Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • A money pile (AP/John Amis)

    A Staten Island mom is making national headlines today after suing the city of West Brighton for $900 trillion, alleging the city improperly placed her two children in foster care.

    The $900 trillion figure, first reported by the New York Post, certainly is staggering and the standard response so far has been to treat the lawsuit as something of a joke, focusing on the mother's alleged mental illness.

    But I have to agree with the Inquisitr's Kim LaCapria, who says plaintiff Fausat Ogunbayo is actually quite clever in choosing to sue for $900 trillion. After all, how many people would be reading about this story and discussing Ogunbayo's plight had she quietly filed her petition without seeking monetary compensation?

    Of course there's no way she'll get a settlement remotely approaching that number, if she is awarded anything at all. After all, the entire U.S. has an annual gross national income of just over $14 trillion. Or, put another way, if Ogunbayo was awarded $900 trillion she'd have enough disposable income to pay off the U.S. national debt several dozen times over.

    Ogunbayo sued the city and the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), alleging that both entities violated her and her children's civil liberties by placing them in foster care in June, 2008. In her lawsuit, obtained by The Smoking Gun, Ogunbayo listed her grievances as follows:

    "For causing plaintiff substantial economic hardship; for causing plaintiff substantial economic injuries; for depriving plaintiff and plaintiff children's Civil Right, 42 U.S.C. section 1983; for depriving plaintiff and plaintiff's children, the right to family integrity; for depriving plaintiff and plaintiff's children, the right to life, liberty, property and the right guaranteed by statute; for disregarding the probability of plaintiff's children, suffering emotional and mental distress."

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  • Test driver has close call with deer (Video)

    In this exclusive video to Yahoo News, professional formula driver Ken Gushi has an extremely close call with a wild deer who runs across the road directly into Gushi's path.

    Gushi was test driving the forthcoming Toyota Scion FR-S in northern California's Mt. Diablo State Park when the near-mishap took place. Director Simon Needham captures the whole thing in HD, including Gushi's reaction.

    "On my very first run of the day today we were up in the canyons driving and I come across this left hand turn over a crest and down onto a straight," Gushi says in the video. "I'm trying to mind my own business driving and trying to navigate these unknown roads when all of a sudden I see this black figure just prancing toward the road.  At that moment, I just knew, 'Oh, s--- something's wrong.'"

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  • Writer discovers macabre way some herald the new year

    Photo by Gideon BrowerPhoto by Gideon Brower

    Photo by Gideon Brower

    For the past 25 years, millions of commuters have driven past an unusual billboard in Los Angeles that keeps an ongoing count of of people who have died from smoking-related illnesses each year.

    The billboard itself reads, "Smoking Deaths This Year," followed by the always upward-ticking count and the ominous words, "And Counting."

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  • University offering morning after pill in health center vending machine

    (Image from planbonestep.com)Shippensburg University is coming under fire today after local television affiliate WTAE reported that the university has begun selling the Plan B emergency contraception pill inside one of its student vending machines.

    "This is a legal medication," university spokesman Peter Gigliotti told Yahoo News. "You can go into any pharmacy and purchase it legally if you are 17 or older."

    Gigliotti also was quick to counter a falsely reported element of the story, noting that the pill will only be offered in one vending machine inside the university's health center.

    "It's only available to full-time students who must show multiple forms of identification," Gigliotti said. "It's not just available to anyone walking in off the street."

    Even though the FDA has in fact approved the pill for over-the-counter use to anyone 17-years-old and up,  the decision has nonetheless created a backlash among those who oppose abortion rights. While the Plan B pill is described as emergency contraception, many

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  • Cat interrupts live soccer match (Video)

    In this video, an either brazen or oblivious cat walks out onto the field of a live Liverpool-Tottenham English Premier League soccer match.

    The crowd cheers in delight and even the coaches can't help laughing as the cat scurries across the field, stopping about 20 seconds into the video to take a brief rest next to Tottenham goalie Brad Friedel.

    Live soccer matches are no stranger to overly enthusiastic fans taking to the field. Though as the announcer notes, "I don't think that cat is going to handcuff himself to the goalpost, as we saw recently."

    After about half a minute on the field, the cat then trots off "of its own volition" before being gently scooped up over the field barrier by part of the stadium's security team.

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  • Bacon Shake latest innovation in the fried food renaissance

    jackinthebox.comIt's a golden age for lovers of strange fried food concoctions. Fast food chain Jack in the Box is the latest to this party with its new desert option, the Bacon Shake, the Eater reports.

