Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • California teen named nation's first transgender homecoming queen

    16-year-old Cassidy Campbell became the nation's first transgendered high school homecoming queen (Facebook)

    In what is being described as the first known event of its kind, a transgendered teen was named as her high school’s homecoming queen on Friday.

    “I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there,” 16-year-old Cassidy Campbell said after receiving her crown during the halftime of Marina High’s homecoming football game Friday night in Huntington Beach, CA.

    The Los Angeles Times published a slideshow of photos from the homecoming event, which you can view here.

    Cassidy rose to national prominence when it was reported that she was entering the contest.

    “Just to be true to themselves and to let people know around them and to not keep it bottled up inside,” Campbell said about what her win should mean for fellow members of the transgendered community.

    Local affiliate KTLA 5 first reported that Campbell had been selected by her classmates at Marina High on Friday to be this year’s homecoming queen.

    Marina High Principal Paul Marrow praised his students for Campbell’s victory,

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  • Authorities find 850 illegal snakes in animal control officer’s home

    Richard Parrinello is accused of illegally housing 850 snakes (Facebook)

    New York state and county authorities say that a Long Island animal control officer was illegally housing and selling hundreds of snakes and other reptiles from his own home.

    Newsday reports that Richard Parrinello, 44, reportedly kept 850 snakes in his Brookhaven garage, including two 6-foot-long Burmese pythons, which are illegal in the state.

    Unofficial estimates say the entire collection of snakes, turtles and tarantulas is worth about $500,000.

    Deputy town attorney David J. Moran said authorities made the discovery while probing whether Parrinello was committing workers’ compensation fraud.

    He had also been running a website, since suspended, called Snake Man Exotics.

    Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said the two pythons will be removed from the residence and sent to an out-of-state sanctuary. However, the fate of the rest of the reptiles remains undecided.

    “I’d never seen so many snakes in one place before, even in a zoo,” Gross told the New York Post. “We were called in to

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  • Man finds $1 million lottery ticket in car’s glove compartment

    An Illinois man is $1 million richer after finding a winning lottery ticket inside his glove compartment two months after he first purchased it.

    Giuseppe Anelli holds his winning lotto ticket (Illinois Lottery)

    The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Giuseppe Anelli has been buying lottery tickets for years, oftentimes leaving them inside his car’s glove compartment without bothering to see if he ever won.

    “Sometimes I buy an instant ticket or a Lotto ticket and I put them in a glove compartment. But I forgot all about my raffle ticket!” Anelli told the paper.

    Anelli was at a gas station in early August when he realized he had an unclaimed lotto ticket inside his car. So, he took the 4th of July Millionaire Raffle ticket inside the store.

    When he scanned it on a lotto machine he received a message on screen that read, “file a claim.” When he returned home and checked his Illinois Lottery numbers online, he realized he had won $1 million.

    Anelli said that he and wife plan to use the winnings to pay off their house loan and to set up college funds for

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  • Obama, Biden huddle with top aides to discuss Navy Yard massacre

    President Obama receives a briefing from FBI Director James Comey (White House/Pete Souza)

    The White House released an image Wednesday from the briefing President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received on the Washington Navy Yard killings.

    The pair met with Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, FBI Director James Comey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, national security adviser Susan Rice, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler and national security adviser to the vice president Jake Sullivan.

    Comey and Holder led the Tuesday afternoon briefing, held just one day after the shootings, which left 13 people dead, including the shooter Aaron Alexis, and several more injured.

    “We're going to be investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to try to prevent them,” Obama said on Monday evening just hours after the shootings occurred.

    However, a Yahoo News

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  • Doctor regrows man’s missing fingertip using pig bladder

    An errant horse bite, a pig’s bladder and one man’s fingertip have resulted in what some are calling a minor medical miracle with great potential to help others.

    CBS Miami reports that 33-year-old Paul Halpern was feeding his prized horse when it suddenly bit off the tip of his index finger.

    “One of the guys that worked with me reached his hand in the horse’s mouth, took the fingertip out, and I jumped in the car, grabbed the rest of my finger, wondering what we should do,” Halpern told the station.

    His insurance company wanted Halpern to have the rest of his finger amputated. Instead, he visited Dr. Eugenio Rodriguez at the Deerfield Beach Outpatient Surgical Center, who said he had a plan to regrow the missing portion of the finger.

    “He really wanted to have his finger healed, and fast,” Dr. Rodriguez told the station. “It’s very interesting to see a patient heal. That’s my passion, wound healing. It is fascinating to have the new results.”

