Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Obamacare phone operator who talked to Sean Hannity loses her job

    An image from the "Hannity" segment in which the Fox News host called an Obamacare phone operator (Fox News)

    An Obamacare phone operator who had a conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity lost her job on Thursday.

    On Monday, the “Hannity” host called up the Affordable Care Act phone number provided by the federal government. Eventually, he was connected with Erling Davis, a phone operator working for a private contract company .

    Hannity quizzed Davis about technical issues facing the government healthcare website and engaged in some small talk during their 10-minute conversation.

    However, on Thursday Davis revealed that she was fired by her employer over the conversation. For his part, Hannity told listeners of his radio show that he will compensate Davis for a year’s salary tax free and try to help her find a new job. In total, Hannity reportedly gave Davis $26,000. He also posted information on his website where viewers could reach out with job offers and other assistance.

    “They fired me from my job,” Davis told Hannity while being interviewed on his radio program.

    A transcribed

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  • CNN airs 90-minute segment showing people trying to navigate Obamacare website

    CNN guest Hazani Barmada shares her Internet experiences with host Tom Foreman (Yahoo News)

    Troubles plaguing the federal government’s Affordable Care Act website are big news. But to get the point, do we really need to watch people physically attempting to navigate the site?

    CNN says "yes," and devoted 90 minutes of programming on Thursday to just that. And they’ve brought back their countdown clock to mark the proceedings. The countdown clock has been a go-to move for CNN recently, rolled out to keep a running timer on the government shutdown and the debt limit ceiling.

    For the Obamcare website segment, “Situation Room” host Wolf Blitzer stationed three guests at desktop computers and monitored their attempts to register on the federal government’s Affordable Care Act site.

    So, what kind of breathtaking results were viewers treated to?

    “I’m actually able to look at the different options quite easily,” guest Laura McNeil told CNN’s Emmy award-winning journalist Tom Foreman as the newsroom cameras zoomed in and out on her and the other two individuals looking at their

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  • Chinese temple fresco ‘cartoon’ restoration leads to public outcry

    Before and after views of the controversial restored fresco images inside a Chinese temple. (AFP)

    A restoration project of 300-year-old artwork in a Chinese temple has caused outrage with critics who say the new frescoes erase history and more closely resemble a cartoon.

    NBC News reports that a 23-year-old blogger named Tuo Liu originally noticed the stark changes after bringing a group of friends to Chaoyang’s Yunjie Temple to look at the original paintings.

    But when the group arrived, Tuo and his friends found the new paintings, which had been added directly on top of the original frescoes.

    “The last trace of the history inside [the temple] was erased,” Tuo wrote on his blog. "Cartoons drawn by my daughter are better than this,” one commenter wrote on Tuo's blog.

    “Restoration of frescoes is a very complicated process,” Xu Zhao, a professor in the fresco department of China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, told NBC News. “The principle is ‘repair as was.' It is definitely taboo to draw directly on the original paintings.”

    Since the restoration project first came under criticism,

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  • Dad creates captivating ‘stick man’ LED Halloween costume for baby (VIDEO)

    It’s been a heck of a day for bizarre and captivating Halloween costumes. But the first prize definitely goes to California photographer Royce Hutain who designed a LED Halloween costume for his daughter which created a startling effect in which the toddler appears to be an animated stick figure.

    “She is 22 months old and loves wearing the suit,” Hutain writes on his YouTube page. “I'll be uploading a video of her in different locations running around and doing her usual funny stuff.”

    In the video, his daughter walks down a dark hallway giggling. It’s only as the strange, animated stick figure gets closer to the camera that it becomes clear it’s a child wearing a suit of lights.

    As it turns out, it’s not Hutain’s first LED stick figure video. Just last week, he posted this video showing a group of snowboarders wearing similar LED suits on the slopes.

    In a Reddit post discussing the video, Hutain said he plans to put together a how-to video for people who want to make their own LED suit,

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  • NSA spied on 124.8 billion phone calls in just one month: watchdog

    The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (Reuters)

    The National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls in just one month, according to a number of new reports.

    And while the majority of calls reportedly originated in the Middle East, an estimated 3 billion of the calls originated in the U.S.

    According to a collection of the reports and leaked classified government files, the monitored calls took place throughout the month of January 2013 and tallied to 124.8 billion.

    Cryptome, a site that posts government and corporate documents, combined the various documents and says the largest share of calls originated in Afghanistan (21.98 billion) and Pakistan (12.76 billion). Elsewhere in the Middle East, billions of calls were monitored in Iraq (7.8 billion), Saudi Arabia (7.8 billion), Egypt (1.9 billion), Iran (1.73 billion) and Jordan (1.6 billion).

