Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Lawyer who defended California gay marriage ban says views evolving after daughter comes out

    In March 2013, conservative lawyer Charles J. Cooper stood before the Supreme Court defending Proposition 8, California’s then-ban on same-sex marriage. Now, just over a year later, Cooper is helping plan his daughter’s same-sex wedding and says his views on the issue are evolving.

    The surprise announcement comes in reporter Jo Becker’s upcoming book on the battle over marriage equality.

    “What I will say only is that my views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it 10 years ago,” Cooper told Becker in an excerpt obtained by the Washington Post .

    Describing one’s views on marriage law as “evolving” entered the popular lexicon in connection to how President Obama described his own views on the issue during the 2012 presidential election. Other political leaders including Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman have used similar language to describe their own policy changes

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  • How a NYC taxi driver allegedly dodged $28,000 in tolls

    A New York City taxi cab (New York Daily News)

    Rodolfo Sanchez, a 69-year-old cab driver, is facing multiple criminal charges after allegedly passing through New York City tollbooths more than 3,000 times without paying in a two-year period.

    NBC New York reports that if true, Sanchez may have skipped out on some $28,000 in toll penalties.

    "This type of behavior is egregiously unfair to the millions of honest motorists who pay tolls every day, and we will continue efforts to root out toll evaders and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," MTA Bridges and Tunnels Chief of Security Donald Look said in a statement.

    So, how did the taxi driver manage to get through the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge tollgate barricades so many times before the MTA caught on? Apparently, he did so by tailgating the cars in front of him.

    The New York Daily News says Sanchez told investigators he jumped the tollbooths because he needed money for his family. Nonetheless, prosecutors have charged him with third-degree larceny, fifth-degree

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  • Congressional candidate shoots down drone with hunting rifle in new ad

    Montana congressional candidate Matt Rosendale swears he doesn’t have a problem with drones.

    “I actually consider myself to be very supportive of technology,” Rosendale told Yahoo News in an interview on Tuesday.

    Still, the question had to be asked after Rosendale on Monday released a new campaign ad in which he used a hunting rifle to shoot down a drone.

    The ad opens with an overhead camera angle, with the drone menacingly hovering over the state senator.

    “I’m Matt Rosendale and this is how I'd look from a government drone,” the candidate says as he’s framed dead to rights in a digital set of crosshairs.

    “And this is what I think about it,” Rosendale says as the camera cuts to him cocking and firing a rifle. The camera switches back to the drone pilot’s point of view, with text reading “SIGNAL LOST,” after the simulated gunshot impact shatters the drone’s lens.

    Rosendale, a rancher by trade, is currently running against four other Republicans in a primary contest to replace outgoing

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  • Rupert Murdoch speaks: politics, divorce and how Fox News 'saved' the political debate

    Rupert Murdoch arrives at the 2014 Academy Awards in February (Reuters)

    Media mogul and News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch sat down for his first interview in nearly five years.

    The still very active and opinionated 83-year-old opened up to Fortune about a number of personal and political details during the interview, including his current favorite potential Republican candidates for 2016.

    Murdoch told Fortune the 2016 presidential election “is between four or five people," and he places Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan atop his personal rankings. He called Ryan “the straightest arrow I've ever met.”

    Some other highlights (Fortune subscribers can read the full Q&A):

    Fox News Channel's slant

    Murdoch was defiant when asked if the right-leaning Fox News Channel’s editorial content has hurt the political discussion or even the Republican Party itself. "It has absolutely saved it,” he said.

    On how he's aging

    He says, "My mother just died at 103, so that's a start. You should live 20 years longer than your parents. That may not be realistic, but I'm in good

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  • With a cancer diagnosis and a baby on the way, Oregon couple turn to crowd funding

    Vicki and Blake Britton (The Britton Project)

    Blake Britton has cancer. He and his wife, Vicki, are expecting their first child in May.

    Even with good health insurance, there’s no way they could afford the costs of cancer treatment and childbirth. Because of Blake’s illness and Vicki’s pregnancy, both had to stop working. Those are significant life challenges for any one person; for a young couple just starting out they could seem insurmountable.

    Yet Blake, 35, of Portland, Ore., told Yahoo News, “The whole thing has made us change our minds about how positive and loving people can be. ... We’re trying to treat this not as a tragedy but as an opportunity.”

    In February, family friends Ryan Warren Smith and Johanna Lovett decided they needed to take action to help Blake and Vicki. They had previously used sites such as Kickstarter to raise funds for work projects but didn’t know if the same approach would work for something like helping friends pay their medical bills. So they launched an online fundraiser to help.

