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Readers’ choice 2006

What have you been reading? This year’s most popular stories span real estate woes, lost-and-found Logan contraband, celebrity bashing and everything in between.

Adjustable-rate loans come home to roost
Squeezed by rising interest rates, homeowners who stretched their finances to buy properties while the market was hot are scrambling to pay higher monthly payments on adjustable-rate mortgages that were the least expensive option at the time they purchased their homes. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Suburbs flush with homes for sale
A decline in house sales last fall has left a January glut of unsold properties in suburban Boston as the big spring selling season approaches, according to data released yesterday. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Mini-city would be an antidote to sprawl
Two familiar names in Massachusetts commercial real estate are joining up to replace a worn-out industrial park with a $1.5 billion city in the suburbs, where people would live, eat, shop, work, work out, and hang out, right at one of region's busiest transportation hubs. (By Thomas C. Palmer Jr.)
Subscriber credit data distributed by mistake
Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday. (By Robert Gavin)
An iPod is an iPod is an iPod -- until you hack it
We are all hackers now. At least, we can be. Americans have built our lives on a foundation of silicon and software, with computers in millions of homes and digital music players in millions of shirt pockets. They're our gadgets. Why shouldn't we hack them? (By Hiawatha Bray)
2 e-mailers get testy, and hundreds read every word
Once again, a friendly reminder: The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again. Then consider the tale of local lawyers William A. Korman and Dianna L. Abdala. (By Sacha Pfeiffer)
'The Bribe Memo' and collapse of Stone & Webster
In Houston we're getting an instructive inside look at just what happened -- and who is to blame -- in one of the most infamous corporate collapses of all time as a jury hears the mountain of evidence against Enron Corp.'s two former top executives, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. But before Enron there was Boston's famed Stone & Webster ... (By Steve Bailey)
Shoppers swarm Filene's clearance
Dishes now fill the cosmetics counters. Bed skirts line sleek black shelves that once displayed perfumes by J. Lo and Marc Jacobs. The Coach purses are almost gone, and don't even bother looking for Calvin Klein lingerie. Filene's, once a beacon of shopping pride, is coming undone. (By Jenn Abelson)
Contact lens solution tied to fungus
Shares of Bausch & Lomb Inc. tumbled 17 percent yesterday after the eye-care products maker halted shipments of a contact lens solution linked by federal officials to a rare fungal infection that can cause blindness.
Blogger who criticized Maine tourism office faces lawsuit
A coastal Maine blogger who criticized the state's tourism office has been hit with a lawsuit seeking potentially more than $1 million in damages for allegedly making false statements and posting on his website, Maine Web Report, images from proposed tourism advertisements a New York agency prepared for Maine officials. (By Robert Weisman)
Not-so-sweet smell of success
First came the nannies, the dog walkers, the housecleaners, the landscapers. Now crews are handling another outsourced home task -- removing a dog's leftovers from lawns. (By Carolyn Y. Johnson)
Housing slowdown deepens in Mass.
Single-family home sales and prices in Massachusetts fell 1.5 percent in March, capping a first quarter in which sales slowed dramatically from the previous year, according to a housing report released yesterday. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Why Google makes everyone else nervous
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google Inc. first gained notice early in the decade, as a small and quirky start-up with a disarmingly simple Internet search engine and an idealistic slogan, ``Don't Be Evil." (By Robert Weisman)
More are struggling to pay the mortgage
Foreclosure filings against Massachusetts homeowners increased 30 percent in the first three months of 2006 and have doubled in the past three years, as homeowners in one of the nation's most expensive real estate markets struggle to cope with high prices and rising interest rates. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Church widens probe of Caritas chief
Dr. Robert M. Haddad, the Caritas Christi Health Care system president who was reprimanded last week for sexually harassing four women, admitted to an investigator for the Boston Archdiocese that he had engaged in hugging and kissing with others as well, one of the archdiocese's lawyers said yesterday. He also said witnesses had supplied still more names of women they ... (By Walter V. Robinson and Maria Cramer)
Avon tops in homes affordable to families
The secret about Avon, Wilmington, and Dracut is out. The communities are among Boston's suburbs with the largest supply of homes that are affordable to families seeking good schools and proximity to jobs, according to a study being released today by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Dunkin' plots national push
