Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Iranian President Rouhani takes to Twitter after phone chat with Obama

    Recent Twitter messages from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have increased hopes of positive dialogue between Iran and the U.S. (AFP)

    Describing his phone conversation with President Obama as “historic,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter on Friday with a series of a fascinating messages that stunned and encouraged many foreign policy observers.

    “In phone convo, President # Rouhani and President @ BarackObama expressed their mutual political # will to rapidly solve the # nuclear issue,” Rouhani wrote to his 64,000 plus followers.

    In another tweet, Rouhani noted that he ended his conversation with Obama by saying, “Have a Nice Day!” and that the Obama responded by saying, “Thank you. Khodahafez.”

    The phrase is a common way of saying goodbye in the Persian language and is literally translated as, “"May God be your Guardian.”

    For its part, the White House used Twitter to publish an official photo of President Obama during his phone conversation with Rouhani. The caption to the photo reads, "Historic phone call in the Oval Office: Pres Obama talks w Iran Pres Hassan Rouhani this

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  • The overall SAT scores for students have dropped significantly in the last six years (AP)

    The annual SAT scores have been released to the public and show a continued decline in math and writing scores.

    Even worse, as CBS’s Money Watch reports, more than half of incoming college freshmen are not ready for the academic challenges of college.

    "We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers," College Board President David Coleman said in a statement. "Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity."

    In the data released by the College Board, a full 57 percent of graduating seniors aren't ready to transition to college coursework, based on SAT results.

    The average student performed better on the math portion of the test, scoring 514 out of a possible 800. On the reading comprehension portion, the average student scored 496. Students fared worst on the writing portion of the test, averaging 488.

    Technically, the 2013 results are identical to those released in 2012. However, the

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  • New York family has close encounter with 40-foot humpback whale

    It’s rare to see a humpback whale so close to shore off the beaches of Rockaway, N.Y. It’s even more rare to have one of the 40-foot whales emerge from the water just feet from your boat.

    But that’s what happened to Bobby Leonard when he was out on a recent fishing trip with his brother and dad.

    “There’s no such thing as whale watching on the beach. It was unheard of,” Leonard told Yahoo News in a phone interview on Thursday. “It was just a great experience to be so close to something so big.”

    Leonard, who runs The Spy Store in Manhattan, says he grabbed one of his company’s high-powered cameras when he noticed the whales swimming close to the shore.

    “I told my brother, maybe we can get some footage of the whales,” Leonard said. “But we were just out there fishing. We never expected them to get so close.”

    Leonard says there was a large school of fish near his boat that suddenly scattered.

    “It was just chaos out there,” he said. “All of sudden the fish got nervous.”

    Just moments later,

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  • Boeing turns aging planes into drones for Air Force target practice

    What should the U.S. Air Force do with its aging fleet of aircraft? After all, the aircraft boneyard is already pretty crowded.

    How about using them for target practice?

    Boeing has been turning outdated planes into unmanned drones that the Air Force can use in targeting drills.

    The Daily Mail reports that Boeing has successfully converted six F-16 fighter jets into drones, allowing the aircraft to take off and fly without a pilot. Boeing says it’s the first time a F-16 has flown unmanned.

    “It’s a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, Commander of the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron said in a release. “Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target.”

    The jets had all previously been retired and were residing at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Boeing restored the jets and added the necessary equipment to allow them to fly as drones.

    The renamed “QF-16 Full Scale Aerial

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  • Sheriff Joe Arpaio institutes cost-saving, vegetarian meals for inmates

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio dons a chef's uniform to promote a vegetarian diet for inmates. (Fox10)

    Get sent to jail in Arizona’s Maricopa County and you’ll be experiencing some serious life changes. And for those who eat meat, that includes going vegetarian.

    County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no stranger to controversy. Over the years, he has made seemingly countless numbers of national headlines. As recently as August, the five-time elected sheriff was in the news after announcing that his deputies would be required to carry firearms at all times, even while off duty.

    Arpaio’s latest move is a plan to transition all of his inmates in the county’s eight jails to a vegetarian diet. On the surface, it might sound like a health-conscious move from the 81-year-old lawman. But Arpaio said the change is all about saving the county money.

    As part of an effort to publicize the move, Arpaio donned a chef's uniform during a local TV appearance.

    “Little by little, this is the first step to go vegetarian,” he told Phoenix affiliate Fox 10. “There will be no more meat on the menu, we’ll save $100,000.”

