Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Taste testers enlisted to sample fish exposed to Scottish gas leak

    Taste testers sampled fish near North Sea gas leak (Martin Langer/APGreenpeace)

    Scotland's government has brought in a team of taste testers to ensure the safety of fish potentially affected by an ongoing gas leak emanating from a North Sea oil platform owned by French multinational oil and gas company Total S.A.

    The government brought to the Marine Scotland Science organization "specially trained sensory testers" who tasted seven species of fish found near the gas leak.

    In a statement on the government's website, Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the results showed the fish "are untainted by hydrocarbons."

    According to the government site, the specially trained testers can "detect the taint of hydrocarbon contamination in fish."

    The Daily Record reports that the salmon trade has become one of Scotland's most booming industries. The first salmon farm opened just 40 years ago in 1971. There are 250 such farms in place, producing an estimated total of 150,000 tons of the fish annually.

    "The environmental impact of this gas leak has been minimal so far, however it's important we take precautions and analyze all available data," Lochhead said in the statement. "Therefore it's reassuring that sensory testing of the fish samples gathered by the Alba na Mara have found they are untainted by hydrocarbons."

    Total's facility was evacuated in March after a gas leak was discovered that has subsequently released millions of cubic feet of natural gas every day.

    Government spokesman Tom Whittles said the taste testing was done to offer "early feedback and reassurance," to the country's fish eating population.

    "(It's an) established procedure which uses the power of the human tongue," he said.

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  • Fox News chief Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly (AP/THR)

    The law firm Epstein Becker & Green P.C. has sent a legal threat on behalf of Fox News to Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton over his site's ongoing "Fox Mole" story involving recently fired Fox News employee Joe Muto.

    Gawker published the full letter, which states, "Be advised that Muto's admissions are admissions of likely criminal and civil wrongdoing on both his and Gawker's part, which will be the subject of further extensive investigation. Fox News will pursue its rights and remedies in the appropriate legal forums."

    The letter goes on to say, "Gawker should immediately stop publishing information and videos that have been unlawfully obtained by or from Joe Muto, and return them to Fox News."

    In response, Gawker not only published the letter but has posted a photo of "O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly standing with a group of friends, including a topless woman.

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  • Six bulldog puppies rescued from locked suitcase

    Six puppies, mother at Toledo-area Humane Society (Dave Zapotosky/The Blade via AP)

    What could be more adorable than six bulldog puppies sitting in a suitcase? As cute as the above photo is, it has a less-than-heartening beginning.

    An Ohio man has been charged with animal abandonment after Humane Society authorities matched his name with a suitcase in which the six puppies had been trapped. The suitcase, allegedly belonging to Howard Davis, 53, had been left next to a garbage can in a Toledo alleyway.

    The puppies were discovered after someone noticed their mother pacing around the closed suitcase.

    Toledo Area Humane Society spokeswoman Cyndi Condit told Reuters that Davis lives only two blocks from where the puppies were found.

    "Howard's name was on the tag of the suitcase and the mother was licensed to him," Condit said.

    If convicted, Davis faces a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. Davis claims the suitcase was stolen from him and that he had given the dogs to a friend in Michigan.

    Over the next four weeks, the three male and three female puppies will remain with their mother before they are eligible for adoption. But they also have a job to do in the meantime: literally serving as evidence against Davis.

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  • Canada issues glow-in-the-dark dinosaur quarter

    Glow-in-the-dark Canadian coin (Royal Canadian Mint)Less than two weeks after announcing it was removing the penny from circulation, the Royal Canadian Mint is back in the news after revealing plans for a glow-in-the-dark quarter featuring an illuminated dinosaur skeleton.

    When exposed to light, the quarter looks fairly ordinary, featuring the image of Queen Elizabeth on one side and an image of a dinosaur on the other. But take away the light and the quarter produces its own bright display, as the full-image of the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai is replaced by a glowing visage of its skeleton. The 26-foot dinosaur was discovered in Canada in 1972.

    Though as CNET reports, the image of Queen Elizabeth does not glow in the dark.

    But you don't have to be Canadian to get one of the unique coins. You can in fact purchase your own glowing dinosaur coin directly from the Royal Canadian Mint. The coin will set you back a little over $30 in U.S. currency, more than 120 times its actual monetary value.

    One reason to pick up the collectible coin is that the future of Canadian small change itself may be in doubt. In another bit of interesting news, the mint announced on Wednesday its plans to unveil a digital currency card. The MintChip will eventually let Canadians make direct cash transactions with each other using smartphones, USB flash drives, Web browsers, tablets and cloud computing, according to the Toronto Star.

