Is He or Isn't He? Alleged Bitcoin Founder Denies He Founded Bitcoin.
AP’s anxiously-awaited Nakamoto exclusive is out. The newswire reports the man who Newsweek claimed is the founder of bitcoin in a much-talked about cover story today, denies he had anything to do with the cryptocurrency. Here’s the AP:
In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Associated Press Dorian S. Nakamoto, 64, said he had never heard of Bitcoin until his son told him he had been contacted by a reporter three weeks ago.
Reached at his home in Temple City, Calif., Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek's report are correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor. But he strongly disputes the magazine's assertion that he is "the face behind Bitcoin."
Earlier today, Nakamoto's home was staked out by a pack of media and he was chased across Los Angeles as he traveled to lunch and then the offices of an AP reporter for the interview. LA Times Deputy Business Editor Joe Bel Bruno live-tweeted the shenanigans and continues to provide updates. Stay tuned, if today is any clue, this story is far from settled.
Update, 9:30pm ET: Leah McGrath Goodman, the author of Newsweek's investigative piece, is standing by her report, specifically that Nakamoto indicated his involvement with bitcoin. Nakamoto told the AP his comments to Goodman were misunderstood and that he thought she was questioning him about his work as an engineer, not bitcoin. Here's the key passage in question:
Tacitly acknowledging his role in the Bitcoin project, he looks down, staring at the pavement and categorically refuses to answer questions.
"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."
The AP suggests the possibility of a language barrier. While Nakamoto, who was born in Japan, speaks both English and Japanese, his English is not perfect. Or it could be just a simple case of he-said, she-said.
Americans Spend 11-hours a Day with Digital Media
Americans like their digital media. A new report from Nielsen shows the average adult spends nearly half of the day -- 11 hours -- with electronic media. Contrary to what you might think, the old standbys, TV and radio, are doing quite well. Here’s the breakdown for the average American adult (18+):
Live TV: 5 hours, 4 minutes
Radio: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Smartphone: 1 hour, 7 minutes
Internet on a PC: 1 hour, 1 minute
Time-shifted TV: 32 minutes
Game Console: 12 minutes
DVD/Blu Ray: 9 minutes
Other Multimedia device: 2 minutes
Though smartphones have overtaken PC’s and Americans are now making time for time-shifted TV (eg. DVR), Nielsen finds our habits have remained pretty steady over the past few years.
The ratings company also looked at media consumption patterns by age, finding that our TV habits start young, dip during teenage years, then rise steadily for the rest our lives. Here’s a look at weekly TV usage by age group:
2-11: 24 hours, 16 minutes
12-17: 20 hours, 41 minutes
18-24: 22 hours, 27 minutes
25-34: 27 hours, 36 minutes
35-49: 33 hours, 40 minutes
50-64: 43 hours, 56 minutes
65-plus: 50 hours, 34 minutes
So don’t worry about missing this week’s episode of True Detective, you’ll be spending the rest of your life in front of the TV anyway.
This Is Either the Best or Worst Lawyer Commercial Ever Made
If you’re a [cough, cough] completely innocent resident of Pittsburgh who’s been [exaggerated wink] “wrongly” accused of a crime, Daniel Muessig is the criminal defense attorney for you. Muessig has released a hilariously blunt advertisement for his services featuring a montage of (fictional) local rapscallions committing crimes like burglary, home invasion, prescription fraud, conspiracy, drug trafficking, prostitution, and solicitation, all of whom thank Dan for representing them after they make off with their loot. “I’m the Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Pittsburgh criminals hire when they commit crimes,” says Muessig.
Lawyering isn’t Muessig's only hustle. When he’s not starring in viral videos or successfully reducing the bail of a suspect in a bakery robbery, Muessig also dabbles in freestyle rapping and crime novel writing. His 2011 e-book Nightwork, set in Philadelphia, follows a “small group of young Jewish criminals” who “fight to control a slice of the city's marijuana trade. But it all unravels in a few days, leaving one man to avenge his friends, elude police, and survive in a pitiless city.”
Editing a flashing "REAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY" sign over your sales pitch might make lesser lawyers seam unserious, but by the video’s conclusion, Muessig’s schtick has us convinced that he's the man to call should we ever find ourselves in a sticky situation in the greater Pittsburgh area. “Any criminal defense attorney who promises you a result is most likely a liar or a scumbag,” Muessig declares correctly. “But what I can promise you is my committed, fighting effort to make sure you’re adequately defended on any charge that you’re facing.” He adds: “I pick up the phone, I answer calls, I return letters, and I make jail visits. Because I’ll probably be there, visiting my friends anyway.”
