NYPD’S ‘Ring of Steel’ camera rolls, monitors license plates

A high-tech camera in lower Manhattan has been secretly monitoring the license plates of passing cars periodically for more than six months in a test of the city's planned "Ring of Steel" surveillance system, the Daily News has learned. The camera scans the rear license plates of northbound traffic on Church St. from a light pole at the corner of Duane St., just blocks from Ground Zero and City Hall. The images are sent wirelessly to a computer system that can automatically scan the plates and compare the numbers and letters against a database - so the NYPD can instantly know when a suspicious car or truck has passed that corner. So far, sources said, the system was used only for a month of testing in March and April, as well as occasional demonstrations since then - but it is still feeding images and could start reading plates again at any time. "It is not storing data at this point or being used for any law enforcement purposes," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. He said the license plate data created during those tests were "not retained." He said the NYPD has some license plate cameras mounted on squad cars, but the camera at Church and Duane Sts. is the only one in a fixed location. "This particular camera is just a test camera," said Paul Cosgrave, commissioner of the city Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. "It worked as it was designed to work, which is that it was able to read most license plates." The camera is part of the NYPD's Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, an $81.5 million plan to protect the Financial District with more than 100 license plate readers, thousands of surveillance cameras and barriers that could automatically block streets. The plan is nicknamed the "Ring of Steel," based on a similar project that encircles central London, which Mayor Bloomberg is to watch in action today during his visit there.The camera is also similar to those that would be used in Mayor Bloomberg's Continue Reading

TNA steels the show

A warning: don't be late for any Sunday destinations (Aunt Thelma has a harpsichord recital) - remember to "spring ahead" tomorrow night (or Sunday morn) for Daylight Savings Time.And speaking of destinations, don't be late tuning in Sunday (8 p.m.) as TNA presents "Destination X" featuring a bizarre match called "Elevation X."It's TNA's version of a scaffolding brawl with A.J. Styles facing Rhino, but to explain it you'd better have your Home Depot handyman guide handy.First you bolt two steel girders and criss-cross them about 20 feet above the ring, thus forming an "X." Next you bolt four smaller steel girders, criss-crossing above the roof of the "Impact Zone," set just to add some more heavy metal.And finally you get two "nuts" willing to go up there and have a fight to the finish.BAD NEWS BROWN DIES: We are saddened to report another death.Allen Coage, better known to fans as Bad News Brown, 63, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday after being rushed to a Calgary hospital complaining of chest pains.The Brooklyn-born Coage won the bronze medal in judo at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. We remember him well from his WWE days in the late '80s as "Bad News Brown," becoming "bad news" for the likes of Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jake the Snake Roberts, and winning the "Battle Royal" at Wrestlemania IV in Atlantic City.Our condolences to his family. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

RUINS FROM WTC REBORN. Navy forges New York with Ground Zero steel

NEW ORLEANS - It is a ship born of two tragedies. The warship New York, partially fashioned with steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site, is rising to life on the banks of the Mississippi River just outside New Orleans, built by workers who lost their homes and more to Hurricane Katrina. And though the massive 684-foot-long vessel is still a year away from setting sail - with 10 tons of WTC steel at the bow - it is already stirring powerful emotions among those forging its awe-inspiring hull. "I was going to retire last year but I told my wife that I had to see this one final ship through," said Tony Quagliro, 66, the project's crane superintendent who has worked in the Louisiana shipyard for 41 years. "And this is the one ship I'll remember more than any other," said Quagliro, his voice cracking and his eyes tearing up. "To me, this is a wonderful tribute to those that died in New York and I knew I had to be a part of it." In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Gov. Pataki spearheaded a call for the Navy to bring the name "New York" back - it last adorned a nuclear submarine that retired in 1997 - and give it to a vessel that will play a vital role in the war on terror. The $1.3 billion New York will be the fifth of its class of warships that will specialize in supporting amphibious assaults by delivering helicopters and up to 800 Marines to combat. The first, the San Antonio, is in Manhattan for Fleet Week. Future ships will also honor the terror attacks' victims by adopting the names of Arlington [Va.] and Somerset [Pa.], the locations of the other two Sept. 11 plane crashes. "The courage of the heroes that day will never be forgotten," said Rear Adm. Charles Hamilton, executive director of the ship program. A girder recovered from the south tower was combined with steel found at the Fresh Kills landfill and melted down to become the centerpiece of the bow stem of the new ship. The WTC steel, which is currently painted white to Continue Reading


