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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Regional airline Horizon Air is facing a hefty fine of more than $1 million for flying nearly two dozen passenger planes while they were not in compliance with federal regulations, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday.

The FAA said Horizon Air operated 22 Bombardier DHC-8-402 turboprop airliners on more than 186,000 revenue flights while security flight deck doors were installed with blind rivets which can damage other components such as wiring. Instead, federal regulations require these to be installed with solid rivets.

The FAA said it discovered the violations after a 23rd Horizon Air plane was modified with blind rivets, causing it to experience in-flight wiring damage during a non-revenue flight. But even after being told the aircraft were not in compliance with federal regulations, Horizon Air continued to operate one of the aircraft on another 22 passenger-carrying revenue flights before finally replacing the rivets.

As a result of the violations, which occurred between December 2007 and June 2011, the FAA has proposed a civil penalty of $1,005,000 against Horizon Air. The company, which is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group that also owns Alaska Airlines, has 30 days to respond to the agency.

The fine proposed on Wednesday comes just three months after the FAA fined the airline $445,125 for operating a Bombardier Dash-8-400 aircraft on 45 flights while it was not in compliance with federal regulations. The FAA said Horizon Air failed to inspect the aircraft for cracked or corroded engine nacelle fittings every 300 operating hours.

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) –Starbucks Corporation, the world’s largest coffeehouse company, on Monday announced it has acquired San Francisco-based bakery chain Bay Bread, LLC and its La Boulange bakery brand for $100 million.

Starbucks also announced the hiring of renowned French baker Pascal Rigo, whose recipes are to be introduced into its U.S.-operated stores under the La Boulange brand. “After more than 40 years, we will be able to say that we are bakers too,” said Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz.

“In La Boulange bakery and Pascal, we’ve found a company and a culinary artist who share our passion for creating premium products, reinventing and elevating an entire product category, and delivering the best customer experience,” Schultz added. The acquisition of Bay Bread is the company’s largest ever.

Starbucks, which operates more than 17,000 retail stores in over 55 countries, has been able to successfully introduce food as an important part of the company’s core business. According to a company statement, food now accounts for $1.5 billion in revenues in U.S. company-operated stores and has grown by double digits in each of the last two fiscal years.

With the announcement, Starbucks said it plans to make La Boulange products available in Starbucks company-operated retail stores in the United States over time, although a timeline was not immediately provided. La Boulange bakery operates 19 retail locations in the Bay Area and sells its products in several upscale restaurants, hotels, and specialty grocery stores in the region.

According to the agreement, Bay Bread, LLC and the La Boulange bakery brand will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starbucks Corporation. The acquisition is expected to dilute earnings by approximately $0.02 per share in the second half of fiscal 2012, compared to the previously announced earnings targets. 

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — A gunmen opened fire at a cafe in Seattle on late Wednesday morning, killing four people and injuring another before killing a fifth person about half an hour later, police said. The gunmen later killed himself.

The incident began at approximately 10:52 a.m. local time when 40-year-old Ian Stawicki walked into restaurant and music venue Cafe Racer in Seattle’s university district and tried ordering a coffee. But employees at the cafe reminded him that he had been banned from the business for his erratic behavior in the past.

“He calmly turned towards the door,” Seattle police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee said. “Stawicki then drew a .45 pistol, and opened fire on staff and patrons inside the café, shooting several of them at close range, execution style.” Four of the five people shot were killed, police said, but Stawicki was able to flee the scene before officers arrived on-scene about five minutes later.

About half an hour later, as more than 100 detectives and officers were investigating the cafe murder scene and were searching for a suspect, Stawicki approached a woman in the downtown area of Seattle and pistol-whipped her, knocking her to the ground before shooting her in the head, killing her. Police were at the scene within two minutes but Stawicki had already fled in the woman’s Mercedes SUV.

