Author Archives: Kestrel

Living at altitude earlier than expected.

In the southern Peruvian Andes, an archaeological team led by researchers at the University of Maine has documented the highest altitude ice age human occupation anywhere in the world—nearly 4,500 meters above sea level (masl).

Their discoveries date high-altitude human habitation nearly a millennium earlier than previously documented.

Despite cold temperatures, high solar radiation and low oxygen conditions at that altitude, hunter-gatherers colonized the remote, treeless landscapes about 12,000 years ago during the terminal Pleistocene—within 2,000 years after humans arrived in South America.

“Study of human adaptation to extreme environments is important in understanding our cultural and genetic capacity for survival,” according to the research team, led by Kurt Rademaker, a University of Maine visiting assistant professor in anthropology, writing in the journal Science.

Welcoming new voters …

Angst over President Obama’s post-election plans on immigration is growing amid revelations that the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a procurement request for as many as 34 million work permits and green cards.

The solicitation, discovered by Breitbart News, says bidders must be able to produce at least 4 million cards annually over a five year contract and “surge” to provide as many as 9 million documents in the early years of the contract.

That would far exceed current levels at which both documents are issued by the federal government, prompting Republicans to speculate the Obama administration is readying a sprawling executive order that could offer legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

“This revelation provides startling confirmation of the crisis facing our Republic,” said Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) “The president is preparing to issue work authorization and ‘legal’ status to millions of individuals illegally present in the country, in violation of plain statute.”

The Alabama lawmaker added that the executive action looked poised to “nullify the immigration laws of the United States and its sovereign people.”

Similar speculation has lit up the conservative blogosphere, with many seeing it as an early sign of the administration’s plans after the midterm elections.

Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the president appears “to be getting his ducks in a row” before offering amnesty to illegal immigrants.

“It’s another petulant display of contempt of Congress,” he said.

President Obama postponed action on immigration until after the election, saying he was worried that acting in the summer could politicize the issue. The move was also seen as a gift to vulnerable Senate Democrats who were worried executive action could motivate Republican voters to turn out at the polls.

Since it’s election season, let’s look back at interesting victories.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: 100,000 Stolen Votes in Chicago

It appears that Mexico is headed back into the darkness.

Mexico on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging they masterminded last month’s attack that left six students dead and 43 missing.

Officials said that a drug gang implicated in the attack essentially ran the town, paying the mayor hundreds of thousands of dollars a month out of its profits from making opium paste to fuel the US heroin market.

The statements painted the fullest picture yet of the control that is exercised by gangs over a broad swath of Mexico’s hot lands in Guerrero state. …

… On Wednesday, some 45,000 protesters marched through Mexico City to protest the disappearance of the students.

Voting requires leaving your parents basement.

Disenchantment among millennial voters is the latest worry for Democrats fighting to hold their Senate majority.

Young voters rallied to President Obama’s side when he first ran for the White House in 2008, and then defied predictions that their enthusiasm would drop off in 2012.

But there is no guarantee they will back Democrats at the polls next month.
Plagued by unemployment and an overall economy anxiety that has seen many take jobs beneath their qualifications, the generation of 18- to 34-year-olds feels a sense of disappointment in the party it helped boost in previous elections, political observers say.

Let the games begin.

Could GOP call Lewinsky to testify?

Monica Lewinsky’s attempt to transform herself into an advocate against cyber bullying has given Republicans a tantalizing opportunity to call her to the witness stand.

Lewinsky has never testified to Congress despite her role in the impeachment of President Clinton in the 1990s, appearing only before a federal grand jury in return for immunity.

Now, with legislation on cyber bullying percolating in both the House and Senate, Republicans could ask Lewinsky to tell her story on Capitol Hill.

“The prospect of Monica Lewinsky testifying before Congress about cyber bullying would force a national debate,” said a GOP aide who asked not to be named to speak more freely. “She’s in a unique position to educate the American public.”

Attack in NY

New York police fear that a crazed hatchet attack on four police officers in Jamaica, Queens, today could be linked to terrorism.

Suspect Zale Thompson, 32, pictured in surveillance footage, was shot dead on the scene after slashing one cop in the arm and the other in the head at around without warning about 2pm.

The officer struck in the head was critically injured.

A 29-year-old female bystander a half-a-block away from the attack was critically injured after being shot by an errant police round. She is currently recovering from surgery at Jamaica Hospital and is listed in ‘grave’ condition.

Remember when we had ‘no doc’ loans.

That was one of the reasons for the home loan crash.

In an effort to overreact and still not make us safer:

Clem Ziroli Jr.’s mortgage firm, which has seen its costs soar to comply with new regulations, used to make about three loans a day. This year Ziroli said he’s lucky if one gets done.

His First Mortgage Corp., which mostly loans to borrowers with lower FICO credit scores and thick, complicated files, must devote triple the time to ensure paperwork conforms to rules created after the housing crash. To ease the burden, Ziroli hired three executives a few months ago to also focus on lending to safe borrowers with simpler applications.

“The biggest thing people are suffering from is the cost to manufacture a loan,” said Ziroli, president of the Ontario, California-based firm and a 22-year industry veteran. “If you have a high credit score, it’s easier. For deserving borrowers with lower scores, the cost for mistakes is prohibitive and is causing lenders to not want to make those loans.”