In this age of product placement and pharmaceutical hucksterism, the makers of Viagra missed a real cross-promotional opportunity with "Superman Returns." Who better to be the poster boy for endurance than the 68-year-old Man of Steel? Okay, I jest, but as Superman returns to the big screen, America's favorite superhero is getting a little long in the tooth. Introduced to the public in Action Comics No. 1 in June 1938, Superman - nee Kal-El, aka Clark Joseph Kent - became an instant icon among comic-lit characters. In the seven decades since, he's been reinvented, killed and reborn, married and unmarried, strengthened, weakened, and re-strengthened as the king of comic books, radio serials, live-action and animated TV, and movies. Along the way, he became the symbol of patriotism, fighting for "truth, justice and the American Way." There's a rumored tale that the original 1978 "Superman" was meant to include a Cold War joke at the opening, where baby Kal-El's space pod hovers briefly over the Soviet Union before finally plunking down in the U.S.A. Imagine if he'd been raised by the Russkies! The Superman most of us know was shaped by both the 1950s TV series starring George Reeves and the four movie episodes starring Christopher Reeve released between 1978 and 1987. (There was also a 1948 and 1950 movie serial - the character's first live-action incarnation - starring Kirk Alyn as Superman and Noel Neill as Lois Lane; Neill reprised the role in the '50s TV series.) I'm old enough to have read some of the pre-TV-show Superman comics, though too old to remember much about them. But I loved that Golden Era television series, and what I loved about it is what makes Superman such an obvious and enduring cinematic character, and why he can be reborn with ageless, unassisted virility today. Though his original powers were limited to individual leaps of a mere eighth of a mile, he was flying faster than a speeding bullet by the time he became a live-action TV Continue Reading


'HOLLYWOODLAND' A private eye investigates the suspicious suicide of 1950s TV Superman George Reeves. With Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane. Directed by Allen Coulter. (2:06). R: Language, violence, sexual content. Area theaters. 2.5 Stars. Shortly after midnight on June 16, 1959, one of the most famous stars of early television stumbled drunkenly upstairs in his Hollywood Hills home, stripped naked and put a bullet through his head. Or did he? The actor was George Reeves, TV's first Superman, and the enduring skepticism about his death is the subject of Allen Coulter's "Hollywoodland," a speculative drama done up in the style of '50s film noir, blending equal measures of fact, fiction, supposition and Chandleresque dialogue. In other words, it's a bit of a hodgepodge - unnecessarily complicated, clumsily structured, uncertainly directed and, as a whodunit, ultimately unsatisfying. But its rehash of Reeves' last years and of his shocking death is fascinating. And though Ben Affleck's performance may remind you more of Clark Kent than Superman, he looks adequately campy in a muscle suit with a red "S" on his chest. The film's main character is actually not Reeves but Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a gum-chewing private eye with the hard-boiled cool of Bogart, a quirky clientele, a bitter ex-wife, a traumatized son and a cheating girlfriend. Brody handles the role with aplomb, and one can imagine this as the first in a series of Louis Simo mysteries. But the three strands of the story - Simo's personal crises, his investigation of Reeves' death, and the lengthy flashbacks to Reeves' life - are tangled together about as gracefully as the wires connecting my home entertainment system. Reeves' story, as related here, is that he was a contract player whose claim to fame was a minor role in "Gone With the Wind" when he met Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the sexually predatory wife of movie exec and ex-New Jersey mobster Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins). He Continue Reading

