Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Teacher fired after assigning violent math problems to third graders

    A Washington, D.C., charter school teacher has been fired after it was discovered the teacher had assigned third-grade students a number of math problems framed around violent and illegal scenarios.

    At first, the unnamed teacher at the Trinidad Center City School claimed he had been ordered to assign the problems, but it was quickly discovered that the teacher had actually downloaded them from a free homeschooling website called "HomeschoolingParadise.com."

    "I was absolutely distressed," Dr. Beverley Wheeler, the CEO of Center City PCS, which oversees Trinidad, told WUSA9.  "It doesn't follow anything we do. We are about character, excellence and service and I found them to be violent and racist."

    Even more baffling, other parents at the school say the teacher in question is a minister.

    [Parents outraged after homework references slavery, beatings]

    I went to the Homeschooling Paradise website and took a look at the third-grade homeschooling "Worksheets" curriculum. To start, the site's

    Read More »from Teacher fired after assigning violent math problems to third graders
  • Rhode Island Republican Barry Hinckley's U.S. Senate run got a boost this week when a cute campaign video featuring his 5-year-old son Hudson hit the web. But it was Barry and Hudson's bizarre follow-up interview with Fox News that may make the more lasting impression.

    In the campaign video, "Economics for five-year-olds," Hudson breaks down criticism of President Obama's economic policies, asking, "Five-year-olds, are you better off now than you were five years ago?" Of course, President Obama was not in the White House five years ago, but we'll cut the kid some slack. Whether or not you agree with the video's political message, Hudson is adorable and charismatic.

    So, Fox News host Neil Cavuto had Barry and Hudson Hinckley on his show to discuss the ad. This is where things got very weird, very quickly. Throughout the video, Barry Hinckley can be seen reading something off-screen and mouthing the exact words his son Hudson is saying in response to Cavuto's questions. (The interview starts at the 1:30 mark in the video below.)

    Hilariously, things momentarily go off script when Cavuto inquires somewhat skeptically, "Hudson, are you worried about our debt?" Hudson pauses long enough for his Dad to interject, asking, "Are you worried about paying back the money?" Finally, Hudson answers, "Um, no."

    Barry Hinckley appears a little irritated and Cavuto jokes, "You're not worried about it at all. So, the whole ad was a lie!"

    So, what in the world was happening? Most likely, the interview was scripted so that 5-year-old Hudson would stay on his Dad's campaign message. Hinckley insists that most of the people who have watched his son's campaign video are supportive but a look over the video's comments shows plenty of people bringing up the never-ending question of whether a politician should use their own children for political gain.

    Read More »from U.S. Senate candidate pantomimes 5-year-old son during strange cable news interview
  • Mansion servant enslaved by uber-rich New York family for nearly six years

    An aerial view of Llenroc mansion (thesmokinggun.com)

    A wealthy New York woman is facing criminal charges after being accused of keeping an illegal immigrant as an indentured servant and forcing her to live in a closet for nearly six years.

    Documents posted on the Smoking Gun allege that Annie George, 39, and her now-deceased husband, Mathai Kolath George, hired an illegal immigrant from the Indian state of Kerala. The immigrant, identified only as "V.M.," was promised about $1,000 a month in wages to live in the family's 34-room, 30,000-square-foot home, known as Llenroc mansion, which houses a helicopter pad, 15 fireplaces, marble flooring, 24-karat gold gilded ceilings and a glass elevator. V.M. was tasked with taking care of the Georges' four young children, along with performing household duties in the mansion located about 20 miles north of Albany.

    New York's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Even if V.M. had been allowed to leave the residence at the end of a regular 40-hour workweek, she would have been entitled to a minimum, pretax income of $290 per week, or $1,160 per month.

    Instead, the "forced labor situation" (as described in the court papers) was even worse than the already-below minimum wage offer of $1,000 month. V.M. received 85 cents an hour, working 17-hour days, seven days a week, over the 67 months she was kept inside the George residence.

    All told, V.M. received only about $29,000 over the five and a half years she was forced to work for the George family.

    The Smoking Gun reports that immigration agents received a tip from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center last year and removed V.M. from the George's property. The U.S. Department of Labor conducted its own investigation and says V.M. is entitled to $206,000 in back wages. She was also allegedly denied health benefits, sick days or any personal time off from her labors.

    Read More »from Mansion servant enslaved by uber-rich New York family for nearly six years
  • New winged roller coaster ‘the Swarm’ rips the arms off crash test dummies

    The Swarm roller coaster (ThorpePark.com)

    A theme park in London is set to debut a powerful new winged roller coaster this month, but only after first figuring out how not to dismember its riders. Time reports that Thorpe Park has been conducting test runs of its new coaster, the Swarm, even enlisting fighter pilots who described the ride as "gut-wrenching."

    The self-described "flight through apocalyptic devastation on Europe's tallest winged rollercoaster" propels up to 28 riders at a time with their arms and legs dangling freely at 62 miles per hour and includes trips through an inverted 127-foot drop and several close encounters with walled structures that are designed to make passengers feel like they are about to crash.

