Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • NSA spied on 124.8 billion phone calls in just one month: watchdog

    The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (Reuters)

    The National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls in just one month, according to a number of new reports.

    And while the majority of calls reportedly originated in the Middle East, an estimated 3 billion of the calls originated in the U.S.

    According to a collection of the reports and leaked classified government files, the monitored calls took place throughout the month of January 2013 and tallied to 124.8 billion.

    Cryptome, a site that posts government and corporate documents, combined the various documents and says the largest share of calls originated in Afghanistan (21.98 billion) and Pakistan (12.76 billion). Elsewhere in the Middle East, billions of calls were monitored in Iraq (7.8 billion), Saudi Arabia (7.8 billion), Egypt (1.9 billion), Iran (1.73 billion) and Jordan (1.6 billion).

    So, if true, how did the U.S. successfully intercept so many phone calls from around the world? Another document posted by Cryptome on Wednesday purports to show a graph released

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  • Nevada firefighters revive two puppies trapped in burning building

    Two recently revived puppies get back to work (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

    Firefighters in North Las Vegas responding on Tuesday to a large house fire also ended up breathing life back into two puppies.

    The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that after putting out the blaze, firefighters searched the single-family home and found two unresponsive young canines.

    Crews on the scene successfully performed CPR on the puppies as a crowd of onlookers reportedly cheered them on. Amazingly, the dogs were then seen running around the scene while the firefighters finished their duties.

    Unfortunately the six adults and six children who lived in the home have been temporarily displaced, as the house was classified as a “complete loss” that was started by an accidental kitchen fire.

    A firefighter works to revive a puppy rescued from a house fire (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

    Firefighters provide oxygen to two puppies rescued from a house fire (North Las Vegas Fire Department)

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  • High times as majority in U.S. now want pot legalized

    Support for marijuana legalization has surged since 2000 (AP)

    According to the latest Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

    Gallup says the poll culminates a year of “unprecedented success” for marijuana advocates and is almost certainly the harbinger of future legalization efforts. Support for legalization has climbed more than 10 percent in the past year alone.

    “Whatever the reasons for Americans' greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States,” Gallup says in its analysis of the poll.

    And as Gallup points out, the 58 percent support for legalization is a stark contrast to the group's first legalization poll in 1969, in which only 12 percent of respondents said they favored making marijuana legal.

    Gallup also found that 38 percent of respondents said they had personally tried marijuana at some point.

    The largest area of growth has been among independent voters, 62 percent of whom now say they support legalization.

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  • Dem congressman compares tea party to Ku Klux Klan

    Florida Rep. Alan Grayson (wikicommons)

    Controversial Democrat Alan Grayson has set off a flurry of criticism from conservatives after the Florida congressman sent out a fundraising email to supporters in which he compared the tea party to the Ku Klux Klan.

    Grayson’s original comments came during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.” Grayson was discussing the tea party’s influence on the Republican Party when he said, “At this point, the tea party is no more popular than the Klan.”

    And rather than shy away from that comment, Grayson included them in bold letters on his website with the quote taking readers directly to a fundraising page for Grayson’s re-election campaign.

    Grayson’s fundraising page includes the image of a burning cross; it uses the cross as the letter “T” and spells out “tea party” in flaming letters:

    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) posted this image to his fundraising website, featuring a burnign cross

    "As a black Tea Party activist, I could say that there's nothing more offensive than equating the Tea Party with the Ku Klux Klan,” Jennifer Burke, National Outreach

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  • Halsey Parkerson stands in front of some of the 50 cars that showed up to his anti-bullying rally (KATU)

    A high-school bully decided to apologize after 100 Facebook users showed up to rally behind a boy he had accused of having no friends.

    South Salem High School Junior Halsey Parkerson got a huge surprise on Friday, when more than 50 cars showed up at his school to help him stand up to a local bully.

    KATU reports that on Thursday, Parkerson’s aunt had stopped by his school to have lunch with him. That’s when a bully began taunting Parkerson and saying it didn’t matter because he “didn’t have any friends.”

    Parkerson told his aunt that it happened “all the time.” In response, she reached out to an online car club she belongs to on Facebook and asked people to show up to the school for lunch on Friday.

