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Police in eastern Washington are trying to figure out who has been intentionally torching haystacks near the tiny town of Mattawa.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones says in the last two weeks two fires burned three major haystacks to the ground. Jones says he doubts local kids have been setting the fires.

Associated Press

NORMANDY, France – Boeing rival Airbus is set to finish 2011 with a record number of aircraft orders, beating out Boeing for the ninth year in a row.

But analysts say Boeing is poised to gain ground against its European competitor in 2012. That's because of a new product that will be built in Puget Sound.

Spokane, Wash. – Thursday’s Washington Supreme Court holding that large livestock operations need not have permits for the water they pump could spell ruin for small farmers.

Depleting water levels could mean the death of family farms in Eastern Washington.

HELENA, Mont. — An Indian reservation in Montana may seem an unlikely place to borrow a quick $600.

But the Chippewa Cree tribe says its new online lending company has already given out more than 121,000 loans this year at interest rates that can reach a whopping 360 percent.

Oregon's timber dependent counties are still hoping for a federal rescue. But they're creating contingency plans in case Congress doesn't come through with a replacement for historic timber revenue.

Officials from eight counties met with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Monday to discuss their options. Some counties say they could become insolvent in the next year without additional funding.

Flickr

AT&T ends its $39 billion bid to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom amid antitrust concerns, The Associated Press reports.

Allen Brown

When the Clearwater Paper sawmill announced it was selling its Lewiston mill to the Idaho Forest Group back in October, the fate of 250 mill jobs was unclear. For many, it still is, even as the mill gets ready to re-open next week. For one of those laid-off workers, the upcoming holidays are just a reminder of that uncertainty.

This year, December 25th has taken on a new meaning for Allen Brown. It’s the day he’ll receive his final severance-pay-check from the former Clearwater Paper sawmill in Lewiston. “So, Merry Christmas," Brown says. "I’ll be trying to live on unemployment and raise three kids and myself.”

Crews have rescued seven miners after a collapse at the Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho. It’s the third major accident there this year. The Lucky Friday’s owner says the silver mine has been evacuated until further notice.

A rockburst occurred Wednesday evening nearly 6,000 feet underground near Mullan in Idaho’s Silver Valley. Local law enforcement and the mine’s rescue crew were called in. Twenty-five people were working in the vicinity at the time.

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.

The first of a new breed of car rental companies is expanding into the Northwest. Next month, San Francisco-based Getaround officially launches its web-based rental service in the greater Portland area.

The concept is sometimes called peer-to-peer car rental or personal car sharing. The idea is to let you rent your car to someone else when you're not using it. Several companies have sprung up in California to provide the online marketplaces to link up car owners with pre-screened renters.

WASHINGTON — Republicans say they aren't prepared to celebrate after the National Labor Relations Board dropped its high-profile lawsuit against Boeing on Friday. The Machinists union approved a four-year contract extension with Boeing this week, in which it agreed to withdraw allegations that the company built a nonunion plant in South Carolina to retaliate against past union strikes in Washington state. In return, Boeing promised to build the new version of its 737 airplane in Washington state. GOP Sen.

For the first time in nearly a decade, a Washington municipality has defaulted on a loan. The Greater Wenatchee Public Facilities District operates Town Toyota Center near the banks of the Columbia River. It missed a major bond payment on December 1st. Now the Washington legislature is debating whether to step in.

Boeing machinist union members said 'Yes' by 74 percent to a new four-year contract – hammered out in secret – that will bring jobs to build the newest version of Boeing's 737 to Renton.

The yes vote begins a new era for the aerospace company and its most contentious union, ushered in also by the union's promise to drop a complaint it filed with the National Labor Relations Board. That complaint has been the subject of Congressional hearings and hundreds of news stories around the world.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This holiday shopping season, buying online is bigger than ever. That’s got Congress taking a new look at an old fight: Internet sales tax.

One Oregon lawmaker – and Washington's state online giant – are front-and-center in the debate.

Boeing Media image

More than 30,000 Boeing Machinists are studying a proposal that would spell labor peace for the next four years if it’s approved. But  some union members are concerned about aspects of the deal.

Lingering questions

One of the top concerns among union members has to do with how solid Boeing’s commitment to Renton really is. Property near the factory where the 737 is built has been sold off over the years.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Boeing has flipped the switch on the solar power array on the roof of its new South Carolina assembly plant.

