Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Instagram moves to stop illegal drug sales on its site

    Drug dealers are turning to social media sites like Instagram looking for customers (AFP)

    It turns out the onslaught of selfies aren’t the biggest crime on the hugely popular photo-sharing site Instagram. The site has also recently unwittingly become host to a black market for drug trade.

    A number of individuals have been using Instagram to sell illegal drugs, posting pictures of their product and allowing prospective buyers to contact them through the site. And with reports of the drug sales now making the rounds, Instagram says it has implemented a set of filters to block the illegal activity.

    The Instagram activity may at least partially be in response to the shutdown of the Silk Road site. In October, the FBI shut down Silk Road, a site that had become a hub of illegal sales. Silk Road was primarily used to distribute narcotics but also was a hot bed of illegal sales for weapons and virtually any item someone in the world was willing to pay money for. Earlier this week, a mirror site recently went online attempting to resurrect the Silk Road model.

    An investigation into

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  • Is ‘Obama apologizes’ a big story? Depends on where you look

    When the President of the United States apologizes to the American public, that’s a pretty big story, right? Well, it all depends on where you get your news.

    On Thursday, President Obama told NBC News that he is sorry millions of Americans are losing their current health care plans.

    As the news broke, it quickly became the lead story on NBC and across the three major cable news networks: The Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC. Yahoo treated it as a major news story, promoting it prominently on our front page. Within an hour, the story had generated more than 5,000 comments. By Friday morning, more than 30,000 comments were posted.

    It was clearly an important story of the day. So why, then, did most of the country's major newspapers give Obama's apology very little, if any, promotion on their front pages?

    (Click here for a slideshow of how the major metropolitan newspapers treated the Obama apology.)

    It was the most-read story online for the Wall Street Journal, according to the paper’s own

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  • Stars, stripes and cats: Yahoo reader discovers the purrfect car decal

    You wish your car was this cool (Mark Winans)

    We’re looking for answers after a Yahoo reader spotted this incredible rear window graphic decal in the San Diego suburbs on Wednesday.

    Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the CarMeowNist Party? One thing's for sure -- whoever was driving this Hyundai through Southern California on Wednesday is a true patriot.

    The image shows an American flag spread over the vehicle’s rear window, with five cats superimposed over the flag.

    “My first thought when seeing the car was that it must be for some sort of pet service business,” Mark Winans told Yahoo News during a hard-hitting interview on Thursday. “But there appeared to be no company logos anywhere on the vehicle. My initial thought, which was purely tongue in cheek, is that whoever drives that car must have had one too many failed relationships."

    Winans says he was driving through the Santee, Calif., when he pulled up behind the vehicle in question.

    “The driver appeared to be a female, maybe in her 50s with grayish hair. It was quick

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  • President Obama says he’s sorry for Americans losing insurance plans

    President Obama said in an interview on Thursday that he’s sorry a number of Americans are being forced to change their health care plans despite previous assurances the Affordable Care Act would allow them to keep their existing plans.

    "I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," Obama told Chuck Todd during an interview with NBC News at the White House.

    "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."

    Obama’s admission represents the latest evolution on the issue dating back to before the Affordable Care Act was even signed into law in 2010. Up through September of this year, Obama was adamant that the Affordable Care Act would not impact Americans who already had their own health insurance.

    "If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything,” Obama said in a speech on September

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  • The GOCE satellite is set to impact Earth in the coming days (European Space Agency)

    A European space satellite that has been mapping the Earth’s gravitational field is set to crash down to Earth in the coming days, and it could provide a “real treat” for space watchers.

    But could GOCE (pronounced “GO-chay”), which is set to make an “uncontrolled entry” into the atmosphere, present a risk to anyone on the ground?

    “For the most part, these uncontrolled re-entries are the norm,” Space.com’s Tariq Malik told Yahoo News in a phone interview. “It’s not so much that we’ve been lucky to not get hit by one as it is the planet is so big.”

    The European Space Agency does not know exactly when GOCE, short for Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, will crash to Earth, and experts there don't know exactly where it will land. But the general consensus is that it will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere sometime between Friday and Monday.

    “It’s rather hard to predict where the spacecraft will re-enter and impact,” the ESA’s Rune Floberghagen told the New York Times.

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  • Joe Biden calls to congratulate wrong man in Boston mayoral race

    Joe Biden accidentally reached the wrong Marty Walsh by phone Tuesday night. (Biden/Twitter)

    To paraphrase the vice president, getting a call from Joe Biden is a pretty big deal. So, you can understand Marty Walsh’s excitement and surprise when he received a call from Biden, congratulating him on winning Tuesday night’s mayoral race in Boston.