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- A glimpse of the Dunkin' Donuts of the future can be found here. (By Chris Reidy)
As art theft case develops, a family business divides
It was one of the biggest unsolved art thefts in state history -- until it was solved in January in the strangest way, with a Watertown lawyer's admission that he had secretly held seven masterpieces stolen from a Stockbridge collector for almost three decades in the hopes of one day profiting from them. (By Stephen Kurkjian)
As demand increases, rents rise for first time since '01
Rents are rising around Boston for the first time in five years. Surging mortgage rates, high home prices, and a belief that prices may tumble are driving more people to give up on or postpone buying a home and to rent instead. (By Kimberly Blanton)
After a period of aggressive expansion, the Krispy Kreme doughnut chain falls on hard times, particularly in New England
When it invaded Dunkin' Donuts' home turf of Massachusetts three years ago, there were sweet predictions for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (By Chris Reidy)
Restaurant may be liable for $2.5 million in suit over lost tips, jobs
Hilltop Steak House in Saugus could be required to pay more than $2.5 million in damages to wait staff after an Essex County jury found that the restaurant's function department illegally steered tip money to managers. (By Diane E. Lewis)
To fight the glut, home sellers push their prices down
Home sellers are learning what any retailer, from Wal-Mart to the owner of the corner gas station, already knows: Low prices are one of the surest ways to beat the competition. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Joyce, Dickens, Google -- classics are there to download
Just in time for the start of a new school year, the popular Google search service is making available thousands of classic books free. (By Hiawatha Bray)
Her mission: Find price errors, get free stuff
CANTON -- Alana Lipkin walked out of the Shaw's Supermarket here last week with 12 items -- everything from a Kodak disposable camera to Neutrogena hand cream -- all for free. (By Bruce Mohl)
Au Bon Pain targets suburbs with Bistro concept
WOBURN -- Au Bon Pain is taking another shot at the suburban market with its latest prototype, the Bistro, which opens here this week with an expanded menu, late hours, and table service. It's a new direction for the 255-unit chain, which began as a Boston bakery selling baguettes and croissants three decades ago. Au Bon Pain has struggled to ... (By Jenn Abelson)
More home prices falling below their assessed values
Falling prices have created a new twist in the suburban Boston real estate market: More homes are selling for less than their assessed values. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Mass. home prices fall 6.1% as downturn gathers speed
The downturn in the Massachusetts housing market gained momentum in August, with the median price of a single-family home falling 6.1 percent, to $352,000, and the number of sales down 21.6 percent from last year, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said yesterday. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Items banned at airports find a home in the discount bin
CONCORD, N.H. -- Why on earth someone would ever pack a claw hammer or a hacksaw in an airplane carry-on bag remains a mystery to Tom Zekos . (By Peter J. Howe)
6 years later, L.L. Bean gets back in gear for expansion
For L.L. Bean, the road from glossy cataloger to national chain has been a rocky one. (By Jenn Abelson)
An American dream denied
John Walsh thought he was living the American dream. Until, that is, he ran head-on into Jonathan Winthrop. (By Steve Bailey)
Housing prices put at or near low
James Corbett, 76, and his wife, Lorraine, 71, put their five-bedroom home in Danvers on the market in March for $539,900. Six months later it is still for sale -- for $40,000 less. (By Kimberly Blanton)
Scalping law? What scalping law?
The ticket scalping business is thriving in Massachusetts, right under the noses of the law enforcement officials who are supposed to keep it in check. (By Bruce Mohl)
Hatred of Rachael Ray can be a powerful uniting force
Consumer culture and indeed popular culture revolve in large part around shared admiration, shared likes: Fandom, in a word, is a thing that can bring us together. (By Rob Walker)
Arguments spread thick
A burrito is not a sandwich. That's the culinary ruling of a Worcester judge, ending, for now, a food fight between Panera Bread Co. and Qdoba Mexican Grill. (By Jenn Abelson)
Miles away, 'I'll have a burger'
NASHUA -- When Jairo Moncada pulled up to the drive-through at Wendy's in Burbank, Calif., for his usual cheeseburger, fries, and soda, he knew things looked different. There was an extra lane. (By Jenn Abelson)
Patriots play tough
The New England Patriots have been pursuing ticket resellers the same way they go after opposing quarterbacks, but the latest target is one of their own. (By Bruce Mohl)
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