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Medford, Ore. – The Pacific Northwest exported almost a billion board feet of unmilled logs to Asia in the first half of 2011.

That's enough to build about 70 thousand homes. It's also a 79 percent increase from 2010 exports, according to second quarter trade data just reviewed by Forest Service economist Debra Warren.

Another landmark retailer is leaving Seattle’s Pioneer Square. 

Masins Fine Furnishing and Interior Design has put its building up for lease and started looking for another Seattle location where its customers won’t get so many parking tickets.

Seattle-based Amazon is under ongoing pressure from the state of California to collect state sales taxes from internet consumers. This week the retailer offered a deal to California's legislature and retailers to try and curry favor. But Amazon was rebuffed.

Associated Press

The justice department is suing to block AT&T’s acquisition of Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, arguing it’s a bad deal for consumers. But here in Washington, an even greater threat is the impact the merger could have on local jobs and the economy.

Washington State Liquor Control Board

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has opened its first premier liquor store. The West Seattle store, at 4100 SW Alaska St., is the first of two new high volume, specialty stores the state is opening in urban areas.

WSDOT

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Within the plans to increase fares, cars shorter than 14 feet will be charged a lower fare on Washington ferries and bike riders won't need an annual permit under changes approved by the state Transportation Commission.

Chris / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state of Washington is getting ready to accept bids from private companies to take over the distribution of liquor. One question: how to evaluate the financial promises the bidders make.

This was a key topic Tuesday as state leaders met in advance of the formal bid process that’s about to get underway.

Dan Neslon / Flickr

It’s been almost 30 years but JC Penny is making a comeback. The Seattle Times reports the clothing-store chain is planning to set up shop just one block from where the original store once stood.

Chris de Rham / Flickr

Latino workers struggling with issues of fair wages, harassment and safety in the workplace are getting help this week from an unlikely source. The Mexican government is sponsoring workshops in Seattle and other cities to help those workers understand their rights.

Vanessa Romo / KPLU

It’s years behind schedule and over budget but Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is now approved to carry passengers.

Federal Aviation Administration officials gave their official seal of approval amid swelling music, a flag parade, and a fly over by Airplane Number 2.

Aftab Uzzaman / Flickr

The latest polling of Washington voters shows that optimism has taken “nose dive” to an all-time low.

Voters surveyed in The Elway Poll – an independent, nonpartisan analysis of public opinion – were less likely to think things were “getting better” than at any time since the survey began in 1991.

The architect of the survey, Stuart Elway, said people may be openly entertaining the idea that America has entered a “malaise” or “a new normal” of long-term high unemployment, weak spending and, simply, a plain old bummer of an economy like the one Japan suffered for more than a decade.

Nikky Stephen / Flickr

Cooler temperatures this year have given Washington’s wheat famers a boost. The cool wet spring combined with good ripening conditions in July and August have increased yields here. At the same time, severe drought has diminished the harvest in the nation’s Plain states. 

As a result, Washington is expected to surpass Texas and Oklahoma in winter-wheat production this year, making it second only to Kansas.   

Associated Press

At the news of Steve Job's departure from Apple's top job, Mark Anderson – KPLU's "The Digital Future" commentator and CEO of Strategic News Service, the first subscription-based newsletter on the Internet – told his subscribers to sell sell sell.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Inc. says Steve Jobs resigning as CEO, effective immediately.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Boeing workers in North Charleston are assembling the first new 787 to be made in South Carolina.

Washington State Liquor Control Board

A new law giving distillers the opportunity to set up tastings in state-run liquor stores goes into effect Sept. 1 and runs for a year.

The “spirits tasting pilot” was established by the Washington Legislature in response to a request from the Distillery Representative Association of Washington (DRAW).

Boeing has received safety clearance from the U.S. and Europe for the 747-8 freighter, clearing the way for the plane to be delivered to its first customer next month.

Courtesy of Imperial Oil

Another oil company is eying the Inland Northwest as a potential corridor for oversized shipments to the Canadian oil sands. That's despite prolonged legal wrangling that has delayed the other so-called "megaloads."

Associated Press

A panel discussion in Seattle this week hosted by Barokas Public Relations and GeekWire sparked a lively debate around the intersection of two questions:  Why are Facebook, Google, HP, Zynga and Salesforce.com building big shops in Seattle? And, Is Microsoft vulnerable to engineer-poaching because of its culture?

SP8254 / Flickr

The late train from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, will no longer be coming to a stop.

The nightly service was scheduled to end on October 31, when Canadian officials said they expected Amtrak to start paying for the extra border staff it requires. The Canada Border Services Agency wanted $1500 a day to compensate for keeping patrol agents around later into the evening, according to Railway Age Magazine:

It seems like everyone is talking about the J word lately. That would be JOBS. The President was on the road in the Midwest talking about them this week.

Now Democratic Senator Patty Murray spent a couple hours at a local Seattle factory talking about how to keep them, how to create them and how to train people for them.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of Washington’s largest health insurers faces a hefty fine for refusing to pay for the removal of a certain type of birth control device.

Regence BlueShield will pay a $100,000 penalty for improperly denying claims from nearly 1,000 women. The women had their IUDs removed because the device was outdated or they wanted to try to have a baby.

Washington's jobless rate is turning back up, reaching 9.3 percent in July after falling to as low as 9.1 percent earlier this year.

Kin Cheung / AP

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants some change in Washington D.C. and the best way to get it, he says, is by boycotting donations to political campaigns. In an open letter sent to Starbucks on Monday, he urged other company heads to withholding campaign contribution until President Obama and Congress solve the nation’s financial woes.  

Vanessa Romo / KPLU

Mention Rotarians and most people's thought bubble consists of this: A group of older white guys in suits meeting for breakfast. But that's changing. In fact, there's a Rotary club in Seattle that's working hard to buck that stereotype.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

One of the best-known Northwest brands is closer to getting out of bankruptcy. A federal judge has given a tentative okay to the recovery plan for Oregon gourmet food and gift retailer Harry & David.

David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Mortgage rates fell to near-record lows this week: The nationwide average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.3% according to Freddie Mac. Rates that low are proving to be catnip to consumers in an otherwise dismal week.

Washington Apple Commission

Washington State harvests about 65% of the nation's apples each fall. But this year, because of the chilly spring, those cheery orbs of goodness could be a bit smaller and possibly less sweet.

Idaho is among a handful of Western states using their gun-rights cred in this tough economy to attract jobs in the firearms industry.

Brent Moore / Flickr

On Tuesday when we started the conversation on our Facebook page about the real impact of the bad economy, the DOW was back on the mend and the fallout from S&P downgrades seemed to be moderate. In that calm before the storm, however, we still felt that the blows to the economy are adding up and causing real people real headaches.

Boy is it, and according to one expert the kind of economic recession we have had will take years to pull out of.

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