Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ships scramble to find ‘large object’ in new satellite image

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A satellite image released by China on Saturday offers the latest sign that wreckage from a Malaysia Airlines plane lost for more than two weeks could be in a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean where planes and ships have been searching for three days.

China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said on its website that a Chinese satellite took an image of an object 72 feet by 43 feet around noon Tuesday.

The image location was about 75 miles south of where an Australian satellite viewed two objects two days
earlier. The larger object was about as long as the one the Chinese satellite detected.

“The news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received a satellite image of a floating object in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify,” Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters Saturday.

The latest image is another clue in the baffling search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off air traffic control screens March 8 over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board.

After about a week of confusion, authorities said pings sent by the Boeing 777 for several hours after it disappeared indicated that the plane ended up in one of two huge arcs: a northern corridor stretching from Malaysia to Central Asia, or a southern corridor that stretches toward Antarctica.

The discovery of the two objects by the Australian satellite led several countries to send planes and ships to a stretch of the Indian Ocean about 1,550 miles southwest of Australia. But three days of searching have produced nothing.

One of the objects spotted in the earlier satellite imagery was described as almost 80 feet in length and the other was 15 feet. The Boeing 777-200 is about 209 feet long with a wingspan of 199 feet and a fuselage about 20 feet in diameter, according to Boeing’s website.

The delay in releasing China’s satellite image could be because experts had to examine it. There was a similar delay in the release of the earlier images for that reason.

Two military planes from China arrived Saturday in Perth to join Australian, New Zealand and U.S. aircraft in the search. Japanese planes will arrive Sunday and ships were in the area or on their way.

The flights Saturday were in relatively good weather, but did not yield any results. It was not immediately known whether the newly released Chinese satellite image would change the search area on Sunday.

Even if both satellites detected the same object, it may be unrelated to the plane. One possibility is that it could have fallen off a cargo vessel.

Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said the currents in the area typically move at about one yard per second but can sometimes move faster.

Based on the typical speed, a current could theoretically move a floating object about 107 miles in two days.

Warren Truss, Australia’s acting prime minister while Tony Abbott is abroad, said before the new satellite data was announced that a complete search could take a long time.

“It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we’re absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile — and that day is not in sight,” he said.

“If there’s something there to be found, I’m confident that this search effort will locate it,” Truss said from the base near Perth that is serving as a staging area for search aircraft.

Aircraft involved in the search include two ultra-long-range commercial jets and four P3 Orions, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

But because the search area is a four-hour flight from land, the Orions can search for about only two hours before they must fly back. The commercial jets can stay for five hours before heading back to the base.

Two merchant ships were in the area, and the HMAS Success, a navy supply ship, had also joined the search.

Hishammuddin, the Malaysian defense minister, said conditions in the southern corridor were challenging.

The area where the objects were identified by the Australian authorities are marked by strong currents and rough seas, and the ocean depth varies between 3,770 feet and 23,000 feet.

In addition, Hishammuddin said a low-level warning had been declared for Tropical Cyclone Gillian, although that was north of Australia and closer to Indonesia. “Very strong winds and rough seas are expected there,” he said.

The Chinese planes that arrived in Perth on Saturday were expected to begin searching on Sunday. A small flotilla of ships from China will also join the hunt, along with a refueling vessel that will allow ships to stay in the search area for a long time, Truss said.

The missing plane, which had been bound for Beijing, carried 153 Chinese passengers. In the Chinese capital on Saturday, relatives of the passengers rose up in anger at the end of a brief meeting with Malaysia Airlines and Malaysian government officials.

“You can’t leave here! We want to know what the reality is!” they shouted in frustration over what they saw as officials’ refusal to answer questions. The relatives gave reporters a statement saying they believe they have been “strung along, kept in the dark and lied to by the Malaysian government.”

Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanation for what happened to the jet, but have said the evidence so far suggests it was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next.

Police are considering the possibilities of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board.

Malaysia asked the U.S. for undersea surveillance equipment to help in the search, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised to assess the availability of the technology and its usefulness in the search, Kirby said. The Pentagon says it has spent $2.5 million to operate ships and aircraft in the search and has budgeted another $1.5 million for the efforts.

Cahill and Ryu set for Opening Series Game 2

SYDNEY -- The first one is in the books. Next is the getaway matinee that will close out Opening Series 2014 and set up a long trip back to America to get the remainder of the 162-game slate going for the rest of Major League Baseball.

Saturday morning (Saturday night in Australia) at Sydney Cricket Ground was one to remember and savor.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm that didn't materialize, but it did delay the opening of the 2014 season by 14 minutes. There were swirling winds that confused outfielders and batters alike. There were 38,266 fans loving the game, particularly when foul balls came their way in the iconic Cricket Ground stands.

And there were the Dodgers and D-backs, who will go at it again at 10:10 p.m. Saturday night ET (7:10 p.m. Saturday night PT), which will be Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Sydney time.

"It feels good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Saturday's 3-1 win.

"We came a long way to get one. It's always good to get the first one. You don't want to be dragging around and letting momentum get started in the other direction. You want to start things off on a good foot. I don't know if there's a whole lot of meaning to it other than it's a win and you come to win every day. So at this point we can't win them all unless we win the first one, so here we are."

And here are the Dodgers with left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu facing off against D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill in the second game after reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw defeated D-backs lefty Wade Miley in Game 1.

For the D-backs, it will be essential to cash in on opportunities.

Manager Kirk Gibson pointed out the fact that the D-backs had chances early to push a few across against Kershaw, and this came a night after Arizona was shut out by the Australian national team in an exhibition game at the Cricket Ground.

"It was kind of like we started out last night," Gibson said after Saturday's 3-1 loss. "We didn't get anything out of it, though. We battled through the game. Our pitching was good. Theirs was good. We'll have to get back at it tomorrow."

Meanwhile, we'll see what Mother Nature decides to do for the second game.

Saturday saw an early towering fly ball to left field off the bat of Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke get stalled by the wind and hit the base of the wall, fooling Mark Trumbo, who climbed the fence to try to haul it back in. Later, Van Slyke's slicing ball down the right-field line stopped slicing and went over the fence for a home run he didn't expect. Later still, Yasiel Puig hit a rocket to right-center that looked to be gone until it was in the glove of center fielder A.J. Pollock -- well before the warning track.

As of the end of this morning's game, the forecast for tonight (Sunday afternoon in Australia) was better, about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy.

The D-backs hope it will be better for the standings, since they don't want to face a trans-Pacific flight and more Spring Training already trailing by two games in the division.

"We have 161 games left," Gibson said. "You try to learn some things that they're trying to do against us, and hopefully we'll show better [today]."


Dodgers: Ryu a good No. 2
  • Kershaw was asked if he offered any advice to Ryu, who went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA last year in his first MLB season after playing in Korea, about following up Kershaw's Opening Day start. Kershaw didn't hesitate to answer.
"Ryu doesn't need any advice," Kershaw said. "He proved he can do it. With Ryu, you just know what you're going to get. He has such a great feel. He's pretty consistent. You hear a lot of things [about] transitioning from Korean baseball over to here, and he didn't have any problems last year. And I don't expect any problems this year, either. He'll be fine."
  • Shortstop Hanley Ramirez keyed the Dodgers' offense in 2013 and led the Majors (minimum 300 at-bats) in slugging percentage (.638) while ranking second in batting average (.345) and seventh in on-base percentage (.402). Ramirez was limited to just 86 games during the regular season because of injuries, but he led the Dodgers to a 55-31 record when he was in the lineup. Ramirez batted .455 (15-for-33) with three doubles, four homers and nine RBIs in nine games against Arizona last season, while posting a .561 on-base percentage and a .909 slugging mark.

D-backs: Cahill gets the call
  • Cahill will try to build on his second half of last year, when he went 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA (15 earned runs in 50 innings pitched). The right-hander said he will try to tone down the importance of the game.
"It's the first game of the year, so that's always a little bit more nerve-racking," Cahill said of the start. "It being in Sydney in kind of a bigger scale, it almost feels like a playoff atmosphere. I think the biggest thing is going out and treating it like any other game. If you think about it too much you probably won't be successful. Try to relax and have fun. Try to treat it like any other game."
  • First baseman Paul Goldschmidt hit .302/.401/.551 with 36 homers and 125 RBIs last year to finish second in the NL MVP Award voting, so it wasn't surprising to see him square up ball after ball in Saturday's season opener. Goldschmidt finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
"True to his form, he made his adjustments during the game and barreled some balls," Gibson said. "Not enough, though."


Worth noting
  • Ryu has had some cultural experiences in Sydney. When asked if he saw the sights, he said, "I saw a koala." When asked if he ate any kangaroo meat, he said, "I'll stick to beef." He also likes the idea of MLB opening the season outside of America, but would like to see it expand to his homeland.
"Opening a season in Korea is a fantastic idea," he said. "And I will make it my personal wish to do that."
  • D-backs international history also includes player development trips to Brazil, Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Venezuela, as well as serving as hosts for the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2013.

