Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • 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,”’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.


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  • What the world would look like if all ice melted


    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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  • Details surrounding LAX shooter beginning to emerge; charged with murdering a federal officer

    Paul Anthony Ciancia in an undate photo provided by the FBI (Yahoo News)

    Paul Anthony Ciancia, the 23-year-old man accused of opening fire inside one of the nation’s largest airports on Friday, was reportedly angry at the government and told his family he was prepared to die.

    U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said that Ciancia entered Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning carrying a .223-caliber M&P-15 assault rifle and an estimated 150 rounds of ammunition.

    His shooting spree resulted in the first-ever death of a Transportation Security Administration officer, 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez. Five others were wounded in the incident before Ciancia himself was repeatedly shot and then apprehended by law enforcement.

    Birotte said that Ciancia has been charged with murdering a federal officer and commission of violence in an international airport, both felonies.

    "He looked at me and asked, 'TSA?' I shook my head no, and he continued on down toward the gate, eye witness Leon Saryan, 65, said of his encounter with Ciancia. “He had his gun at the

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  • New book details how Obama questioned his own ability to win re-election

    President Obama reportedly struggled after a subpar debate against Mitt Romney. (AP)

    After President Barack Obama’s mediocre first debate performance against Mitt Romney in 2012, he reportedly told advisers, “I just don’t know if I can do this,” when they urged him to turn around his re-election campaign.

    In “Double Down,” journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say that Obama followed up his presidential debate by conducting a “dismal” mock debate with then-Sen. John Kerry.

    “If we don’t fix this, we could lose the whole f------ election,” Obama adviser David Plouffe reportedly said following the mock debate.

    Obama’s advisers attempted to shift his tone and approach in advance of the second presidential debate, leading Obama to respond, “I can’t tell you that ‘Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better.’ I am wired in a different way than this event requires. … I just don’t know if I can do this.”

    For her part, Michelle Obama reportedly did not suffer from the same reservations as her husband, telling a group of female Obama campaign

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  • TSA agent killed in LAX shooting, suspect ID'd

    A Transportation Security Administration agent was killed and several more people wounded when a gunman opened fire on Friday morning at Los Angeles International Airport.

    The FBI has identified the shooting suspect as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia. According to law enforcement officials, Ciancia was apprehended on the scene after opening fire at an airport security checkpoint. The TSA officer killed in the attack has been identified as 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez.

    Ciancia reportedly suffered a non-lethal gunshot wound and is being treated in a local hospital.

    Personal details about Ciancia are still emerging. According to public records obtained by Yahoo News, Ciancia has a known address in Pennsville, N.J., about 15 miles from Wilmington, Del. The AP said Ciancia had contacted his brother by text message on Friday saying he was considering suicide. Additional reports indicate when Ciancia was detained by law enforcement he was carrying literature critical of the federal government and

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