US silver dollar coin design commemorating astronaut/schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe

Next year, the United States Mint will release a silver dollar coin commemorating astronaut and elementary school teacher Christa McAuliffe who died with her six crewmates when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after liftoff on January 28, 1986. The candidate coin designs (below) were presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the group's majority vote aligned with the preferences of the McAuliffe family. The US Treasury will make the final decision. From Space.com:

The heads-side design focuses on McAuliffe's profile, in a way reminiscent of the U.S. Mint's more traditional commemorative coins. The black and white NASA photograph on which it was based was taken on Sept. 12, 1985, while McAuliffe, NASA's "Teacher in Space" participant, received a briefing on the flight suit and personal hygiene equipment that she would use on Challenger's STS-51L mission. "With respect to the coin and the purpose of the coin, I think what strikes me is the gaze is to the future, as it should be," said [Christa McAuliffe's widower U.S. District Court judge Steven McAuliffe]. "It is the look of quiet, committed courageousness[...]"

The family's preferred tails-side design depicts McAuliffe in her role as a New Hampshire social studies teacher, prior to her being selected for NASA's Teacher in Space program from a nationwide pool of more than 11,000 applicants. She is shown standing alongside three children while pointing upwards to the sky[...]

Surcharges from the sale of the McAuliffe silver dollar will benefit Kamen's FIRST organization and its student robotics competitions for "the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people through mentor-based programs to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," [director of the U.S.

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More than $250k in counterfeit US bills seized in Cincinnati

In Cincinnati, Ohio, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted more than $250,000 in counterfeit US bills on its way from Shenzhen, China to Guthrie, Oklahoma. From Fox19:

The money, which was not washed or bleached, was printed from a high-end printer on regular paper.

Officers say the currency number was the same for every bill, and on the back of the bill there was foreign writing in the location where one of the security features would exist.

Translated, the "foreign writing" read: Made in China.

Just kidding on that last part. I think.

(Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Fellow buried $280,000, not a good investment

Five years ago, a farmer in Anhui Province, China buried the equivalent of $280,000 on his property. Unfortunately when he recently dug up the cash, the bills were completely falling part. Apparently, employees at the Agricultural Bank of China did the best they could separate the mess of deteriorated paper bundles but he still lost about 25 percent of his savings. From UPI:

According to the People's Bank of China's regulations, bills that retain 75 percent of their original features can be exchanged at full value, but bills disfigured such that only 50 to 75 percent of the note is recognizable, can only be exchanged for half the amount.

FYI, here are United States Treasury Department's similar rules:

Lawful holders of mutilated currency may receive a redemption at full value when:

• Clearly more than 50 percent of a note identifiable as United States currency is present, along with sufficient remnants of any relevant security feature and clearly more than one-half of the original note remains; or,

• Fifty percent or less of a note identifiable as United States currency is present and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

image: Wikipedia Read the rest

US authorities seize almost one million dollars in counterfeit $1 bills

At Minnesota's International Falls Port of Entry, US Customs and Border Protection seized $900,000 in $1 bills in a shipping container from China making its way on a train from Canada into the United States. The bills were packed inside 45 cardboard boxes. From US Customs and Border Protection:

Due to the vigilance of CBP officers, a rail container was referred for a Customs Exam Station inspection on Dec. 14, 2019.

During the examination, CBP discovered 45 cartons of possible counterfeit currency in the form of $1 bills with a total face value of $900,000. The United States Secret Service was contacted (and) determined the currency is counterfeit.

The counterfeit currency was seized and will be turned over to the Secret Service.

(via CNN)

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These 50 pence coins are extremely metal

The Isle of Man 50p "Ram" coin features the head of a Manx Loaghtan, a breed of sheep native to the Isle of Man that sometimes sport as many as six horns.  The smaller symbol with three armored-legs is part of the Isle of Mann's flag and dates back to the thirteenth century.

(Via Fordsmender.) Read the rest

McDonald's employee burned by customer's "smoldering" dollar bill

In Hackettstown, New Jersey, a McDonald's drive-through customer reportedly paid with a "smoldering" dollar bill that burned the employee's hand. From NJ.com:

After taking the money, the employee realized the dollar was still smoldering and she was burned on the palm of her left hand, police said. The employee refused medical treatment.

Police are investigating the incident and said no further information would be released at this time.

Obviously the customer has money to burn. Read the rest

Watch people from different countries count paper money in myriad ways

I've seen people in the US count money in nearly all these ways but perhaps certain methods are dominant in different countries. In any case, the Belarusian finger flip is new to me and rather impressive. Try doing that with your stinkin' bitcoins!

