Thursday, October 14, 2010

India's richest man moves into $1 billion home

Source: Telegraph UK
The richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, has moved into his new home in Mumbai which is 27 storeys high and worth £630 million (more than $1 billion).

Ambani, his wife and three children have moved into the building which is named Antilia, after a mythical Island. It contains a health club with a gym and dance studio, at least one studio, a ballroom, guestrooms and a range of lounges and a 50 seater cinema.

There is even an elevated garden with ceiling space to accommodate small trees.
The roof has three helicopter pads and there is also underground parking for 160 cars, which will come in handy for guests at Ambani's forthcoming housewarming party.

Read the full story >>

Dozens Charged With Largest Medicare Scam Ever

medicare-scamA vast network of Armenian gangsters and their associates used phantom health care clinics and other means to try to cheat Medicare out of $163 million, the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the program’s history, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors in New York and elsewhere charged 73 people. Most of the defendants were captured during raids Wednesday morning in New York City and Los Angeles, but there also were arrests in New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio.

The scheme’s scope and sophistication “puts the traditional Mafia to shame,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a Manhattan news conference. “They ran a veritable fraud franchise.”

Unlike other cases involving crooked medical clinics bribing people to sign up for unneeded treatments, the operation was “completely notional,” Janice Fedarcyk, head of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement. “The whole doctor-patient interaction was a mirage.”

The operation was under the protection of an Armenian crime boss, known in the former Soviet Union as a “vor,” prosecutors said. The reputed boss, Armen Kazarian, was in custody in Los Angeles.

Bharara said it was the first time a vor - “the rough equivalent of a traditional godfather” - had been charged in a U.S. racketeering case.

Kazarian, 46, of Glendale, Calif., and two alleged ringleaders - Davit Mirzoyan, 34, also of Glendale, and Robert Terdjanian, 35, of Brooklyn - were named in an indictment charging racketeering conspiracy, bank fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

The indictment accused Terdjanian and others of hatching other schemes involving stolen credit cards, untaxed cigarettes and counterfeit Viagra. It also alleges that during a meeting last year at a Brighton Beach restaurant, Terdjanian pulled a knife on someone who owed him money “and threatened to disembowel the individual if the debt was not paid.”

A judge jailed Terdjanian without bail on Wednesday at a brief hearing. Afterward, his attorney said his client denies the charges.

Kazarian and Mirzoyan were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Authorities began the New York-based investigation after information on 2,900 Medicare patients in upstate New York - including Social Security numbers and dates of birth - were reported stolen.

The defendants in the New York case also had stolen the identities of doctors and set up 118 phantom clinics in 25 states, authorities said. The names were used to submit fake bills for care that was never given, they said.

Some of the phony paperwork was a giveaway: It showed eye doctors doing bladder tests; ear, nose and throat specialists performing pregnancy ultrasounds; obstetricians testing for skin allergies; and dermatologists billing for heart exams.

In the New York portion of the case, more $100 million in fraudulent bills were submitted and Medicare paid out at least $35 million, sometimes by wiring it to the clinics’ banks accounts, investigators said.
Most of the defendants “were Armenian nationals or immigrants and many maintained substantial ties to Armenia” and criminals there, the indictment said. Couriers would often carry cash proceeds from the fraud back to Armenia, it added.

Prosecutors were seeking forfeiture of real estate in Las Vegas; Palm Springs, Calif.; and elsewhere, and of a 2007 Maserati and a 2006 Jaguar.

The Folly of “Stimulation”

By Howard Rich
No public official has been more integrally involved in the federal government’s “Great Intervention” than U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Over the course of three years (and two administrations), Bernanke has aggressively and successfully lobbied for trillions of dollars in government bailouts, deficit spending, loan guarantees and “quantitative easing.” From his perch at the secretive Fed, Bernanke has also kept interest rates artificially low by investing heavily in treasuries — although these low borrowing costs have chiefly benefited the government, not the American people.
This summer, however — as the failure of government “stimulation” became apparent — Bernanke’s language began to undergo a subtle shift.
Get full story here.

Battleground 2010: Stimulus and Unemployment

By Adam Bitely
It’s no coincidence that the battleground states in the 2010 midterm elections are also states that have been severely hit by the Great Recession. If you look at California, Nevada, and Wisconsin, it is obvious that high unemployment numbers are playing a big role in the hottest races this year. Voters across the nation are wondering where the relief is that was promised by the Democrats in 2008.

