Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Scott Brown’s daughter paid thousands to sing at campaign events

    Ayla Brown performs at one her Dad's campaign events (Charles Krupa/AP)

    Campaign finance documents show that Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown's re-election campaign has paid his daughter Ayla Brown $9,500 for performing at three campaign events.

    The three paid events, listed as payments to Ambient Entertainment LLC, go back to December 2010 and include a pair of Christmas parties. Ayla Brown is a former "American Idol" contestant whose band has performed at several events with her father, going back to his first 2010 U.S. Senate campaign to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

    Brown is currently locked in a tight re-election campaign against Elizabeth Warren.

    Republicans have had their share of controversy when it comes to music played at their campaign events. But most of that furor has centered around musicians with liberal political views who object to having their hit songs played at Republican political rallies. Earlier this week, 80's one-hit wonder band "Survivor"  sued Newt Gingrich over his use of the song "Eye of the Tiger" at his rallies.

    On the flip side, it's refreshing to see a candidate's family member doing something other than awkwardly smiling and waving in the background of family photo-ops. Still, paying $10,000 to his own daughter will open Brown and his campaign to accusations of nepotism. Or, at the very least, of being tone deaf.

    The Boston Globe reports that federal election law permits Brown's campaign to pay his daughter's band for the performances at "fair market value," but also allows her to volunteer her services at no charge. The Brown campaign was not able to specify how much of the funds went directly to Ayla Brown and what percentages went to her fellow bandmates.

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  • Video: N. Korean accordion players interpret 80′s hit “Take On Me”

    In this video, a quintet of North Korean accordion players perform a cover of the 1985 ballad "Take on Me" from the pop group A-ha. Specifically, the young musicians are from the Kum Song School, Pyongyang, North Korea.

    The musicians are part of the multi-genre project "THE PROMISED LAND" by director and artist Morten Traavik, which opens next week at the international arts and culture festival Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes, Norway.

    The cover version makes more sense in this context, as A-ha's members are originally also from Norway. You can watch the original music video here.

    [Via Dare to Share]

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  • Study says Republicans have the best sex, Democrats the most

    Famed sexuality expert Alfred KinseyA new study conducted by the dating site Match.com found that self-described single, conservative Republicans are more likely to achieve orgasm during sex than partisans of any other political persuasion.

    Liberal Democrats were those least likely to experience fulfilling sexual intimacy, although they reportedly have more frequent sex than their conservative counterparts.

    The "Single in America Study" polled 5,000 individuals and found that 53 percent of single conservative Republicans are likely to achieve orgasm during sex, compared with 40 percent of liberal Democrats.

    However, conservative Republicans had less sex over the past 12 months than any other group polled in the survey. They were also the most likely to have never had sex.

    The study was commissioned by match.com in conjunction with Dr. Laura Berman and biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher.

    Some other interesting sociological findings from the study:

    Liberal Democrats are more likely to seek out a partner with a sense of humor, a sense of independence, someone they consider their equal and someone who shares a comparable lifestyle.

    Conversely, conservative Republicans make similarly reserved choices in their mates, opting for someone with a comparable background and political affiliation who is interested in marriage.

    Attitudes about sexual activity also seemed to reflect the larger political stereotypes associated with each group. For example, Republicans were the most likely to report enjoying sex in a married relationship (40 percent). Democrats were the most likely to enjoy sex in a committed but unmarried relationship (48 percent) or living together (36 percent). And those free-wheeling libertarians are most likely to enjoy a "casual hook-up" (46 percent).

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  • Komen Foundation offers pink handgun, “Hope Edition”

    The "Hope Edition" Komen pink pistolYesterday, the Susan B. Komen Foundation made national headlines with its controversial decision to pull funding for Planned Parenthood. And now, the foundation has just announced it is reversing its decision and will continue to fund breast cancer screenings with the group.

    To a lot of people this back and forth seems a little random and strange. But there's a clear paper trail you can follow of the increasing political pressures on Komen and the rightward shift the organization has been taking.

    Another, lesser-known aspect of Komen's outreach to the political right can be found here, in their promotion of a pink handgun to promote breast cancer awareness month.

    Komen's pink pistol is not to be confused with the organization the Pink Pistols, a gay-rights organization that supports Second Amendment rights.

    Komen has partnered up with Discount Gun Sales to offer a pink version of its P-22 pistol. An undisclosed portion of each sales will go toward the Seattle branch of Komen. The pistol retails for $429.99.

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  • Video: 145 water skiers set world record behind one boat

    In this video, Australia's Horsehead Ski Club sets the world record for most skiers behind a single boat. From the club's YouTube's page:

    To ensure the waters on Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, were calm enough for the record to take place, it was an early start at 7:20am. Of the 154 skiers who started out, nine fell off, which meant at the finish 145 remaining skiers broke the record, which beats the record set two years ago at 114.  A vessel which had enough power to tow all 154 skiers wouldn't have been easy to find, but after a propeller change, the ferry Tasmania Eagle, was able to do the job.