Later that day, at approximately 4 p.m. local time, a plainclothes detective spotted Stawicki in the Highpoint neighborhood in the western area of the city. “The detective called for backup, and officers moved in to arrest Stawicki,” Spangenthal-Lee said. “As officers approached Stawicki on the street, he knelt to the ground, pulled out another .45 handgun, and shot himself in the head. Medics rushed Stawicki to Harborview, where he later died from his wounds.”

The exact motive for the shootings was not immediately clear.

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MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) — Software powerhouse Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has sold patents originally from Internet services and media company AOL to social networking giant Facebook for $550 million in cash.

According to a statement released by Microsoft, it reached a definitive agreement with Facebook under which Microsoft will assign to Facebook the rights to purchase a portion of the patent portfolio it recently agreed to acquire from AOL, Inc.

In the initial AOL auction, Microsoft secured the ability to own or assign approximately 925 U.S. patents and patent applications plus a license to AOL’s remaining patent portfolio, which contains approximately 300 additional patents that were not for sale. As a result of Monday’s agreement, Facebook will obtain ownership of approximately 650 AOL patents and patent applications, plus a license to the AOL patents and applications that Microsoft will purchase and own.

However, Microsoft will retain ownership of roughly 275 AOL patents and applications; a license to the approximately 650 AOL patents and applications that will now be owned by Facebook; and a license to approximately 300 patents that AOL did not sell in the auction. “Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s executive vice president and general counsel.

“As we said earlier this month, we had submitted the winning AOL bid in order to obtain a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio,” Smith added.

Meanwhile, Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot said the transaction is another ‘significant step’ in the company’s ongoing process of building an “intellectual property portfolio to protect Facebook’s interests over the long term.” The transactions are still subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

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SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq (BNO NEWS) — An American teacher who worked at a Christian school in northern Iraq was shot dead by a teacher on Thursday, according to media reports on Friday. The student then killed himself.

Jeremiah Small, of Cosmopolis, Grays Harbor County, located in the state of Washington, was killed by a student at the English-speaking Medes School, located in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the Seattle Times reported.

The shooter was identified as 18-year-old Biyar Sardar al Talabani who killed Small before shooting himself. The student later succumbed to the gunshot injury at a local hospital.

The motive behind the killing remains unclear, as Iraq’s Kurdish Region, which is located northeast of Baghdad, the country’s capital, has been a relatively peaceful region with little terrorist activity compared to other areas.

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NORTH BEND, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — Three people were killed on early Wednesday morning when a small plane crashed into a hill in the central-western region of Washington, local and federal officials said. There were no survivors.

The accident happened between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. local time when the single-engine Cessna 172 aircraft crashed on the sheer face of Little Si, a hill near the town of North Bend in King County which is named after its taller neighbor, Mount Si. There were three people on board.

Residents and deputies in the region reported hearing an explosion at the time of the accident, but it took search-and-rescue teams several hours to locate the wreckage. King County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cindi West said its helicopter was receiving an emergency locator transmission but experienced difficulty pinpointing the location.

West said the bodies of three people, two men and one woman, were recovered at the scene of the accident. It was not immediately clear if the emergency locator transmission was automatically activated upon impact or if it was activated by someone who initially survived the crash.

Mike Fergus, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said the aircraft was registered in Wilmington, Delaware to Christiansen Aviation. The identities of the victims were not immediately released, and it was also not immediately clear where the aircraft was flying from and to.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the cause of the accident.

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — Four U.S. service members were killed on Monday evening when two U.S. Army helicopters crashed at a military base in Washington state, officials said on Tuesday.

The accident happened just after 8 p.m. local time when two single-engine OH-58 Kiowa observation helicopters crashed inside the southwest training area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Thurston County, about 9.1 miles (14.6 kilometers) south-southwest of Tacoma.

While debris was spread across a large area, indicting a possible mid-air collision, officials were unable to say whether the aircraft collided or had crashed separately. Sheriff deputies and military personnel blocked off the site, and an investigation was ongoing on Tuesday.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of the Soldiers involved in this tragic accident,” said Major General Lloyd Miles, acting senior Army commander at JBLM and deputy commanding general of I Corps. “We will conduct a thorough investigation into this incident, and we will do everything in our power to support the families of the brave Soldiers who died [yesterday].”