Trump signs five more orders on pipelines, steel and environment

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed five more executive actions Tuesday in a blitz of executive power meant to speed approvals of high-profile energy and infrastructure projects, including two controversial pipeline projects in the upper Midwest.Trump signed two presidential memoranda intended to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, but also signed three more longer-term and sweeping directives requiring American-made steel and changing the process of approving and regulating future pipeline and infrastructure projects."This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible, permitting process," Trump said in an Oval Office signing ceremony that has already become a trademark of his short presidency.In reversing the Obama administration policy to disapprove the Keystone pipeline, Trump emphasized that the construction isn't a done deal. "It's something that subject to a renegotiation of terms by us," he said. "We'll see if we can get the pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs."Keystone XL became a lightning rod for Obama's energy policy, with the administration taking seven years to make a decision before ultimately killing it over environmental concerns. Environmental groups reacted quickly and vociferously, promising legal action and White House protests."President Trump wil live to regret his actions this morning," said Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, promising "a wall of resistance the likes of which he never imagined"The directives Trump signed Tuesday included four presidential memoranda and one executive order.► A memorandum expediting the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed 1,179-mile cross-border pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska. In unusual language referring to a specific private company in a presidential directive, Trump invited pipeline company, Transcanada, "to promptly resubmit its application." He also ordered the secretary of State to make a decision within 60 days, Continue Reading


IT IS SIMPLY REFERRED to as Room 107. The cramped storage space off Yankee Stadium's main corridor behind right field has piles of construction materials, trash bins and other debris. It is mostly unremarkable except for a single chair beneath a mural of captains Derek Jeter, Thurman Munson and Lou Gehrig painted on one of the massive support columns. The chair's cast iron frame still has flecks of the original green paint from 1923. All but two of the slats that comprise the fold-up seat and back are the original maple. This is where Gehrig, the Iron Horse, would sit and reflect and seek solace during the second half of the 1939 season, after the Hall of Fame first baseman could no longer play baseball. His body weakened by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - which is now referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease" - Gehrig had ended his 2,130 consecutive games played streak eight games into the '39 campaign and on July 4 gave his transcendent farewell speech at the Stadium. Despite his frail condition, Gehrig still attended many of the home games in '39. Often he would slip into the quiet of the storage room alone, a ritual that began after a conversation with fellow teammate Joe DiMaggio. Nearly seven decades later, Room 107 and the sacred chair are being introduced to baseball fans in Ray Negron's children's book, "The Boy of Steel." The book tells the story of a cancer patient, Michael Steel, who gets to meet Gehrig and other famous Yankee legends like Babe Ruth and DiMaggio, when he is given the role of Yankees' bat boy for one day. Negron, a Yankees' special assistant for the team's baseball operations who is from the Bronx, has been tied to the franchise since 1973 when he was "discovered" - literally - by newly anointed team owner George Steinbrenner. The then-17-year-old Negron was caught by The Boss spray painting the interlocking "NY" Yankee logo on a Stadium wall. Steinbrenner grabbed Negron by the arm and put him in a "holding cell" in the Stadium Continue Reading


DETROIT - Ben Roethlisberger thought his wait in the green room would last no more than one hour. He was sitting there with his family and friends, who were getting anxious as team after team passed on him and hour after hour went by on the clock. It can be a lonely and helpless feeling. The other players the NFL brought in for the 2004 draft had all been picked by now and were walking around with the caps of their new teams. In Eli Manning's case, he had two caps before Roethlisberger had one. Roethlisberger's free fall started after the Giants, on the clock with the No. 4 pick, worked out a trade with San Diego, picked Philip Rivers for the Chargers and sent him in a package for Manning, who had been selected No. 1. Roethlisberger's tumble didn't end until the Steelers picked him at No. 11. "That was a long time ago. A long time of sitting in there," Roethlisberger said. "My family and people I was with were more disappointed than I was about everything that was going on. I was just enjoying being there. It was disappointing, but it wasn't disappointing to go to the Steelers." If the Giants had not worked out the Manning trade, they definitely were going to take Roethlisberger at No. 4. They were not even going to chance trading down to No. 7 with Cleveland, which wanted tight end Kellen Winslow, even though the Browns were offering a second-round pick. By the time the Steelers took him off the board, Roethlisberger had lost millions in his signing bonus. As each team passed on him, one thought crossed his mind. "I'm going to make this team mad they didn't draft me," he said. Roethlisberger has turned out to be one of the all-time draft day steals. He's the only quarterback since the merger to take his team to the conference championship game in his first two seasons. And other than Dan Marino, who fell all the way to No. 27 in the 1983 draft, he is the youngest quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. Marino also made it in his second year. Continue Reading


