The Postal Service on Thursday reported a record $15.9 billion net loss for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, bringing the financially troubled agency another step closer to insolvency. The widely expected loss, more than triple the service's loss last year, included accounting expenses of $11.1 billion related to two payments that the agency was supposed to make into its future retiree health benefits fund. But because of revenue losses, the post office was for the first time forced to default on these payments, which were due in August and October. Nearly $5 billion in other losses were due to a decline in revenue from mailing operations. The agency also reached its $15 billion borrowing limit from the Treasury. Despite its financial troubles, officials said that the post office would continue to operate as usual and that employees and suppliers would be paid on time.
Stone tool dates pushed way back
Scientists found evidence that human ancestors used stone-tipped weapons 200,000 years earlier than once thought. Spears topped with stone points were most likely used for hunting large game and self-defense and were an important advance in weaponry, according to Jayne Wilkins, lead author of the paper Thursday in the journal Science. The points came from one of the Stone Age archaeological sites in South Africa called Kathu Pan 1, and were used a half-million years ago. "This expands the range of behavioral complexity known in human ancestors living 500,000 years ago," Wilkins said in a Nov. 13 email. "The amount of fore-planning and goal-oriented behavior required for collecting stone, wood and bindings for hafting indicate capabilities much greater than was previously known."