Economy
1:31 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Washington job growth reaches four year high

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington added more than 12,000 jobs in November. That drops the state unemployment rate to 8.7 percent.

In fact, employment statistics released Wednesday show that job growth has reached a four-year high in Washington.

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The Impact of War
9:25 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Retired Kiowa pilot discusses crash over Lewis-McChord base

OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. Photo courtesy Bell Helicopter

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 5:17 pm

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. – The bodies of four Washington-based Army helicopter pilots have been recovered from the wreckage of two military choppers that went down on a training flight. The crash happened Monday night under reportedly clear skies over Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

An Army spokesman says the pilots were flying OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and would have been using night vision goggles. It's not clear yet if this was a mid-air collision.

Retired Kiowa pilot Justin Rich says flying with night vision is like looking through a paper towel tube.

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Politics
7:33 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Oregon Freezes State Hiring, Cuts Off Social Program Enrollment

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 5:11 pm

SALEM, Ore. - In coming days, the state of Oregon is going to start turning away new applicants to several social service programs. The move was announced Tuesday as part of a series of temporary cost-cutting measures that will be in place at least until lawmakers gather at the capitol in February.

Oregon's legislative budget writers and Governor John Kitzhaber say the state can't afford to wait to do something about dwindling revenues. They announced a hiring freeze that includes putting a hold on state police recruit classes.

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Food for Thought
5:26 am
Wed December 14, 2011

When's the last time you had a nice baloney sandwich?

Don't be coy – you know you want it.
Dick Stein KPLU

 Don't you think you're due? It had been about ten years for me and that was too long. 

Traditionalist that I am I went with Oscar Mayer, spongy white bread,  mayo, iceberg lettuce and house-brand chips. The result is pictured above. Was it good?

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jets and rockets
5:14 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Paul Allen's dramatic spaceship joins Bezos in space-race

Paul Allen and aviation innovator Burt Rutan announce their latest space partnership, called Stratolaunch, from Allen's headquarters in Seattle.
Keith Seinfeld KPLU

Paul Allen is bankrolling a dramatic new space-craft, which aims to launch satellites later this decade, and maybe people, too. The project uses an airplane made from two rebuilt Boeing 747’s. 

It looks a little like a flying catamaran. It will be the largest airplane ever built, with six jet engines. And hanging from the wing in the middle will be a rocket.

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Education
5:12 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Wash. Governor wants to toughen teacher evaluations

Gov. Chris Gregoire announces education reform proposals. Photo by Joe Concannon

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:54 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Governor Chris Gregoire wants to put teeth into a statewide system for evaluating teachers and principals. In Olympia Tuesday, Gregoire said she'll ask the Legislature to approve a new four tier performance rating. It would go from unsatisfactory, to basic, to proficient, and top out at distinguished.

The governor wants the law to require educators in the two lowest tiers improve within a year or be fired.

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Japanese Tsunami
4:30 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Most tsunami debris must be removed from the ocean by hand

The whole crew of Project Kaisei tries to lift an island of net and plastic estimated at over a ton.
Ryan Yerkley

How do you remove from the ocean more than 100,000 tons of Japanese tsunami debris heading for Northwest shores? By hand, says one expert.

“When you’re talking about open ocean … It’s a very big ocean,” says Andrea Neal, an experienced ocean cleaner. “There isn’t a whole lot being done in the open ocean.”

That’s because most programs devoted to cleaning marine debris focus on prevention and coastal cleanup. When crews do confront debris in the open ocean, cleanup efforts require hands, a ship and supplies which can cost more than $35,000 per day to operate, because the composition of the debris makes it difficult to get out of the ocean.

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Environment
1:46 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Pierce County burn ban elevated to stage two

Air quality is worsening in Pierce County. 

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has raised the burn ban in Pierce County to Stage 2. No burning is allowed in ANY wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves, fireplace inserts (certified or uncertified) or pellet stoves. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home's only adequate source of heat.

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Space Travel
1:11 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Paul Allen to open airport operations - for space!

What Paul Allen's new ship -- carrier aircraft with spaceship hanging in the middle -- will look like.
Stratolaunch Systems

Paul Allen’s new company, Stratolaunch Systems hopes to bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions. Plans call for a first flight within five years, according to a company press release.

The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems, the company declares.

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