Officials of Boeing and South Carolina Electric & Gas on Friday dedicated the 10-acre project which officials say is the largest rooftop solar installation in the Southeast, ranked by production capacity.

The array on the roof of Boeing's 787 final assembly plant generates 2.6-megawatts of power.

Scana Chairman and CEO Kevin Marsh said the array generates enough power for 250 homes.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington businesses will get some unexpected tax relief next year – to the tune of $350 million. Governor Chris Gregoire made the announcement Thursday in Olympia.

“There will be no overall increase in workers’ compensation rates in 2012 and an actual reduction in unemployment insurance rates for all rate classes," Gregoire said.

Associated Press

Boeing and the Machinists union have apparently reached a four-year contract deal as well as a deal to build the 737 MAX in Renton and have the union’s labor complaint dropped.

“We look forward to new era of prosperity for IAM and Boeing,” said Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District 751.

Wroblewski added that the secret meetings started out as conversations about the 737 and evolved into a full-blown contract deal because outside influences were dampened and the negotiation climate was right.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

If you’re a local chances are you’ll find yourself at Westlake Park on the day after Thanksgiving – given that it’s Seattle’s epicenter for everything Holiday related. There’s the Macy’s Parade, the carousel and the tree lighting ceremony.

And this year, Occupy Seattle wants to take part in the festivities. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Microsoft's Bill Gates returned to the witness stand Tuesday to defend his company against a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit that claims the software giant tricked a competitor into huge losses and soared onto the market with Windows 95.

On today's show, we talk to Carl Richards. His job is to give people financial advice, yet he got sucked into the housing boom and spit out the other end, just like millions of other people.

He tells us his story, and explains how his experience has changed the way he thinks about money, and about risk.

For more, read Carl's recent New York Times article.

Boeing is moving 80 senior executives and support staff in the Commercial Airplane Group from offices in Renton to downtown Seattle.

Ryan Healy / Flickr

The Occupy movement is in full force in Seattle with protesters taking to the streets showing their discontent with the way things are. And yet, when asked in a recent survey, are you happy? Most Seattleites said … yes, pretty much.

In fact, when it comes to happiness, Seattle is above average!

Charla Bear Photo / KPLU News

Do you have a high-speed Internet connection?

If you do, you’re pretty lucky ... because many people in the Puget Sound region don’t ... even in relatively big cities, such as Seattle.

As part of a national push, the city has teamed up with the University of Washington to try and bring more private investment to broadband infrastructure.

Columbine Quillen / Flickr

Maybe you’re a regular and know the cashiers by name, or maybe you only go in once a year - to pick up some rum to make that eggnog a little more grown-up. In any case, you might be surprised to learn your local state run liquor store could remain a liquor store.

Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said the recently passed initiative folds the existing liquor licenses in to the new system.

Nearly 70,000 people in Idaho don’t have jobs. That’s according to estimates from the Idaho Department of Labor. That figure doesn’t take into account the thousands of people who are underemployed or who’ve given up the search.

Justy Thomas was 34 years old then, and like so many in her situation, was at a crossroads. When Thomas lost her job four years ago she decided to college.

Thomas: "I wanted to do a reset. I wanted to change my career"

She says going to college also seemed like a necessity.

It’s a big week for aviation biofuels.

A United flight took off Monday from Houston, for the first time burning jet fuel that was made from algae-based oil. And Alaska Air begins its demonstration flights from Seattle tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 p.m.)  – with fuel made from used cooking oil. 

Consumers are using their phones to do what their computers once did. And that's prompting a major technology company in the Northwest to shift its focus too.

The bread and butter of Micron Technology has been memory for PCs. But the CEO of the Boise chip maker told Bloomberg BusinessWeek the company will expand its base of products for mobile devices.

Chris Devers / Flickr

It isn't just the poor and unemployed who are suffering in Seattle and Washington, but people who ten years ago were living comfortably on their wages are now living with a paycheck that doesn't seem to go far enough.

A new study from the University of Washington has found that the cost of living in Seattle and Washington State has risen significantly while worker wages have remained the same.

Keep an eye out for trick-or-treaters as you head out on the roads this evening Despite the down economy, retailers expect Halloween spending will rise this year.

The National Retail Federation's annual Halloween spending survey found that the average person plans to spend about $72 on costumes, candy and decorations. That's a jump of more than $15 over the past two years.

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