Shots fired as pro-Russian forces storm Ukrainian base

BELBEK AIR BASE, Crimea — Pro-Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian air force base in Crimea, firing shots and smashing through concrete walls with armored personnel carriers, according to an Associated Press journalist. At least one person was wounded, the base commander said.

An APC also smashed open the front gate of the Belbek base near the port city of Sevastopol, according to footage provided by the Ukrainian Defense ministry. Two ambulances arrived and then departed shortly after. At least one of them was carrying what appeared to be a wounded person.

The Ukrainian commander of the base, Yuliy Mamchur, said there was at least one injury. He called his men together, they sang the Ukrainian national anthem and then stood at ease. He said they are going to turn over their weapons.

Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military facilities for several days in the Black Sea peninsula, which voted a week ago to secede and join Russia.

Elsewhere, more than 5,000 pro-Russia residents of a major city in Ukraine’s east demonstrated in favor of holding a referendum on whether to seek to split off and become part of Russia.

The rally in Donetsk came less than a week after the Ukrainian region of Crimea approved secession in a referendum regarded as illegitimate by the Western countries. After the referendum, Russia moved to formally annex Crimea.

With Crimea now effectively under the control of Russian forces, which ring Ukrainian military bases on the strategic Black Sea peninsula, concern is rising that Ukraine’s eastern regions will agitate for a similar move.

Russia has brought large military contingents to areas near the border with eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is no intention to move into eastern Ukraine, but the prospect of violence between pro- and anti-secession groups in the east could be used as a pretext for sending in troops.

Eastern Ukraine is the heartland of Ukraine’s economically vital heavy industry and mining and the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who fled to Russia last month after being ousted in the wake of three months of protests in the capital, Kiev.

Russia and Yanukovych supporters contend Yanukovych’s ouster was a coup and allege that the authorities who then came to power are nationalists who would oppress the east’s large ethnic Russian population.

“They’re trying to tear us away from Russia,” said demonstrator Igor Shapoval, a 59-year-old businessman. “But Donbass is ready to fight against this band which already lost Crimea and is losing in the east.”

Donbass is the name for the region of factories and mines that includes Donetsk.

About an hour after the Donetsk rally began, the crowd marched through the city center and assembled before the regional administration building chanting: “Crimea! Donbass! Russia!”

Demonstrators waving Russian flags were faced off by lines of shield-wielding riot police. Inside, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was meeting with local officials.

The demonstrators erected several tents, an ironic echo of the massive tent camp that was established on Kiev’s central square after the protests against Yanukovych broke out in late November.

“I’m ready to live in a tent, but I’m not ready to submit to the West, to dance to their tune,” said Viktor Rudko, a 43-year-old miner.

The local parliament on Friday formed a working group to develop a referendum analogous to the one in Crimea. Activists on Saturday passed out mock ballots, although no referendum has been formally called.

A number of leading pro-Russian activists have already been detained by police on suspicion of fomenting secessionist activities. The country’s security services said Saturday that they have arrested Mikhail Chumachenko, leader of the self-styled Donbass People’s Militia, on suspicion of seeking to seize authority.

As tensions roil in the east, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is deploying an observer team aimed at easing the crisis.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Friday that Moscow hopes that the 200-strong team “will help to overcome the internal Ukrainian crisis” and ensure the respect for human rights there.

It is unclear whether the team will be allowed into Crimea. Russian forces last week stopped OSCE military observers from entering Crimea. The organization on Friday did not specify whether the observers will go to Crimea.

Lukashevich said on Saturday that the OSCE’s mission “will reflect the new political and legal order and will not cover Crimea and Sevastopol which became part of Russia.”

Daniel Baer, the United States’ chief envoy to OSCE, said the observers should have access to the territory because Crimea remains Ukrainian to the rest of the world.

The seizure of military facilities and navy ships by pro-Russian forces in Crimea has been proceeding apace since the peninsula was this week nominally absorbed by Russia.

On Saturday, a crowd stormed the Novofedorivka base, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Simferopol, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

Ukrainian television station TSN said troops inside the base hoisted smoke grenades in an attempt to disperse groups of burly young men attempting to break through the front gates.

TSN reported that there were children among the crowd attempting to seize the base.

The Russian Defense Ministry says that as of late Friday less than 2,000 of 18,000 Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea had “expressed a desire to leave for Ukraine.” The ministry, however, stopped short of saying the remainder of the troops would serve in the Russian army.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why the underworld loves bitcoin

Criminals may already have made off with up to $500 million worth of bitcoins since the virtual currency launched in 2009 – and you can double that if it turns out they emptied Mt. Gox.

Internet criminals, security experts say, are attracted to bitcoin because of its stratospheric rise in value, because it’s easier to steal than real money, and because it’s easier to trade with other criminal elements. But, they add, bitcoin will survive the damage.

“It’s just growing pains,” says Keith Jarvis, a security researcher at Dell SecureWorks. “Bitcoin is large enough and has enough momentum behind it to survive any public relations damage from this (Mt. Gox) case or anything else.”

The fall of Mt Gox, the Tokyo-based exchange which filed for bankruptcy last month after saying it lost some 850,000 bitcoins to hackers, is certainly the virtual currency’s biggest crisis.

But data collated by Reuters from specialist bitcoin industry websites and internet forums shows that more than 730,000 bitcoins were already missing to theft, hacking, cyber-ransom payments and other apparently criminal pursuits before Mt. Gox’s collapse. That’s nearly 6 percent of all bitcoins, and doesn’t include dozens, possibly hundreds, of unreported cases of individuals who have lost bitcoins from their computers or online exchanges to hackers.

For sure, there’s no way of telling who has these missing bitcoins, or whether they were converted to real money when the price was much lower. And of course some bitcoins may have been counted twice if criminals stole them from each other or they were put back into circulation and stolen again.

But there’s no question that bitcoins have attracted the attention of cyber-criminals – as a currency and an asset worth stealing.


Beware Malware
A study by Pat Litke and Joe Stewart of Dell SecureWorks showed that as the price of bitcoin soared beyond $1,000 last year, so did the number of viruses designed to steal bitcoins from wallets – programs that hold bitcoins on user’s computers or smartphones. Of the 140 types of such software more than 100 appeared in the past year.

Writing such viruses, says Stewart, is easy. “There’s no sophistication involved in the storage of bitcoin in wallets. As for malware, it’s some of the easiest stuff to write.”

Indeed, this cyber-pocket picking wasn’t criminals’ first foray into bitcoins. Initially, they focused on using their control of large networks of infected computers – called botnets – to make their own bitcoins.

Bitcoins are created through a ‘mining’ process where a computer’s resources are used to perform millions of calculations. For a while, says Kirill Levchenko, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, criminals added malware to their botnets to turn infected computers into bitcoin miners.

This triggered predictions of doom for bitcoin – that the criminals would take over the mining of bitcoin through botnets and bring the whole currency crashing down. But as bitcoins become harder to mine – according to an algorithm that slows down their production the more people try to create them – this approach has proven less profitable.

In 2012-13, says Danny Huang, another researcher at the University of California, San Diego, they earned at least 4,500 bitcoins, a relatively small sum compared with the total produced. “Few botnets are mining bitcoins now,” he said.

Instead, they’ve turned to stealing them from wallets, or, more lucratively, from exchanges.

According to data compiled last year by academics Tyler Moore and Nicholas Christin, of 40 exchanges tracked 18 had closed, with customer balances wiped out in many cases – not always, they point out, due to fraud. Since then, according to public reports, more than a dozen others have been hacked.


Currency of Thieves
Cyber-criminals have also made use of the ease with which bitcoins can be traded without any third party – such as a bank or online payments service like PayPal – to use it as at least one way of paying for services between themselves.

“Bitcoin made it much easier for them, because they have to trust each other even less. Even complete strangers can cooperate,” said Juraj Bednar, a bitcoin security expert in Slovakia.

But while bitcoin has its advantages, it’s not a perfect tool for the bad guys.

Take, for example, ransomware. Viruses which encrypt users’ data and then demand payment for a key to unlock it have become increasingly sophisticated, says Dell Secureworks’ Jarvis.

The most successful: CryptoLocker, which Jarvis believes is run by a Russian-speaking gang who are also behind a botnet called Gameover Zeus that targets financial websites.

Bitcoin often appears on CryptoLocker as an option for victims to pay up. Its appeal, says Bednar, lies in the fact that it needs no third party for the transaction to work.

But there have been problems. For one thing, the type of user to be infected by a virus wasn’t likely to be the type who is technologically savvy enough to be familiar with bitcoin. Also, as bitcoin rose in value, it has become a more expensive option for the victim, forcing the criminals to lower their bitcoin ransom demands to match prevailing exchange rates.




Tracing Transactions

Then there’s bitcoin’s transparency. All transactions are visible, and while they’re just digits and letters, in theory they could be connected to an individual and the entire history of all the bitcoin’s transactions traced.