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  • Louisiana is the worst state for women according to new report

    A new study finds Louisiana is the most challenging state for working women in America. (AFP)

    A report says that in America, Louisiana is the worst state for women to live and work in.

    The Center for American Progress released the findings in a new interactive map, combining and comparing data on topics including the wage gap between men and women, poverty rates, paid family leave laws, the percentage of women without health insurance in each state and infant mortality rates.

    Interestingly, the data also expanded to include factors outside of income and personal health, looking at how women fare in positions of power. For example, the study also compared the percentage of women in Congress in each state and the number of women elected to statewide executive office.

    Overall, the study contained 36 separate factors, including looking at how several of the above-mentioned categories applied to minorities.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, Maryland was voted as the best state for women to live and work in.

    “More than 22 percent of women in Louisiana are in poverty, compared to 11

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  • Popular Science ends reader comments, says practice is bad for science

    Popular Science says that online reader comments have become bad for science (WikiCommons)

    The scientific method relies on rigorous observation and peer-based feedback as critical components in testing a hypothesis. But one of the world's leading science publications now says there is a major difference when it comes to reading news articles about science.

    In a surprising move, the website for Popular Science announced it is no longer allowing reader comments on its articles. And in a potentially even more controversial move, the site’s online content director boldly explains the decision was reached because of the publication's belief that reader comments are actually bad for science.

    “A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics,” writes Suzanne LaBarre. “Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to ‘debate’ on television. And because comments sections tend to be a

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  • Rare gold coin sells for $2.75 million at auction

    The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella is one of the rarest known coins in the world (Bonhams)

    An extremely rare coin sold for $2.75 million during an auction on Monday, greatly exceeding expectations and making it one of the all-time biggest such sales in U.S. history. reports that the “Coiled Hair Stella” coin was minted in 1880 featuring a profile image of Lady Liberty. The coin contains about six grams of pure gold and was never released into circulation. On the back of the coin an inscription reads, “ONE STELLA” and “400 CENTS.”

    "The 1880 $4 Coiled Hair Stella is one of the so-called white whales of the coin collecting world. They are so rare, they come on the market maybe once or twice, at most, every decade," Paul Song, director of rare coins at Bonhams, which auctioned the coin in Los Angeles, told Reuters.

    “They are so rare, they come on the market maybe once or twice, at most, every decade,” Song said. “That particular gold coin, there's only 10 or 12 now, and most of these are in public institutions or private collections.”

    The $2.75 million selling price is

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  • Woman ‘jet hikes’ across country riding in private planes

    Amanda Nolan is trying to reach all 50 U.S. states catching rides on private planes (Facebook)

    Amber Nolan
    ’s story might not sound all that original at first. She’s attempting to hitchhike around the country. But this is what sets her journey apart: Nolan is traveling to all 50 states “jethiking” by private plane .

    Nolan, a travel writer, started her journey in July 2012 and only has eight states to go before completing the unusual voyage. She’sbeen chronicling her journey on the Jet Hiking blog, and on her Facebook page, where she logs each of her stops along the way.

    “As a travel writer, I've been all over the world but I hadn't seen much in my own backyard,” Nolan said in a recent interview with the Daily Mail. “I wanted to experience the United States in a unique way and started brainstorming ideas.”

    She’ll have officially knocked out all 50 states once she’s able to hitch a ride to Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Most of the states on that list are clustered next to each other, so it’s entirely possible Nolan could wrap up her

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  • Florida man selling ‘extra terrestrial vehicle’ on eBay

    Mike Vetter's

    It’s not quite an unidentified flying object, but one car for sale on eBay this week could easily be mistaken as something from another world.

    Owner Mike Vetter describes the vehicle as a combination of parts including fold up doors reminiscent of a DeLorean, completely hidden wheel rims, a color-changing LED lighting system, “which create a nice light show in the evenings,” underneath the car. It’s even fuel efficient, getting about 26mpg.

    “You are looking at a vehicle which receives more pictures taken of it on a daily basis then any Lamborghini or Ferrari,” Vetter writes in the car’s description. ‘The ride is smooth, solid and reliable. Due to the shape of the car the faster you go it seems to get more quiet inside.”

    It’s just one of 60 custom cars Vetter says he’s built over the past 20 years but it may be his most unique creation. The car’s unusual casing almost makes it appear to be gliding on air but it actually runs on a fairly standard Chevy engine.

    Vetter says he “built this

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