Just look at Nevada where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is up for re-election. Facing a tea party-backed candidate named Sharron Angle, Reid has been neck and neck as the race heads in to the final stretch in spite of his $20 million barrage of negative ads targeting his opponent. But one thing Reid cannot overcome is that all voters are thinking about is how Nevada has fared under his leadership and senior position in the U.S. Senate. And the answer to that has to be scaring Reid.

Get full story here.

Obama’s Shovel-Ready Crisis

Video by Frank McCaffrey

NYT Online Forum Explores Conservative Antipathy Toward Woodrow Wilson and Progressives

By Kevin Mooney 
An online discussion entitled “Hating Woodrow Wilson” hosted by The New York Times is being used by the Left as a way to attack and sully Fox News personality Glenn Beck who has been sharply critical of the former president and the progressive era in general. But it does offer a number of engaging nuggets that are worth reviewing.

Some of the liberal commentators make the point that Beck and company are too fixated on Wilson and do not take into proper account the progressive contributions of Teddy Roosevelt and others. The discussion does open some worthwhile historical considerations that serious thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum should peruse.

Michael Lind with the New America Foundation throws down the gauntlet with this dig at conservatives:

“Each faction on the right has had its own view of the past, with its own canon of heroes and its own list of villains. While many conservatives claim to be ‘constitutionalists,’ some states’ rights theorists argue that not only the Civil War but also the Founders’ Constitution of 1787 led to a tyrannical consolidation of power in the federal government. For decades highbrow cultural conservatives have accused the 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau of wrecking Western civilization with his cult of the primitive. For most conservatives, however, the fall of America from the paradise of small government to the hell of statism came with the New Deal and the Great Society. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, one would think, would be more natural targets of the right than Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps someone should tell Glenn Beck.”
Get full story here.

The New 'Spider-Man' Villain Revealed: The Lizard

It was only a couple of days ago that Sony's Columbia Pictures announced that Welsh actor Rhys Ifans would play the villain in director Marc Webb's reboot of 'Spider-Man.' But the studio left us all hanging as to just which villain that might be.

Well, according to TheWrap, Ifans will play Dr. Curt Connors, better known as the Lizard (who was played by Dylan Baker in Sam Raimi's two 'Spider-Man' sequels). And, citing two individuals familiar with the project, TheWrap goes on to say that, despite rumors throughout the blogosphere, Venom will not appear in the new film.

Ifans is a talented actor who made his first big splash as Hugh Grant's best friend in 'Notting Hill' (almost stealing the film from the star). Most recently he was seen in Ben Stiller's 'Greenberg' and 'Nanny McPhee Returns' and will star as Xenophilius Lovegood in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.'

'Spider-Man,' which stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, will hit theaters in 3-D on July 3, 2012. 
By Harley W. Lond 

X Marks the Spot of a Dramatic Asteroid Collision

asteroid mashup
Out in the asteroid belt beyond Mars, two asteroids rendezvous-ed in the darkness, with explosive results. Atomic bomb level explosive.

These two asteroids, one probably 400 feet wide and the other, smaller asteroid around 10 to 15 feet across, collided sometime in early 2009. This is the first time we humans have observed an asteroid impact right after it has occurred, and the first time a resulting x-shape has been seen. Researchers aren’t sure what caused the novel shape, and they were surprised by how long the dust tail has lasted. The analysis of the finding, originally announced earlier this year, is published in Nature this week.

From Phil Plait, DISCOVER’s Bad Astronomer:

This is a false-color image showing the object, called P/2010 A2, in visible light. The long tail of debris is obvious; this is probably dust being blown back by the solar wind, similar to the way a comet’s tail is blown back. What apparently has happened is that two small, previously-undiscovered asteroids collided, impacting with a speed of at least 5 km/sec (and possibly faster). The energy in such a collision is like setting off a nuclear bomb, or actually many nuclear bombs! The asteroids shattered, and much of the debris expanded outward as pulverized dust.

Looking at the image, the bright spot to the left is most likely what’s left of one of the two asteroids, a chunk of rock estimated to be a mere 140 meters (450 feet) across. In the press release they’re not clear about the curved line emanating to the right of the nucleus. It may be — and I’m spitballing here — dust blown back from a stream of chunks, since the tail is broad and appears to originate from that swept curve, and not from the nucleus itself. The other filament perpendicular to the curve is from yet another piece of debris.

Read the rest of his original post, which includes more information about why we should pay more attention to asteroids. Since the first spotting, researchers have been tracking the collision site with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, watching what happens over time.