Italian computer engineer Michele Spagnuolo, for example, was able to trace a number of ransom payments for CryptoLocker. The gains have been impressive: he and academics from Politecnico di Milano speculate that up to 6,757 bitcoins – then worth around $6 million – could be linked to those behind CryptoLocker late last year. That estimate of their total takings, he says, could be very conservative.

But the fact that such payments can be traced would raise a red flag for cyber-criminals, says Daniel Cohen of RSA, the security division of EMC Corp, even though there are online services that can “launder” bitcoins to hide their origin. “Sure, there are bitcoin laundering services, but still if I tie a wallet to an identity I can see every single movement,” he said.

And, ironically, the success that some criminals have had in stealing bitcoins has made it less appealing to the underworld. RSA’s Cohen says his team monitoring underground forums has noticed criminals lately see bitcoin as “volatile, seizable and, with the recent thefts, unsafe.”




Fixes Needed

That’s not to say bitcoin is out of the woods.

While the protocols underlying bitcoin have proved themselves to work, the weak links have been the software containing the wallets, whether on exchanges or on individuals’ computers.

“The attacks on the exchanges did not in themselves indicate any particular weakness of bitcoin per se, but rather exploiting vulnerabilities within the exchanges,” says Raj Samani of Intel Corp’s internet security company McAfee.

Such holes are being addressed, says Dell Secureworks’ Stewart, pointing to such innovations as hardware wallets to replace software ones. “We’re just going to have to get into that mode of thinking,” he says.

For now, bitcoin users remain a vulnerable target.

That was illustrated when hackers breached Mt. Gox’s servers and its owner’s blog this week to post files purporting to be Mt. Gox’s transactions in bitcoin stretching back to 2011.

Amid the files lurked another surprise awaiting the unwary: a bitcoin-stealing virus.

De Blasio visits tenants uprooted by Harlem explosion

Mayor de Blasio visited a Salvation Army shelter Friday to meet with those left homeless or displaced after the explosion that rocked East Harlem, saying the city is working on getting roofs back over people’s heads.

“Walking through this shelter, we talked with so many people who a grappling with the absolute dislocation of their lives,” de Blasio said at a press conference following the visit.

“They’ve been through the unspeakable. They don’t have a home anymore, they don’t have possessions any more. But they were still counting their blessings that their children were safe.”

The mayor explained that approximately 55 families including over 100 people are currently being housed at the Salvation Army shelter on East 125th Street and Third Avenue.

The mayor added that the city will begin moving people into temporary housing within the next 24 hours, explaining that families with young children will be given top priority.

The homeless and displaced will be moved into apartments available through the Department of Homeless Services, which has more than 50 apartments available in privately run buildings.

Those who will need housing for the next several months will be yet more apartments provided by the Real Estate Board of New York, while those in need of permanent housing can receive an apartment provided by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing.

De Blasio said despite the struggle of the displaced and homeless, many were out working and going about their lives.

“They’ve lost their home, and they’ve gone through such an upheaval and yet they’re going about their work life because they don’t have a choice,” the mayor said.

Flanked by his wife Chirlane and City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the mayor made his way around the shelter to offer some comfort the victims.

“”Please help me, we have nowhere to go,” begged a woman named Aisha Watts, before being warmly embraced by Chirlane as she cried.

The woman explained that she had been ordered to evacuate from her building, which is right next to where the explosion happened.

“Your children are safe?” the mayor asked. “We’re working on quickly getting places for everyone.”

Another woman named Lisa Connaugh, 45, told de Blasio that her home was badly damaged, but she is still thankful for what she still has.

“I have this jacket on, I still smell like smoke, but I was cold,” she said, breaking into tears. “”I thank God I’m alive.”

Carmelo looks forward to chat with Phil

That was then, this is now.

Though nearly two years ago Phil Jackson was less than complimentary about the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and his lack of passing, the All-Star stressed Friday his game has evolved and the 11-time coaching champ wasn’t entirely wrong.

Plus, at the time, Anthony thought Jackson was just another critic.

“Maybe at that time, I was shooting the ball a little bit too much,” Anthony said. “I really don’t know what to say or how to respond to those comments. In the past I’ve heard Phil said some things about me. But I don’t take it personal. I don’t take it no way. At that point, he was just another guy who had an opinion.”

Now, Jackson is days away from being Anthony’s boss. That gym joint between Seventh and Eighth Avenues officially becomes the Zen Garden on Tuesday when Jackson is named president. The team announced an 11 a.m. press conference that day for a “major announcement.” Figure retiring Jerome James’ jersey does not qualify as “major.”

Now, Anthony would like to plan to sit down with Jackson at the appropriate time to discuss a variety of topics.

“If he’s coming on board, I’m pretty sure he’s going to want to sit down and talk. I’m hoping to sit down and just have a conversation,” Anthony said. “At the end of the day, it’s Phil Jackson, man. I’m pretty sure all you guys would want to have a one-on-one with him. I’m the same.”

So is Amar’e Stoudemire.

“I’m an avid fan of Phil Jackson,” said Stoudemire, who is expected to be back starting Saturday against Milwaukee. “He has a winning pedigree that’s unmatched. So to have that type of leadership around would be awesome.

“Without a doubt I would love to sit down and just pick his brain about basketball and what it takes to win. So that’s going to be great for us.”

There was a time when Jackson did not seem to share a reciprocating view. During a 2012 interview on HBO’s “Real Sports,” Jackson observed that the Knicks’ roster, with Anthony and Stoudemire, was “clumsy.” Plus, Anthony’s hands represented a place where basketball movement went to die.

“Carmelo has to be a better passer,” Jackson said. “And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kind of blend that group together.”

Again, that was then. Now Anthony said he is fueled by title aspirations, and who better to direct those hope than the man who claimed a record 11 as a coach and two more as a player — specifically, a Knicks player.

“I’m hoping. I believe so,” Anthony said about Jackson’s title pedigree making a difference. “But like I said that’s something I’ll have to sit down and really figure out at the end of the season, think about it.

“At the end of the day when that time comes we’re talking about spending … the end of my career in one place. When that time comes, we’ll discuss that.”

Tesla setting up for pushback against Christie

The war between billionaire inventor Elon Musk and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is far from over.

After the Christie administration slammed it this week by outlawing the direct sales of cars, Musk’s Tesla Motors is now “evaluating judicial remedies to correct” the state ban, he wrote Friday on the company’s blog.

Tesla is the only car company selling directly to drivers rather than through authorized dealers.

Several states, including Texas, Arizona and Virgina, ban or curb direct sales.

But New Jersey is the first state to issue a direct sale license to Tesla — and then move to ban such an activity.

“We have a good legal challenge,” a source close to the company told The Post. “The administrative body in New Jersey made a ruling in direct contravention of the law that licensed us.”

In the blog post, Musk said Tesla is on track to convert its two New Jersey mall stores, in Short Hills and Paramus, into “galleries” by April 1.

Tesla also has galleries in Texas and Arizona that display its cars but don’t allow customers to order one.

They can’t even discuss price at the stores.

New Jersey residents can visit a Tesla showroom in Manhattan, Musk suggested. But that option may disappear soon.

Several auto dealership groups in New York are pressing lawmakers to ban direct sales. That effort could bear fruit as early as this summer, according to Mark Scheinberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Association.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Street Closures - Monday, March 17

The following streets in Manhattan will be closed on Monday from 11 am to 5 pm for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade:
 
  • 5th Avenue between 42nd Street and 86th Street
  • Madison Avenue between 63rd Street and 64th Street
  • Vanderbilt Avenue from 43rd Street to 46th Street
  • 44th Street and 45th Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 46th Street to 48th Street between Park Avenue and 6th Avenue
  • 63rd Street and 64th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
  • 80th Street to 85th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue

Legend Series in Panama takes Mo full circle


Mariano Rivera threw his first baseball near the muddy shores of a Panamanian fishing village, where his friends fashioned milk cartons into gloves and used tree branches for bats. Years later, the Yankees arrived and discovered a lanky teenager who would become the game's all-time saves leader.

As improbable as that journey might have seemed at the time, Rivera may actually be enjoying his finest baseball accomplishment this weekend. Rivera has brought the Yankees to his home country, to play in a two-game Legend Series against the Marlins in Panama City this weekend.

"It means a lot to me and I want to thank the teams, because it's an honor and privilege to have the Marlins and my ex-teammates in my beloved Panama," said Rivera, who is serving as an ambassador for the event. "It's been a dream to have games in Panama. It's going to be great to be able to have these games there."

The Legend Series marks Major League Baseball's first visit to Panama since 1947. The games, a rematch of the 2003 World Series, will honor the legacy of Rivera, who retired after last season. The games count as part of the teams' Spring Training schedule.

"I think we know what the Yankees mean to Mo, and I think we know what his country means," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "To be able to combine the two, I think is really special."

The Yankees arrived in Panama on Thursday evening, and the Marlins were to arrive on Friday afternoon.

Both clubs will attend a charity dinner on Friday evening that is tentatively scheduled to be attended by Ricardo Martinelli, the president of Panama.