Proportion of Students Attending Their First-Choice College Hits 39-year Low
The proportion of college freshmen attending their first choice school is the lowest it’s been in 39 years, or since the data has been collected, according to a new survey from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. While 76 percent of students say they are admitted to their top choice four-year institution, only 57 percent are enrolled there. That’s compared with 69 percent of students who enrolled at their top choice in 2003 and 72 percent in 1993.
Unsurprisingly, economic factors are a significant consideration in enrollment choice – and an ever-increasing one. The share of students who cite financial aid as very important rose to 49 percent in 2013, up from 33 percent in 1993 and just 19 percent in 1973. Similarly, cost of attendance is gaining in importance as well, with 46 percent of students identifying it as very important, compared to 31 percent in 2004.
"Students are becoming savvier shoppers," Kevin Eagan, interim director of the research program told The Chronicle of Higher Education. They are looking for "the best deal."
That may be so, but the rising cost of college is also likely to blame as is the follow on burden of student debt. The two are particularly top of mind for first generation college goers, according to the report, which calls on higher education institutions to "continue their efforts to simultaneously constrain costs and craft financial-aid packages that adequately address students’ financial needs."
Read more takeaways from the report over at The Chronicle.
Slatest PM: Senate Rejects Military Sexual-Assault Bill After Emotional Debate
Senate Blocks: Associated Press: "The Senate on Thursday blocked a bill that would have stripped senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses, capping an emotional, nearly yearlong fight over how to curb sexual assault in the ranks. The vote was 55-45, short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Defeated but unbowed, the senator received hugs from Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., after the vote. The Pentagon's leadership vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the men and women they lead."
The Battlefied: New York Times: "The debate pitted the Senate’s 20 women against one another, and seemed bound to leave hard feelings, given that a solid majority of the Senate actually backed Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal. ... Several Republicans, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, supported the Gillibrand proposal, and expressed deep frustration with the military’s failure to stem the number of sexual assaults. Congress began scrutinizing the sexual assault problem in the military after a recent series of highly publicized cases, including one at the Naval Academy, and after the release of new data from the Pentagon on the issue. On Sept. 30, 2013, the end of the last fiscal year, about 1,600 sexual assault cases in the military were either awaiting action from commanders or the completion of a criminal investigation."
The Army's Top Sexual Assault Lawyer Accused of Sexual Assault—at a Sexual Assault Legal Conference
Here's Stars and Stripes with the head-slapping scoop:
The top Army prosecutor for sexual assault cases has been suspended after a lawyer who worked for him recently reported he’d groped her and tried to kiss her at a sexual-assault legal conference more than two years ago.
Two separate sources with knowledge of the situation told Stars and Stripes that the Army is investigating the allegations levied against Lt. Col. Joseph “Jay” Morse, who supervised the Army’s nearly two dozen special victim prosecutors — who are in charge of prosecuting sexual assault, domestic abuse and crimes against children.
According to one of the paper's sources, the Army removed Morse from his job once it learned of the allegations, an account the Army Times likewise confirmed through its own sources. To date, however, no charges have been filed in the case.
In his role as chief of the Trial Counsel Assistance Program at Fort Belvoir, Morse was responsible for Army prosecutorial training and assistance across the globe. According to the report, however, Morse had not yet been appointed to that position at the time of the alleged incident, which is said to have occurred at a hotel room at a "2011 sexual assault legal conference attended by special victims prosecutors" in Virginia.
The allegations come at a time when the military is publicly struggling to deal with rising reports of sexual assault within its ranks, and with the increased media attention that has come with that. Morse's suspension comes only weeks after the Army announced that it had suspended 588 people in "positions of trust" for suspected offenses, including sexual assault.
Last month an Associated Press investigation found what the wire called a "pattern of inconsistent judgments and light penalties for sexual assaults" at American military bases in Japan. And recent studies suggest that as many as 26,000 service members were the targets of unwanted sexual contact in 2012, yet only 3,342 such incidents were reported to military officials, according to the Washington Post. [Update: Meanwhile, the Senate on Thursday voted down bipartisan legislation that would have removed military commanders from decisions over the prosecution of sexual assault cases in the armed forces.]