    So, if true, how did the U.S. successfully intercept so many phone calls from around the world? Another document posted by Cryptome on Wednesday purports to show a graph released

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  • Nevada firefighters revive two puppies trapped in burning building

    Two recently revived puppies get back to work (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

    Firefighters in North Las Vegas responding on Tuesday to a large house fire also ended up breathing life back into two puppies.

    The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that after putting out the blaze, firefighters searched the single-family home and found two unresponsive young canines.

    Crews on the scene successfully performed CPR on the puppies as a crowd of onlookers reportedly cheered them on. Amazingly, the dogs were then seen running around the scene while the firefighters finished their duties.

    Unfortunately the six adults and six children who lived in the home have been temporarily displaced, as the house was classified as a “complete loss” that was started by an accidental kitchen fire.

    A firefighter works to revive a puppy rescued from a house fire (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

    Firefighters provide oxygen to two puppies rescued from a house fire (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

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  • High times as majority in U.S. now want pot legalized

    Support for marijuana legalization has surged since 2000 (AP)

    According to the latest Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

    Gallup says the poll culminates a year of “unprecedented success” for marijuana advocates and is almost certainly the harbinger of future legalization efforts. Support for legalization has climbed more than 10 percent in the past year alone.

    “Whatever the reasons for Americans' greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States,” Gallup says in its analysis of the poll.

    And as Gallup points out, the 58 percent support for legalization is a stark contrast to the group's first legalization poll in 1969, in which only 12 percent of respondents said they favored making marijuana legal.

    Gallup also found that 38 percent of respondents said they had personally tried marijuana at some point.

    The largest area of growth has been among independent voters, 62 percent of whom now say they support legalization.

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  • Dem congressman compares tea party to Ku Klux Klan

    Florida Rep. Alan Grayson (wikicommons)

    Controversial Democrat Alan Grayson has set off a flurry of criticism from conservatives after the Florida congressman sent out a fundraising email to supporters in which he compared the tea party to the Ku Klux Klan.

    Grayson’s original comments came during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.” Grayson was discussing the tea party’s influence on the Republican Party when he said, “At this point, the tea party is no more popular than the Klan.”

    And rather than shy away from that comment, Grayson included them in bold letters on his website with the quote taking readers directly to a fundraising page for Grayson’s re-election campaign.

    Grayson’s fundraising page includes the image of a burning cross; it uses the cross as the letter “T” and spells out “tea party” in flaming letters:

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) posted this image to his fundraising website, featuring a burnign cross

    "As a black Tea Party activist, I could say that there's nothing more offensive than equating the Tea Party with the Ku Klux Klan,” Jennifer Burke, National Outreach

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  • Halsey Parkerson stands in front of some of the 50 cars that showed up to his anti-bullying rally (KATU)

    A high-school bully decided to apologize after 100 Facebook users showed up to rally behind a boy he had accused of having no friends.

    South Salem High School Junior Halsey Parkerson got a huge surprise on Friday, when more than 50 cars showed up at his school to help him stand up to a local bully.

    KATU reports that on Thursday, Parkerson’s aunt had stopped by his school to have lunch with him. That’s when a bully began taunting Parkerson and saying it didn’t matter because he “didn’t have any friends.”

    Parkerson told his aunt that it happened “all the time.” In response, she reached out to an online car club she belongs to on Facebook and asked people to show up to the school for lunch on Friday.

    In response, more than 50 cars showed up, carrying at least 100 people. And KATU's

    "It's just unbelievable," Parkerson told KATU. "I now know whenever I get bullied I'll raise my head up and say, 'Sorry, I have too many friends to

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  • Australia is currently experiencing some of its worst fires in a decade in the New South Wales area. An estimated 80 fires are currently burning across the region, with at least 20 of them uncontained. The first have already destroyed 300 homes and claimed their first victim on Friday.

    Firefighter Jonathan Mallin was recently taking part in a dramatic bushfire rescue just outside of Sydney in Mt. Victoria, when he strapped a GoPro camera on to the top of his helmet.

    The result is a stunning first person view as Mallin charges through the smoke-filled scene, helping to pull civilians to safety and coordinating with his fellow firefighters.

    At times, it's hard to imagine how Mallin gets from point-to-point, navigating through the smoke as the sun itself barely seems to break through the thick camouflage. By the end of the video, his camera has become slightly obstructed from the falling debris raining down on the scene.

    But at the end of the video, we see Mallin get into a firetruck with

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