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  • Anti-diamond graffiti in South Africa’s ‘Jewel City’

    California street artist ABOVE managed to get away with spray painting an anti-diamond industry message outside one of the world's largest diamond trading centers.

    First, ABOVE obtained formal permission to paint the first half of his message, the familiar slogan, "Diamonds are a woman's best friend," outside the walls of Johannesburg's largest diamond exporter, known as Jewel City. But he then added, "And a man's worst enemy."

    Jewel City, a six-block precinct, is home to a reported 300 diamond traders and South Africa's Diamond Board and State Traders Association.

    The street artist created the mural to protest "blood diamonds." There has been a growing opposition to the procurement and sale of diamonds from African war zones. In December 2000, the United Nations first spoke out against what it calls "Conflict Diamonds," citing a claim between "the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict."

    In an interview with the website Arrested Motion, ABOVE says:

    "I was able to get away with this diamond wall heist because I told the owners I would paint in big letters 'Diamonds are a woman's best friend' on the exterior of their building.  The owners loved the idea and all quickly agreed. The next day I had started painting but what the owners didn't know is that I lied to them and was hijacking their wall."

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  • Charles Manson’s ‘son’ wants DNA test

    Charles Manson, 77, will likely never step foot outside of prison. But he may have fathered a son before being put behind bars.

    Matthew Roberts, 44, says he believes Manson fathered him during a sexual orgy. Roberts was born in Chicago in 1968 and adopted as an infant. He also bears a striking resemblance to the notorious former cult leader. Manson was convicted in 1969 for the murder of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child.

    After Roberts tracked down his birth mother in 1998, the woman told Roberts she believes Manson is his biological father.

    "It's more than just possible, but probable," Roberts told CNN. Roberts said he's tried to get a DNA test from Manson to put the question to rest but that the obtained sample was contaminated.

    Along with his similar physical appearance, Roberts says he shares other character traits with Manson, including practicing a vegetarian diet. He's also an aspiring musician, as was Manson, who recorded several songs before and after being incarcerated. And in perhaps a direct reference to Manson's personality, he told CNN's Miguel Marquez "I know what goes on in my head."

    This isn't the first time Roberts has received media attention for his alleged biological connection to the man who is arguably America's most notorious living killer. In a 2010 interview with Details magazine, Roberts said he suffers from disturbing night terrors.

    "Sometimes I wake up covered in spiders," he said at the time. "Just hellish stuff. Movie-nightmare stuff. Some of it I won't even tell you, I won't even describe."

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  • Newborn baby found alive in morgue 12 hours after being declared dead

    A newborn in Romania (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

    A newborn in Argentina was found very much alive in a morgue by her mother 12 hours after hospital staff had declared the baby dead.

    The mother, Analia Bouguet, tells TeleNoticias TV that the hospital still has issued her only a death certificate for the infant rather than a birth certificate. Bouguet said she is planning to pursue a medical malpractice suit.

    The Daily Mail reports that the baby was Bouguet's fifth and was born prematurely.

    Two hours after being issue a death certificate, Bouguet and her husband visited the morgue because they wanted to see their child one more time.

    "The baby was there and they put the little casket on a stretcher. We looked for a bar to pry it open," the baby's father, Fabian Veron, said in a press conference. "My wife looked and uncovered it slowly. She saw the little hand and then uncovered the face. That's when it let the first little cry out."

    "That night, we went to the morgue. We wanted to take a photo of our daughter," Bouguet told Argentina's Clarin newspaper. "But when a worker opened the drawer, we heard a cry and she was alive."

    The newborn has been named Luz Milagros, or "Miracle Light." She is still listed as being in critical condition but is said to be improving. The deputy provincial health minister announced that five medical professionals involved in the case have been suspended, pending further investigation.

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  • Man allegedly commits 10 felonies in 9 hours

    Suspect William Todd allegedly committed 10 felonies in just 9 hoursOne man traveling through Tennessee allegedly completed a crime spree with such urgency that even local police say they'd never seen anything like it.

    William Todd, 24, is accused of committing 10 felonies in just nine hours while going on a "terror" through Nashville.

    "He was just on a terror. I've never seen anything like this before," Sgt. Tony Blackburn, told WSMV.

    Todd is not even a native of Nashville. Police say he traveled there on a Greyhound bus from Kentucky before beginning his unprecedented crime spree. Upon arriving in Nashville, he allegedly broke into a local business called The Slaughterhouse, where he stole a Taser, revolver and shotgun. He then proceeded to steal a T-shirt from the Slaughterhouse before burning the business to the ground.

    Todd then moved on to a local bar, where he held four patrons at gunpoint. He robbed all four individuals but not before using the Taser on one and pistol-whipping another.