“We expected the debris field to expand dramatically, like shrapnel flying from a hand grenade,” said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California in Los Angeles, who is a leader of the Hubble observations. “But what happened was quite the opposite. We found that the object is expanding very, very slowly.” [NASA Press release]

These collisions give rise to a cloud of dust (which also forms the tail coming off of the collision site). Looking at the amount of dust created by this interaction caused Jewitt to re-think some assumptions about the origins of the solar system’s dust.

“These observations are important because we need to know where the dust in the solar system comes from, and how much of it comes from colliding asteroids as opposed to ‘outgassing’ comets,” Jewitt said. “We also can apply this knowledge to the dusty debris disks around other stars, because these are thought to be produced by collisions between unseen bodies in the disks. Knowing how the dust was produced will yield clues about those invisible bodies.” [NASA Press release]

Shiites Flock to See Iranian President Ahmadinejad In Lebanon

Now That's What You Call A Motorcade: Iran Leader Ahmadinejad's Amazing Welcome In Lebanon -- The Daily Mail

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was welcomed by thousands of Lebanese supporters today in a visit that underscores the deep divisions between the Hezbollah militant group and Lebanon's pro-western factions.

The Iranian President toured the streets of Beirut in a motorcade comprising at least 25 vehicles.

Waving ecstatically from the roof of his limo, he was cheered and applauded by the crowd who gave him a rock star's welcome.

Read more

RFK Jr. endorses Crist, says Meek can’t win, slams Rubio and his ‘angry’ supporters

by George Bennett | 
DEERFIELD BEACH — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. broke with his Democratic heritage this morning and endorsed indie Charlie Crist for Senate, arguing that Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek can’t defeat Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio.

The liberal scion apparently doesn’t think much of Rubio — or his supporters.

“Mr. Rubio has a radical vision, a narrow vision, an I-can-be-as-stupid-as-I-want vision of this country. It has appeal when people are angry, but it’s not a good long-term plan,” Kennedy said, according to our Jane Musgrave, who was on the scene at Shelby’s restaurant.

As for Democratic nominee Meek, who consistently places a distant third in polls, Kennedy said: “If I thought he could win, I’d be down here campaigning for him.”

When asked if Meek should drop out, Musgrave reports that Kennedy said: “In a politician’s life we all have to make decisions that are bigger than ourselves. I hope he looks at the entire political landscape as he assesses his future in this race.”

Kennedy, an environmental lawyer, praised Crist as a champion of the environment.
Kennedy’s cousin-in-law, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, endorsed Crist Tuesday. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a niece of Robert F. Kennedy.

Blockbuster: Angle raises $14 million in third quarter

by Ed Morrissey

When Sharron Angle first won the nomination to run against Harry Reid for the US Senate in Nevada, Republicans worried that Reid’s deep pockets would prove too high a hurdle for Angle to overcome.  Instead, it appears to have galvanized donors over the summer.  The Angle campaign announced today that they took in over $14 million in the third quarter, dwarfing previous blockbuster hauls:
Spokesperson Jarrod Agen has just released Sharron Angle’s stunning third-quarter fundraising results to Battle ‘10.
Angle raised $14 million in the most recent cycle.
Agen called this “one of the most successful single quarters of fundraising in the nation’s history for a U.S. Senate campaign.”
Elizabeth Crum links to a thoroughly impressed Chris Cillizza, who can only recall one other fundraising cycle with more success — that being another outsider bid for an entrenched Democratic seat:
Between April 1 and June 30, which included three weeks of fundraising in the wake of her June 8 primary victory, Angle brought in $4.75 million.
Angle’s total dwarfs other impressive fundraising hauls by GOP Senate candidates in the third quarter including former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio ($5 million raised) and former Washington state Sen. Dino Rossi ($4.5 million).
The Nevada Republican’s showing is only bested in modern memory by the $14.2 million Scott Brown raised in January 2010 in advance of his Massachusetts Senate special election victory.
The comparison is apt in some ways, but in one critical sense, it’s apples and oranges.  Brown raised $14.2 million in a month when almost no other elections took place, thanks to the special election scheduled after the death of Ted Kennedy, who formerly held the seat.  That race became a national effort for both parties and attracted donations from across the country in a relative vacuum.

In contrast, the Angle campaign has had to compete in the full midterm environment.  Other races have received similar attention from media and Tea Party activists, such as Marco Rubio’s tough three-way race in Florida.  However, Angle outpaced Rubio almost 3-1 in the final full quarter before the election, even though Rubio’s numbers in July and August didn’t look nearly as convincing as they do in September and October.  Races in Delaware, Kentucky, California (albeit with a self-funding candidate), and Washington have competed for those donor dollars, but Angle managed to outpace everyone.

