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Despite the massive fraud that has emerged as the U.S. tries to dig itself out of the foreclosure mess at the heart of the great recession, there are still huge numbers of honest folks working in the real estate business. 

That's according to professional appraisers in Washington state, dozens of whom have signed an on-line petition. 

Emergency measures in a new law go into effect immediately, creating the infrastructure needed to get more housing counselors working with banks and preventing people from losing their homes.

Paula Wissel

The Associated Press reporters and photographers around the country weren't tweeting or uploading their stories to Facebook today.  They also refrained from using their personal cell phones or cars for business.

Flickr, @photo

A surprisingly solid March – that's the consensus about last month's retail sales.  Despite cold weather and climbing gas prices, shoppers spent a lot more money last month than they did in March a year ago.

Costco and Nordstrom are among the local companies that are benefiting.

AP

Federal officials have issued an emergency order requiring inspections of Boeing planes with similar construction to the Southwest Airlines plane that had a 5-foot tear that led to an emergency landing last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration order Tuesday applies to Boeing 737-300s, 400s and 500s that have a similarly constructed joint where pieces of the plane's skin meet. The joint is at about the midpoint of the passenger cabin.

Ted S. Warren / AP

When disaster response in Japan turns to rebuilding, Northwest timber companies and sawmills should see an increase in exports. But an industry consultant says the slow pace of disaster recovery means those new orders may not come for months. 

Stock prices for some North American timber companies spiked in the immediate aftermath of the Japan disaster. Wall Street anticipates a surge in Japanese demand for logs, lumber and plywood to rebuild homes.

AP

Boeing says it’s providing technical assistance to federal aviation regulators and to Southwest Airlines in the wake of Friday’s mid-flight incident where a hole appeared in the skin of a 737 airliner at 34,000 feet.

The Seattle Times reports that the sudden rupture has experts concerned because the stress-related failure of the aircraft’s aluminum skin occurred mid-fuselage. That's a place that was not previously thought to be vulnerable to that kind of damage. 

Jim Bryant / AP

There’s good news and bad news for logging and saw-milling jobs in the Northwest. The bad news is new figures out show construction spending dropped in February to the lowest level in more than a decade. The good news is that timber demand from China is soaring.

Russia has traditionally been China’s main wood supplier. An export tax by the Russians combined with the expanding Chinese economy has created an opening for exporters on the West Coast.

AP

The World Trade Organization has ruled that some U.S. government aid to aircraft maker Boeing Co. is illegal. 

The WTO's report details findings first issued in private to the EU and U.S. in January. It says the EU has demonstrated the U.S. gave Boeing "export subsidies that are prohibited" and recommends the U.S. either withdraw them or "take steps to remove the adverse affects." 

Ted S. Warren / AP

A "...boatload of loans, sitting in foreclosure," or on the verge of being taken back by the banks. Those are the words of one economist, talking about what's happening in the real estate markets of major cities, nation-wide. The greater Seattle area is no exception.

The numbers come from the Case-Schiller index and they're not pretty.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Gourmet food company Harry & David hopes to make a quick trip through bankruptcy reorganization. The legendary Northwest retailer filed a “pre-arranged restructuring” plan with a Delaware court.

The struggling retailer will use the bankruptcy process to shed its heavy debt load and repair its balance sheet. The century-old Medford, Oregon icon filed papers saying the majority of its bond holders have agreed to swap their debt for equity in a restructured company.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Seattle's downtown restaurant owners are still grumbling about rate hikes for metered street parking.

The city's new scheme has been in place for a little over a month. But the controversy hasn't gone away. One of the city's most famous restaurant owners is going public with his concerns.

Jon Jordan / Flickr image

Nintendo’s handheld 3D game player hits shelves this weekend. Analysts expect it to mean big things for the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond.

Flickr photo courtesy dontthink.feel

Tully's Coffee has lost yet another CEO. Seattle's second biggest coffee enterprise has announced that Carl Pennington will retire at the end of this month. 

According to the Seattle Times, he is the seventh CEO to cycle through the company since founder Tom O'Keefe stepped down from the post a decade ago. 

Tom Banse / N3

To consumers, the welter of eco-labels on various food products can be nebulous or confusing. But the first crab fishery on the West Coast to get a green friendly label says it is seeing a really quick payoff.

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU

Starbucks stocks have surged. That's thanks in part to the German financial company Deutsche Bank, which has resumed its coverage of the Seattle coffee giant and is saying investors should buy the stock. 

