Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Dick and Liz Cheney accuse Obama of ‘betraying’ U.S. freedom

    FILE: Then U.S.Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz watch the inaugural parade from the Presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House January 20, 2005 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)FILE: Then U.S.Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz watch the inaugural parade from the Presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House January 20, 2005 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz penned an acerbic op-ed on Tuesday accusing President Obama of “abandoning” Iraq and putting Americans at greater risk of terrorist attacks from al Qaeda.

    Cheney, a primary advocate of the Iraq War that has left more than 4,500 U.S. soldiers killed in action since 2003, accused Obama of being “blithely unaware” of the threat of al Qaeda.

    “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” The Cheneys wrote in their op-ed, published by the Wall Street Journal.

    The former vice president has been a vocal critic of President Obama since shortly after Obama took office. In an interview last month, Cheney referred to Obama as a "very weak president." While former President Bush has largely been silent when asked to comment on his successor’s time in office, Cheney has taken shots at Obama on a wide range of issues and has been particularly harsh in his assessment of the president’s foreign policy:

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  • How $10 could get you a ticket to outer space

    The elite club of astronauts is limited to just over 500 people. But if you’ve ever wanted to make the voyage yourself, it might only cost you $10.

    The Urgency Network, a nonprofit startup, is behind several goodwill campaigns that use their connections to celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke and Richard Branson to offer donors unique experiences.

    The model of Urgency Network, founded by Donald Eley and Brandon Deroche, is pretty simple: Donate $10 to a good cause, and you'll be entered into a raffle to win an amazing prize. Each $10 donation gets you another ticket, and after the first donation, donors can also volunteer for a variety of tasks to earn additional tickets.

    And now, thanks to the “Ticket to Rise” campaign, which benefits Oxfam, PETA and the Voice Project, that $10 donation could land you a spot on an XCOR flight, one of two new ventures that will launch commercial space flights beginning in 2015.

    “It’s one of the most exciting opportunities of our

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  • Joe Biden sends message to graduating students at site of UCSB shooting

    Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional message to the graduating students in this year’s class at UC Santa Barbara.

    Biden’s video message addressed the May 24 shooting which left seven individuals dead, including the lone gunman. But it also included a message of gratitude, saluting the students for rallying in the wake of tragedy and encouraging them to embrace their accomplishment on graduation day.

    “I know this has to be a pretty bittersweet moment for all of you,” Biden said in the opening remarks of the four-minute video. “But I know your thoughts are with the victims on that terrible day and the survivors who are still recovering.”

    Biden called upon his own experience of loss, when a 1972 car crash killed his wife and 13-month-old daughter.

    “I know from experience there’s nothing anyone can say or do to ease the overwhelming sense of loss that particularly the family members feel,” Biden said.

    Biden made the remarks after a personal request from UCSB student Kyley

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  • Bill Watterson quietly returns to comic strips as secret 'Pearls Before Swine' artistBill Watterson quietly returns to comic strips as secret 'Pearls Before Swine' artist

    Bill Watterson, the creator of the beloved “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip series, secretly returned to the pages of newspapers across the world this week.

    The reason no one noticed is that he wasn’t creating new stories for his signature characters but was instead making an unannounced guest appearance in Stephan Pastis’ “Pearls Before Swine” strip for three days (June 4th-6th).

    Watterson asked Pastis to keep their collaboration a secret until all three strips had run.

    In an interview with the Washington Post, Watterson explained why he was willing to work with Pastis:

    “Several years ago, when Stephan did one of his strips that mocked his own drawing ability and mentioned my strip in comparison, I thought it might be funny for me to ghost ‘Pearls’ sometime, just to flip it all on its head,” the goateed Watterson tells me, offering a clear indication that he still follows the funnies. “It was just a silly idea, and I didn’t know Stephan, so I never pursued it, and years went by.”

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  • Student who helped stop Seattle shooter is flooded with wedding gifts

    Student Jon Meis and his fiance in a photo from their wedding registry (Facebook)Student Jon Meis and his fiance in a photo from their wedding registry (Facebook)

    Jon Meis became an instant icon of courage on Thursday when he and fellow students helped subdue a gunman who was on a rampage inside Seattle Pacific University.

    It turns out that the 22-year-old is also planning to get married. His newfound fans discovered the student’s wedding registry and have been buying up presents for Meis and his future wife.

    "There are a number of heroes in this. The people around (the gunman) stepped up," Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said Thursday. "But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic."

    Meis, an electrical engineering student on the Dean’s list, was not physically harmed in the altercation with the gunman. Meis was carrying pepper spray at the time of the incident, which he used to help subdue suspected gunman Aaron R. Ybarra.

    Local affiliate KIRO 7 heard about the registry and posted about it on their Facebook page, which includes some great testimonials from individuals who

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  • CIA outwits impersonators by embracing Twitter, Facebook

    The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Larry DowningThe lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing

    Apparently the good folks at the Central Intelligence Agency have decided that YOLO. On Friday, the CIA announced it was launching Twitter and Facebook accounts.

