This one looks a little shaky.

A team of archeological researchers, led by Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University, has announced that they believe they have found tools used by human ancestors approximately 800,000 years before the current record holder. Harmand made the announcement at this year’s Paleoanthropology Society meeting held in San Francisco.

Not the last we will hear about home solar power.

Jeff Leeds says installing SolarCity’s panels on the roof of his home in the Northern California city of El Granada was the sorriest day of his life.

Agreeing to the company’s 20-year lease was like partnering with the devil, he claims. He says he has endured skyrocketing electric bills, installation of an inferior system and contract violations because SolarCity refuses to clean the panels or to provide a payment for his system’s poor performance.

The latest surprise: a notice from his bank telling him that SolarCity had placed a lien on his home, and that his equity line of credit application could not proceed until the lien was removed.

Not exactly comforting.

Until Tuesday, the state of Virginia was using what one expert dubbed the “worst voting machine in the US” – one with security so appalling that all it would take to compromise it would be a laptop with a wireless card and some free software.

Immediately following the publishing of a scathing report on Tuesday by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), the Virginia State Board of Elections decertified use of the machines.

The audit was triggered by the voting machines having repeatedly crashed in the November 2014 election.

As North Carolina Public Radio reports, interference from a mobile phone (an election official was streaming music) was suspected of causing the crashes.

But when state auditors investigated, they didn’t find that particular problem.

They found a far more serious problem, discovering that mobile phones were able to connect to the machines’ wireless network, used to tally votes, and that the passwords were as easy to guess as “abcde”.

The auditors were able to easily change the vote counts remotely, without detection.

Sounds like and even better gig.

China’s ‘internet hostesses’ make up to $160,000 a year by flirting in online chatrooms

Sounds like a pretty good gig.

An 8-year-old girl makes $127,000 a month making baking videos for YouTube

Makes it look like threats from the ‘Dark Side’.

BP has been accused of hiring internet “trolls” to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil firm hired the international PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run the BP America Facebook page during the oil disaster, which released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf in what is to date the single largest environmental disaster in US history.

The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened.

Hmmm … Thinking of moving.

Not Galt’s Gulch but it sounds like a beautiful spot.

A Czech national has proclaimed the establishment of a new country of seven square kilometers on ‘no man’s land’ located at the border of Serbia and Croatia.

A Czech named Vít Jedlicka has declared himself the president of Europe’s youngest country, which he formed on April 13 with the name ‘Liberland,’ and the motto “to live and let live.”

The country is located on the west bank of the Danube river between Croatia and Serbia, on land which has been subject to a decades-long border dispute and therefore, according to Jedlicka, a ‘terra nuillius’ or no man’s land, before the institution of his state on Monday.

The danger of escaping for Christians.

Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim refugees after they murdered 12 Christians in their boat as they all fled Libya. The story of the murders broke yesterday afternoon, and CNN’s Ben Wederman provides the follow-up. Ten others rescued in another set of boats were also arrested for human trafficking:

… but less honest if history is any indicator …

“It’s the snuffing out of young talent by the strength and size and sheer velocity of the inevitable nominee,” says a well-connected Democratic strategist. “The Clintons took all the air out of the collective Democratic room. There are a lot of people who would be running who are much younger, but they’ve got their future in front of them, and they don’t want the Clintons to ruin it, in this campaign or after this campaign. So they’re waiting for a moment when there is enough oxygen to run.”

“If Hillary Clinton weren’t running, we’d have a field that looks like the Republican field — young and vibrant and diverse.”

Maybe she’s been around too long.

So far, of the declared candidates for president, the only one who voted for the Iraq War is the Democrat.

I recently made that observation on Twitter and the response was instructive. I will refrain from reprinting the more piquant language from Hillary Clinton’s supporters, but one common theme was that I am a fool. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio weren’t in the Senate for the Iraq war vote, many shrieked.

Well, exactly.

The revenge of the Nerds.

For more than 50 years, the Hugo Awards have been handed out at the annual World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) to honor the best science fiction and fantasy writing of the previous year. But when the nominees for this year’s Hugos were announced, it touched off a firestorm unlike any in the awards’ history.

That’s because so many of this year’s nominees are perceived (not always correctly) to be conservative or libertarian. A group of right-leaning science fiction authors organized a campaign to stuff this year’s Hugo Awards ballot with writers they felt had been overlooked.

There are other science fiction awards, but the Hugos hold a special place among fans. Anyone who pays the $40 to attend Worldcon can nominate an author. The awards thus have a special legitimacy because they are seen as being selected by the most dedicated readers.

I’m not buying it … although it isn’t a whole lot crazier than some other things.

A recent rally took place in Washington D.C. with dozens of deaf activists. The activists at the rally opposed “audism” – that is, the ability for the deaf to hear.

The activists have a website opposed to the deaf hearing: audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com.

The deaf activists marched the Lincoln Memorial calling “for the end of the social disease of audism.”

Arrests in the UK

British police have arrested six people on suspicion of terrorism after Turkish authorities stopped a group crossing the Syrian border, police said.

Four people aged between 22 and 47 were arrested at Manchester airport in north west England early Wednesday, following on from the arrest on Tuesday of a 21-year-old man at Birmingham airport in central England and a 31-year-old man in Rochdale, near Manchester.

All six remain in police custody for questioning, according to a statement from Greater Manchester Police.

The investigation was launched after nine people — five adults and four children — were stopped by Turkish authorities trying to cross into Syria last month.

And this isn’t even a part of the real problem.

Future Indictments Related to Export-Import Bank Likely, Agency Watchdog Says

Arrests in the killing of an Imam.

The investigation into the killing of a Syrian-born preacher in London has escalated after two people were arrested on suspicion of terror offences.