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  • Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter

    Today's Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

    Winter 2012 will have an extended stay on America's calendar, according to today's annual Groundhog Day forecasting event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

    Each year on February 2nd, people from around the world, including 5,000 in the small town today, watch this tongue-twisting small town for a sign from one groundhog that supposedly predicts when that year's spring will arrive:

    If it's a cloudy day outside when the groundhog emerges from its burrow, then spring will arrive early that year. However, if it is sunny outside, the groundhog will supposedly be scared by its own shadow, retreating underground for six more weeks of cold weather.

    Of course, Punxsutawney Phil's prediction is no more able to guarantee the extended forecast than your local weatherman. ABC News reports that an analysis by the National Climate Data Center found that Phil's predictions are more often wrong than right.

    Phil is also found of gloomy predictions. Ever since 1887, he has predicted 99 extended winters and just 16 early springs. Nine of the year's predictions were unavailable, according to ABC.

    The holiday began as a German tradition in 18th century Pennsylvania and became even more of a cultural phenomenon after the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

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  • Seattle library lets man watch porn on computers despite complaints

    Photo courtesy Seattle Public LibrariesA Seattle library is making news after refusing to remove a man who was watching pornographic videos on a library computer.

    "We're a library, so we facilitate access to constitutionally protected information. We don't tell people what they can view and check out," Seattle Public Library spokeswoman Andra Addison told Seattle PI.  "Filters compromise freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. We're not in the business of censoring information."

    Seattle PI reports that when library patron Julie Howe saw the man, she asked him to move to another computer. He refused. When Howe asked the librarian to intervene, she also refused.

    "She could see the screen from the information desk where we were standing and was sympathetic, but said that the library doesn't censor content," Howe wrote in an email published Tuesday on the neighborhood blog, Lake City Live.

    "And they can't be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer."

    However, in 2010 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that libraries can do exactly that. The ruling came after the ACLU sued a rural library district that had attempted to filter porn from its computers.

    "A public library has traditionally and historically enjoyed broad discretion to select materials to add to its collection of printed materials for its patrons' use," the court wrote in its decision. "We conclude that the same discretion must be afforded a public library to choose what materials from millions of Internet sites it will add to its collection and make available to its patrons."

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  • FBI says compulsive “hoarder” stole thousands of classified documents

    A NGA satellite photo of Islamabad, Pakistan (af.mil)The FBI is investigating a government employee with top-security clearance whom they say stole thousands of classified documents. Even more interesting, the compulsion to steal the classified material is being attributed to a "hoarding" condition, rather than any threat of high-risk espionage.

    The Smoking Gun reports that when government employee Robert Harwin was arrested last month, he described himself as a "hoarder" to authorities. Compulsive hoarding, the "excessive acquisition and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that would seemingly qualify as useless or without value," has been popularized on the TLC reality show, "Hoarding."

    FBI agents searched the man's home and found a "large cache" of classified documents and computer disks. At the time of his arrest, Harwin was working as an analyst with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the agency responsible for creating high-tech, top-secret maps and interpreting data collected by unmanned drones. The NGA is said to have played a significant role in the capture of Osama bin Laden.

    In an affidavit sworn by FBI counterintelligence agent Thomas Shea, the agent said, "I know that Hoarding is the excessive collection of particular items, along with the inability to discard items."

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  • Photos: Boy caught by rescuers after 25-foot fall from ski lift

    Photo by Matt Roeser

    In these photos, you can witness the rescue of a young boy who fell 25 feet from a ski lift. The dramatic scene unfolded on Sunday afternoon at the Hidden Valley Ski & Snowboard Area in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

    The unnamed boy slipped from his ski lift chair and was caught by his father, who can be seen in the first photo grabbing onto the boy's arm to save him from a potentially deadly fall.

    Once onlookers noticed what was happening, they selflessly began to gather underneath the lift, ready to catch the boy at the risk of their own safety.

    Matt Roeser

    But it all somehow works out perfectly, as the other skiers manage to catch the boy, who manages to stand upright through the whole ordeal. Fellow skier Matt Roeser witnessed the resuce, telling the Daily Mail:

    "The boy was lucky, rescuers got to him immediately. They figured the best way to save him was for him to let go of his father's hand and they catch him," Roeser said.

    "He fell into the arms of those below and was not injured. The boy

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  • Cardboard cut out Ayatollah Khomeini “inspects” Iranian military

    Mehr News Agency

    In politics, there is already the straw man, the paper tiger and the cookie cutter candidate. You can add "cardboard Khomeini" to that list of political phraseology after a very strange decision by Iran's military, in which they used a cardboard image of the late Ayatollah Khomeini to reenact his return after the Islamic revolution of 1977.

    The Atlantic reports that the Iranian military created three individual cardboard cut outs of Khomeini for the ceremony.

    One giant cardboard cut out was carried from a sitting plane at Tehran Airport to mark the "return" of the Ayatollah to Iran after 14 years in exile. Two uniformed military men then carried the cardboard stand down the tarmac, allowing it to "inspect" a group of Iranian soldiers. The regiment of soldiers actually then salute the cardboard sign.

    After the imaginary inspecting, a second cardboard cut out was then placed inside a car and driven away, presumably to retake its place as the leader of the Islamic Cardboard Republic of Iran.

    All of this transpired while a third cardboard cut out of the Khomeini observed the proceedings from a distance.

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