior for so long. "If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn't want to answer," she writes. Read more at Vanity Fair.

Brendan Morrow

2:06p.m.

The number of hate crimes reported to the FBI jumped by 17 percent in 2017 — their biggest spike since 9/11.

Reported hate crimes have generally fallen since the FBI recorded an all-time high of 9,730 incidents in 2001, CBS News notes. But FBI data released Tuesday shows a recorded 7,175 crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016 and marking a third straight year of growth.

The majority of reported hate crimes — 59.6 percent — targeted a victim's race, ethnicity, or ancestry, the FBI notes. About 2,000 of the reported crimes targeted black Americans. Another 20.6 percent were categorized as religiously motivated, and 15.8 percent targeted a victim's sexual orientation.

In a Tuesday statement, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he was "particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes." Crimes against Jewish people went up 37 percent last year, making them the most common religiously motivated hate crimes last year, per The Washington Post. There were 938 reported anti-Semitic crimes in 2017.

These numbers increased in part due to an increase in the number of local police departments that report hate crimes to the FBI, the Post notes. Still, many local police departments still don't share statistics with the bureau.

To combat this continued uptick, the FBI also launched a hate crimes website with resources for reporting a crime. It lists news and descriptions of hate crimes, and features a "safe exit" button that redirects away from the site. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:12p.m.

Incoming congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her first visit to Capitol Hill this week for congressional orientation. And after meeting some fellow new recruits, she visited a Democratic veteran for an impromptu protest.

On Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez joined protesters who gathered at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office to push for congressional action on climate change. The newly-elected New York Democrat had spent Monday evening rallying for "green jobs for all," and it soon became clear she was behind the protest as well.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a June primary and became the youngest woman elected to the House last week. But unlike some other congressional newcomers, she hasn't explicitly said whether she'll support Pelosi's bid for House Speaker. And given how the Sunrise Movement, the organization behind Tuesday's protest, had some less-than-kind tweets for Pelosi during its sit-in, it seems that Ocasio-Cortez is not on the minority leader's side.

But in what seemed like an attempt to distance herself from anti-Pelosi rhetoric, Ocasio-Cortez later tweeted that activists at the office "asked [her] to join them" in protesting Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez then tweeted that she'd reached an agreement with Pelosi and seemed pleased with the result — though the Sunrise Movement said Pelosi's statement didn't go far enough. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:32a.m.

Amazon has officially announced its second global headquarters will be split between New York City and ... some part of Virginia it's calling "National Landing."

As reports projected, the company revealed Tuesday that it'll route 25,000 new jobs to its "HQ2" in New York's Long Island City neighborhood, and another 25,000 to Arlington, Virginia. Except Amazon's official announcement says its Washington-area headquarters will be in National Landing — a place Amazon seems to have pulled out of thin air.

Save for Amazon's announcement, a quick search of The Washington Post reveals no previous references to this mystery area. So, reasonably, Twitter lit up with locals questioning just what a National Landing entails. Luckily, Amazon included a handy map to explain where this so-called National Landing office will, well, land.

Yes, "Amazon in Arlington" will be just west of Reagan National Airport, in the D.C. metro area currently known as Crystal City. Plenty of people think the area's glimmering name is a bit of misnomer anyway, which could be why Virginia is officially okay with Amazon co-opting three whole neighborhoods. In a Tuesday statement, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia called National Landing "a newly branded neighborhood encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard." In a similar vein, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) released a Tuesday video rehashing the state's only noteworthy slogan as "Virginia is for Amazon Lovers."

Amazon also unveiled its plans for a 5,000-employee Operations Center of Excellence on Tuesday. This office is slated for Nashville's neighborhood of The Gulch, which is surprisingly not the made-up name in this situation. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:26a.m.

It looks like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen isn't the only member of the Trump administration on the way out.

The president is also looking for candidates who could replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, ABC News reported Tuesday. Right now, the leading contender is reportedly Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's 36-year-old chief of staff. President Trump has met with Ayers about potentially taking over for Kelly, and they had an "extended conversation" on Election Night, ABC News reports. Some sources said that this is essentially a "done deal," though others said it's not final yet.

It sounds like part of the reason Trump is interested in Ayers is that he sees him as someone who's politically savvy, which he doesn't think is true of John Kelly, per ABC News. Kelly has been rumored to be on the outs with Trump for months on end, but some believe the end is finally nigh now that the midterm elections have passed.

Trump is also reportedly getting ready to fire Nielsen, who has received support from Kelly even as some in the administration criticize her approach. Kelly, who last week was the one to phone Jeff Sessions and tell him he was being forced to resign as attorney general, has reportedly threatened to resign should Nielsen be fired. Now, it sounds like that won't be a problem for Trump, who is ready to get rid of both of them, despite the fact that he had previously asked Kelly to stay on until 2020, reports CNN. Brendan Morrow

10:48a.m.

Conflict between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip is at its most intense since 2014, The Associated Press reports.

The IDF estimate Hamas has launched about 400 rockets since Monday, and Israeli strikes have reportedly hit around 100 targets in Gaza, including the building housing Hamas's television station. Six Palestinians have been killed in this round of strikes, though reports vary as to how many were militants. Another two dozen people have been wounded, and one Israeli civilian has also died.

U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Twitter Monday reiterated U.S. support for Israel against Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. "Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war," he wrote. "These rocket & mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks."

Truce negotiations facilitated by the United Nations, Egypt, and Qatar are underway, and further escalation is expected if they are derailed by this week's violence. Bonnie Kristian

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