    Dr. Rodriguez used pig bladder tissue to build

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  • Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark spent millions on doll collection

    Huguette Clark is seen in this 1930 photo taken in Reno, Nevada (AP)

    The late heiress Huguette Clark was known for her reclusive nature, rarely leaving her apartment and spending the last two decades of her life voluntarily living in a hospital.

    But a new book reveals there was one hobby that drew Clark out of her shell: a lifelong infatuation with expensive dolls. In their new book “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune,” authors Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. report that Clark amassed a doll collection worth an estimated $2 million.

    Clark’s life was full of eccentric tales. For example, she owned two mansions in California and New York worth a combined $150 million — but she never visited either location. She also spent more than 20 years living in New York’s Beth Israel Hospital at a cost of more than $400,000 a year, even though she did not have any diagnosed illness.

    She lived to be 104. Her father was 22 during the Civil War, and Clark lived to see the nation's first

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  • Public restroom soap may be dirtier than toilet water

    Could soap in public restrooms actually leave your hands dirtier? (AFP)

    Everyone should wash their hands after using the restroom, right? However, a team of scientists says the hygienic practice may not be as clean as thought – that’s because the hand soap in 25 percent of public restrooms may could be dirty – even more contaminated than toilet water.

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that microbiologists at GOJO Industries say that contaminated soap oftentimes contains so much fecal matter that it leaves your hands dirtier than before you washed them. GOJO says there could be so much bacteria in the soap that coming in contact with it could lead to vomiting, fever, diarrhea or pink eye.

    "It was disgusting," University of Arizona professor Charles P. Gerba said of the GOJO study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Health. "We didn't find any new life forms, but we found plenty of coliform bacteria. I never dreamed there could be so many bacteria in soap."

    Gerba says that one soap supplier analyzed in the study had a 30 gallon tank of

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  • GOP bill would ban using food stamp funds on junk food

    Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., has proposed a bill to ban using food stamp funds on junk food. (AP)

    Newly proposed legislation in Congress would ban recipients of food stamps from buying junk food.

    The Hill reports that a bill proposed by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., would require food stamp recipients to purchase only healthy food.

    The Healthy Food Choices Act, H.R. 3073 is the latest salvo from Republican members of Congress who have criticized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC).

    In August, it was reported that House Republicans hoped to cut some $40 billion from future SNAP budgets.

    Roe’s legislation is specifically in response to a 2012 study, which showed that recipients from the food stamp fund spend approximately $2 billion a year on junk food.

    “As a physician, I realize the importance of healthy eating, and as an obstetrician, I’ve seen how the WIC program helps empower families receiving assistance to use taxpayer dollars to purchase healthy, wholesome foods,” Roe said in a statement

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  • Hillary Clinton awarded Liberty Medal, calls for ‘strong response' against Syria

    Clinton takes the stage Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center (AP)

    Hillary Clinton used her award ceremony at the National Constitution Center on Tuesday night to renew her call for action against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.

    Clinton was on hand to receive the National Constitution Center’s 25th annual Liberty Medal for her work on the international stage and on behalf of women and children.

    There has been more attention paid to Tuesday night’s ceremony because former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the medal. Clinton and Bush are both believed to be seriously considering presidential campaigns in 2016.

    “We do have some political disagreements,” Bush joked in his introductory remarks. “But there’s one thing we do agree on: the American people — especially those of Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.”

    Bush currently serves as director of the Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees.

    “The president will address the nation shortly about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against men,

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  • Virginia county library system destroyed 250,000 of its own books

    Libraries across the nation are dealing with budget cuts amid efforts to fit in in the digital age (Press Association)
    The Fairfax County Public Library system in Virginia reportedly destroyed 250,000 books as part of an effort to revamp its system and cut costs.

    The Washington Post reports that the books were discarded as part of a plan to reduce costs and bring the county’s library system into the digital age.

    But in the past, discarded books were donated to a group called Friends of the Library, which would then donate them or sell them to raise money for the libraries, which have faced steep budget cuts in recent years. This time, seven months went by with no books going to the group — and no explanation why.

    County Supervisor Linda Smyth told the Post that when she heard about the disappearing books, she traveled to a local branch to investigate and found a dumpster full of volumes that had been recently trashed. Many of them were still considered highly relevant, like a book from the “Harry Potter” series, a Fodor’s travel guide book and a copy of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

    “If I

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