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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Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
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  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

3 hours ago - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

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