This post has been updated.
The Dalai Lama Leads the Senate in Prayer
Above is video of the Dalai Lama delivering the opening prayer in the Senate this morning, the first time he has ever done so. As you'd expect, the spiritual leader drew a significantly larger crowd than normal for the daily ritual, with lawmakers and their staff showing up a bit early to watch history be made. "With our thoughts, we make our world," the Dalai Lama said. "Our mind is central and precedes our deeds. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves."
Place your bets in the Comments below on just how long you think Congress' newfound mindfulness will last.
Crimea Schedules Vote to Break Away From Ukraine and Join Russia
Pro-Russian lawmakers in Crimea moved forward today with a plan to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, scheduling a referendum for March 16 to let voters decide the fate of the Black Sea peninsula and adding yet another wrinkle into the increasingly complicated situation in Eastern Europe. Here's the New York Times on where things with the West's diplomatic efforts to bring things under control in the region:
The developments came as leaders of the European Union held emergency talks in Brussels to reinforce support for the national government in Kiev and to look for ways to press President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, one of the most serious East-West confrontations since the Cold War.
Earlier, the 28-nation bloc announced measures to freeze the assets of the Russian-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych, and of 17 of his closest aides and family members, holding them responsible for the embezzlement of state funds. The Official Journal of the European Union, which lists the body’s decisions, said that “all funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled by” Mr. Yanukovych, two of his sons and his associates on European Union soil “shall be frozen.” Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia as his foes moved to depose him in Ukraine.
The new Ukrainian government, with the backing of its European neighbors, are contesting the Crimean referendum, arguing that it violates the nation's constitution and that any vote to change the nation's territorial sovereignty must be put to a vote of all Ukrainians, not just those in Crimea. Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, quickly introduced legislation in Moscow to clear the way for Crimea to join the Russian Federation if the referendum goes as they hope.
For much more on the unfolding crisis, head on over to The World.
The Winklevoss Twins Are Paying to go to Space With Bitcoin
It's an Internet trifecta: Bitcoin, the Winklevoss twins, and outer space. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, of Facebook and now cryptocurrency fame, are buying two tickets to space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic private shuttle with their bitcoin loot. The brothers announced the news on their blog, comparing themselves to previous explorers Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Yuri Gagarin.
As we embark on the 21st century, however, the face of exploration has taken on a new look. Grand expeditions and financial systems once commissioned and shaped by the likes of Ferdinand and Isabella, president John F. Kennedy and delegates at Bretton Woods, are now done so by brave citizen entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson and Satoshi Nakamoto. …
It is in this vein that Cameron and I contemplate our tickets into space – as seed capital supporting a new technology that may forever change the way we travel, purchased with a new technology that may forever change the way we transact.
Tyler and Cameron will become astronauts number 700 and 701 on the passenger list, joining Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie, Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Russell Brand – who have all reportedly signed up as well. The price? $250,000 each or as CNN calculates, about 375 bitcoins.
For those who need a refresher: The brothers have a history with bitcoin. Last year they announced plans to create a bitcoin-related investment fund with the aim of bringing the volatile digital currency to Wall Street. The fund, however, is still pending regulatory approval. More recently, the two set up the aptly named bitcoin price tracker Winkdex.
Elsewhere in Slate: Did the “Bitcoin CEO” Just Commit Suicide? Not So Fast.
Getty Images Admits It Can't Stop Internet Sharing, Opens Up Its Photos For Free
Down goes the paywall. Getty Images, the world’s largest photo service, is opening up the bulk of its photo collection for free. Internet users will be able to tweet, blog, or otherwise post photos with Getty’s embed feature that attaches a credit and link to each image.
"Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply," Craig Peters, a business development executive at Getty Images, told The Verge. "The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that's what's happening… Our content was everywhere already."
Like the music industry, Getty Images is facing a new Internet reality where content is often shared without attribution or payment. Now it’s trying to catch up by riding the wave of social media. The new embed program is designed speficially to tie in with Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress and others. Watermarks like the one in the tweet above will be removed, replaced with a sleeker attribution function.
"We've seen what YouTube's done with monetizing their embed capabilities," Peters told The Verge. "I don't know if that's going to be appropriate for us or not." In the meantime, looks like small time blogs and individual users can stop worrying about take down notices and intimidating legal action – if they ever did.