Bitcoin logos are displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York in 2014. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Bitcoin mining has become very big business — one that Chinese entrepreneurs have built a vast infrastructure to exploit. The New York Times reports on the bitcoin mining boom in rural China, where firms have set up vast server farms to help maintain the bitcoin blockchain by solving cryptographic problems in return for payment in bitcoins.

Bitmain China is one firm cashing in, operating a bitcoin farm on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert near the Mongolian border that mints $318,000 worth of bitcoin each day.

Why it matters: Bitmain's success illustrates one half of China's love-hate relationship with Bitcoin. Regulators are cracking down on potentially dangerous speculation in the currency and worry that it will aid in the evasion of strict rules on moving money in and out of China. But government officials still want to allow profitable mining of the currency and cultivate expertise in a technology that will be important for the future digital economy.

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Congress' next moves to rein in Big Tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.