    “Our bills are a

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  • Members of Congress debate budget with Big Macs

    Rep. Chris Van Hollen holding his Big Mac chart (C-SPAN)

    Congress loves to debate pork, even if it has to use pictures of hamburgers to make a point.

    On Tuesday, two members of Congress got into a detailed discussion over inflation, with Rep. Chris Van Hollen using pictures of hamburgers to argue that inflation estimates are necessary to undercut future budgets.

    Holding up a chart that showed the average cost of a McDonald’s Big Mac in 2004 ($2.71) compared with its cost today ($4.62), Maryland Democrat Van Hollen argued that not adjusting budget numbers for inflation equates to a net cut.

    "That's not Washington math, it's reality based math!” Van Hollen said in comments first picked up by the Washington Post after a reporter noticed the unusual visual tools on display during a House budget debate being aired on C-SPAN.

    Van Hollen and Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Woodall were debating the Baseline Reform Act of 2013, which would effectively stop Congress from automatically approving budget increases tied to inflation.

    So, why did Van Hollen

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  • It's all in the share, and the buzz

    How Oliver Luckett's company shapes online image of President Obama, Ford Motor Co., celebrities

    Oliver Luckett inside his offices at theAudience (Yahoo News)

    In an era when just about everyone has a Facebook page, why did President Barack Obama, the Ford Motor Co. and Ian Somerhalder turn to the same person to manage their online voices?

    Oliver Luckett and his company, theAudience, are virtual producers, creating thousands of pieces of content per month: Facebook pages, videos, Twitter messages — just about anything with the potential to go viral.

    Luckett says old models of communication have lost influence; building original, shareable content is now the most valuable way to connect with people. And he argues that the same principles apply whether you’re campaigning for leader of the free world or selling cars.

    “I’m shocked that so much money is still spent on television," Luckett told Yahoo News during an interview at his offices in Los Angeles. “The online audience is your distribution now.”

    In February, Cadillac received much attention, and some ridicule, for its TV commercial extolling the values of American consumer culture. Last

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  • Tennessee close to approving free community college for all high school grads

    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to fund community college tuition appears headed toward approval. (AP)

    Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed that his state use lottery funds to provide high school graduates with two free years of education at community or technical colleges.

    First announced in February, the proposal now appears to be on track for approval, having won support from several of Haslem’s Republican colleagues in the state's General Assembly.

    Called “Tennessee Promise,” Haslam’s plan would allow high school graduates to attend an in-state technical or community college without having to pay any tuition or associated fees. The funds would come from a newly created endowment using money from the lottery’s reserves.

    It’s estimated that the plan would cost about $34 million each year.

    The state currently has about 80,000 community college students, evenly divided between full-time and part-time students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

    “As we encourage more Tennesseans to continue their education, we know we have to remove as many barriers as

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  • You may soon be able to buy lottery tickets at California gas pumps

    This Los Angeles gas station could soon become a lottery station for gamblers (Reuters)

     

    Looking to fill that fill that precious time while putting gas into your car? A new proposal in California would allow customers to buy lottery tickets from the same machine that pumps their gas.

    "It takes like about 30 seconds to actually buy your lottery tickets," California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez said about the proposal. "So it's not going to hold up the line."

    Local affiliate ABC News 10 reports that customers could use their credit or debit cards to purchase the tickets. Customers would be limited to three games: Mega Millions, Powerball, and Super Lotto Plus.

    If approved, the ability to purchase lottery tickets directly from the gas pump would be added to between 100 and 150 stations in the state, mostly in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

    But perhaps most interestingly, any winnings of $600 or less would then be instantly credited to the debit or credit card used in the transaction.

    Lopez says the state lottery commission has gotten positive feedback from gas station owners,

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  • Nelson Dellis (R) trying to memorize a deck of cards during the 2013 U.S. Memory Championships (Yahoo News)

    UPDATE: Dellis won his third U.S. Memory Championship title on Saturday. Original story begins below.

    *****

    The 17th annual U.S. Memory Championship held in New York on Saturday is almost an anomaly in the age of disposable information and competitions built around who can eat the most hot dogs.

    But two-time champion Nelson Dellis tells Yahoo News that the same routines he’s developed to become a memory champion work for all who want to improve their mental health.

    “Over this past five years I’ve focused on four key areas: keeping my mind active, eating the right foods, being active in physical fitness and surrounding myself with a strong social circle of friends and family,” Dellis, 30, said.

    He says there’s nothing magical to explain how he went from a mostly average young man to someone who can memorize an entire deck of cards in five minutes.

    “It’s the same techniques but greater volume in terms of practice involved,” he said.

    Competitors in the U.S. Memory Championship square off

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