The Legends Series will include events that will benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Proceeds will go to Children's Hospital in Panama City, the country's largest pediatric hospital.

"I hope these games can help youth of Panama and motivate them by seeing professionals play," Rivera said.

"They need to study, of course, but also do sports, and stay out of the streets. Baseball is not easy, but it's a beautiful sport and I know this is going to be something spectacular. I hope the country takes advantage of it and enjoys something we have not seen in years."

Yankees right-hander Adam Warren and Marlins left-hander Brad Hand are scheduled to start the first game of the Legends Series on Saturday at 9:05 p.m. ET. Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia and Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi are to start the second game on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. ET.

"When I heard about it, I wanted to go," Sabathia said. "I knew that [Rivera] would be there and that it would be a big deal for him. Playing with him for five years, I want a chance to go over there and see how that will be for him."

The Marlins' travel squad is led by Eovaldi, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. The Yankees' roster includes Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, as well as David Robertson, who is being handed the challenge of replacing Rivera as closer.

There surely will be pleas to see Rivera take the mound, but Rivera is insistent that he and his famed cutter have shattered their last bat. Rivera said that there is "no chance" of him making an in-game appearance against the Marlins this weekend, although it's safe to bank on ceremonial first pitches and answering to many, many autograph requests.

Rivera has said that his playing career had the perfect conclusion last Sept. 27 at Yankee Stadium, when he was removed from the game by teammates Jeter and Andy Pettitte. Rivera buried his face in Pettitte's shoulder that night, weeping on the mound, and there were few dry eyes anywhere in the ballpark. In the time since, Rivera has focused his energy on his family and his church.

"I'm not on the 25-man roster anymore, but my heart will always be with the Yankees," said Rivera, who retired with 652 regular-season saves and 42 more in the postseason, both records.

Panama will become the seventh country to host games between two Major League teams. Mexico, Japan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and China are the others.

Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy and members of the Yankees trained in Panama in February 1946 and played against a Panamanian professional league all-star team. The Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers played exhibition games in Panama during a trip that also included stops in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela in 1947.

Escaped killer caught in Florida — after 37 years on the lam

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — In the nearly 40 years after he escaped from the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, convicted killer James Robert Jones carved out a new life for himself in Florida, living under an assumed name, getting married and working for an air conditioning company.

It all came to an end this week when Jones — or Bruce Walter Keith, as the former Army private was known in Florida — was recaptured with the help of technology that was more sci-fi than reality when he broke out during the disco era: facial-recognition software.

“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘I knew this would catch up with me someday,’” Barry Golden, a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, said Friday.

Jones, 59, was one of the Army’s 15 most-wanted fugitives after his 1977 escape from the Kansas prison dubbed “The Castle” for its large walls and tower keeps.

He was convicted of murder and assault in the 1974 killing of a fellow soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

According to the archives of The Times of Trenton, Jones, who is originally from Ontario, Calif., was found guilty in the stabbing death of Lonnie Eaton, 18, and the wounding of another man. Police at the time said Eaton and a friend were walking back to the base from a bar when they were attacked by three men with knives after one approached and asked if they had any marijuana to sell.

Jones was serving a 23-year sentence when he escaped.

The marshals caught up with Jones on Thursday after using facial-recognition technology to match a Florida driver’s license he was issued in 1981 in Keith’s name with his old military photograph.

Jones was arrested outside the Pompano Beach business where he worked.

He admitted his real identity as he was being fingerprinted, and the prints confirmed it. He was being held without bail at the Broward County jail, awaiting transfer back to Fort Leavenworth.

No one responded to a voice mail left at a number listed for Bruce Keith at his Deerfield Beach address.

Property records show he and wife Susan Keith were married in 1983 and have lived there since 1984.

Susan Keith, 56, told investigators she had no idea her husband was living under an assumed name, Golden said.

No one answered the door Friday at their tidy, single-story, light-gray house. Parked in the driveway was a red pickup with a Miami Dolphins logo, and a fishing boat on a trailer was visible behind a fence.
Neighbors were shocked at the news.

“They are nice people. That’s what I don’t understand. I couldn’t understand that he ever got involved with something like that. I just can’t believe it,” said Joe Onischuk, who has lived across the street for more than 30 years.

Tammy Deangelis, who lives next door, said: “We would all get together. It’s a friendly quiet neighborhood. Good neighbors. Didn’t even know he was in the military. If we had any air conditioning problems, we would go to him.”

The investigation into Jones’ escape had gone cold until last year, when an Army liaison to the Marshals Service happened to mention the case and asked for help. The marshals began working on it January.

Jones’ military photo was compared against Florida’s database of driver’s license photos and yielded a hit.

U.S. law enforcement authorities frequently use such technology to track down fugitives or identify suspects at airports and in other public places.

The license issued under Keith’s name had a different day and month of birth than Jones’, but the year was the same.

After officers picked him up, Jones wouldn’t even respond to his real name, perhaps because he had been living under an alias for so long, Golden said.

Jones was 23 at the time of his escape and was last seen working in the dining facility. Fort Leavenworth spokesman George Marcec said no one recalls anything about the escape because it was so long ago.

Between 1977 and 1998, there were seven escapes involving 11 prisoners at the disciplinary barracks, but all but Jones had been recaptured. The Castle was closed in 2002 and prisoners were moved to a new prison on the base.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Jones would be court-martialed or simply returned to prison to serve out his sentence. He could also face escape charges, Golden said.

Weekend Bridge and Street Closures – March 15-16

One of four lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge eastbound to Brooklyn will be closed on Saturday from 6 am to 2 pm to facilitate NYCDOT bridge maintenance.

Traffic on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek (the John Jay Byrne Bridge) will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Saturday between 7 am and 1 pm for repair of armored expansion joints.

One of two lanes on the Union Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal will be closed northbound on Sunday from 7 am to 1 pm to facilitate NYCDOT bridge maintenance.

The following streets in Manhattan will be closed on Saturday from 7 am to 4 pm for the Grants Tomb Criterium:
  • Riverside Drive Loop around Grant’s Tomb
  • Riverside Drive between 120th Street and 122nd Street
  • Claremont Avenue between 120th Street and 122nd Street
  • 120th Street between Riverside Drive and Claremont Avenue
  • 122nd Street between Riverside Drive and Claremont Avenue

The following streets in Manhattan will be closed on Sunday from 7 am to noon for the NYC Half Marathon:
  • 7th Avenue between 59th Street and 42nd Street
  • 42nd Street between 7th Avenue and West Side Highway
  • Central Park South between 7th Avenue and 5th Avenue
  • Grand Army Plaza between 59th Street and 60th Street
  • Central Park East Drive between 60th Street and 110th Street/ Lenox Avenue
  • Central Park East Drive between Central Park West Drive and 59th Street
  • Central Park Center Drive between 59th Street and Central Park East Drive
  • Frederick Douglass Circle (Entire Traffic Circle)
  • West Side Highway (Northbound) between 42nd Street and 44th Street
  • West Side Highway (Southbound) between 44th Street and Battery Park Underpass
  • Battery Park Underpass between West Side Highway (Southbound) and FDR Drive/South Street Exit/Old Slip
  • South Street between Old Slip and Maiden Lane
  • Maiden Lane between South Street and Water Street
  • Water Street between Maiden Lane and Whitehall Street
  • State Street between Whitehall Street and Pearl Street
  • Front Street between Maiden Lane and Old Slip
  • Wall Street between Pearl Street and South Street
  • Gouverneur Lane between Water Street and South Street
  • Hanover Square between Water Street and Stone Street
  • Stone Street between Hanover Square and Coenties Alley
  • Coenties Alley/Slip between Stone Street and Water Street
  • Pearl Street between Coenties Alley and Hanover Square
  • Broad Street between Water Street and South Street

The following streets in Brooklyn will be closed on Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm for the Brooklyn Irish American Parade:
  • Prospect Park West between 9th Street and 15th Street
  • 15th Street between Prospect Park West and 7th Avenue
  • 7th Avenue between 15th Street and Garfield Place
  • Garfield Place between 7th Avenue and Prospect Park West
  • Prospect Park West between President Street and 13th Street

The following streets in Queens will be closed on Sunday from noon to 5 pm for the Hindu Phagwah Parade:
  • 133rd Street between Liberty Avenue and 107th Avenue
  • Liberty Avenue between 133rd Street and 125th Street
  • 125th Street between Liberty Avenue and 95th Avenue
  • 95th Avenue between 125th Street and 127th Street

The following streets in the Bronx will be closed on Sunday from noon to 2 pm for the Bronx St. Patrick’s Day Parade:
  • Lafayette Avenue between Calhoun Avenue and East Tremont Avenue
  • East Tremont Avenue between Lafayette and Harding Avenue
  • Harding Avenue between East Tremont to Buttrick Avenue

Detailed information on weekend street closures will be available on the DOT web site at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/wkndtraf.shtml

Despite struggles, Teixeira happy with progress

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira went 1-for-2 Friday and now has two base hits, a single and a double to his credit in 12 spring at-bats. Although he is hitting only .167, the Yankees first baseman could hardly be happier with the way his spring is going.      

