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    The Daily Troll: Leavenworth fire danger balloons. Microsoft's big goodbye. Legislature's (un)popularity.

    Two homes burn in the Methow Valley. I-90 closes in ... Eastern Washington.The layoff is the biggest in Microsoft's history and may have ripple effects outside the campus here.

    Fires: Ash falling like snow

    Update at 5:05 p.m. Wildfire destroyed two homes in the Methow Valley today, the Methow Valley News reports. A community meeting about the wildfires raging around the area was scheduled for 7 p.m. in Twisp.

    East of Leavenworth, the Chiwaukum Creek fire ballooned to over fives times its initial size on Wednesday — blazing through 6,638 acres completely uncontained, according to fire officials. Residents of close to 900 homes near Leavenworth have been told to evacuate the area. U.S. 2 has been shut down between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. Smoke from the fire is billowing 25,000 feet into the air. “There's a huge cloud of smoke above us," Don Hurst, a retired firefighter who near Leavenworth, told King5. "The winds started to pick up a little. It's just like snowfall here with the ash coming down. "

    At least nine helicopters were dumping water over the flames around noon, with additional helicopters expected to join the effort later today, a fire information officer told Leavenworth radio station KOHO. The flames were too intense for firefighters to approach on the ground, so they were concentrating on building firebreaks in an attempt to stop the fire from spreading. An estimated 1,000 firefighters are on the line.The Chiwaukum Creek fire is one of three fires in the Mills Canyon Complex of blazes; the other two are located closer to Entiat. The biggest wildfire, the Mills Canyon fire, is 40 percent contained.

    The Red Cross established an emergency shelter at First Baptist Church in Leavenworth. Evacuees who require a safe place to house their pets can contact Club Pet

    Microsoft: Goodbye to record numbers

    Microsoft announced cuts of 18,000 positions Thursday, including 1,351 in the Puget Sound area, in the largest layoffs in company history. The worldwide layoffs includes slashing 12,500 Nokia employees Microsoft acquired last year with the purchase of Nokia’s handset division.

    “We will simplify the way we work to drive greater accountability, become more agile and move faster,” wrote CEO Satya Nadella in a memo. The downsizing will be accompanied by a new thrust into the affordable smartphone market, along with additional emphasis in cloud computing.

    Although Nadella hinted at layoffs last week in a companywide email, the extent of the cuts exceeds expectations — making the 2009 layoffs of 5,800 positions seem like child’s play in comparison. Beneath those official numbers though, the company could also trim its use of contract workers. According to Zdnet, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner wrote in a June 17 email that Microsoft would “reduce our reliance on contingent staff augmentation by over 20 percent year-over-year.” So, how did Wall Street-ers respond to today’s announcements? By snatching up shares of Microsoft stock, which rose over 3 percent Thursday morning.

    Thumbs down on Olympia leadership

    Congress has abysmal approval ratings, but how do state lawmakers fare? When asked to grade state legislators as part of a recent Elway Poll, 46 percent of voters gave legislators a D+ or F and only 1 percent said the Legislature deserves an A, according to Q13Fox.

    Gov. Jay Inslee didn’t get any gold stars: Only 43 percent  of participants view Inslee in a positive light compared to 50 percent with negative opinions of the governor, according to The News Tribune. After 18 months at the post, Inslee’s minus seven points score is better than the even stronger disapproval ratings given to Democratic Govs. Christine Gregoire and Mike Lowry at comparable points in their terms (2006 and 1994, respectively). But, in 1998, voters were giving overwhelming approval to then first-term Democratic Gov. Gary Locke.

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    Posted Thu, Jul 17, 5:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    We've got some different problems here in Seattle, but I'd say the vote for districts is an indication that City Councilmembers don't rank very well either. And the way they have all decided that it is best to take away all future votes on parks and just let them make the decisions for us, doesn't help their popularity.