    There’s just one problem: Biden called the wrong Marty Walsh.

    As the Cape Cod Times explains, Biden, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak all placed calls to Walsh, while intending to reach the other Marty Walsh, a state representative who won Boston’s first open mayoral race in 20 years.

    It turns out the mistake, while hilarious, is somewhat understandable. After all, non-mayor Marty has been involved in Democratic politics as well, formerly serving as a staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

    “We've had this for the past 20 years happening back and forth,” Walsh told the paper. “Marty tells a funny story from 2006 when Kennedy thanked me from the stage and his mother thought

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  • These 10 U.S. cities add billions to the nation's health care costs

    The top 10 cities guilty of prescription medication noncompliance (Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)


    In the midst of the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act, one small fact is often overlooked that continues to cause a spike in the nation’s health care bill: Americans who don't follow their doctor's prescription guidelines cost the health care system billions in unnecessary costs.

    Specifically,states that don’t follow prescription guidelines run up our national health care costs by $290 billion each year, according to a study conducted by the CVS Caremark pharmacy.

    And beyond the price tag itself, misusing prescription guidelines has deadly human consequences, resulting in approximately 125,000 deaths to people with otherwise treatable ailments, according to the Journal of Applied Research.

    According to a study conducted by the company MediSafe, these 10 U.S. cities lead the way in driving up health care costs each year, because so many people living their fail to follow the often simple dosage guidelines that come with any prescription medication:

    1. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    2.

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  • What the world would look like if all ice melted

    (COPYRIGHT © SEPTEMBER 2013 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY)

    If all of the ice in the world melted, sea levels would raise some 216 feet. But what exactly would that look like? And more specifically, what would such a worse-case scenario mean for the Earth’s population?

    National Geographic has created a fascinating visual representation of this thought experiment and provided an analysis of how each continent would be affected by such a catastrophic change.

    First off, this is not a blanket statement about climate change. As National Geographic notes, even scientists tracking the melting of ice around the world say it would take some 5,000 years for all the world’s ice to melt.

    Still, it’s interesting to look at exactly what would happen if this scenario was taken to its most extreme conclusion.

    As a result of the drastic rise in sea levels, the average temperature around the Earth would rise from 58 degrees to 80 degrees.

    In North America, the entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish beneath the waves, including Florida and the Gulf Coast. Much of

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  • Five years in, Obama and Bush poll numbers nearly identical

    For all their differences, Bush and Obama have nearly identical poll numbers at this point in their second terms (AFP)

    When President Obama first ran for the White House in 2008, it was with the promise to turn the page on the presidency of George W. Bush. But for all their political differences, it turns out the American public pretty much view the two men in the same light, according to new polling data.

    In the first week of November in the fifth year of their presidencies, Obama and Bush have nearly identical approval numbers, according to the latest Gallup polling.

    In fact, Bush comes out one point ahead, 40 percent to 39 percent, respectively.

    The Gallup daily tracking poll for November 5th 2013 puts Obama’s approval at 39 percent, with 53 percent disapproving of his job performance.

    By comparison, polling for the first week of November in 2005 had Bush’s approval at 40 percent, with 55 percent disapproving of his job performance.

    And the negative comparison to Bush’s numbers is potentially worse for Obama than just a tough headline.

    As former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd said on ABC’s “This Week,”

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  • The dream app: Site says it wants to change the way we think about sleep

    The curators of DreamsCloud say analyzing your dreams is like training a muscle (DreamsCloud)

    The average person will spend five years of life dreaming — that’s more than 100,000 dreams over a 70-year lifetime. Still, not many of us spend more than a few passing moments reflecting on what those nightly dreams say about our waking life.

    But would you give them more credence if you could get free feedback from licensed psychologists and other dream experts?

    The curators behind DreamsCloud says dreams are the world’s common language, and they’ve got some evidence to support it: Hundreds of thousands of users already have shared their personal dreams across the site and its mobile app.

    Here’s how the site works: You upload a description of your dream to the site or mobile app and within 24 hours you receive a “reflection,” i.e. analysis, of your dream from the DreamsCloud team of experts.

    “We believe that the social media platform can be used to communicate, interact and help society better understand their dreams,” DreamsCloud Chairman and co-founder Jean-Marc Emden told Yahoo

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