    [Zero-gravity roller coaster could bring weightless thrills to Earth]

    The ride's designers ran some test runs with crash test dummies, leaving many shocked when the dummies returned from the experience missing arms and legs. A team of former British fighter pilots were then brought in as the coaster's preparation neared completion. Mark Cutmore, team leader of the Blades, a stunt pilot organization, told the Metro: "I am a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, but even as a pilot used to G-force there were some gut-wrenching moments, and I have to admit the near miss element is eye-watering -- you really do feel as if you are going to crash into the structures."

    You can watch a simulated video of the Swarm here:

    Read More »from New winged roller coaster ‘the Swarm’ rips the arms off crash test dummies
  • Doctors rebuild man’s dented forehead using his own body fat

    Tim Barter before and after his surgery. (Original images courtesty King's College Hospital)

    In June 2009, Tim Barter fell 25 feet from a drainpipe, hit his head on a brick wall and was left in a coma for 10 days. When he awoke, his forehead was caved in because doctors had performed an emergency life-saving operation to repair his shattered skull, cheekbone and eye socket. But even after the surgery, he experienced double vision and other aftereffects from the incident.

    "My head felt really strange. I only had skin over where the skull had been removed, so it was very soft to touch, particularly when the hair had started to grow back," Barter said in an interview with BBC Breakfast.

    Less than three years later, the Telegraph reports Barter has experienced an amazing recovery after doctors performed an innovative surgery to repair his forehead using fat from his own stomach.

    The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Bentley, a surgeon at London's King's College Hospital. The procedure involved using titanium plates to repair Barter's skull. As painful as it might sound, the plates were inserted through Barter's cheeks to avoid scarring. Fat tissue from his stomach was then injected into his forehead to fill the damaged section of his skull.

    Barter had a successful life pre-accident, working on the popular "Dr. Who" program for a number of years as a visual effects supervisor. But now, Barter is embracing life like never before.

    "I'm making the most of everything now where I didn't before," Barter, 32, tells the BBC. His new list of physical activities includes wall climbing, kayaking and even skydiving. "I love the falling. It's just the split second at the end that's an occasional problem," Barter joked. "I can't put anything off anymore. I'm doing what I've always put on my list," he said.

    Read More »from Doctors rebuild man’s dented forehead using his own body fat
  • Kenyata White and Aeimee Diaz (Photo credit: 12News)Kenyata White and Aeimee Diaz were celebrating their anniversary at the American Kitchen & Wine Bar in downtown Phoenix this week when they were suddenly asked to leave the restaurant for "inappropriate behavior." But after an uproar on Facebook and other social media sites, the lesbian couple has been welcomed back with open arms -- and free drinks.

    The Arizona Republic reports that the couple was asked to leave the restaurant, which is in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, after the two women were seen hugging and kissing at their table. A manager approached them to tell them their behavior was "inappropriate," and making other customers "uncomfortable."

    "My partner and I were reminiscing," White told the Arizona Republic. "I had my arm around her neck, and she had her hand around my waist. I gave her a hug for about a minute, pulled myself away to give her a quick kiss, and then we continued talking."

    White posted about the incident on her Facebook page and received an overwhelming response of support from the online community. Representatives of the hotel then met with the couple to apologize for the incident.

    "We had the opportunity to meet with the couple late (Tuesday) to listen to their story and better understand their view and how they felt," hotel General Manager Leo Percopo said in a statement. "We had a collaborative conversation, and both parties are taking this incident seriously. Together, we have identified opportunities in which both parties can unite and work together to foster diversity awareness."

    White said the couple was not only invited back the next day, but offered free drinks as partial recourse.

    Read More »from Lesbian couple gets an apology and free drinks after being booted from Arizona restaurant
  • Grizzly bear charges at Alaskan tourists (Video)

    In the above video, a wild Grizzly bear suddenly charges at a group of Alaskan tourists. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident.

    The group of 10 tourists was visiting Katmai National Park and was taking part in what was billed as a safe viewing of the Grizzly bears in their natural habitat, according to the Daily Mail. But one of the bears suddenly charged from its stream directly at the tourists, who were forced to sit in silence, lest they upset the bear further and provoke a potentially deadly attack. At one point, the bear reportedly got close enough to a tourist to sniff his hooded sweatshirt, before returning to the stream.

    'We had a safety class beforehand about what to do if we encountered a bear," tourist Larry Griffith, 59, told the Daily Mail. "All the bears were catching fish when this particular bear circled our group several times, wanting us to leave his fishing spot. This was not supposed to happen. Our guide said he saw this as a bluff charge, trying to scare us, which he did! We were all in shock but were happy that no-one in our group jumped up, ran away or screamed for their lives."

    Read More »from Grizzly bear charges at Alaskan tourists (Video)
  • The newly discovered ossuary which appears to contain a reference to the biblical prophet Jonah (James Tabor/UNCC))

    Investigators using a robotic arm equipped with a remote-controlled camera have discovered what is being called the earliest evidence of Christian iconography in Jerusalem.