    Posted Thu, Jul 17, 5:31 p.m. Inappropriate

    Inslee is a joke, but anyone who watched the debates knew it would happen. McKenna had 20 I.Q. points on Inslee, who was cornered into a no-tax increase promise that he immediately broke once in office. I hope McKenna runs again.


    Posted Thu, Jul 17, 9:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    Apropos the Microsoft layoffs: Nurds and techies are amongst the most fanatical fans of Ayn Rand, whose fictionalizations of Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") formalized capitalism's philosophy of infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue – the emphatic rejection of every humanitarian precept our species ever set forth.

    But now all these women and men and have been flung out of work – cast off by Microshaft as if they were nothing more than obsolete software.

    Given the relentless savagery of the economy they hitherto celebrated and served, most likely they will soon discover they have been permanently condemned to minimum-wage slavery.

    I wonder if they will then finally begin to recognize the true nature of capitalism – that it is not just moral imbecility, but moral imbecility run amok – and that they who were previously its prideful facilitators are now its abject victims, defenseless against the smirking vindictiveness of their creditors.

    The only sure beneficiaries of these layoffs are the secret police. There is no person on this planet more dangerous than an angry Nurd turned revolutionary – which means the government agents assigned to spy on these newcomers to the Golden Arches slave-pens will soon be collecting unprecedented hours of overtime pay.

    Posted Fri, Jul 18, 2:17 a.m. Inappropriate

    You haven't lived in the Seattle area for years. What are you doing here?


    Posted Fri, Jul 18, 10:43 a.m. Inappropriate

    You are as ignorant as you are obnoxious, Snot Fan (oops, not sorry). Since when is Tacoma -- where I've lived since 2004 -- outside "the Seattle area"?

    Posted Sun, Jul 20, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    Tacoma is the Floriduh of Washington State.


    Posted Sat, Jul 19, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

    More likely, Mr Lorenbliss, the laid off workers will quickly find great jobs in other great tech companies in the Puget Sound area.

    You see, we have nearly full employment here. I sit in multiple board meetings per month where management teams talk about how hard it is to hire. Anybody smart, ambitious and hard-working enough can easily find a job in the King County area.

    Sorry Mr. Lorenbliss. Your bitter, delusional Marxist fantasy world does not exist


    Posted Fri, Jul 18, 7:22 a.m. Inappropriate

    The idea of Microsoft becoming more agile is amusing. Kind of like putting an elephant in a tutu and ballet shoes and expecting it to star in Swan Lake.


    Posted Mon, Jul 21, 11:53 p.m. Inappropriate


    She's a hippopotamus, not an elephant. And it's not Swan Lake, it's Dance of the Hours (aka "Dearest Mudder; Darling Fadder"). And Walt already did it.

    But close enough.


    Posted Fri, Jul 18, 6:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    Tacoma never has been part of the Seattle area, LB. Everything south of SeaTac gets Tacoma as their town. the aroma of Tacoma kept Seattle and Tacoma as very distant relatives, one needed an anti smell stick.

    Posted Tue, Jul 22, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Tell that to the Port of Seattle which after years of losing business by competeing with Tacoma vs Long Beach/and Prince Rupert is trying to patch things up and perhaps "work together" so that the two of them are still viable.

    Besides with the Sounder Train one can live in Tacoma and work in Seattle pretty easily.


    Posted Tue, Jul 22, 8:56 p.m. Inappropriate

    Why would anyone who works in Seattle want to live in Tacoma? The
    Commuter Sounder runs from Tacoma to Seattle (Amtrak center) are an hour, without even counting the time it takes to get from your home to the train ...

    The biggest issue is the trains do not run enough times per day for those who work longer hours, or want to meet friends after work.

    Plus it's Tacoma.

    Posted Sun, Jul 27, 9:26 a.m. Inappropriate

    Tacoma would be a much better place to live if it wasn't so close to Seattle. Still too easy to get up there for a show or something. Just wait a few more years until we have bumper to bumper traffic all night long.

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