    Just five minutes later, Todd moved onto his next alleged felony, carjacking a taxi driver at gunpoint. After leaving the cab, he used the credit cards he had stolen from the bar patrons to buy food.

    "He was able to find the Walmart on Nolensville. He goes there and purchased $199 worth of items," Sgt. Blackburn said.

    And that was only the beginning.

    In the early hours of the following morning, Todd then broke into a local hotel's law office. He not only vandalized the offices but also then defecated on a desk and smeared his feces on some of the framed law degrees.

    Leaving the offices, Todd then reportedly robbed several of the hotel guests. He knocked on their door pretending to be a female housekeeper, then robbed them at gunpoint. He was also reportedly crying while doing so.

    He then briefly paused for a change in personal appearance.

    "We have him on video leaving the hotel with a shaved head," Sgt. Blackburn said.

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  • George Zimmerman attorneys quit as counsel

    Update [6:27pm ET]: This story will be updated as new events unfold

    • Zimmerman's attorneys announced they have "lost contact" with Zimmerman and are withdrawing as counsel
    • Attorneys say they still believe former client is innocent and acted in self-defense
    • Engage in heated discussion with the press, say Zimmerman is "victim" of press attacks

    In a highly contentious press conference, attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig announced they have withdrawn as counsel for George Zimmerman, who remains under intense scrutiny for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    "It's no so much that we are resigning. It's that we cannot continue to represent him until he comes forward," said attorney Craig Sonner.

    Sonner and Uhrig say they have been unable to contact Zimmerman since Sunday, when he stopped returning their phone calls.

    "He's not returning my messages not returning my texts not returning my emails. He won't even give me a collect call," Sonner said.

    However, both attorneys said they would be willing to resume their representation of Zimmerman if he contacts them directly.

    "He's got to reach out to us," added co-counsel Hal Uhrig.

    The press conference than took an unusual twist, with Uhrig essentially trying the case before the gathered members of the press. Both attorneys stressed that they continue to believe Zimmerman acted in self-defense, while Uhrig criticized both the press and Martin himself.

    Going after the press directly, Uhrig said, "If you don't believe this has been crouched in racial terms, you're not watching the same media, the same TV, reading the same blogs." In an unfortunate choice of words, Uhrig added,  "I'm taking a shot at the press when I say this."

    Uhrig then directed criticism at the now-deceased Martin, alleging that his own actions were to blame for Zimmerman shooting him.

    "Whoever decided to turn it from a war of words into a war of fists does so at their own peril," Uhrig said. "We frankly believe the correct decision will be to not charge him [Zimmerman]," Uhrig said.

    "The first person that swung, as far as we can tell, was Trayvon Martin," Uhrig said. "The crime was battery against George Zimmerman."

    "People are saying, how can you shoot an unarmed man? You know what, an unarmed man can kill you if he keeps doing what he's doing," Uhrig said. "I don't care what one investigator thought. They're often wrong."

    The attorneys say they know of Zimmerman's location and have access to his personal phone number. "We've been able to handle the case by phone up this point," Sonner said. "But there were face-t0-face meeting scheduled."

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  • British man allegedly fathered up to 600 children through sperm bank donations

    Barry Stevens standing next to a photo of Bertold Wiesner (Photo credit: Tornoto Star)New DNA tests suggest the owner of a British fertility clinic may have fathered as many as 600 children, while keeping his donations a secret. And in an even stranger twist, one of his newly discovered offspring says the man's belief in eugenics may have been behind the decision.

    The Telegraph reports that Bertold Wiesner and his wife operated a fertility clinic in the 1940s and were responsible for helping more than 1,500 families conceive. Two of the children conceived through clinic donations, Barry Stevens and David Gollancz, took part in DNA testing that revealed both were conceived using Wiesner's sperm.

    "Using standard figures for the number of live births which result, including allowances for twins and miscarriages, I estimate that he is responsible for between 300 and 600 children," Gollancz told the paper.

    Eighteen people conceived through the clinic between 1943 and 1962 were tested, with about two-thirds of them matching Wiesner's DNA. However, it's nearly impossible to determine exactly how many of the 1,500 children came directly from Wiesner, since his wife Mary Barton reportedly destroyed the records from the clinic. Wiesner himself died in the early 1970s.

    Stevens told the Toronto Star that because of the donations he might have as many as 1,000 relatives he has never met. In addition, the Star reports that Austrian-born Wiesner was a "Communist sympathizer," who belonged to a club of "left-wing biologists" who supporter experimental medical techniques.

    "It was very much the era of eugenics," Stevens, now 59, told the Star. "People on the left supported that, too, not just on the right." The Daily Mail reports that the British House of Lords once described Wiesner's work as "the work of Beelzebub."

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