Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Italy awards world’s best pizza maker title to Australian chef

    Pizza may have been invented in Italy but the country’s annual competition for the world’s best slice went to an Australian chef.

    The Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza, aka Pizza World Championship, singled out chef Johnny Di Francesco for his margherita pizza. Di Francesco, owner of the 400 Gradi restaurant in Melbourne said he now plans to open a second restaurant location after his victory.

    Johnny Di Francesco's award-winning margherita pizza (ABC News)

    And while his restaurant has seen a spike in business in the days following his victory, Di Francesco says he won’t raise the current prices on his signature pizza ($19.30).

    However, he also won’t be heading back to Italy next year to defend his title.

    “I’m not allowed to compete in Australia anymore, and once you win at Parma it’s not encouraged to compete again,” Di Francesco, 36, told Hospitality Magazine after his win. “They like to have winners on the panel so I think I might pursue that.”

    His victory wasn’t just over Italians. CNN reported that Di Francesco topped more than 600 chefs

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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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  • 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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  • NASA says it may have new evidence of the seeds of black holes

    The red dot in the center of this image taken from the NGC 4395 galaxy may be a supermassive black hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    NASA says it may have found evidence of the seeds of black holes, pointing to the origins of the universe itself.

    New information from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has revealed that supermassive black holes are located even in so-called dwarf galaxies. The finding is significant, because the standard belief is that black holes were formed when galaxies collided, forming larger celestial bodies.

    "Our findings suggest the original seeds of supermassive black holes are quite massive themselves," said George Mason University’s Shobita Satyapal, lead author of the new study. The paper was published in the latest issue of Astrophysical Journal.

    The use of infrared technology allows WISE to pick up details that other telescopes couldn’t otherwise detect through traditional visible light sources that are unable to penetrate through the thick layers of dust that occupy parts of deep space.

    "Though it will take more research to confirm whether the dwarf galaxies are indeed

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  • Police detained two CNN employees after they allegedly attempted to slip past security into the One World Trade Center site.

    The New York Post reports that the two employees, Connor Boals, 26, and Yon Pomrenze, 35, were stopped at a security gate and later charged with trespassing, obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct.

    A CNN spokesperson told the Post that the pair, identified by the newspaper as producers, were not on an official assignment from the network.

    “We were just made aware of this and are actively looking into it,” the spokesperson told the paper.

    The two men were taken into custody by the Port Authority Police Department shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to CBS News. The PAPD later released mug shots of them.

    The two reportedly told police that they were attempting to make a point about lax security at the site. In recent months, there have been two high-profile incidents at the World Trade Center site. On Monday, four men surrendered to

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