8.18.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 18, and we're covering the rising cost of homebuying, a storm headed toward the Southwest, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Mortgage Rates Rise

The average rate for the most common type of mortgage in the US has risen to almost 7.1%, according to data from a survey of lenders made by mortgage financing giant Freddie Mac. The figure—for 30-year fixed-rate loans—is the highest since December 2001 and is up two percentage points over the past year (and more than 4.4 points from the all-time low seen in January 2021). 

 

Among other factors, mortgage rates are influenced by the Federal Reserve, which hiked the federal funds rate from 0% to 5.25-5.5% over the past year and a half in an effort to fight inflation. Higher mortgage rates mean higher costs for would-be homebuyers and tend to cause a slowdown in the housing market. Sales of existing homes dropped by almost 19% year-over-year in June, according to reports—though the median price increased to $410K, close to an all-time high. 

 

For context, a buyer making a 20% down payment on the median-priced house would pay $465K in interest over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (see calculator)—more than the cost of the house itself. 

 

Hurricane Hilary Approaches

Tropical Storm Hilary, which formed in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico and is moving northwest, has strengthened into a hurricane and is expected to bring heavy rain and flash flooding to the southwestern US into next week. California, Nevada, and Arizona are forecast to receive 2 to 10 inches of rain, including in drought-stricken areas.

 

Hilary is the eighth named storm in the Pacific hurricane season this year and has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, making it a Category 3 hurricane as of this writing. Storms are considered hurricanes once winds reach at least 74 mph and become major hurricanes—those classified as Category 3 and above—once winds reach 111 mph or more. Hurricane Hilary is expected to turn into a Category 4 hurricane today before weakening to a tropical storm over the weekend as it approaches California. Track its trajectory here.

 

It is rare for a tropical storm system to make landfall in California due to typically cool waters; however, the El Niño weather pattern is fueling higher tropical activity this year. The last tropical storm system to make landfall in California was in 1939.

 

Blind Side Saga

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose connection to former NFL player Michael Oher inspired the 2009 movie “The Blind Side,” announced yesterday they plan to enter a consent order to end a conservatorship Oher is contesting in court.

 

Oher, 37, filed a petition Monday to end the conservatorship, accusing the Tennessee couple of misleading him when he signed conservatorship papers by telling him they were legally adopting him (see the difference here). Oher signed the papers three months after his 18th birthday in August 2004. He alleges he did not find out about the true nature of the conservatorship until earlier this year; his 2011 memoir references the conservatorship three times. The Tuohys claim the conservatorship was not for personal profit but rather for Oher to obtain health insurance, a driver’s license, and college admission at their alma mater, Ole Miss.

 

Oher is seeking full financial accounting of income the couple may have earned through the conservatorship and to be paid his share of profits from the film. The couple maintains Oher received his share through a trust fund.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Apollo

> Spain takes on England in the Women's World Cup final Sunday (6 am ET, Fox) (More) | World track and field championships kick off from Budapest tomorrow (More)

> Sir Michael Parkinson, popular British talk show host and journalist, dies at 88 (More) | Jerry Moss, music mogul and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, dies at 88 (More)

> Paramount decides against selling majority stake in BET Media after failing to get a buyer at a $3B valuation (More)

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Science & Technology

> Researchers refute claims of room-temperature superconductivity in the alloy LK-99, which went viral after a video emerged supposedly demonstrating the material's properties (More) | The LK-99 saga explained (More)

> X-ray studies reveal early steps of water droplet and ice crystal production in clouds; findings will help advance models of cloud formation and climate change (More) | What are supercooled liquids? (More)

> Scientists create large amounts of muscle stem cells in a lab setting without genetic engineering; approach may lead to new treatments for diseases like muscular dystrophy (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.8%, Dow -0.8%, Nasdaq -1.2%) for third consecutive session (More)

> Walmart beats expectations, raises full-year guidance; sees 24% annual e-commerce growth (More)

> Evergrande Group—China’s second-largest property developer—files for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US (More) | Chapter 15—foreign bankruptcy protection—101 (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Death toll from Maui wildfires rises to at least 111; officials estimate roughly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for (More

> Officials from ECOWAS, a coalition of West African countries, say they will intervene in Niger if a recent military coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum is not reversed (More) | More than 60 migrants feared dead after boat found after a month at sea off West Africa's Cape Verde (More

> At least 129 people arrested in Pakistan after mob attacks a dozen Christian churches following allegations of desecration of a Quran (More)

 

In-Depth

> Grief Camp

Walrus | Mitchell Consky. The somber, inspiring story of Camp Erin in Ontario, Canada, where hundreds of kids come together each summer to play, make new friends, and process the death of a loved one. (Read)

 

> Louis Vuitton Shake-Up

GQ | Noah Johnson. Hip-hop superstar Pharrell Williams became the first major celebrity to lead a luxury fashion house earlier this year, combining Virginia Beach simplicity with the elegant indulgence of Paris. (Read)

> Michael Jackson's Legacy

Wondery | Jay Smooth, Leon Neyfakh. (Podcast) The first episode in a ten-part docuseries evaluating the King of Pop's enduring radio presence despite the many troubling allegations brought against him. (Listen)

 

> The Bridges of New York

Architectural Digest | Michael Wyetzner. An expert on New York architecture tells the story of five iconic city bridges that helped consolidate the city's five boroughs. (Watch)

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Etcetera
 

Explore Italy's catacombs of Rione Sanità.

 

Browse winners of this year's Nature inFocus photo awards.

 

Ranking the world's largest cities by population.

 

Shake Shack seeks a chief avocado officer.

 

Twenty-legged crinoid discovered in Antarctica

 

AI-powered meal app serves up recipe for chlorine gas.

 

The horrifying world of Thailand's railway safety posters

 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen takes hallucinogenic shrooms

 

Clickbait: Sexy spider shuts down supermarket.

 

Historybook: Actress Shelley Winters born (1920); Baseball great Roberto Clemente born (1934); Hollywood legend Robert Redford born (1936); Nobel Peace Prize winner and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dies (2018).

"To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there."

- Kofi Annan

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