    In response, more than 50 cars showed up, carrying at least 100 people. And KATU's

    "It's just unbelievable," Parkerson told KATU. "I now know whenever I get bullied I'll raise my head up and say, 'Sorry, I have too many friends to

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  • Australia is currently experiencing some of its worst fires in a decade in the New South Wales area. An estimated 80 fires are currently burning across the region, with at least 20 of them uncontained. The first have already destroyed 300 homes and claimed their first victim on Friday.

    Firefighter Jonathan Mallin was recently taking part in a dramatic bushfire rescue just outside of Sydney in Mt. Victoria, when he strapped a GoPro camera on to the top of his helmet.

    The result is a stunning first person view as Mallin charges through the smoke-filled scene, helping to pull civilians to safety and coordinating with his fellow firefighters.

    At times, it's hard to imagine how Mallin gets from point-to-point, navigating through the smoke as the sun itself barely seems to break through the thick camouflage. By the end of the video, his camera has become slightly obstructed from the falling debris raining down on the scene.

    But at the end of the video, we see Mallin get into a firetruck with

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  • Two New Hampshire men rescued after clinging to boat for 14 hours

    After more than 14 hours of desperately clinging to the side of their capsized boat, two men were rescued by a local fishing boat off the coast of Salem Sound, Massachusetts on Saturday morning.

    "My best friend was with me and we kind of dealt with it the best way we could," George Reynolds told WCVB-TV. "We knew it would be a long night and we knew our best chance was to stay with the boat and to not panic."

    Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh said that Reynolds and Fred Schaeffer did not appear to have a waterproof communications device that would have allowed them to call for help after their boat capsized. They also were forced to survive in the icy waters without a life jacket, which they was lost as they tried to signal a boat earlier in their ordeal.

    Photographer Stanley Forman captured an image of the two men leaving the scene afterward, amazingly both appearing to be in good health.

    "Life jackets should be worn, especially this time of year. Temperatures are only 58 degrees. The

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  • Imagine: no extreme poverty. It's possible by 2030, says report.

    Two recent reports say that extreme poverty could be effectively eliminated by 2030 (AP)

    More than a billion people around the world still exist in extreme poverty, which is defined by living on less than $1.25 a day. The good news is that number dropped by half from 1990 through 2010. And a new report says eliminating extreme poverty altogether is “within reach” by 2030.

    The report was produced by the Brookings Institution, which says that a combination of increased shared consumption and improved global distribution of resources have dramatically reduced the poverty rate over the past 23 years, but that “both factors are needed simultaneously” to bring the total percentage of those living below the $1.25 rate to 3 percent or less.

    The report gained prominence on Friday when Bill Gates tweeted about it in a message to his 13-million-plus followers:

    “Over the past twenty years global poverty

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  • No, a giant asteroid is not about to hit the Earth

    This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2013 TV135 (in blue), which has just a 1-in-63,000 chance of impacting Earth (Space.com)

    NASA has gone out of its way to reassure the public that reports of a massive asteroid headed toward Earth are greatly exaggerated.

    In a post entitled “Reality Check,” NASA says that the giant asteroid, first spotted by Ukranian scientists, poses almost zero risk of impacting the Earth.

    Specifically, NASA says the odds are about 1 in 63,000 that the asteroid, named TV135, will impact the Earth. On the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, it’s listed as a 1 out of possible 10, or “no unusual level of danger."

    "To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent," Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. "This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."

    Yeomans is the world’s preeminent “asteroid hunter,” and one of his regular

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  • Underwater Wi-Fi, coming soon to an ocean near you

    Student researchers Zahed Hossain and Hovannes Kulhandjian test out the underwater Wi-Fi transmitter (University of Buffalo)

    You’re underwater in the middle of the ocean taking in the breathtaking views. Naturally, you’re going to want to check in on Facebook.

    OK, that’s not technically in the works, but a team of researchers have successfully tested an underwater wireless Internet network.


    And as futuristic as that may sound, it actually would happen years after NASA successfully launched Internet access in space.

    News.com.au reports that University of Buffalo researchers say any underwater Wi-Fi network would be used for practical purposes, such as monitoring ocean life and giving advance warning of tsunamis.

    “A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," Tommaso Melodia, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Buffalo, and the project’s lead researcher, said in a statement. “Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of

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