World’s oldest champagne found in Baltic shipwreck

Divers have found 30 bottles of champagne thought to pre-date the French Revolution on the Baltic seabed.

When they opened one, they found the wine – believed to have been made by Clicquot (now Veuve Clicquot) between 1782 and 1788 – was still in good condition.

The bottle – whose shape indicates it was produced in the 18th Century – has now been sent to France for analysis.

If confirmed, it would be the oldest drinkable champagne in the world.

Diver Christian Ekstrom was exploring a shipwreck on the Baltic seabed when he found the bottles.

He took one to the surface, where he opened it and tasted it with his colleagues.

It was fantastic,” he told the Reuters news agency…

If the bottles do come from the 1780s, that would make them around 40 years older than the current record-holder, a bottle of Perrier-Jouet from 1825.

Wine experts estimate each bottle would fetch around $69,000 at auction.

Better than Ripple, eh?

Dozens arrested in Medicare fraud = $251 million

Federal authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in five states on charges of defrauding Medicare of a total of $251 million.

Several doctors and nurses were among those arrested in Miami, New York, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, La., accused of billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment, physical therapy and H.I.V. treatments that patients typically never received. Ninety-four suspects were indicted, and the authorities said 36 people had been arrested as of Friday morning.

More than 360 agents participated in Friday’s raids, which were announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, at a meeting in Miami on preventing health care fraud. The authorities indicted 33 suspects in the Miami area, accusing them of defrauding Medicare of about $140 million.

“With today’s arrests we’re putting would-be criminals on notice: health care fraud is no longer a safe bet,” Mr. Holder said Friday.

Unless you’re appearing before the Press inside the chambers of Congress.

Continue reading

One more let’s-sue-a-successful-geek lawsuit

A few days ago, at the Allen & Co. mogul conference in Sun Valley, Mark Zuckerberg was approached by a “fan” apparently seeking an autograph. The fan was actually a process server who handed him a lawsuit. And now we know what that lawsuit was about.

Some guy in New York state claims he owns 84% of Facebook based on a two-page “contract” he entered into with Mark Zuckerberg 7 years ago–9 months before Facebook was founded…

Now, this claim sounds (and almost certainly is) ridiculous–especially coming 7 years after the fact. But Paul Ceglia was apparently persuasive enough that a New York court has issued a temporary restraining order that bars Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg from transferring any assets.

The restraining order was filed by a state court, and state courts do occasionally go batty. Facebook has since filed to have the lawsuit transferred to a Federal court, which will probably help the company’s cause…

In his suit, Mr. Ceglia claims he signed a contract with Mr. Zuckerberg on April 28, 2003, to develop and design a website, paying a $1,000 fee but getting a 50% stake in the product. The contract stipulated that Mr. Ceglia would get an additional 1% interest in the business for every day after Jan. 1, 2004, until it was completed…a suitable website for the project Seller [Mr. Zuckerberg] has already initiated that is designed to offer the students of Harvard university [sic] access to a wesite [sic] similar to a live functioning yearbook with the working title of ‘The Face Book.'”

The contract was signed 8 months before Mark actually registered the domain in January 2004.

One other fact worth mentioning: Last year, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accused Ceglia of defrauding the customers of his wood-pellet fuel company.

I hear he sells bridges in Brooklyn. And oceanfront property in Arizona.

Mexico City offers free honeymoon to gay Argentine newlyweds

Mexico City’s tourism minister Thursday offered a free honeymoon to the first gay couple to wed in Argentina after that country made Latin American history by legalizing same-sex marriages.

The offer was “in recognition of tolerance, but also to promote gay friendly tourism in Mexico City,” said Alejandro Rojas, according to a statement…

Authorities in the Mexican capital, which legalized gay marriage last year, offered air tickets for the first couple to benefit from the Argentine law, and was seeking sponsorship from hotels and restaurants in Mexico City and the beach resort of Cancun, Rojas said.

Around 15 percent of world tourism — 150 million tourists per year — is gay friendly, while gay tourists are discerning, respectful and spend 47 percent more than heterosexual tourists, Rojas added.

Mexico City approved gay marriage and opened the way for adoptions last December, provoking a wave of uproar from religious groups and conservatives including President Felipe Calderon [and other ignorant homophobes].

Mexico City’s leftist government has pioneered liberal legislation in the past 13 years, including the decriminalization of abortion in 2007.

Our native racists used to attempt their brand of “humor” when the civil rights movement offered anti-discriminatory legislation. Often saying – like today’s Tea Party hypocrites – you can’t legislate us into loving you.

Doctor King would respond, “I don’t want you to start loving us – just stop lynching us!”

The same applies to ordinary human beings who happen to be homosexual vs. homophobic bigots.

Is your extra virgin olive oil screwing you?

Study finds fault with two-thirds of brands tested

More than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be, according to a report by researchers at UC Davis…

“This is only a beginning, but it’s a clear warning,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of UC Davis’ Olive Center. Noting that the U.S. is the third-largest consumer of olive oil in the world, he added, “We need to be monitoring what is being sold to the public.”…

The results were a combined effort of research conducted by scientists at UC Davis and at the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, a governmental research center accredited by the International Olive Council in Madrid, whose product standards the new U.S. Department of Agriculture rules are generally based upon.

Industry officials generally agree that the “extra-virgin” designation is proper for oil that is cold-processed to prevent degradation of aromatic compounds and has higher levels of healthful fats and antioxidants. It also has relatively low acidity levels — 0.8 grams per 100 grams or less, according to the international group.

And federal law bars a company from not disclosing on the label that it is selling a blend of oils. But a key problem in the U.S. is that the practice of labeling lower-quality olive oil as top-end — and charging a premium for it — is technically legal. The reason is simple: There are no federal rules that define what “virgin” or “extra-virgin” olive oil is. (The new USDA standards, which are voluntary, go into effect this fall.)…

Well, this is simple enough. I’ll just send out every bottle I buy for testing.

RTFA, please. I’m slashing major sections in the interest of brevity.

Related link: How brands fared

Dumb Crook of the Day

Police say a Camden, New Jersey, man had the audacity to return to the jail where he posted a $400 bond with counterfeit bills, demanding a refund.

Ronald T. White was charged with shoplifting July 7, but his bail was incorrectly written up. When he found out, authorities say, he returned to the Cinnaminson, New Jersey, jail the following week to demand his money back…

According to Cinnaminson Police Chief Steven Fowler, the department issued a warrant for White’s arrest after his counterfeit bail posting of $400, but because he was a Camden resident, it was out of jurisdiction.

“Even though it was a $5,000 warrant for his arrest, they have bigger issues over in Camden, being the murder capital of the world,” Fowler said…

White had posted bail using at least two bills bearing identical serial numbers, police say, and the serial numbers also matched those on one of the bills found on him when he returned to the Cinnaminson jail to reclaim his extra $200…

On Thursday, at White’s first appearance in Superior Court, his bail was set at $7,500, because of outstanding charges from Camden County added on to the Burlington County charges…

In the meantime, until he can post bail with legitimate bills, he will be held at Burlington County Jail.

Not the world’s greatest counterfeiting job – walking around with identical serial numbers. And, yes, the coppers on duty weren’t too sharp about catching the funny money in time.

But, Ronald – wandering back to the pokey to get your refund ain’t the brightest thing you ever did.