"I was optimistic, but I didn't know what to expect," admitted Teixeira, who missed all but 15 games of last season with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. "I didn't know if I'd have to take days off or what."

He remained in Tampa this weekend while many of the Yankees traveled to Panama, so that he would have full use of the team's training room facilities at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Teixeira, who will turn 34 next month, is determined to demonstrate he can again be the player he was for the Yankees from 2009-'11, when he averaged 157 games, 37 home runs, 35 doubles, 114 RBIs and 102 runs.

"I'm very happy, real happy about the way my wrist feels and the way it's bounced back from the increased workload," said Teixeira, who has been somewhat overlooked this spring amidst all the attention that has been focused on pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.

And that's fine with Teixeira.

"I really couldn't be happier with how I feel right now," he said. "I obviously need more work, but so far, so good. I'm taking good swings. My BP's are solid. I'm right on schedule."

Acting manager Rob Thomson agreed.

"He looks great, he really does," he said. "He's not there yet, but he looks like he's got his normal Spring Training bat speed."

Piracy, pilot suicide theories gain credence in missing jet probe

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Piracy and pilot suicide are among the scenarios under study as investigators grow increasingly certain the missing Malaysian Airlines jet changed course and headed west after its last radio contact with air traffic controllers.

The latest evidence suggests the plane didn’t experience a catastrophic incident over the South China Sea as was initially suspected. Some experts theorize that one of the pilots, or someone else with flying experience, hijacked the plane or committed suicide by plunging the jet into the sea.

Adding to the speculation that someone was flying the jet, The New York Times on Friday quoted sources familiar with the investigation as saying that the plane experienced significant changes in altitude after it lost contact with ground control, and altered its course more than once.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press earlier that investigators are examining the possibility of “human intervention” in the plane’s disappearance, adding it may have been “an act of piracy.” The official, who wasn’t authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said it also was possible the plane may have landed somewhere. The official later said there was no solid information on who might have been involved.

While other theories are still being examined, the official said key evidence suggesting human intervention is that contact with the Boeing 777′s transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system on the jet quit. Such a gap would be unlikely in the case of an in-flight catastrophe.

A Malaysian official, who also declined to be identified because he is not authorized to brief the media, said only a skilled aviator could navigate the plane the way it was flown after its last confirmed location over the South China Sea. The official said it had been established with a “more than 50 percent” degree of certainty that military radar had picked up the missing plane after it dropped off civilian radar.

Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said the country had yet to determine what happened to the plane after it ceased communicating with ground control around 40 minutes into the flight to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

He said investigators were still trying to establish that military radar records of a blip moving west across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca showed Flight MH370.

“I will be the most happiest person if we can actually confirm that it is the MH370, then we can move all (search) assets from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca,” he told reporters. Until then, he said, the international search effort would continue expanding east and west from the plane’s last confirmed location.

Though some investigators are now convinced that “human intervention” caused the disappearance, U.S. officials told the White House at a briefing Friday that they have “run all the traps” and come up with no good information on who might been involved, according to an official familiar with the meeting. The meeting was attended by State and Defense Department officials, the CIA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, among others.

“I don’t think there is any consensus on a theory,” the official said. “They’re not hearing anything in their surveillance that would indicate that this is part of a plot.”

Another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators looking for the plane have run out of clues except for a type of satellite data that has never been used before to find a missing plane, and is very inexact.

The data consists of attempts by an Inmarsat satellite to identify a broad area where the plane might be in case a messaging system aboard the plane should need to connect with the satellite, said the official. The official compared the location attempts, called a “handshake,” to someone driving around with their cellphone not in use. As the phone from passes from the range of one cellphone tower to another, the towers note that the phone is in range in case messages needed to be sent.

In the case of the Malaysian plane, there were successful attempts by the satellite to roughly locate the Boeing 777 about once an hour over four to five hours, the official said. “This is all brand new to us,” the official said. “We’ve never had to use satellite handshaking as the best possible source of information.”

The New York Times, quoting American officials and others familiar with the investigation, said radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appear to show the airliner climbing to 45,000 feet (about 13,700 meters), higher than a Boeing 777′s approved limit, soon after it disappeared from civilian radar, and making a sharp turn to the west. The radar track then shows the plane descending unevenly to an altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), below normal cruising levels, before rising again and flying northwest over the Strait of Malacca toward the Indian Ocean, the Times reported.

Scores of aircraft and ships from 12 countries are involved in the search, which reaches into the eastern stretches of the South China Sea and on the western side of the Malay Peninsula, northwest into the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean.

India said it was using heat sensors on flights over hundreds of Andaman Sea islands Friday and would expand the search for the missing jet farther west into the Bay of Bengal, more than 1,600 kilometers (about 1,000 miles) to the west of the plane’s last known position.

A team of five U.S. officials with air traffic control and radar expertise — three from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and two from the Federal Aviation Administration — has been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday to assist with the investigation.

White House spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions Friday about the possibility of human intervention in the plane disappearance, saying only that U.S. officials were assisting in the investigation.

“I don’t have conclusive answers and I don’t think anyone does,” Carney said.

Malaysia has faced accusations it isn’t sharing all its information or suspicions about the plane’s final movements. It insists it is being open, and says it would be irresponsible to narrow the focus of the search until there is undeniable evidence of the plane’s flight path.

At this point, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the two pilots, though Malaysian police have said they are looking at their psychological background, their family life and connections.

Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, have both been described as respectable, community-minded men.

Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft.

Fariq was contemplating marriage after having just graduated to the cockpit of a Boeing 777. He has drawn the greatest scrutiny after the revelation that in 2011, he and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for a flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur.

Mike Glynn, a committee member of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said he considers pilot suicide to be the most likely explanation for the disappearance, as was suspected in a SilkAir crash during a flight from Singapore to Jakarta in 1997 and an EgyptAir flight in 1999.

“A pilot rather than a hijacker is more likely to be able to switch off the communications equipment,” Glynn said. “The last thing that I, as a pilot, want is suspicion to fall on the crew, but it’s happened twice before.”

Glynn said a pilot may have sought to fly the plane into the Indian Ocean to reduce the chances of recovering data recorders, and to conceal the cause of the disaster.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Inside the walls of swanky 15 Central Park West

Fifteen Central Park West is New York’s most exclusive address, an aerie of hedgefunders and celebrities, where a penthouse costs $40 million — and a wine cellar costs $80,000 more.

In researching my book, “The House of Outrageous Fortune,” I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right: The rich are different.

Here’s a peek inside the $1 billion building:


IT PAYS TO BE THE HELP
A small army waits on 15 Central Park West’s residents.

There are seven concierges, six doormen, eight white-gloved lobby attendants, three package-room attendants, eight porters, a maintenance man, four security guards, 12 part-time engineers and an administrative assistant. Six people man Fifteen’s lobbies by day, two each for the doors, concierge desks and lobbies. Three more work the package room, and four porters and one or two engineers are always on duty.

Working at a building like 15CPW can be lucrative. Some titans of Wall Street tip very well.

The staff was excited when Sandy Weill, former chairman of Citigroup, handed out about $90,000 in his first year. But they were disappointed after that.

In 2008, he was “very generous,” says a former staffer, “but the second year they cut their tips in half.”

An ex-staffer recalls another early move-in, a former Goldman Sachs partner. It was December 2007 and he arrived bearing gifts, Christmas tips for everyone on the staff, even though he’d just met them.

The typical resident gives $100 to $500 to every employee, says a staffer still employed in the building.

Music impresario Jesse Itzler tipped $650 a head. Fashion executive Elie Tahari, who rented, gave $300 and a $200 shirt.

In 2011, the typical employee’s holiday take was about $22,500. The concierges and anyone who does special favors “get more,” up to $100,000.

One employee thinks the resident manager, Gregg Carlovich, who was poached from the Time Warner Center, is the highest paid in the city, estimating he is paid $600,000 before tips, making him a truly super-intendent.

 

SMALL FORTUNES
The apartments of 15CPW not only are some of the most expensive in the city, they’re usually decorated as works of art.

One extreme example was hedge-funder Barry Rosenstein, who Forbes estimates made $140 million last year with his JANA Partners.

Rosenstein spent some of his take on his apartment, a 6,139-square-foot spread on the 16th floor (with 1,098-square-foot terrace) he bought for $29.5 million.

He either refused to have them installed during construction or ripped out all of the moldings, baseboards, flooring and trim designed for the building by architect Robert A.M. Stern, as well as some walls and the legally required rudimentary staircase.

His design team opened up the public rooms, dispensing with curtains and doors, aside from the five sets of French doors to the 10-foot-wide, L-shaped terrace. Solar shades that are invisible when retracted are the only window treatments.

The walls are covered with limestone-colored Venetian plaster and Japanese tamo paneling, and custom-crafted zebrawood floors were added. A heated wood floor went into a yoga studio.

