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March 30  |  
Who's that riding shotgun? The state Department of Transportation will use cameras to monitor toll lanes on I-405 and send bills to vehicles' registered owners. But the law forbids the state from using images of the people inside the cars to nail carpool lane violators.

Because mannequins, blow-up dolls and

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March 28  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Meanwhile in first-class: A lack of luxury seats from a supplier has forced Boeing to park at least two of its 787 Dreamliners in California's Mojave Desert while it waits for the supplier to catch up. The first-class "cabin seats," which cost between $150,000 and $300,000, lie flat and offer in-flight entertainment and massage motors.

Here's how to speed things up and...

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March 27  |  
The gong has rung: The sixth season of the British costume drama "Downton Abbey" will be its last, show producers announced Thursday. The final season is currently in production, but The Buzz can disclose the following spoilers:

The Bateses are blessed with a child — who is promptly arrested for the murder of Mr. Green.

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March 26  |  
Mac and jeezIt still counts as a vegetable, right? The merger of Kraft and Heinz to become the largest food company in the world will likely mean lost jobs for some workers of each company. “Even though it is painful for the people involved, those resources will be freed up for other, potentially more productive, uses,” said a finance professor about the deal (Page A9).

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March 25  |  
After all, Seinfeld says he invented Twitter: Larry King no longer has a major-network TV gig, but the 81-year-old broadcaster is all over this Twitter business. Several times a day, King whips out a flip phone and dictates a random thought to an assistant, who then types the missive into the Twitter account in King's name.

If the assistant is savvy, he or she will have set up a hot key on their laptop to randomly select and automatically type one of the...

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March 24  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
What, no .orgy? As the corporation responsible for Internet URL addresses prepares to release new suffixes beyond .com and .org, businesses, celebrities and others are buying up .porn, .sex and .xxx URLs to prevent anyone from creating a website with the address TaylorSwift.sex or Microsoft.porn.

We can see why Taylor Swift is getting ahead of this, but what self-respecting porn...

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March 21  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Know when to fold them: Fourteen Atlantic City gamblers, who were ordered to return $1.5 million in winnings because the casino unknowingly used unshuffled cards that the gamblers used to their advantage, have asked the judge to reverse his decision.

The gamblers told the judge they'd happily return the winnings, but they've already lost it all at the same casino.

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March 20  |  
Because nobody ever runs out of gas: Tesla Motors is updating its Model S electric car to help ease drivers' worries about running out of battery charge by mapping out the best route to the nearest charging station.

Range is said to be the biggest concern people have about electric cars — and also is No. 3 on the list of top 10 First World Problems, just behind kids bringing peanut butter sandwiches to school.

News for night...

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March 19  |  
Portland would never fall for this: Anheuser-Busch has rolled out a new video in which some Brooklyn hipsters are asked to blind-taste-test a beer described as a "beer drinker's beer" and "aged over beechwood" and give it rave reviews, only to be told it's Budweiser.

As punishment for their failure to react with revulsion at corporate beer, the Brooklynites are forcibly relocated to...

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March 18  |  
Don't hide under the balls: Folks in the Netherlands are playing games of hide-and-seek in Ikea stores, and the retail giant isn't happy about it.

Ikea says it's concerned for the safety of its customers — and, presumably, of game players who become hopelessly lost in the giant stores' vast trackless wastelands of MÄRKIND bookshelves and SVÖNYN entertainment centers, and are never heard from again.

Perhaps the House of...

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March 17  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Hanging out with Kim Jong-un? Out of public sight for 10 days, Russian President Vladimir Putin resurfaced and appeared to be in good health. Among the rumors were that he was dead, ill or with the Olympic gymnast who gave birth to their baby.

The truth was much more mundane: "‘House of Cards' on Netflix we were binge-watching," Putin said.

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March 16  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
You start on one side: I'll start on the other: This winter's light snowfall in the Cascades means the state Department of Transportation can begin work early to clear and reopen mountain passes closed earlier in the winter.

To clear the snow the state is putting an ad on Craigslist to hire two, maybe three guys. Bring your own snow shovels and a sack lunch.

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March 14  |  
Now showing at Xanadu: Film buffs enjoyed a rare opportunity Friday to view "Citizen Kane," Orson Welles' film classic that William Randolph Hearst tried to suppress because it lampooned him, in the tycoon's personal theater at his castle in San Simeon, California.

In other movie news, a pristine 70 mm print of "Star Wars" will be screened in Grand Moff Tarkin's personal theater aboard the Death Star.

CyberSmokey...

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March 13  |  
A quart of oil added in every county: A Michigan couple completed a quest to visit all 3,108 counties in the Lower 48 with a trip to Nantucket this week. They made the trip in the same vehicle — a 1999 Dodge Intrepid with more than 540,000 miles.

The project took nine years, but would have taken just 4½ years had the couple listened to friends who advised them to buy a Toyota Corolla for the journey.

Pirates keep on...

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March 12  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Dry martini, sprinkled, not stirred: A federal tax agency has approved the sale of Palcohol, powdered alcohol that can be mixed into drinks. Some states have moved to ban the product out of concerns it could be easily abused by children, snorted or snuck into public events.

We'll oppose powdered alcohol on more basic grounds by asking this question: Would you make a screwdriver with...