Scotland Yard announced on Thursday that a 53-year-old woman had been arrested in Brent, north-west London, on Wednesday evening on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism in relation to Abdul Hadi Arwani’s murder. She remains in custody at a south London police station.

Separately on Thursday, a Jamaican businessman appeared in court charged with murdering the Syrian-born imam in a shooting in north-west London.

Leslie Cooper, 36, is accused of killing Arwani, who was found slumped behind the wheel of his car in the Greenhill area of Wembley last week.

I really don’t think that the Fed’s should monitor every dollar that welfare recipients spend …

but even welfare recipients should take some responsibility for their lives. This means school, training, jobs and family. These are the things that should be encouraged and rewarded.

Booze, babes, and EBT: Watchdog.org covers welfare abuse

The Washington Post recently ran a series of articles purporting to explain how welfare benefits are spent in America. They open with ledes like “Poverty looks pretty great if you’re not living in it,” and “There’s nothing fun about being on welfare, and a new Kansas bill aims to keep it that way.” The idea behind such pieces is to provide a counter-narrative to the “suspicion” that the poor use food stamps and other government benefits to buy luxury goods like lobster and filet mignon.

Absent from the Post’s coverage is clear, convincing data about how much abuse takes place when it comes to welfare spending. They skirt the obvious question: Can anything be done to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent more responsibly?

For Watchdog.org, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

The Post’s stories were prompted by welfare reform bills in statehouses, such as House Bill 2258 in Kansas, which tightened restrictions on government assistance. In short, it means no more spending welfare funds on movies, gambling, or tattoos.

What drew lawmakers’ attention to welfare abuse in the first place? The story was nowhere until Kansas Watchdog began reporting on the issue in 2013. When reporter Travis Perry first investigated trends in the state’s distribution of funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, he was stonewalled and told that his request for records posed “an unreasonable burden on agency resources.”

Asking for such information was well within reason, especially since rumors of welfare fraud at the time had already prompted investigations in New York and Tennessee. Perry kept digging into the story, and eventually was able to expose thousands of abusive transactions where welfare cash had been withdrawn at liquor stores, smoke shops, casinos and strip clubs. In all, he calculated that Kansas residents receiving assistance through TANF spent about $43,000 on potentially-illicit goods and services from August to October of 2012.

Haven’t we done this dance before?

We’re paving the way to a big problem in housing. ….

… OK, so everyone is aware that first-time buyers are holding on the sidelines. Some say it’s tight lending standards, but that doesn’t really hold water.

Mortgage applications have been largely flat this year so far.

For one, as Logan Mohtashami, senior loan officer at AMC Lending Group noted earlier this week on Lykken on Lending, lending isn’t tight. (Start around the 40 minute mark.)

Or, with a hat tip to Anthony Sanders, distinguished professor of finance at George Mason University and a member of the Fannie Mae affordable housing council, if you look at the lending standards now and in 2001, you don’t see a big difference.

You have to ask ‘Why’.

Black Teen Hangs, Cops Shrug: No Evidence Collected on Lennon Lacy

Police turned away the coroner, ordered no autopsy, and took no photos or measurements. No wonder the family doesn’t believe it was suicide.

Does this come under the category of ‘white lie’?

This additional context shows that rather than revealing a case of wrongdoing by Clinton, the Times has discovered that Cabinet agencies don’t always respond to congressional inquiries quickly and in full.

The Times reported in an April 14 article that Clinton “was directly asked” in a December 13, 2012, letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa “whether she had used a private email account while serving as secretary of state” but that “Mrs. Clinton did not reply to the letter. And when the State Department answered in March 2013, nearly two months after she left office, it ignored the question and provided no response.” According to the Times, State provided only a “description of the department’s email policies” rather than a direct response to Issa’s question.

The article has triggered a firestorm of news coverage, with several outlets reporting that Clinton “ignored” the congressional request.

Clinton was not the only one to receive such a letter. As the Times article notes, similar letters were sent to “other executive agencies” as part of a broad Oversight inquiry into the use of private email by government employees. The Hill embedded the letter, which includes a note indicating that it was sent out to 18 Cabinet secretaries on the same date.

The letter requested answers to eight specific questions, including “Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal e-mail account to conduct official business?”

The reason Hillary doesn’t tip.

Hmmm.

Although with minimum wage going to $15 in many places, tips may be unnecessary.

Holocaust and Heroism

Today Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day officially begins, with various ceremonies and events held across the Israel, starting with the opening ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem this evening.

An empty cornfield for an empty suit.

No wonder I’ve always liked this guy.

A certain Florida Republican has drawn negative press for years. Indeed, Sen. Marco Rubio has been a target since he was elected in 2010, so much so that Geoffrey Dickens, an analyst for the Media Research Center, was inspired to track the historic “ripping Rubio” coverage. Among other things, he found that MSNBC once aired two segments in which contributors called the lawmaker “a coconut,” and “pretty boy.” This week, the network featured Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling Mr. Rubio “a flat-Earth society worshipper” and a “prune” adorned with tinsel.

This only sells in the circles where she exists.

Gwynnie P is down with the struggle, comrades. She may make $19 million a year, own mansions in London, New York, Brentwood, Malibu, and the Hamptons, charge $550 for her Goop.com “travel backgammon set,” and fly by private jet, but she feels your pain.

OK, it’s not as painful as her last $5,200 Thermage session in Santa Monica, but still, she really, really does feel the agony of the ordinary.

Last week, the progressive princess celebrity joined the “SNAP challenge.” It’s basically the ice-bucket challenge for bored Hollywood liberals and media-hungry Democratic politicians. For seven days (or at least for an hour or two after they publish their announcements to Twitter and Facebook), the bleeding hearts play “poor” by subsisting on a faux welfare budget.

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