LED lighting that mimicked natural light was installed on the ceiling of the switchback staircase to the 17th
floor. Rosenstein filled the beige, pale gray and white apartment with modern art including two Warhols, a John Chamberlain car-crash sculpture, a small, early Roy Lichtenstein painting and a large Gerhard Richter canvas over the ebony-and-rosewood table and leopard-print chairs in the dining room.

Above the table hangs a delicate alabaster-and-bronze chandelier. Elsewhere, interior decorator Orlando Diaz-Azcuy placed an Axel Salto vase, chinese bronze vessels, a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph, a grand piano and a mix of mid-century modern antiques and spare modern furniture.

The Rosensteins’ desire for comfortable, informal furniture and fabrics led their decorator to nickname them Mr. and Mrs. Chenille. Money can buy you more than just stuff: It all took only eight months to complete.




A-ROD’S WOMEN

Despite all they see and all the fortunes housed above them, the 15CPW staff are still dazzled by celebrity, taking note when supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Gisele B√ľndchen visited, respectively, heiress Andrea Kerzner or Jesse Itzler, or when Cameron Diaz left Yankee boyfriend Alex Rodriguez’s apartment, sailed out the front door and hailed her own cab.

“But sometimes you had to get a cab and bring it down to the garage to wait for her,” says a staffer. “I got hassles from the drivers, but I’d just say, ‘You’ll be happy when you see who you’re waiting for.’ ”

But fame alone was not enough to win the praise of Fifteen’s staff or its residents. Diaz “was way too nice for A-Rod,” the staffer continues. “He was a douche. No one liked him.”

An owner from the Morgan Stanley tribe agrees, describing A-Rod as “not a nice guy, an unfriendly narcissist.” That is likely why staff members tell tales they probably shouldn’t about the slugger, who was still married when he got to the building.

One day, his wife showed up — and said she was Mrs. Smith. “We didn’t know who she was, so we wouldn’t let her in,” says a former staffer. “Why didn’t she say who she was? She was uptight, nonresponsive and belligerent. When Alex came in 10 minutes later, we knew. He was with Goldie Hawn’s daughter.”

Fifteen became A-Rod’s home plate as he segued from dating Madonna (who lived a few blocks north at Harperley Hall), to Kate Hudson (whose mother, Hawn, lived a few blocks to the south at Central Park Place), and then to Diaz. But apparently, they weren’t enough for A-Rod.

“He got hookers all the time,” says the building staff member. “Usually two at a time, two times a week. One time he had two go up, they came down and left, and 10 minutes later, Cameron Diaz walks in. He doesn’t care. I hate the guy. He thought he was God.”
(A-Rod has denied all this.)

 

THE STOLEN PAINTING
One of the strangest stories from 15CPW involved the robbery of Bob Diamond’s apartment.

That crime occurred while Diamond was still the chief executive of the bank Barclays, which had just taken over Lehman Brothers’ investment bank and capital-markets units for the distress price of $250 million.

Diamond hadn’t moved in yet, but some of his possessions were there. Presumably, his security detail was watching him and not his stuff.

Residents of Fifteen carry electronic fobs that allow them to take the elevators from floor to floor. But those movements can be tracked by the security staff and its cameras. The only way to avoid being seen was to take one of the staircases that run behind the elevator cores.

It’s not known why the son of a neighbor in the tower decided to climb those stairs one day, only that he was on a break from a good school and his parents were away.

“He takes the back stairs up a few flights to Diamond’s apartment, it’s open, there are no locks,” says one of several people who tell the story. “He takes a painting and leaves it in his parents’ apartment. Diamond discovers the painting is missing.”

Diamond’s security team was called, but it was the building’s security staff that figured out what had happened and who’d done it from electronic records of fire doors opening; there were then no cameras on the back stairs. The thief “was confronted and he ’fessed up,” says a onetime building employee.

“Diamond was a real sport about it,” adds someone at real-estate company Brown Harris Stevens. It should probably come as no surprise that no charges were filed and the story of the incident has heretofore not left the building.

“That kid got very lucky,” says a renter who heard what happened.

Copyright © 2014 by Idee Fixe Ltd. From the forthcoming book “House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World’s Most Powerful Address” by Michael Gross, to be published by Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.

Staten Island Licensing Office Temporarily Closed

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) wishes to announce that its Staten Island Licensing office, which had been temporarily located at Staten Island Borough Hall due to Hurricane Sandy, will be closed as of Thursday, March 6, 2014 while the agency prepares for the reopening of its Licensing Office at 209 Bay Street.

A forthcoming notice will include the date and details of the Bay Street office opening.

Syndergaard has up-and-down day in Mets' win

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers have had the green light running the bases all spring. They almost ran their way into a victory on Saturday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium with their third double steal in eight days. But Matt Clark's pinch-hit, two-run double completed a ninth-inning comeback, sending the Mets past the Tigers for a 3-2 win.

Both runs came off Justin Miller, a dark-horse candidate for a spot in Detroit's bullpen. A one-out walk to Dustin Lawley and a single to Juan Centeno put runners at the corners for Clark, who stayed alive in the at-bat long enough to turn on a fastball and send it down the right-field line to clear the bases.

Detroit was in control early on, as Drew Smyly's three scoreless innings set the tone for a low-scoring affair.

The Tigers were also helped by two highlight catches by their corner outfielders that helped preserve a tenuous lead. Torii Hunter made a leaping catch at the right-field fence, robbing Andrew Brown of at least a double -- if not a solo homer -- in the fourth inning.

Two innings later, Ezequiel Carrera took away a game-tying hit, when he made a diving snare in the left-field gap of a scorched line drive from pinch-hitter Eric Campbell, allowing Phil Coke to escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam with one run allowed.

For Hunter, it showed an extra step that eluded him at times last season covering ground at Comerica Park.

The bigger boost went to the speedy Carrera, one of a few candidates to share time in left field with Rajai Davis.

Both Detroit runs came off Noah Syndergaard, who showed the nasty stuff that makes him one of New York's promising young starters but also struggled with command. Both Don Kelly and Daniel Fields reached on second-inning walks, setting them up to run with Bryan Holaday at the plate.

Syndergaard struck out Holaday swinging, but the offspeed pitch he used for it gave Kelly an extra split second to get into third base, as Fields followed into second. Steve Lombardozzi stepped to the plate in a two-out RBI situation and hit a ground ball deep enough to the right side to skip past Eric Young Jr. and into short right field. Fields rounded third as Kirk Nieuwenhuis charged the ball.

Syndergaard gave up two runs on two hits, but walked three with three strikeouts. Five Mets relievers
combined for six innings of three-hit scoreless ball from there.

The Mets also retired two other Tigers on the bases, with Jacob deGrom catching Hunter trying to steal in the fourth inning and Ian Kinsler getting doubled off on a line drive to Anthony Seratelli in the sixth.

The Tigers have swiped 15 bases so far this spring. They stole 17 bases in Grapefruit League play in each of the last two years, and haven't stolen 20 bases in a Spring Training since 2006.

Juan Lagares continued to swing a hot bat, as he delivered two singles -- including a ground ball through the middle that led off New York's scoring threat in the sixth. Coke, who gave up three runs on six hits in his previous outing last Monday against the Cardinals, walked Nieuwenhuis -- the only left-handed hitter he faced -- before Josh Satin's slow roller down the third-base line stayed fair to load the bases.

Coke induced a double-play grounder from Brown, as Lagares scored to put New York on the board. Nieuwenhuis moved to third, where he was poised to score had Campbell's liner fallen.

Up next: Right-hander Zach Wheeler will start on Sunday afternoon against the Braves in Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m. ET. He'll be followed on the mound by Carlos Torres, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Valverde, lefty Jack Leathersich, Jeurys Familia and Ryan Reid. Kris Medlen is scheduled to start for the Braves.

A crude way to get Putin out of Ukraine

What should President Obama do to de-fang tyrant Vladimir Putin?

He could start with two simple announcements tomorrow morning, as the beginning of a campaign to finally show Moscow that Washington means business.

First, the president should announce a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

That shouldn’t be so hard to swallow for a White House that sent 30 million barrels onto the market from the reserve in the summer of 2011 for no strategic reason other than to reverse plunging poll numbers as gas prices neared $4 dollars a gallon.

Second, Obama should use this opportunity to finally approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

These two moves would be directed right at the heart of what makes Putin tick — oil and natural gas — the only two things he holds dearer than the restoration of Russian hegemony.

Brent North Sea crude, the European benchmark, closed Friday at nearly $108 dollars a barrel. A number like that lets Putin sleep at night.

That’s because his Russia is addicted to energy as the main driver of the economy. Oil and gas revenues account for more than a third of Russia’s GDP and 40 percent of its tax receipts.

As Foreign Affairs Magazine put it, “For Putin oil and gas remain the only realistic source of capital for Russia’s growth.”

But Putin and his kleptocratic oligarchs have been more interested in laundering their billions across Europe than investing in new technology the way American entrepreneurs have over the past decade.

It’s that advantage that Obama must increasingly exploit to keep Putin on his toes and out of eastern Ukraine and other regions on his shopping list.

