"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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.