This puts Angle in good position to outbox Reid in the final stretch, instead of the presumed media-buy disadvantage Angle was supposed to have by now.  We still haven’t seen Reid’s Q3 fundraising total, but it seems unlikely that he would have matched it, let alone bested it.

Update: Brown raised his $14.2 million in a month, not a quarter.

NBA Odds: Boston Celtics 2010-11 Preview

 How much does Shaq have left in the tank? (AP Images)     
The Celtics won 50 games last season, but it was an ugly 50 games. Still, Boston pulled it together when it counted and came within one win of another title. This year, Boston has 11/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. This is your Boston Celtics 2010-11 preview.

Make no bones about it: this is an old, injury-prone team. Kevin Garnett was hobbled all last season. He’s looked much more explosive during camp and the preseason, but expecting him to stay that way for 82-plus games is like expecting Lindsay Lohan to pass on a free vodka soda.

The rest of the “Big Three” remains intact (though the name has been stolen by a new trio down in South Beach). Both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have suffered declines, however, and they’re each prone to long, bad stretches of play.

Their regression highlighted the importance of Rajon Rondo. He’s unquestionably one of the league’s best point guards now, a triple-double threat in the league of Jason Kidd but with better defense (not that that’s saying much).

Boston didn’t stand pat in the offseason; management clearly knows the roster is quickly aging, so it dumped some washed up veterans and brought in new blood. Unfortunately, the “new” blood is just as old as the last batch.

Rasheed Wallace is out — that’s a good thing. Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are in, and that’s, well, possibly not a great thing. Shaq may be the league’s pre-eminent quote machine and pre-game dance choreographer, but it’s been a long time since he ranked among the NBA’s best in anything else.
At least the Celtics won’t be leaning too heavily on either O’Neal, though. As a tandem, they should form a nice little rotation with Glen Davis on the frontcourt.

Las Vegas Pastor Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Teen Boys

A Pastor in Las Vegas, Nevada has been arrested and is facing 11 sexual abuse charges for the reported molestation of two teen boys.

57-year-old Billy Eckstine McCurdy was indicted on six counts of sexual assault and five counts of open or gross lewdness after his victims told prosecutors that he coerced them into sexual relationships at his home.
The two unidentified children say the Pastor coerced them into having inappropriate relations using bible verses and believe other victims have yet to come forward.

McCurdy reportedly spent a number of years alone with children during youth trips to Arizona and California and had several sleepovers with young men at his home.

Prosecutors say the Pastor of Revival Temple Church of God in Christ also allowed teens to live with him for long periods of time.

In 2005, similar allegations were brought up against him when a young boy said the Pastor tried to fondle him during a sleepover.
McCurdy was not prosecuted due to “conflicting evidence.”
The Pastor is currently free on $3,000 bond.
Pastor McCurdy

Report: In U.S., Hispanics outlive whites, blacks by years

ATLANTA - U.S. Hispanics can expect to outlive whites by more than two years and blacks by more than seven, government researchers said in a startling report that is the first to calculate Hispanic life expectancy in this country.
The report released Wednesday is the strongest evidence yet of what some experts call the "Hispanic paradox" - longevity for a population with a large share of poor, undereducated members. A leading theory is that Hispanics who manage to immigrate to the U.S. are among the healthiest from their countries.

T.I. Talks Suicidal Man Out of Jumping Off Skyscraper

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 17: Rapper and actor Tip 'T.I.' Harris appears 
at the after party for a screening of the movie 'Takers' at Lagasse's 
Stadium at The Palazzo August 17, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The film 
opens nationwide in the United States on August 27. (Photo by Ethan 
Miller/Getty Images)
Rapper T.I. successfully convinced a suicidal man to step away from the edge of a towering skyscraper. The man, whose name has not been released, was on top of a 22-story Atlanta skyscraper. T.I. heard about the situation on the radio, and immediately drove down to the building where a crowd has gathered, where he volunteered to help police talk to the man in question. The man agreed to come down from the top of the building, in exchange for a few minutes with the famous rapper. reports that T.I. later said about the incident:
“I told him it ain’t that bad. It’ll get better, to put the time and effort into making it better, I just reminded him … it looks bad right now, but it can turn around.”
The man was later taken to hospital. T.I. is due back in court this Friday – he was arrested last month for possession of drugs.