Our ally, an increasingly isolated Saudi Arabia, could likely be depended on to go along with such a White House program.

As former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously suggested during the financial upheaval, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Mr. President, don’t waste this crisis to unleash America’s energy might. As an added bonus, lower energy costs here can get the economy back on track and mitigate the impact of a winter in most of the US that has been simply Siberian.

Weekend Bridge and Street Closures – March 8-9

One of four lanes of the Williamsburg Bridge eastbound to Brooklyn will be closed on Saturday from 6 am to 2 pm to facilitate NYCDOT bridge maintenance.

Traffic on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek (the John Jay Byrne Bridge) will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Saturday between 7 am and 1 pm to repair armored expansion joints.

The following streets in Manhattan will be closed on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm for a Prayer Vigil (Israel demonstration):
  • Water Street between Broad Street and Peck Slip
  • Old Slip between South Street and Water Street
  • Hanover Square between Pearl Street and Water Street
  • Front Street between Old Slip and Gouverneur Lane
  • Wall Street, Maiden Lane and Peck Slip between South Street and Pearl Street
NYPD will tow all parked vehicles on these streets.

Detailed information on weekend street closures will be available on the DOT web site at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/wkndtraf.shtml.

Teixeira continues to 'knock off rust'

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira had another day of positive signs for the Yankees on Saturday, slugging a double and working a walk in New York's 9-6 Grapefruit League victory over the Astros.

Teixeira's two-base hit came right-handed, facing southpaw Darin Downs. Teixeira said that the only things he has not tested with his surgically repaired right wrist are swinging and missing and check-swings.

"I really am knocking off rust," said Teixeira, who finished 1-for-2 and played four innings at first base. "Two days ago, it was just being out there. You're not used to covering first base, going after foul balls and coming in on bunts, stuff like that.

"I'm just continuing to knock off some rust, get my legs in shape, get my swing in shape, try and see a lot of pitches. I'm glad I saw a walk today; that was a good step for me, just seeing pitches. Hopefully, I'll continue to do that."

Teixeira said that he expects to have more than enough swings to knock all of his rust off before Opening Day.

"I don't want to try to overdo things in Spring Training and then physically not be ready for the season," Teixeira said. "I'm going to go in and out of 10 slumps this year; that's just the way it is.

"What you want to do is physically, you want to feel really good coming out of Spring Training into Opening Day and get enough at-bats -- 50 or 55 at-bats -- to feel you're comfortable. That's what Spring Training is about, getting your body ready for a long season."

Military plane spots ‘wreckage’ from disintegrated airliner

Officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner with 239 people on board are narrowing the focus of their inquiries on the possibility that it disintegrated mid-flight, a senior source said on Sunday.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished after climbing to a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in the early hours of Saturday. Search teams have not been able to make any confirmed discovery of wreckage in seas beneath the plane’s flight path almost 48 hours after it took off.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” said the source, who is involved in the preliminary investigations in Malaysia.

If the plane had plunged intact from such a height, breaking up only on impact with the water, search teams would have expected to find a fairly concentrated pattern of debris, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the investigation.

The source was speaking shortly before Vietnamese authorities said a military plane had spotted an object at sea suspected to be part of the missing airliner.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical issues.

Malaysian authorities have said they are focused on finding the plane and have declined to comment when asked about the investigations.

However, the source said the closest parallels were the explosion on board an Air India jetliner in 1985 when it was over the Atlantic Ocean and the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988. Both planes were cruising at around 31,000 feet when bombs exploded on board.

Canadian and Indian police have long alleged the Air India bombing was conducted by Sikh extremists living in western Canada as revenge on India for the deadly 1984 assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine.

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killed 259 passengers and crew and another 11 people on the ground. A Libyan intelligence officer was convicted for the attack.

International police agency Interpol has said at least two of the passengers on board the Malaysian plane, and possibly more, used passports listed as missing or stolen on its database.

“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol’s databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a statement.

U.S. and European security officials have however maintained there is no proof yet of foul play and there could be other explanations for the use of stolen passports.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

'B' game carries significance for key Mets players

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In his fifth at-bat of the day, David Wright crushed a home run in what seemingly was the top of the third inning. Strangely, the home run ended the half-inning. After he touched 'em all, Wright moved to the third-base dugout for a moment of reflection and a word with Bartolo Colon, the pitcher who had surrendered said home run. And then the Mets third baseman bounced up the steps and returned to the batter's box to lead off the bottom of the third against Bobby Parnell.

It was tad confusing, for sure.

In the first inning, Daniel Murphy had hit the second pitch offered by Colon to center field. It was run down and caught, but for reasons unclear, it was ruled foul. So Murphy returned to the batter's box and took three pitches, the final one a called third strike.

More confusing. And one of the Minor League players serving as the defense against a four-man batting order -- Wright, Murphy, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada -- wore No. 20 and the name Johnson across his back. What decade is this?

No, this was not baseball as old Abner had created it or as Mr. Rickey had taught it. Nor was it anything akin to what the Mets immodestly marketed as "Baseball as it ought to be" in 1986. It was baseball as it had to be for a team with a few minor issues and three games scheduled for one day -- two in Kissimmee, Fla., against Astros personnel, the other an intramural engagement here.

The Mets called the one contested at Tradition Field a "B" game, because that phrasing is routinely used when the varsity plays elsewhere. Parnell begged to differ, however, when he he saw so many board the buses for Kissimmee.

"It's a 'C' game," Parnell said before seven veteran players and a host of wannabes played some disputed number of innings with one umpire -- who closely resembled pitching coach Dan Warthen -- standing behind the mound.

Quite confusing, indeed. The baseball novel, "Bang the Drum Slowly" told of a fictional card game players amused themselves with in idle moments. It was named "Tegwar," an acronym for "The exciting game without any rules."

Tegwar this was, though excitement wasn't evident on a quiet and humid Florida morning. But whatever this junior varsity affair lacked in structure and excitement, it made up for in significance. Baby steps are important too.

So the Mets now are almost in position to put their real team on the field. Manager Terry Collins indicated Thursday he expects Wright and Murphy to play against the Cardinals on Friday. Because the afternoon game in Kissimmee was canceled and Travis d'Arnaud didn't play, he probably will catch vs. the Cards.

Neither Curtis Granderson nor Chris Young made the trip Thursday and neither participated in the Tegwar game, so they're likely to start as well.

And after batting but not playing the field, Tejada said he's fit to return to shortstop, though Collins will be the judge of that.

First base went unassigned late Thursday afternoon when the manager and two busloads of wannabes returned in time to experience more heavy rain and an extreme alert for tornadic weather. Neither Davis (both calves) nor Lucas Duda (left hamstring) is likely to play against the Cardinals. But ...

Wright and Murphy made their spring debuts in the Tegwar affair. Davis tested his calves, Tejada tested his balky hamstring, Colon pitched for the first time since his calf balked, Jon Niese pitched for the first time since his left shoulder was MRI-ed and Parnell pitched in game conditions -- such as they were -- for the first time since last summer, when the discs in his neck suspended his career.

And all emerged healthy, or relatively so, and pointing to Opening Day. No news is good news someone once reasoned. "No headlines, just headway" is the way the Mets like it at this time of year.

So it was left to Colon and the other formerly infirm to make news. Colon acknowledged he didn't accomplish all he had hoped to. But he felt fine. His pitches had characteristic movement but, he thought, for the most part, they weren't properly located. Wright's home run seemed to reinforce his self assessment.

"But you could see why he's so many won games," Wright said of Colon. "He's kind of a master of his craft -- in out, in out. I'm sure Dan liked what he saw."

The Mets captain was quite impressed with Colon's pitch selection and sequence. He was wowed by a changeup his oldest teammate -- Colon is 40 -- threw Murphy.

"I was on second base," Wright said, "And they weren't trying to hide signs from me. I was trying to think along with the pitcher, 'Where did that changeup come from?'"

Parnell was delighted merely to throw to batters -- even homies -- in game circumstances. He faced five batters. He eliminated all doubts, he said, involving his readiness for Opening Day.

"I got some outs on early swings," he said. "There are still some kinks I have to work out. But I have enough time, I'll be ready to go."

"Bobby was the only one who held back a little" Warthen said. "He was about 80 percent, but no ill effects."

Tejada said he expects to play Friday. He ran the bases before the game and said his hamstring was no longer is an issue. Running the bases in the C game was disallowed for him, as well as Davis. The first baseman needs more time to recover from the calf strains he suffered Sunday. His left calf has improved, his right not so much.

"It's a better to miss a little time now," Davis said.

Moreover, Davis' competition with Duda for the first-base assignment is on hold, as Duda remains restricted because of his sore hamstring.

And finally, there is Niese, who sees whatever progress he makes -- or for that matter, whatever steps in reverse he takes -- through one prism: he is to start against the Nationals on Opening Day, March 31 at Citi Field.

"I have plenty of time," he said. "I'm very close to 100 percent. Today was a big step for me. I felt great, it felt normal.

