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Upstate New York town bans bitcoin mining

N.Y. town halts cryptocurrency mining

A small lakeside town in Upstate New York is fed up with bitcoin miners using up so much of its low-cost electricity.

The city of Plattsburgh has put a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining to preserve natural resources, the health of its residents and the city’s “character and direction,” officials said after a public hearing Thursday.

For 18 months, the 20,000-resident city will not consider new applications for commercial cryptocurrency mining. Violators will face fines of up to $1,000 for each day they defy the moratorium.

Mining, in which individuals or groups get paid in new bitcoin to run complex math equations on high-powered computers, has drawn scrutiny from environmentalists who say it’s sucking up too much electricity. Plattsburgh gets cheap power from the St. Lawrence River, but itexceeded its allotted amount of hydropower in December and January, a local newspaper reported. Some residents complained that their bills surged as much as $300.

— Bloomberg News

5 N.Y. doctors charged in fentanyl bribe case

Five New York City doctors were arrested and charged Friday with taking bribes and kickbacks from an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company to prescribe large volumes of a highly addictive painkiller.

The charges were contained in court papers unsealed Friday in Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors said the men collected tens of thousands of dollars working for the company’s speakers bureau over a four-year stretch. The company, Insys Therapeutics, hasn’t commented.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the physicians accepted bribes in the form of speaking fees in exchange for prescribing millions of dollars’ worth of a potent fentanyl-based spray.

— Associated Press

U.S. manufacturing rebounded in February

U.S. factory output jumped last month, led by big gains in the production of cars, computers and furniture.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that manufacturing output rose 1.2 percent in February, the most since October, after three months of poor readings. Factory production has risen a healthy 2.5 percent in the past year.

Overall industrial production, which includes mines and utilities, rose 1.1 percent in February after a decline of 0.3 percent in January. Mining output soared 4.3 percent. Utility production plunged 4.7 percent as warmer weather cut heating demand.

Auto production climbed 3.9 percent last month after slipping 0.2 percent in January.

Furniture production rose 1.9 percent, and computer output rose 1.5 percent, the Fed said.

— Associated Press

A Michigan man who blew the whistle on defective material in police vests will receive $5.7 million, the Justice Department said. The award is part of a $66 million settlement with a Japanese firm and its U.S. subsidiary. Toyobo was accused of knowingly selling defective Zylon fiber that degraded in humidity and heat. The government said the material was used in bulletproof vests until 2005. The vests were purchased by federal, state and local police departments. The whistleblower, Aaron Westrick, worked at Second Chance Body Armor, which made vests with Zylon fiber in Michigan.

U.S. home builders broke ground on fewer apartment complexes in February, causing overall housing starts to fall 7 percent. The Commerce Department said Friday that housing starts last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.24 million, an expected decline after construction surged in January to 1.33 million. Last month's construction slowdown came from a 28 percent plunge in starts for multifamily buildings. Groundbreakings for single-family houses actually rose 2.9 percent in February.

Consumer sentiment unexpectedly jumped to a 14-year high in March after tax cuts boosted disposable incomes, while new tariffs raised inflation expectations and dimmed the outlook, a University of Michigan survey showed Friday. The sentiment index rose to 102 from 99.7 in February. The current conditions gauge, which measures Americans' perceptions of their finances, advanced to 122.8, the highest in data dating back to 1946, from 114.9.

— From news services