SPOTLIGHT BRIEFS

Texas has hottest June-August

Posted Sept. 08, 2011, at 11:20 p.m.

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas just finished the hottest June through August on record in the U.S., the National Weather Service said Thursday.

Weather service meteorologist Victor Murphy told The Associated Press that Texas’ 86.8 average beat out Oklahoma’s 85.2 degrees in 1934.

That Dust Bowl year is now third on the list for the three-month span, behind No. 2 Oklahoma’s heat wave this June through August (86.5 degrees).

Both states and others in the nation’s southern tier have baked in triple-digit heat this summer. Texas had its hottest June on record, the fifth warmest month overall, and July was the warmest month ever.

Oklahoma’s July was the country’s highest monthly average temperature ever, at 89.1 degrees.

Louisiana’s heat this June through August puts it in the fourth spot all-time — 84.5 degrees.

The average figures are taken from the entire 24-hour cycle of the day, not just from daily highs.

Texas hasn’t just been hot this summer. It’s in the midst of its worst drought since the 1950s and enduring its driest single year going back to 1895.

Longshoremen storm Wash. port over labor dispute

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Hundreds of longshore workers stormed the Port of Longview, overpowered security guards, damaged rail cars and dumped grain at the center of a labor dispute that also stopped work at four other ports Thursday, officials said.

Six guards were detained for a couple of hours after at least 500 longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha. He called the detained guards “hostages.”

No one was hurt, and no one has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from a car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said. They also pushed a private security vehicle into a ditch.

A court hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Tacoma, in which a judge was expected to consider whether the actions by the union violated a previous restraining order.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union believes it has the right to work at the facility, but the company has hired a contractor that’s staffing a work force of laborers from another union, the Portland-based Operating Engineers Local 701.

Mortgage rates lowest in decades, but few qualify

WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates have reached their lowest levels in six decades, making this the best time in most Americans’ lives to buy or refinance a home. For people who qualify, today’s rates could save thousands of dollars a year.

This week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.12 percent, the lowest for a 30-year fixed loan since mortgage buyer Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. The last time rates were cheaper was in 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.

The average on the 15-year fixed loan dropped to 3.33 percent this week, also an all-time low.

Half of would-be buyers, however, say they’ll never save enough for the 20 percent down payment now usually required.

Drunk Swedish moose found stuck in tree

STOCKHOLM — A seemingly intoxicated moose was discovered entangled in an apple tree by a stunned Swede.

Per Johansson says he heard a roar from his vacationing neighbor’s garden in southwestern Sweden late Tuesday and went to have a look. He found a female moose kicking about in the tree. The animal was likely drunk from eating fermented apples.

With the help of police and rescue services, the 45-year-old Johansson later managed to set the moose free in part by sawing off tree branches. But the animal appeared confused and wandered into Johansson’s garden, where she was resting Thursday.

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