Some good news at last! For the past three days I have been able access my mailbox without any delays and tortures. I'm cautiously optimistic the problem has gone away. What caused the change? Below are the steps I took that may have defeated the problem.
• I added MSN, hotmail and outlook to my trusted websites.
• For the past couple of years, I have been permanently logged in to Skype. I logged off of Skype and made sure it was deleted from the startup programs.
My hunch is the second action I took did the trick. I would never had thought of a Skype/Outlook connection had it not been for Corrine, who correctly pointed me in that direction. At present when I attempt to login to my Hotmail or Outlook inbox, I face a series of "security warnings: The current webpage is trying to open a site in your trusted sites list." I accept opening most of them except for the ones that request opening Skype (shown below), which I refuse.
Current site: https//a.lw.skype.com
Trusted site: login.live.com