    Contrary to what bacon lovers might be hoping, the shake isn't actually made with real bacon, SFist found. Jack in the Box describes the Bacon Shake as combining "real vanilla ice cream, bacon flavored syrup, whipped topping and a maraschino cherry." Specifically, one astute consumer at the blog GrubGrade says the flavoring is Torani bacon flavored syrup, which you can order yourself if you want to make Bacon Shakes at home.

    As it turns out, restaurant chain Denny's was ahead of the curve on the bacon-and-ice cream fad. And they even included real bacon in their Maple Bacon Sundae.

    Find a shake insufficient? Thankfully, there's a bacon tree for that. Though be warned, its 27,149 grams of fat and 140,723 calories may make your calculator go into cardiac arrest:

    To their credit, Jack in the Box didn't rest on their laurels with the Bacon Shake. They've launched an ad campaign, "Marry Bacon" that is exactly what it sounds like. There's not much there other than some moderately amusing videos, but the golden nugget is this Bacon tuxedo, which you can buy for under $20. If that's too steep, you can go with the "I Love You More Than Bacon" Valentine's Day card or the primal allure of Bacon cologne.

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  • Congressman thought parody article on Planned Parenthood was real

    Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)Republican House Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana has made himself the target of online ridicule after confusing a spoof article about Planned Parenthood as a factual news report, according to Politico.

    An article posted to the Onion's website on May 18, 2011 is headlined, "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex." Of course, as millions of readers already know, the Onion is a satirical news organization, which makes up fake parody stories about real people, places and things.

    The fictitious article opens with the obviously made-up lead sentence: "Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday the grand opening of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex, a sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible."

    However, the Onion's mission statement apparently was not explained to Rep. Fleming, who took to his Facebook account, writing: "More on Planned Parenthood. Abortion by the wholesale."

    The post has since been removed from Fleming's Facebook page, but it can still be seen the website Literally Unbelievable, which captures posts from Facebook users who mistakenly think Onion articles are real.

    Four Facebook users gave Fleming's post a "like," but eight other users chimed in to correct Fleming before the post was removed. One of the more biting missives came from a user who wrote, "The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?"

    Fleming, a two-term congressman first elected to national office in 2008, won his first race for by office by just four tenths of one percentage point. However, he won his 2010 re-election effort with 62.3 percent of the vote.

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  • Man’s body goes unfound for four years

    CBS58.comThe body of a Wisconsin man was discovered inside his home more than four years after he reportedly killed himself with a handgun.

    The "nearly skeletonized body" of David Carter was discovered inside his home in January by a real estate agent sent to deliver foreclosure papers to the house, as first reported by wisn.com. But his actual death is estimated to have occurred sometime in 2007. So, how did Carter's death manage to go unnoticed for so long by friends, family, bill collectors and even the local government?

    Like so many things these days, the nation's struggling economy is at least partly to blame. After Carter disappeared, his utilities were eventually shut off and it was presumed his home had been abandoned. But that's only part of the sad story.

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl dug deeper into the story and discovered that Carter, intentionally or not, had nearly all of his bases covered before apparently choosing to end his own life in utter seclusion.

    "This may indeed be the perfect storm that caused the body to go unnoticed," Stingle said in an email interview with the Sideshow. "Still, though, when Carter went totally out of contact with everyone for quite a while, someone should have insisted that police enter the house."

    Carter told his friends and neighbors that he was planning to move to New Mexico. When he first disappeared, they apparently assumed he had followed through on those plans. Carter had no siblings and never met his father. The death of his mother in 1997 reportedly put him in a depressive state he never recovered from.

    His friends described Carter as a "giving and funny guy." But as with many cases of severe depression, it appears Carter spent enough time in isolation that his disappearance didn't immediately register as alarming.

    According to the county medical examiner's report, as quoted by Stingl, "Spider webs were noted all around the residence," and that a "Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun was found lying on the decedent's chest."

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  • New scented jeans smell like raspberries when scratched

    nakedandfamousdenim.comIf you don't mind shelling out $150 for a pair of raspberry-scented jeans, you can at least save some of that hard-earned cash by skipping regular trips to the laundry mat.

    The Mirror reports that Naked and Famous Denim is now selling a line of "scratch-n-sniff" men's jeans that can mask the odor of repeated wearings. As the company's website states: "Yes, these jeans actually smell like raspberry candy when scratched. The effect is created by coating the denim fabric with a special coating that contains mini microcapsules."

    Naked and Famous Denim spokesman Bahzad Trinos tells the Mirror,­"Hardcore denim lovers don't wash them for months to get an individual look. I wear them every day and, when they get too dirty or my girlfriend ­complains, I get them washed."

    Still, how many guys are going to pick raspberry as their go-to scent? To that end, Naked and Famous says they will soon be offering the scented jeans in additional fragrances, including apple, banana, eucalyptus, grapefruit

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  • 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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