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March 11  |  
Mailbox cleanup

Nixon-style: Hillary Clinton conceded Tuesday that she made a mistake in using private email when she was secretary of state, but defended the deletion of some 30,000 emails that she says were not work-related .

Somewhere in the afterlife, a jowly man with a 5 o'clock shadow murmurs, "well played, madam."

Attention dumb smartphone users: The state Senate voted to extend...

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March 10  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Watch with envy: Apple unveiled its new Watch, with a variety of models that range from $349 to more than $10,000. Despite its past success, analysts say Apple has yet to make a compelling case that consumers need the new watch, since they already have smartphones.

But those analysts forget the compelling case Apple makes for all its products: You need to buy this before your friends so you can be cooler than them.

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March 9  |  
Far away, and yet so close: As a Herald reader notes, the reader board on I-5 at I-405 in south Snohomish County now gives estimated travel times to Southcenter instead of downtown Seattle.

Newcomers to the area will be forgiven if they, after seeing the board announce "Southcenter 135 minutes" during rush hour, assume Southcenter is a city somewhere in Oregon.

Fabulous human shield: Madonna, 56, says a rigorous...

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March 7  |  
And So Can You: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is bringing out a new book, "A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Miracle of America," scheduled for release June 30.

In it, the likely presidential candidate will share his reverence for free markets — especially the one that reportedly gave him a seven-figure book deal.

He was just there so he'd get paid — a lot: Marshawn Lynch will return to the Seahawks for the 2015 season. According to published...

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March 6  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV: The cast for the third installment of Syfy's "Sharknado" franchise will feature billionaire Mark Cuban and conservative columnist Ann Coulter as the president and vice president as the shark-infested twister visits Washington, D.C.

Need proof beyond Cuban and Coulter that "Sharknado" is so over? How about the final scene where a motorcycle-riding shark jumps a pool full of...

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March 5  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Sweet nothings: New health guidelines from the World Health Organization advise people, particularly Americans and Europeans, to slash their sugar intake to about six to 12 teaspoons a day, less than what's in a can of soda.

Maybe it is time to revise the current guidelines, which warn you've eaten too much sugar when you can no longer get your chubby little fingers...

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March 4  |  
But will he fall as far as Chelsea Manning? Retired four-star Gen. David Patraeus has agreed to plead guilty to charges that he shared secret documents with his girlfriend — with whom he carried on an affair that scuttled his tenure as CIA director.

The charge carries up to a year behind bars, but Patraeus' chances of serving time in prison are probably about the same as your chances of winning the $5.3 million Washington Lotto jackpot.


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March 3  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
We are not amused: Actress Maggie Smith told the Sunday Times that she's leaving the cast of "Downton Abbey," the BBC series set in an English manor. Smith, who plays the sharp-tongued Dowager Countess Violet Crawley, a.k.a. Lady Grantham, won't return after the sixth season.

Is it too much to hope that "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes will spin off...

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March 2  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
At least he got her name right this time: John Travolta has had his ups and downs over his long career, including his latest low during the recent Oscars when he took singer Idina Menzel by the face, after planting an unwanted kiss on Scarlett Johansson.

Travolta later explained the serial groping as preparation for a movie, in which he plays Vice President Joe Biden.

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February 28  |  
First they took our basketball team. Now they take our elephants. The Woodland Park Zoo announced Friday that it will send its two Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai, to the Oklahoma City Zoo so they can be part of a larger social herd.

Let's get one thing straight. There is absolutely no truth whatsoever to tweeted rumors that former NBA Commissioner David Stern brokered the deal. Because if he had, we'd be sending the stuffed and mounted remains of Bobo...

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February 27  |  
The McMansion is back: Forget all the talk about not-so-big houses and walkable urban communities. The median square footage of homes built in 2014 was nearly 1,000 square feet larger than in 1992, and they're being built in ever-sprawling suburbs (Page A9).

America's houses are getting so big and far-flung that before you know it, cars will be needed not only for all errands outside the home, but inside it, too.

Who cooks for you...

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February 26  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
We're going to need a bigger boat: State wildlife officials believe a great white shark following a warm current may have come close to shore near Ocean Shores, after a harbor seal was found bitten in half.

The other clue was the ominous soundtrack that follows the shark: Dun. Dun. ... Dun. Dun. ... Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun.

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February 25  |  

Watch out for stretch Hummers: Alaska on Tuesday became the third state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, but unlike Colorado and Washington, the Last Frontier celebrated in low-key fashion.

Backers of legal weed wanted to avoid raucous parties that might have sent a negative message about marijuana — especially after they were crashed by the Palin family.

Watch your wig: General Motors is recalling...

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February 24  |  Jon Bauer, Herald staff
Lies good like Big Tobacco would: America's largest tobacco companies are asking a court to set aside its requirement that they run ads that admit they lied about the dangers of smoking. They told the court they don't want to pay for ads that brand them as liars.

The court compromised and said they could use the following slogans instead: "I'd walk a mile for a chemo...

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February 23  |  
Rolling alongMore likely, not: Snohomish County residents spend more time in our cars than anybody else in the state, according to a recent state survey (Street Smarts, Page A3).In fact, celebrity traffic on the red carpet before Sunday’s Academy Awards (Page A2) moved a lot faster than typical weekday rush-hour traffic on northbound I-5 through Everett.

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