    The newly discovered ossuary carries a Greek inscription calling on God to "raise up" someone, which is being interpreted as an early reference to the biblical resurrection of Jesus.

    A second limestone box appears to show the carved image of a fish, which may be a reference to the biblical prophet Jonah. This would be a historical first, as references to the resurrection had not previously been discovered before the 2nd century.

    "If anyone had claimed to find either a statement about resurrection or a Jonah image in a Jewish tomb of this period I would have said impossible -- until now," University of North Carolina scholar James Tabor said in a statement. "Our team was in a kind of ecstatic disbelief, but the evidence was clearly before our eyes, causing us to revise our prior assumptions."

    As significant as this discovery is, it may itself be buried under renewed discussion over the potential discovery of a tomb inscribed with the names of the biblical Jesus and his family. The investigators, lead by University of North Carolina scholar Tabor, are the same team who five years ago claimed to have made "The Jesus Discovery."

    "This does reopen the whole question about the 'Jesus Tomb," Tabor told MSNBC. Yahoo News contacted Tabor, but is still waiting for a response.

    In addition to his efforts on the "The Jesus Discovery," Tabor is also working on a new translation of the Bible, known as the Original Bible Project. He contributed to a controversial TV documentary called, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," which received significant attention at the time of its release, since it was produced in partnership with Academy Award winning director James Cameron.

    The new discovery is actually part of an earlier finding made by Tabor and his team. However, the Israeli government shut down the initial investigation due to protests from local religious groups. A house was built on top of the excavation site, which is now referred to as the "Patio Tomb," because a patio literally rests on top of the site. Tabor and his team were finally able to receive cooperation from the Israeli government by using the robotic technology to explore underneath the site.

    "This inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead, either of the deceased in the ossuary, or perhaps, given the Jonah image nearby, an expression of faith in Jesus' resurrection," Tabor said in the statement, referring to the "raise up" inscription on the ossuary.

    Read More »from Investigators may have discovered earliest evidence of Christian iconography in Jerusalem
  • China to soften its one-child policy slogans, but not the law itself

    A billboard promoting China's one-child policy (AP/Greg Baker)

    The Chinese government isn't getting rid of its one-child policy currently in place. It's just making it sound better. China's communist party newspaper, People's Daily, reports that the government will revamp its abrasive-sounding slogans surrounding the policy.

    People's Daily cites several examples of "harsh slogans," including those "which sometimes even threaten criminal acts." The newly instituted program, slugged the "face-washing project," will offer more proactive slogans to help enforce the policy, which has been in place since 1979. China claims the policy, which applies to those living in urban areas, affects approximately 35.9 percent of the population and has resulted in an estimated 400 million fewer births since first being implemented.

    Some examples of the more offensive slogans currently in use include:

    "If you don't receive the tubal ligation surgery by the deadline, your house will be demolished!"

    "We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child!"

    "Kill all your family members if you don't follow the rule!"

    And…

    "Once you get captured, an immediate tubal ligation will be done; Should you escape, we'll hunt you down; If you attempt a suicide, we'll offer you either the rope or a bottle of poison."

    The new less offensive slogans replacing the more callous ones will reportedly seek to "avoid offending the public and stoking social tensions."

    China's one-child policy has faced criticism from around the world. In addition to more obvious concerns about civil liberties, the policy has reportedly had the unintended effect of many families aborting female babies until a male child is conceived. That trend has resulted in 118 boys being born for every 100 girls, which has contributed to males outnumbering females in China by an estimated 30 to 40 million.

    Read More »from China to soften its one-child policy slogans, but not the law itself
  • Apps for Apes: Orangutans using iPads to paint and video chat with other apes

    redapes.org

    Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing  its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

    Orangutan Outreach founder Richard Zimmerman says has iPads have already been donated to zoos in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Florida. A board member of the Houston Zoo also recently donated an iPad. More of the tablets will soon be sent to the Memphis Zoo, the Center for Great Apes in Florida and to the Toronto Zoo. Orangutans are considered to be amongst the most intelligent of primates, making them a good case study for the interactive technology.

    "It's not a gimmick," Zimmerman told Yahoo News in a phone interview Tuesday.  "If they don't want to do it, they won't. There are actual measurable benefits."

    Zimmerman said  that orangutans in zoos and other primate facilities usually receive all the food and love they need. However, during winter months they are forced to spend long periods of time indoors, which is counter to their natural habitat. And living indoors for extended periods of time can result in boredom and stunt social growth among other primates.

    "They need stimulation, especially indoors," Zimmerman tells Yahoo News. "The zoo keepers can see the benefit from this sort of enrichment. We're doing this as enrichment as opposed to research. But researchers are getting involved, that's just not our jurisdiction."

    Scientists and layman alike have long speculated on ways to better indoctrinate primates and other animals with human technology. Dolphins have already demonstrated an ability to interact with iPad technology with researchers using it as a language interaction device between dolphins and humans. There are even several iPad games made specifically for cats.

    Read More »from Apps for Apes: Orangutans using iPads to paint and video chat with other apes

Pagination

(1,410 Stories)