    And the public seems eager to associate with the nation’s best-known intelligence-gathering entity — the CIA Twitter account had nearly 150,000 followers less than three hours after launching.

    The agency’s first tweet:

    So, why did the CIA decide it needed a presence on Twitter and Facebook? Well, apparently the impetus was an individual or organization that was attempting to impersonate the agency on social media.

    “Earlier this year we filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter,” Dean Boyd, of the agency’s office of public affairs, told Yahoo News. “Someone appeared to be using this handle to violate both CIA and Twitter rules by spreading false information.”

    And now that the CIA owns the @CIA handle, Boyd says the agency plans to be

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  • The fight for Henry Waxman’s seat and his legacy

    Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, a liberal force on health issues who helped write and enact the 2010 Affordable Care Act, defends President Obama’s health care law during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Adding fresh fuel to the political fight over "Obamacare,” Republican lawmakers have seized on a Congressional Budget Office report that predicts nationwide job losses because of the health care program. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, a liberal force on health issues who helped write and enact the 2010 Affordable Care Act, defends President Obama’s health care law during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Adding fresh fuel to the political fight over "Obamacare,” Republican lawmakers have seized on a Congressional Budget Office report that predicts nationwide job losses because of the health care program. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Rep. Henry Waxman has been a mainstay of Congress dating back to his first elected term in 1975. He has led Democrats on issues like health care and climate change, and during the George W. Bush administration he was his party’s leading voice on congressional oversight, challenging the White House on a number of fronts.

    But Waxman, 74, abruptly decided to retire at the end of this year, creating a leadership void for Democrats in Washington and his home district in Southern California. Seventeen candidates are on the ballot Tuesday in California’s 33rd district, and the top two finishers will square off in the general election this November.

    Leading the pack are two mainstream Democrats, Wendy Greuel and Ted Lieu. But trailing closely behind them are no less than 15 other candidates hoping to replace what many in the race call a living legend.

    Greuel told Yahoo News her top priority, if elected, would be to continue Waxman’s efforts to pass climate change legislation. “The person

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  • Chemist says creating the perfect cup of coffee is all about the water

    Coffee beans at a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi. (Noor Khamis/Reuters)Coffee beans at a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi. (Noor Khamis/Reuters)

    Chris Hendon has set out to help a British barista, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, win the title of world’s best barista, and he says the secret to success lies in using the perfect water.

    Writing for the Royal Society of Chemistry, the University of Bath computational chemist says the challenge was a natural one for him considering that “brewing coffee might be the most practiced chemical extraction in the world.”

    Now, there is no shortage of expert opinions on making the perfect cup of coffee, including a few that attempt to break down the process scientifically.

    And Hendon doesn’t discount the more obvious factors in making an outstanding cup of coffee: bean origin, roast, the size of grindings and so forth. But when it comes to the variable of water, he writes:

    “This variable is less obvious, but it is clear that the chemical composition of water plays a very important role.” Specifically, different types of water bring out different flavors from the coffee bean — sometimes good and

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  • Japan creates new national holiday for ‘overworked’ population

    Japan's Mount Fuji (AFP)

    Around this time each year, millions of Americans are enjoying a three-day weekend heading into Memorial Day.

    It’s one of just 10 national holidays for a country that prides itself on a world-renowned work ethic.

    But in Japan, the government just unveiled its 16th national holiday. Does that make Japan a holiday-happy nation compared with the U.S.? Not exactly.

    Officially beginning on Aug. 11, 2016, Mountain Day was ostensibly created to recognize Japan’s culturally significant mountainous regions. But The Diplomat reports that the holiday was actually most likely created to put a dent in Japan’s “overworked” population, which largely refuses to use its government protected vacation time. A recent Wall Street Journal article says the average Japanese worker only uses 8.6 of his or her paid vacation days each year.

    "In Japan, there is of course paid vacation, but people don't take it," Seishiro Eto, a member of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which led support for the new holiday,

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  • Red Cross: More than half of Americans can’t swim

    World Champion Christian Sprenger of Australia swims during a swimming clinic for children with special needs on the rooftop pool of the Marina Bay Sands resort hotel in Singapore (Roslan Rahman/AFP)

    Heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, millions of Americans will go for a swim in the nation’s oceans, lakes, rivers and, of course, swimming pools.

    But the Red Cross says that more than half of all Americans (54 percent), and two-thirds of African-Americans (67 percent), cannot meet a basic set of water safety standards.

    Simply put, most Americans can’t swim.

    “Our goal is to cut drowning rates by 50 percent over the next three to five years,” Connie Harvey, director of the Red Cross' Aquatics Centennial Initiatives, told Yahoo News during a phone interview.

    To achieve that goal, the Red Cross is launching training programs in 50 cities across 19 states, reaching an estimated 50,000 individuals. It has also launched a swim app for families that want to track their progress as they learn to swim.

    Today’s drowning statistics might not sound that alarming on the surface: just 1.3 deaths out of every 100,000 individuals. But that translates to around 3,600 drowning deaths each

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