Day by Day

Arrest inEgypt

The Egyptian Army arrested the leader of the U.S. designated terrorist organization Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis on Friday in North Sinai, reported Ahram Arabic news. Walid Attalah is suspected of orchestrating the RPG attack in North Sinai last Thursday that killed three Egyptian policemen and wounded seven.
Ahram Online quoted an official source saying, “Walid Attalah received Egyptian citizenship during the era of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and he is of Palestinian origins.”
Three Egyptian troops were killed on Saturday when a tunnel collapsed that runs along the border with the Gaza Strip. ABC reported one officer and two soldiers were killed and rescuers are still looking for a fourth body. Another soldier was injured in the incident.

Insanity Defined: Feds Unveil Plan to Help High-Risk Homebuyers Take On Massive Debt. Again.

And on Tuesday, three federal agencies approved a loosened set of mortgage-lending rules, removing a requirement for a 20% down payment for a class of high-quality loan known as a “qualified residential mortgage.”

Loans with little to no down payment were a common feature of the lax lending practices that were prevalent during the housing market’s bubble years.

Of course, those bubble years eventually came to an end, causing an economic meltdown of jawdropping magnitude. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama responded by running up the national debt from $10 trillion before the recession to more than $17.5 trillion today. And “experts” everywhere laid the blame at Wall Street’s feet, lambasting the banks for making reckless loans they should have known were destined to go bad. …

Late blogging.

Galt’s Gulch was without internet for most of the morning. Which gave me a chance to sight in a couple of 22 caliber rifles for the grand kids.

Strange praise.

Palestinians across the political spectrum are praising Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of a three-month-old Israeli baby. A car driven by a suspected Hamas member crashed into a crowd at a light-rail station in, killing the baby girl and injuring eight others.

Protests in Iran

Iranians took to the streets in Isfahan on Wednesday, protesting a number of acid attacks against young women carried out in the city in recent weeks.

Iranian authorities have arrested a number of suspects in the attacks, but have not confirmed claims that the women were attacked because they were not dressed modestly enough, wearing form-fitting clothes and an insufficient head covering.

Weapons Dropped by U.S.Fall into Hands of ISIS.

Pentagon says, despite video, vast majority of military supplies air dropped near the Syrian city of Kobani reached the Kurdish fighters they were intended

Weapons dropped by US planes intended for Kurdish fighters in Syria have fallen intp the hands of the Islamic State, the terror group boasted Tuesday in a video translated by MEMRI.

In the video, an Islamic State fighter can be seen inspecting a large package attached to a parachute. the fighter then opens several crates revealing grenades, bombs and RPG rockets.

“Indeed those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert people from the path of Allah. So they will spend it, and it will be for them a (source of) regret. Then they will be overcome,” the fighter says in the video.

Competition? … Who knew?

Medical practices in less competitive health-care markets charge more for services, according to a study. The study, based on U.S. health-care data from 2010, provides important new information about the effects of competition on prices for office visits paid by preferred provider organizations, known more commonly as PPOs. PPOs are the most common type of health insurance plan held by privately insured people in the United States.

Knowing what you are going to pay before that hospital stay.
Knowing what the hospital actually gets as opposed to what it charges.
Knowing whose health care your subsidizing.
Allowing insurance to cross state lines.

That would make it much more competitive as well. And more honest.

A look at the numbers.

Another chapter added to WWII

Scientists have discovered two significant vessels from World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic. The German U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields were found approximately 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Lost for more than 70 years, the discovery of the two vessels, in an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, is a rare window into a historic military battle and the underwater battlefield landscape of WWII.

Oh geez …

More Secret Service shenanigans: Agents sent to monitor staffer’s neighborhood dispute

Finally …

A Brief National Dialogue on Race

If you like your president, you can keep your president … period.

Campaign Rally in Maryland

Sub-prime loans can continue to haunt you.

… By now, banks have usually sold the houses. But the proceeds of those sales were often not enough to cover the amount of the loan, plus penalties, legal bills and fees. The two big government-controlled housing finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as other mortgage players, are increasingly pressing borrowers to pay whatever they still owe on mortgages they defaulted on years ago.

Using a legal tool known as a deficiency judgment, lenders can ensure that borrowers are haunted by these zombie-like debts for years, and sometimes decades, to come. Before the housing bubble, banks often refrained from seeking deficiency judgments, which were seen as costly and an invitation for bad publicity.

Some of the biggest banks still feel that way.

But the housing crisis saddled lenders with more than $1 trillion of foreclosed loans, leading to unprecedented losses. Now, at least some large lenders want their money back, and they figure it’s the perfect time to pursue borrowers — many of those who went through foreclosure have gotten new jobs, paid off old debts and even, in some cases, bought new homes. …

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know.

This is a blog about why graphene may be the next multibillion-dollar material, holding the key to computing, healthcare and energy storage.

Looking at the numbers.

Three Ebola-infected travelers are predicted to depart on an international flight every month from any of the three countries in West Africa currently experiencing widespread Ebola virus outbreaks (Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone), if no exit screening were to take place, according to new modeling research.

Well – they ran out of bottled water … and they’ve heard it all before.

At Campaign Stop, Members of Crowd Leave While Obama Speaks

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