"70 People Reveal How To Count Money in Their Country" (Condé Nast Traveler) Read the rest

Deer semen as currency

Last month in Texas, Ana Lisa Garza, a Democrat running for a state House seat, received a campaign donation of deer semen valued at $51,000. The semen is stored in straws that are worth $100 to around $5,000 each depending on the genetics of the "donor." From ABC7News:

...The donated deer semen was collected in a tank and put on an auction at an event hosted by the Texas Deer Association last month, according to the Dallas Morning News' initial reporting.

It is unclear how much the whole tank earned at the auction to fund Garza's campaign. Deer breeder Allan Meyer, who donated about $3,000 worth of semen straws to Garza, said deer semen is a valued commodity among breeders in Texas because that's the only way to bring specific desired genes in the herd.

Texas is a "closed border" state so deer are not allowed to be imported.

(via Weird Universe, image from North American Deer Registry) Read the rest

Animation: Queen Elizabeth's life in banknote portraits

More about "the evolution of Queen Elizabeth II, as shown by banknotes" in this Washington Post article from 2015.

(via r/interestingasfuck)

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Video: the literal shrinking dollar

Dip your dollar into liquid anhydrous ammonia, dry it, and repeat. The surface tension of the boiling and evaporating ammonia shrinks the bill. Caveat: It could prove difficult to use a mini-dollar and mutilating a bill may even be illegal.

(Applied Science via Weird Universe)

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A woman will replace Alexander Hamilton on the new US $10 bill

A yet-to-be-determined woman will replace Alexander Hamilton's mug on the US $10 bill, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Read the rest

The most beautiful money in U.S. history

Why isn't our currency this gorgeous now?

Man tries to swap alligator for beer (video!)

Miami, Florida resident Fernando Caignet Aguilera, 64, was cited after he attempted to trade an alligator he found in a nearby park for a 12-pack of beer at a convenience store. According to CNN, he faces six months in jail and a $500 fine for "taking possession and selling an alligator, which is a second-degree misdemeanor." Read the rest

A Ripple in the online payment waters

Robert McMillan on Bitcoin "maverick" Jed McCaleb, who started Mt. Gox and now offers Ripple, an alternative to the digital currency. [Wired]

After selling Mt. Gox, McCaleb started thinking more deeply about Bitcoin. He was a huge fan, but he thought he could so some things better. First, he wanted to do away with Bitcoin mining — the process by which computers on the network verify transactions in exchange for Bitcoins. Because miners are rewarded in proportion to the processing power they add to the network, Bitcoin mining has become a bit of an arms race, with very specialized and powerful computers now doing the bulk of the work. McCaleb, a 38-year-old surfer and Berkeley dropout from Little Rock, Arkansas, sees this as excessive. By his reckoning, there’s $160 million spent annually on mining the Bitcoin network, “which is insane,” he says. “And this isn’t something that’s going to go away. It just gets worse and worse.”

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In economically devastated Greece, internet-enabled barter economy rises

An interesting piece in the Guardian this week about cashless commerce in Greece, where the currency crisis has prompted citizens to take unusual measures to obtain essential goods. One exchange website in particular is cited, and a unit of barter known as "tems." The network has been online for about a year and a half. Snip from a portion of Jon Henley's report about the open-air markets where tems are exchanged for daily neccessities:

“They’re quite joyous occasions,” she said. “It’s very liberating, not using money.” At one market, she said, she approached a woman who had come along with three large trays of homemade cakes and was selling them for a unit a cake. “I asked her: ‘Do you think that’s enough? After all, you had the cost of the ingredients, the electricity to cook …’

“She replied: ‘Wait until the market is over’, and at the end she had three different kinds of fruit, two one-litre bottles of olive oil, soaps, beans, a dozen eggs and a whole lot of yoghurt. ‘If I had bought all this at the supermarket,’ she said, ‘it would have cost me a great deal more than what it cost to make these cakes.’”

What rules the system has are designed to ensure the tems continue “to circulate, and work hard as a currency”, said Christos Pappionannou, a mechanical engineer who runs the network’s website using open-source software. No one may hold more than 1,200 tems in the account “so people don’t start hoarding; once you reach the top limit you have to start using them.”

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Law prof: it would be legal to mint 2x $1 trillion platinum coins & use them to pay the US debt

Jack Balkin, a Yale Law prof, has a weird idea for solving the debt crisis. He says the law sets no limit on the amount of currency the US Mint can float, provided it produces the currency in the form of platinum coins. So:

Ironically, there's no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.

3 ways Obama could bypass Congress

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Image: platinum eagle re-mix, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from sirqitous's photostream) Read the rest