It's just one sign of confidence in the rebound of the company, as its executives outlined its latest growth strategies.

An annual love affair with coffee and other addictive treats

Ted S. Warren / AP

Here's some good news in a down economy.  Michelle Dunlop writes in The Herald of Everett that Boeing is hiring 100 people a week and has been doing it for the past several months.

Dunlop writes:

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU

One of Seattle's most famous employers is moving. City leaders are celebrating…because online-retailing giant Amazon.com is only moving a few miles across town. 

The new headquarters complex is large enough to house several thousand employees.

Documents surfacing from an ongoing lawsuit are raising questions about the demotion of a Hanford whistleblower and whether a top manager with the Department of Energy was involved.

AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile want to merge. Boards of the mobile giants agreed to a $39 billion deal, announced Sunday, according to TechFlash reporter Greg Lamm:

The purchase, still subject to approval by regulatory boards, would create the largest mobile phone company in theU.S. If the deal closes, it would combine the nation's second- and fourth-largest wireless carriers, creating a company with nearly 130 million subscribers, and could lead to higher rates for consumers, experts said.

Lamm writes that until quite recently T-Mobile, the Seattle area's remaining major wireless firm, was considered to be in merger talks with Sprint Nextel. 

Columbia Power Technologies

An Oregon-based alternative energy company is one step closer to generating electricity from the ocean's waves. The company has launched a prototype wave energy buoy. For testing, the startup chose the gentler waters of Puget Sound.

Japan's nuclear reactor crisis has sharpened the debate over where the U.S. will store its radioactive waste in the long-term. Tuesday the State of Washington and other plaintiffs will argue in federal court that the Obama administration should not abandon the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

The earthquake, tsunami and radiation leaks in Japan are having a ripple effect on the trans-Pacific seafood trade.

In Seattle, Sushi Kappo Tamura chef and owner Taichi Kitamura is worried now that a big chunk of the Japanese fishing industry damaged or destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Along with sushi, Kitamura's menu also features some traditional recipes that use Japanese fish.

"Consistency in availability is very important because you have a menu and you have to keep certain items on the menu," Kitamura says.

Kitamura is also worried about the safety of the seafood he imports. South Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries are already testing Japanese food imports for radiation. Japanese authorities say the levels of radiation released from the crippled nuclear reactors don't pose a public health risk. But Kitamura says skittish customers might decide to stay away.

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The nuclear crisis in Japan could have repercussions for a proposed nuclear enrichment plant in Idaho. A Congressional subcommittee will hear testimony on nuclear safety, just as other countries re-examine their policies on nuclear power.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Lawmakers expect to get more bad news tomorrow when the new state revenue forecast comes out. If the budget shortfall grows, pressure will intensify to find new sources of tax dollars to offset some of the cuts. Maybe gambling.

That's what owners of the state's non-tribal casinos are betting on. They're ready with a proposal to allow video slot machines in off-reservation mini-casinos – something they say will benefit the state’s coffers.

AP

Unemployment ticked downward in Washington state in February as hiring picked up. The changes were small, but the job market seems to have “turned the corner,” according to the State's Employment Security department. 

Washington's chief labor economist Dave Wallace, spoke about the fresh data released Tuesday. Wallace says the hard-hit construction industry showed surprisingly strong gains regionally and nationally:

Tom Banse / N3

One of the best known Northwest brands is on the verge of bond default or bankruptcy according to financial analysts. Gourmet food retailer Harry & David is one of the biggest employers in southern Oregon. It also has a network of anxious suppliers around the region.

Single-serve coffee is in vogue.  Seattle-based Starbucks says that's the motivation behind a long-awaited deal with Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee, which the companies signed today.  It's part of Starbuck's strategy for continued growth in the US and Canada. 

AP

Microsoft's Xbox is breaking records in the gaming world. The company says it has already sold 10 million of its newfangled motion-controller device, the Kinect, since the product launched in November.

That's a world record.

Starbucks

In 40 years it went from a tiny store near Pike Place Market to a global brand, recognized around the world.  Starbucks is celebrating its  anniversary with a new, simplified logo that doesn’t have the word "Starbucks" or "coffee" on it. 

On Tuesday, a band played and hundreds of employees gathered and cheered as the logo was unveiled at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.  CEO Howard Schultz told the crowd there were many doubters in the beginning who didn’t think Starbucks could ever go beyond the West Coast. "But they were wrong," he said.

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