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The Two-Way
8:24 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Average Rate On 30-Year Mortgages Falls Below 4 Percent For First Time

Mortgage rates are in uncharted territory.

"The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent this week, the lowest rate ever," The Associated Press reports. "Freddie Mac says the average rate ... dropped from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low."

And, "the average rate on a 15-year fixed loan dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record."

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The Two-Way
7:55 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Wozniak Thankful For 'An Unbelievably Fortunate Partnership' With Jobs

April 24, 1984, from left to right: Steve Jobs, John Sculley and Steve Wozniak unveil the new Apple IIc computer in San Francisco.

Sal Veder AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 7:56 am

"My role was [to be] the key technologist, the scientist, the engineer that was building all these devices. ... Steve was spotting them and seeing ways to sell them and talking about where they could go. And talking about enhancements and improvements that would take it to the next level. He was always trying to move to the next level."

It was "an unbelievably fortunate partnership."

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The Salt
7:24 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Potato Lobby Turns Up The Heat In School Lunch Battle

When the potato lobby speaks, it always puts its best spuds forward. Yesterday at a National Press Club lunchtime briefing to promote the nutritional value of the vegetable, that meant a full bar of baked potatoes, french fries (baked, not fried), sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes, spinach and broccoli. Yes, according to sources close to the food, it was scrumptious.

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Around the Nation
7:00 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Under A Barrel: What Happened To Rising Gas Prices?

The price of gasoline stood at $3.17 earlier this week in Wakefield, Mass. That's more than 20 cents less than the national average for regular gas.

Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 9:40 am

When Dave Barnes drove 600 miles from Maryland to Indiana last week for his 50th high school reunion, he was surprised by the price of gas — in a good way.

Barnes, 68, says he filled up his Dodge Challenger in Indianapolis for as little as $3.15 a gallon. It was a far cry from the cross-country motorcycle trip he took this summer.

"When I took the trip in June, I was seeing $3.60 a gallon in most places and as high as $4 a gallon in California," he says.

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Monkey See
6:52 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: How Apple's CEO Helped Transform Popular Culture

Steve Jobs, seen here in June 2010, passed away Wednesday at 56 after battling cancer for years.

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

When the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was announced last night, if you were following Twitter, what you saw was a spasm of grief. Writers, actors, musicians, your friends, comedians ... the genuine sadness was palpable, not only because he was 56 years old, but because so many saw the news while holding one of his products in their hands. This is very much what popular culture is: this hive mind, this hum of collective response.

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The Two-Way
6:40 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Jobless Claims Edged Up Last Week

There were 401,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up from 395,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

According to Reuters the gain was "less than expected." Economists polled by the wire service had been anticipating the agency would say there had been 410,000 claims.

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The Two-Way
6:25 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Top Stories: Steve Jobs' Death; Swedish Poet Wins Literature Nobel

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 6:29 am

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The Two-Way
6:08 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Obama To Hold News Conference This Morning

President Obama will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. ET today in the East Room of the White House, his press office just announced.

Among the topics sure to come up: His jobs bill.

We're planning to live-blog as it happens, so check back as the time gets closer if you'd like to follow along.

Obama's most recent solo news conference was on July 15.

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The Two-Way
5:45 am
Thu October 6, 2011

The Word For Steve Jobs: Visionary

Apple's website this morning.

apple.com

Look at front pages, listen to news broadcasts or search the Web today and the one word that comes up over and over again in reports about the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is: visionary.

President Obama said of Jobs' passing that "the world has lost a visionary."

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Digital Life
5:33 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: The Link Between Androids And Humans

In his last public appearance after stepping down as Apple CEO, Steve Jobs introduces Apple's iCloud storage system in San Francisco, June 2011.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:21 am

With his black turtleneck, wire-rimmed glasses and conspiratorial grin, Steve Jobs was arguably the best ambassador ever between androids and humans.

When Jobs died Wednesday at 56 after protracted combat with pancreatic cancer, the world lost a valuable shuttle diplomat between computers and tablets and gadgets and animated robots, and the people who so desperately long to relate to them.

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The Two-Way
5:05 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Literature Nobel Goes To Swedish Poet Tomas Transtromer

The Nobel Prize medal.

NobelPrize.org

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is the 2011 Nobel laureate in literature, it was just announced.

In its statement, the Nobel committee said his work "gives us fresh access to reality."

Our friends over at Monkey See have more, including Neda Ulaby's pre-announcement look at the "Nobel shortlist."

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Law
3:48 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Boston Mob Victims' Families Press On In Court Fight

James "Whitey" Bulger, shown here in a June 2011 file booking photo, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig.

AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 11:17 am

Families of alleged victims of reputed Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger on Thursday take another step down what they say has been a long, frustrated quest for justice.

They waited 16 years before Bulger — who was finally captured this past June in Santa Monica, Calif. — was even charged in a string of alleged murders. And they've also spent the past decade trying to make the FBI pay for letting those murders happen.

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Conflict In Libya
10:01 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Gadhafi May Be Hard To Find, But Not His Supporters

A revolutionary fighter watches over two suspected Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte, Libya, last month. By some estimates, up to 30 to 40 percent of Libyans are sympathetic to former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Manu Brabo AP

In Libya, anti-government fighters are facing fierce resistance in Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte. It's one of the last areas that has not fallen to rebel forces. But it's hardly the last bastion of support for the deposed leader.

On a busy afternoon in the market in the southern Tripoli neighborhood of Abu Salim, it doesn't take long for a man to approach a visiting reporter and say under his breath, "You know, we all support Gadhafi here."

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Politics
10:01 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Bipartisan Support For China Tariffs Ahead Of Vote

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 6:48 am

The debate on trade sanctions against China that has roiled the Senate all week comes to a head in a make-or-break vote Thursday. Earlier this week, 79 senators voted to take up the bill, which could slap punitive tariffs on imports from China, the largest U.S. trading partner.

The legislation has strong backing from Democrats and Republicans alike; they say it could boost American jobs by punishing China's efforts to keep its currency undervalued and its exports underpriced. Opponents warn that should the bill become law, it could touch off a devastating trade war.

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Shots - Health Blog
5:00 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Women Exposed To Hormone In Utero Face Lifelong Health Problems

A still from A Healthy Baby Girl, a 1996 documentary in which filmmaker Judith Helfand chronicles the health consequences of her own in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES).

Courtesy of Women Make Movies

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 8:51 am

Back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, doctors prescribed a hormone called diethylstilbestrol, or DES, to millions of pregnant women in the unfounded belief it would prevent miscarriages.

Smack in the middle of this period, the deformed thalidomide babies demonstrated the terrible things that can happen when drugs are casually prescribed during pregnancy.

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The Two-Way
4:33 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Sarah Palin Says She Will Not Run For President In 2012 Election

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin says she will not seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election. Here, she speaks at a Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire, Sept. 5, as part of the Reclaiming America bus tour.

Darren McCollester Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 5:16 pm

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will not be adding her name to the pool of candidates running for U.S. president in 2012, according to reports. In a statement provided to the Mark Levin radio show, Palin said, "I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president of the United States."

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It's All Politics
4:30 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Millionaire Surtax A 'Desperate' Act To Conservatives, 'Sensible' To Liberals

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveils his surtax proposal flanked by Sens. Richard Durbin (l) and Charles Schumer, Oct. 5, 2011.

Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 4:57 pm

Senate Democrats haven't exactly been moving as one to embrace President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill.

The disagreement in their ranks arises partly from how the president proposes to pay for his plan, an approach seen by some senators as potentially making their already difficult path to re-election even more so.

The president envisions increasing taxes on couples who, after deductions, have at least $250,000 in taxable income.

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Law
3:59 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

'Safety Zone' Bans Meetings Of Alleged Gang Members

Police allege Anthony Clemons is a member of the Bloods street gang. Clemons denies this by showing he has no gang tattoos.

Charles Lane WSHU

A controversial law enforcement technique called a gang injunction "safety zone" has been getting the attention of law enforcement in at least eight states. Essentially, it lists people police say are gang members and bans them from meeting or even speaking to each other inside a defined geographic area.

Police in Wyandanch, N.Y., are trying to convince a judge that curtailing rights normally protected under the Constitution can make their community safer.

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Currying Danger: Restaurant's Spice Contest Puts Two In Hospital

The curry contest that put several participants in the hospital in Scotland likely used a relative of these 'Dorset Naga' chillies, one of the hottest varieties of chilli in the world.

Oli Scarff Getty Images

A Scottish restaurant's competition to see who could eat the spiciest curry — and raise money for charity in the process — has ended in painful trips to the emergency room for at least two participants.

The Kismot restaurant of Edinburgh, which serves Indian and Bangladeshi food, challenged competitors to eat its hottest curry. At least 20 people answered the bell. But problems became evident almost as soon as participants began eating the curry.

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Around the Nation
3:08 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

A Business Incubator Gives Funding And Jobs To Vets

Illumatek makes windshields that are engraved and lit with fiber optics so motorcycles are more visible on the road. Its founder worked with VETransfer, a nonprofit that connects veteran entrepreneurs with funding and business skills.