The names of the four Army aviators were expected to be released on Wednesday after next of kin have been informed.

Although no initial comments were made regarding the cause, reports indicate that the skies were clear and not foggy. The H-58 Kiowa helicopter has been used by the U.S. Army since 1969 and has been manufactured by Bell Helicopter.

On December 21, 2006, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a mountainside near Enumclaw, marking the last time a military helicopter crashed in the area. Three members of the 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment assigned to Fort Lewis died in the crash.

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KABUL (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. soldier was shot dead in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday when his unit came under attack from insurgents, the U.S. military confirmed on Sunday.

The U.S. Department of Defense said one of its soldiers died in Logar Province, located in Afghanistan’s east, as a result of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire. The service member was identified as 24-year-old Specialist Ricardo Cerros Jr. of Salinas, California.

Cerros was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, according to the Department of Defense. It gave no other details.

Cerros’ death was not earlier reported by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but the multinational force previously said two other coalition service members were killed as a result of an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan, also on Saturday, but gave no other details such as the nationalities of the casualties.

Coalition casualties in Afghanistan have been rising sharply in recent years with a total coalition death toll of 709 in 2010, making it the deadliest year for international troops since the war began in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 10,000 American troops later this year, with another 23,000 U.S. troops to return home next year.

So far this year, at least 476 coalition service members have been killed in Afghanistan. Most troops are American and are killed in the country’s south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians. The deadliest incident happened in August when a U.S. helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 U.S. troops, seven Afghan troops and an Afghan interpreter.

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SEATTLE (BNO NEWS) — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday said it will fine Alaska Airlines nearly $600,000 for allegedly operating aircraft while they were not in compliance with federal regulations due to improper installations.

The FAA said the fine is the result of an investigation into a flight deck ceiling fire which occurred on a Boeing 737-400 aircraft on January 18, 2010, while it was parked at the gate of Anchorage International Airport in Alaska. Investigators determined the fire was caused by chafed wiring that had resulted from improper installation of a hose clamp.

The 737-400 maintenance manual includes an explicit warning about proper installation of the hose clamp in question, and the airline later discovered the same problem existed on nine other aircraft in its fleet. Alaska Airlines made corrections as a result and there were no other fires.

“Maintenance work has to be performed precisely and correctly every time. Improper maintenance can have serious consequences,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said. As a result, the agency fined Alaska Airlines $590,000.

It is Alaska’s first civil penalty from the FAA since January 2006, when the agency fined the airline $500,000 because it operated a Boeing 737 aircraft on 478 flights while the aircraft’s emergency exit identifier lights were not working properly.

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VANCOUVER (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck off Vancouver Island in British Columbia on early Friday afternoon, seismologists said, with tremors felt as far away as the city of Vancouver and the U.S. state of Washington.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake at 12.41 p.m. local time (1941 GMT) was centered about 119 kilometers (73 miles) west-northwest of Ucluelet, a district municipality in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It struck about 25.9 kilometers (16.1 miles deep), making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS estimated that some 2,000 people living near the epicenter may have felt strong shaking, while around 248,000 people were estimated to have felt light to moderate shaking. Tremors were felt as far away as Vancouver and Seattle in the U.S. state of Washington.

Police in both Seattle and Vancouver said there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties as a result of the earthquake, which was initially measured as 6.7 magnitude, and the USGS said there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage.

As earthquakes below magnitude 7 do usually not generate tsunamis, no tsunami warning was issued by the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. “Based on the earthquake magnitude, location and historic tsunami records, a damaging tsunami is not expected along the California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska coasts,” the center said in a bulletin. “Some of these areas may experience non-damaging sea level changes.”

In November 2004, a strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck off Vancouver Island, generating a small tsunami but causing no damage or casualties. The country’s deadliest quake on record happened in 1774, when a powerful quake of unknown magnitude killed at least 300 people on the island of Newfoundland.

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