Virtual Currency Girls, Japan’s newest idol group, debut to fan frenzy

Each of the eight girls in the band, known in Japanese as “Kasotsuka Shojo,” plays a character representing a virtual currency such as bitcoin, ethereum or ripple. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Virtual Currency Girls, Japan’s newest idol group, debut to fan frenzy

TOKYO: Japan’s latest “idol” band, the Virtual Currency Girls, took to the stage for their debut concert Friday to educate the public about cryptocurrencies — playing to frenzied fans waving their arms and chanting together.
“Our brains are fried as we are studying every day” about virtual currencies, said the group’s leader Rara Naruse, 18, as they began their live concert in Tokyo.
The band hopes to promote the idea “through entertainment” that virtual currencies are not just a tool for speculation but are a wonderful technology, she said.
Each of the eight girls in the band, known in Japanese as “Kasotsuka Shojo,” plays a character representing a virtual currency such as bitcoin, ethereum or ripple.
Wearing character masks, frilly mini-skirts and “maid” aprons complete with knee-high socks, they performed in a small hall packed with dozens of hand-picked fans and media people.
Their tunes included their debut song, “The Moon and Virtual Currencies and Me,” which warns against fraudulent operators and urges people to make sure of their online security.
In keeping with the theme, fans were required to pay 0.001 bitcoin (around $15) — to take a picture with one of his favorite performer. The price includes a handshake and some small-talk.
The girls are paid in bitcoin and payment for admission to future performances and merchandise will only be accepted in virtual currencies.
Their message appeared to be getting through.
One fan, 43-year-old Hiroshi Kasahara, who runs an ad agency, said: “I have been trading stocks and forex but not bitcoin or other virtual currencies as I was a bit scared of them.”
“But I feel like opening an account” if the group accepts payment only in virtual currencies, he said.
Makoto Sato, 42, said the idol group had given him “a good introduction” to the world of cryptocurrencies.
“I may well give it a try as it can be a catalyst to make life more convenient and fun,” said the 42-year-old office worker.
At the end of the performance, fans cheered and clapped, with one screaming out: “Can’t stop loving you!“
The group is tapping into a rich seam in Japan, where bitcoin is recognized as legal tender.
Nearly one-third of global bitcoin transactions in December were denominated in yen, according to specialized website jpbitcoin.com.
The group’s launch comes on the heels of a recent market frenzy which boosted bitcoin up to nearly $20,000.


US surgeon, girlfriend charged with rape, ‘hundreds’ of victims possible

This combination of photos created on September 18, 2018 shows Grant William Robicheaux (L) and Cerissa Laura Riley (R) in mug shots photos released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, California. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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US surgeon, girlfriend charged with rape, ‘hundreds’ of victims possible

  • Robicheaux and Riley are believed to have worked in tandem at restaurants and bars to identify their victims and make them feel comfortable
  • “Your conscious decisions to party with these defendants... does not give them a pass to rape, assault or have sex with you once you’re past the point of consent”

LOS ANGELES: An orthopedic surgeon in California who once appeared on a dating reality show and his girlfriend have been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women, in a case prosecutors suspect might involve hundreds of other victims.
Authorities told AFP on Tuesday they had received dozens of leads in the probe, just hours after a press conference held to try to encourage other women to come forward.
“I am being told by investigators that their phones have been very active this afternoon,” said Michelle Van Der Linden, a spokeswoman for Orange County prosecutors.
“People are calling with additional information and we will be busy tracking down all the additional leads.”
The surgeon, 38-year-old Grant William Robicheaux, and his 31-year-old girlfriend, Cerissa Laura Riley, were charged on September 11 with rape as well as drug and weapons-related offenses in connection with two alleged assaults.
But investigators found hundreds of videos on Robicheaux’s phone after he was arrested, showing women “in various states of undress, consciousness and being assaulted,” Van Der Linden said. “We’re still going through those videos.”
Robicheaux — who once appeared on the Bravo television show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” — and Riley are due to be arraigned on October 25.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters that Robicheaux and Riley are believed to have worked in tandem at restaurants and bars to identify their victims and make them feel comfortable.
“We believe the defendants used their good looks and charm to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey,” Rackauckas said.
“We’ve all heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Well, a wolf can wear scrubs or doctor’s clothing. Or a wolf can be a beautiful woman.”
The pair apparently used ecstasy, date rape drugs and cocaine to incapacitate their victims before assaulting them at Robicheaux’s home in Newport Beach, he said.
Authorities say Robicheaux and Riley traveled to various festivals since 2015, including Burning Man in Nevada, as well as landmarks in Arizona, where they may have preyed on other women.
Attorneys for Robicheaux and Riley issued a joint statement on Tuesday, denying the charges.
“They have been aware of these accusations for a number of months, and each of them will formally deny the truth of these allegations at their first opportunity in court,” said Robicheaux’s lawyer, Philip Cohen, and Riley’s lawyer, Scott Borthwick.
“Dr. Robicheaux and Ms Riley believe that such allegations do a disservice to, and dangerously undermine, the true victims of sexual assault, and they are eager to have the proper spotlight shed on this case in a public trial,” they added.
“It must be noted that none of the allegations in this matter relate to or concern Dr. Robicheaux’s medical practice or patients in any way.”
If convicted, Robicheaux faces up to 40 years in prison. Riley could face 30 years behind bars.
Rackauckas said potential victims of the pair should not be ashamed to come forward.
“Your conscious decisions to party with these defendants... does not give them a pass to rape, assault or have sex with you once you’re past the point of consent,” he said.