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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

On Thursday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected (for the second time) a proposal for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund from the Winklevoss brothers — but one commissioner dissented, warning that the decision "sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets."

Why it matters: As the crypto-assets have gone more mainstream, investors are impatiently hoping to get more regulatory clarity and acceptance.

The SEC says its decision to reject the proposal comes down to its insufficient ability to protect investors from market manipulation, especially in offshore markets, and fraud.

The other side: SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce argues that the SEC is mistakenly assessing the Bitcoin market instead of the adequacy of the exchange's rules, thus overstepping its authority.

  • She also argues that approving the proposal, leading to more institutional investors jumping into the market, would help alleviate some of the agency's concerns including decreasing Bitcoin price differences among exchanges, and forcing exchanges to invest more in security, custody and investor protections.
  • And notably, she criticizes the agency for making a judgement on Bitcoin technology, which could send a message that it's not open to innovation it doesn't deem advanced enough.

What's next: There's at least one other Bitcoin-based ETF proposal awaiting a decision from the SEC. On Tuesday, Bitwise, which debuted an index for the top 10 cryptocurrencies last year, filed a proposal for a similar ETF.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
9 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.