"I left a lot of pitches up today, but I was excited and it was my first day with hitters. Now the idea is to begin executing pitches and keep them down. I have the time I need."

Wife exposes husband, mistress — at Walmart

A wife has admitted posting photos of her husband and a former friend having sex all over the woman’s Walmart workplace.

“Hide your husbands,” 45-year-old Beverly Rolston wrote on a series of photographs, which security footage shows her posting all over the Ohio store in November, according to WLWT.

Police say the photos were stuck up within view of children.

The Wal-mart employee says she used to be friends with Rolston.

Rolston said she believed her husband and the woman had been having an affair for about a year, authorities said. Her husband had reportedly confessed the infidelity to her.

Rolston has been charged with one count of pandering obscenities. She has pleaded not guilty and her court case is continuing.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.

Medallion Auction Notice

The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission wishes to announce that 32 Accessible Minifleet Medallions will be offered for sale, in lots of two, through the receipt of sealed competitive bids.  The TLC will receive bids in person on March 19, 20, 21 and 24, 2014, from 9:00 A.M. through 12:00 Noon at its offices at 33 Beaver Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10004.  These bids will be publicly opened on March 25, 2014, commencing at 11:00 A.M. at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007.  TLC’s offices and the auction facility are wheelchair accessible.
  • All interested bidders must submit their sealed bids on March 19, 20, 21 and 24, 2014, between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon at the NYC TLC, 33 Beaver Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10004.
  • All bid packages must be delivered by hand.  Please be prepared to present an ID to enter 33 Beaver Street.
  • Bids will not be accepted by mail.
  • The deadline to submit Bid Packages is 12:00 Noon on Monday, March 24, 2014.
  • All 32 medallions included in this auction have been set aside for use with wheelchair-accessible vehicles. 
  • The 2 highest non-winning bids will be held for Reserve Status.
  • The minimum upset price for Accessible Minifleet Medallions is $850,000 per medallion or $1,700,000 per lot.
Bid packages, bidding instructions, bidder requirements, ownership requirements and further details are available online at www.nyc.gov/taxi and at all TLC facilities. 

Any request for a sign language interpreter or other form of reasonable accommodation for a disability at the March 25, 2014 auction must be submitted in writing, by telephone, or by TTY/TDD no later than March 19, 2014, to the Office of Legal Affairs at:

Taxi and Limousine Commission
33 Beaver St., 22nd Floor
New York, New York 10004
Telephone: 212-676-1135
Email:  medallionauction@tlc.nyc.gov

Tanaka's first start comes with new experiences

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The conditions could not have been anything close to what Masahiro Tanaka envisioned for his first Spring Training start. Rain pelted the covered playing field, various items of debris fluttered through the air, and a tornado warning urged people to find cover.

Tanaka ventured out of the visiting clubhouse at Bright House Field on Thursday morning to peek at nature in action, discovering that the dugout was completely underwater. According to one observer, Tanaka made a swimming gesture, and he wasn't alone in thinking that pitching would be out of the question.

"Everybody was talking about that probably the game wasn't going to be played," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "But I kept my emotions intact, and I was game-ready."

After a delay of one hour and 26 minutes, the skies cleared and Tanaka was able to turn in an interesting three-inning outing against the Phillies. He allowed a solo Freddy Galvis home run and one other hit, recording a strikeout with no walks, but said that he did not feel at the top of his game.

Asked to explain, Tanaka replied with a smile, "Because I'm human. I just can't be perfect every single day."

Tanaka may be a harsher critic than Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who said that he was "very pleased" by what he saw from the right-hander. Tanaka threw 25 of 41 pitches for strikes, recording a swinging strikeout of Chase Utley on a nasty 0-2 splitter.

"Obviously, he understands how the ball felt coming out of his hand better than I did, and the pitches that he made, but it's a step in the right direction," Girardi said.

Girardi said that it worked out perfectly that the storms passed and the Yankees and Phillies were able to play; had the game been canceled, the Yankees probably would have had Tanaka throw a soft side session and then bounce back to pitch on Saturday.

"Today could have been [a problem] with the rain delay, because he has a routine, and with a lot of pitchers, your routine gets messed up with a rain delay," Girardi said. "You're not exactly sure when it's going to start."
Tanaka said that rain delays are uncommon in Japan, where many teams play in domed facilities, but that "it was sort of good practice for me to experience what I experienced today," because delays will be a reality during the regular season.

He looked sharp in an 11-pitch first inning that ended with the Utley strikeout, and Tanaka pitched out of trouble in the second inning, stranding Marlon Byrd after his one-out double to right-center. Of the nine outs Tanaka recorded, seven came on the ground.

"Considering how the wind was blowing today, I thought it would be better to get more groundouts," Tanaka said. "I think that was good."

But Tanaka's control was not as pinpoint as it had been in his first spring appearance. He fell behind Galvis to a 3-1 count in the third inning, and Galvis punished Tanaka's four-seam fastball, clubbing it to a concrete walkway well beyond the right-field berm for a solo homer.

"I feel that home run was a result of me not being able to get first strikes," Tanaka said.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was impressed by Tanaka's outing.

"He looked great. He was using a lot of his pitches," Teixeira said. "You saw a lot of swing-and-misses. To me, that's one of the marks of a strikeout pitcher; when you see guys just really getting fooled on pitches, and there were a bunch of swing-and-misses today."

Tanaka faced the Phillies in his first appearance on Saturday, but because he entered as a reliever in the fifth inning, most of the batters he faced then will be opening the season in the Minors. Tanaka said that it was a treat to test his stuff against some of the hitters that he has heard about.

"Just looking at some of the broadcasts back in Japan of the Major League games, you get a chance to see batters like Chase Utley or Ryan Howard," Tanaka said.

Tanaka said that by actually standing on the mound and facing those hitters, he has been able to take some early notes: for example, Howard stands further back in the batter's box than Tanaka had expected.

Girardi said that he was not prepared to announce when Tanaka would pitch again, but as the Yankees readied to board their buses back to the complex across the bay, he made it clear that Tanaka had absorbed plenty of lessons for one eventful day.

"I don't know if there's any homework," Girardi said. "We just need to build him up, continue to build him up, and get him comfortable with our catchers. That's the biggest thing."

Man called bitcoin’s father denies ties, leads LA car chase

A Japanese American man thought to be the reclusive multi-millionaire father of Bitcoin emerged from a modest Southern California home and denied involvement with the digital currency before leading reporters on a freeway car chase to the local headquarters of the Associated Press.

Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin traders, practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared to lose his anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a story that said he lived in Temple City, California, just east of Los Angeles.

Newsweek included a photograph and a described a short interview, in which Nakamoto said he was no longer associated with Bitcoin and that it had been turned over to other people. The magazine concluded that the man was the same Nakamoto who founded Bitcoin.

Dozens of reporters, including a sprinkling of Japanese media, encircled and camped outside the man’s two-story house on Thursday morning, accosting the mailman and repeatedly ringing the doorbell, to no avail. Police cruisers drove by several times but did not stop.

Several times, someone pulled back the drapes on an upstairs window.

In the afternoon, the silver-haired, bespectacled Nakamoto stepped outside, dressed in gray sport coat and green striped shirt, with a pen tucked in his shirt pocket. He was mobbed by reporters and told them he was looking for someone who understood Japanese to buy him a free lunch.
Newsweek estimates his wealth at $400 million.

“I’m not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute, I want my free lunch first. I’m going with this guy,” Nakamoto
said, pointing at a reporter from AP.

“I’m not in Bitcoin, I don’t know anything about it,” the man said again while walking down the street with several cameras at his heels.

He and the AP reporter made their way to a nearby sushi restaurant with media in tow, before leaving and heading downtown. Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno followed the pair and described the chase in a running stream of tweets. Eventually, the pair dashed into the Associated Press offices in downtown Los Angeles, where reporters are still waiting for Nakamoto to emerge.

Weird
Fans see Bitcoin as a digital-world currency beyond the government interference, while critics, whose ranks swelled with the recent close of major bitcoin exchanges Mt. Gox, see a risky investment whose anonymity aids drug dealers and other criminals.

Nakamoto kept a low profile in part to avoid attention of authorities, Newsweek said, and indeed on Thursday the office of Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, was keen on speaking with him, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Its value soared last year, and the total worth of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.

In the Newsweek article, Nakamoto was credited by Bitcoin’s chief scientist, Gavin Andresen, in working out the first codes behind the currency.

A man of few words who refused to discuss anything beyond the currency or even communicate outside of email, Nakamoto was described by his brother in the Newsweek article as “fickle and has very weird hobbies,” including a penchant for model trains.

The Japanese-born Nakamoto displayed an unusual aptitude for math as a child. He immigrated with his mother to California in 1959. He was worked for defense and electronics company Hughes Aircraft, but never discussed work because much of it was classified, according to Newsweek interviews with several friends and relatives.

“He’s very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking. Smart, intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You name it, he can do it,” Newsweek quoted Arthur Nakamoto, his younger brother, as saying.