Courtesy of John Miller

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 3:08 am

As the U.S. winds down military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and troops come home, many are eager to start work in the civilian sector. But it's been tough: The federal government reports the unemployment rate for young veterans has hovered around 30 percent this year.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:56 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Penalties For 'Worst' Hospitals Could Hurt Minorities

Rating the best hospitals has become commonplace, with U.S. News & World Report, various research firms and lots of websites routinely issuing rankings.

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The Two-Way
2:18 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Gets Union Backing; Approval Rating Tops Congress

Occupy Wall Street protesters join a labor union rally in New York's Foley Square on Wednesday.

Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 2:02 am

Occupy Wall Street is getting a shot in the arm, as some of America's largest unions have announced that they're now supporting the movement. The gain in momentum comes as off-shoots of the original Manhattan group plan marches and protests around the nation.

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National Security
2:09 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Gap Grows Between Military, Civilians On War

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows a significant divergence on attitudes toward war and military service between members of the military and civilians.

David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 2:42 pm

As the U.S. marks the 10th anniversary of its involvement in the Afghan war this week, a Pew Research Center report shows some wide differences between the way military members and the general public view the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pew researchers talked to nearly 4,000 people, split almost evenly between military veterans and civilians. Paul Taylor, the editor of the study, said he wanted to explore this unique moment in American history.

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The Salt
2:08 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Undercover School Lunch Blogger 'Mrs. Q' Reveals Herself

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 2:13 pm

School lunch is a topic of endless fascination here at The Salt and, really, wherever parents of school age children compare notes. If we don't have time to pack their lunch, what exactly are the 32 million kids, including ours, eating?

Well, the secret of what's on the lunch tray has been out for some time in Chicago Public Schools, thanks to a blog called Fed Up With Lunch, and now the whole world knows who's been behind it.

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Monkey See
2:06 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Long Literary Shadows On Nobel Shortlist

Adonis, born Ali Ahmad Said Esber, is one of the contenders for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mario Vedder AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 3:05 pm

They are the Nobel literature bridesmaids. Every year, they appear on Ladbrokes' betting site alongside their odds of winning. Les Murray: 16/1. Cees Nooteboom: 33/1. Claudio Magris: 40/1.

Perennial names probably more familiar to American readers include Haruki Murakami (7/1), Chinua Achebe and Amos Oz. The latter two aren't even ranked by Ladbrokes this time around. If recent history is any indicator, that means they've got a decent shot of winning. The Ladbrokes lads, after all, did not bother to place odds for such recent winners as Herta Muller or Elfriede Jelinek.

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The Two-Way
1:45 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Ron Paul Asks: Will The Government Assassinate Journalists Next?

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at the National Press Club in Washington today.

Patrick Smith Getty Images

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was quick last Friday to condemn the killing of American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

"If the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it's sad," Paul said.

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It's All Politics
1:19 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Rubio's Veep Prospects Could Be Fueling Boycott Of GOP Debate

A dispute involving Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the nation's largest Spanish-language TV network, Univision, has spilled over into the presidential primary. At least five Republican presidential candidates say they will not take part in a debate planned by Univision in January, before the Florida primary.

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The Two-Way
1:14 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Senate Democrats Pitch 5 Percent Surtax On Millionaires

Left to right: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at a news conference on Capitol Hill today.

Alex Wong Getty Images

Making the case that some of the tax increases that would partly pay for President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill are aimed at Americans who are not that rich, the Senate's Democratic leaders are proposing a 5 percent tax on annual incomes above $1 million instead.

According to The Associated Press:

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Research News
1:13 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Nobel-Winning Chemist Fought Hard For Acceptance

Daniel Schectman, left, discusses the quasicrystal's structure with collaborators in 1985, just months after shaking the foundations of materials science. Schectman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

H. Mark Helfer NIST

If you or your mate shaved this morning with one of those thin-foil electric shavers, that face probably brushed up against a strange form of matter called a quasicrystal. Norelco is unlikely to get a Nobel Prize for that invention, but the man who discovered quasicrystals, Daniel Shechtman, will get this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry. And it didn't come easy.

Crystals, like diamonds and quartz, hold their sparkly allure because of the way the atoms inside those rocks line up so neatly.

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The Salt
1:06 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

East Coast Pumpkin Shortage Won't Dent The Canned Kind

Melissa Forsyth NPR

Originally published on Wed October 5, 2011 7:45 pm

With Halloween rapidly approaching, you've probably heard about the shortage of pumpkins along the East Coast caused by the flooding rains of Hurricane Irene.

But while you may have troubling finding just the right shape or the right price for your jack o'lantern this year, there's good news for those looking ahead to the pies and cakes of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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