IN HIS AMITYVILLE neighborhood, Harry Saarinen is known as the "Man of Steel." On the lawn of his old fisherman's cottage, which sits near a canal along Ketcham's Creek, are dozens of sea sculptures made out of steel. There are life-size marlin, fluke, striped bass and bluefish, a 6-foot-long, 200-pound blue claw crab, and a 3-foot-long, 100-pound horseshoe crab. On his roof is a 7-foot steel mako shark, painted blue, which is the first piece he made, in 1989. His smaller steel lake trout, codfish, albacore tuna and blackfish hang on the outside wall of the garage, which he uses as his art studio. "My father taught me to do fishing, eeling, clamming and crabbing as a kid, and I've been doing it all my life, around the ocean and bays of Long Island," said Saarinen, whose parents were born in Finland. "In 1990, I started making these fish and shellfish out of steel, since I'm a professional welder." He also is a 6-foot-4, 299-pound former football player - which is lucky, because he needs the size and strength to lug his sculptures around. "I've exhibited my crabs and fish at galleries from Amityville to Southampton, and I also brought them to the Smithsonian Mid-Atlantic Folk Life Festival in 2004, where they grabbed lots of attention," he said. "I like to think big," explained Saarinen, who finds that the hardest part of his work is getting people to see his creations so he can sell them. "One time I was going to Gilgo Beach, so I tied my 6-foot blue crab on the roof of my car, and people started taking pictures from their cars, and coming off the beach to look at it. The kids stuck their heads in the claws. From that I got an order for an 8-foot sun and a mermaid." Saarinen chose to work with steel after years of learning the art of welding in the Navy. "After high school, I was a radioman, and then a Seabee, in the Navy for four years," he said. "While stationed in Greece, I learned welding and building, and when I came out, I enrolled in the Continue Reading


COPS HAVE THE bloody steel bar used to fatally beat a recent college grad outside a Chelsea nightclub early Sunday morning, police sources said yesterday. Thomas Whitney, 24, had been out drinking with four or five college buddies at the Spy Club on W. 19th St. Spy Club staff snapped a photo of the University of Delaware graduate not long before he died - a smile on his face, a drink in one hand, his other arm draped around a friend, club staff said. But sometime before 4 a.m., Whitney left the club alone. That was the last time he was seen alive. His beaten body was found on the sidewalk at about 4 a.m. on 19th St. at Sixth Ave., not far from the club. His skull had been smashed, according to an autopsy report, and he died some 13 hours later at Bellevue Hospital. Police sources said he never regained consciousness. Cops recovered what they believe was the murder weapon: a blood-spattered piece of metal, possibly pulled from a nearby scaffolding, police sources said. "Whoever hit him, hit him hard," a police source said. "Whatever happened, happened outside. It could be a robbery. He didn't have much ID on him. It could be a fight and whoever hit him didn't realize how hard a blow it was." Whitney, who grew up in Howell, N.J., and graduated in 1999 from Monsignor Donovan High School in nearby Toms River, N.J., had been partying with his buddies Saturday night into Sunday morning. As the night wore on, most of Whitney's friends trickled out. He was among the last to leave. The Spy Club owner was interviewed yesterday and was cooperating with the investigation, sources said. The club turned over photos taken inside the bar. But so far, security video taken outside the club has not yielded helpful clues, sources said. Friends said Whitney, who got a finance job with Prudential after graduating from the University of Delaware in 2004, sometimes got loud when drinking. He had been arrested Oct. 28, 2005, after head-butting another man in a Continue Reading