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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pope comes to Philadelphia, pays tribute women in the church

PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis arrived in the City of Brotherly Love on Saturday for the final leg of his U.S. visit — a festive weekend devoted to celebrating Catholic families — and immediately called for the church to place greater value on women. The pontiff's plane touched down at the Philadelphia airport after takeoff from New York, bringing him to a city of blocked-off streets, sidewalks lined with portable potties, and checkpoints manned by police, National Guardsmen and border agents.

Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute. These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bills. Their mortgages, auto loans or student debt pile up, unpaid. Even past-due gym membership fees or cellphone contracts can end up with a collection agency, potentially hurting credit scores and job prospects, said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank.

Health law business insurance site delayed 1 year

CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama's administration is delaying yet another aspect of the health care law. An online health insurance marketplace for small businesses is being put off until November 2014 to make sure the HealthCare.gov website gets fixed first. In a conference call with reporters, administration officials said employers who want to buy marketplace plans for their workers now will need to go through an agent, broker or insurance company to buy coverage this year, instead of using a government website. The administration says the plan will still allow small businesses to buy coverage but avoid slowing technical repairs to the hobbled federal online site.

Shutdown’s lesson: Build a financial safety net

Let the government shutdown serve as a wake-up call: You need an emergency fund. Thousands of government workers were out of work for more than two weeks, causing many of them to fall behind on their bills. Although they will receive back pay, the event highlights how quickly, and unexpectedly, financial situations can change.

Croatians to vote on golf in historic referendum

DUBROVNIK, Croatia (AP) — In 1991, Croatians voted for independence and then last year to join the European Union. Now, in only the third referendum ever in the country, the residents of the postcard-pretty Adriatic sea resort of Dubrovnik will vote on the construction of a massive golf complex on a hill above their ancient walled tourist city. The implications could be just as enduring.

Obama earned less in 2012, pays $112k in taxes

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama made less in 2012 than in any other year since taking office, with about 40 percent of the nearly $609,000 in income that he and first lady Michelle Obama reported coming from book sales. Obama, who renewed his call for higher taxes on the wealthy in the budget he released Wednesday, paid $112,214 in taxes last year, putting his effective federal tax rate at 18.4 percent. The Obamas donated almost one-quarter of their income to charity, helping to lower their overall tax bill, according to tax returns released by the White House.

Medicare premiums could rise for many retirees

WASHINGTON (AP) — They may not agree on much else, but there's a change to Medicare that President Barack Obama and Republicans both support: Expand a little-known law so more retirees that the government considers well-off are required to pay higher monthly premiums. It's on the short list in the budget talks, raising $20 billion or more over 10 years.

IRS: 100M taxpayers face delays without AMT fix

WASHINGTON (AP) — Up to 100 million taxpayers — about two-thirds of all filers — won't be able to file their 2012 tax returns until late March if Congress doesn't adjust the alternative minimum tax by the end of the year, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday. Congress routinely adjusts the AMT to spare millions of middle-income taxpayers from steep tax increases. But the fix for 2012 is caught up in negotiations over the year-end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

Discounts abound as stores try to salvage season

NEW YORK (AP) — When it comes to fat holiday discounts, better late than never. This holiday shopping season, many stores haven't been offering the same blockbuster deals as they did last year. Instead, they've dangled offers of free shipping and no-fee layaways to lure shoppers.

Facebook users hit ‘like,’ stores jump into action

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook isn't just for goofy pictures and silly chatter. Whether shoppers know it or not, their actions online help dictate what's in stores during this holiday season. After polling customers on the social media site, Macy's decided to carry denim jeans in bright neon hues rather than pastels. Wal-Mart for the first time decided to let customers vote on which toys they want discounted. And to better plan orders for the decorative flags she sells, a small business owner in Mississippi is running a contest that encourages customers to chime in about how they're decorating their homes this winter.

Boehner to pursue backup bill to avert tax hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that he is readying a backup bill aimed at averting the "fiscal cliff" because President Barack Obama has yet to offer a balanced package of revenues and spending savings that would cut burgeoning federal deficits. Boehner's measure, dubbed "plan B," would cancel tax increases due to take effect Jan. 1 on everyone earning $1 million or less, while allowing tax increases on those earning more than that amount.

Holiday shoppers may see big discounts soon

NEW YORK (AP) — If shoppers don't show up in stores soon, more "70 percent off" sale signs will. After a promising start to the holiday shopping season over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales have slowed, according to an analysis of data done for The Associated Press by sales tracker ShopperTrak. Worries about weak U.S. job growth and other concerns are likely to blame for Americans spending less.

Social Security fast-tracks rare-disease claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an effort to ease the burden of being stricken with a debilitating condition, the Social Security Administration is expanding a program that fast-tracks disability claims by people who get serious illnesses such as cancer, early-onset Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease — claims that could take months or years to approve in the past. While providing faster benefits, the program also is designed to ease the workload of an agency that has been swamped by disability claims since the economic recession a few years ago.

After Sandy, NYC pins housing hope on repairs

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing Superstorm Sandy's daunting toll of wreckage and displacement in the nation's largest city, officials have put much of their hopes and hundreds of millions of dollars into jump-starting repairs to make homes livable. Federal and city officials see the strategy — focusing on getting people back into their own homes, not temporary housing — as an innovative and nimble answer to the challenge of housing thousands of storm victims in a notoriously expensive and crowded area.

Big winners share lessons, risks of Powerball win

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — So you just won the $550 million Powerball jackpot, the second highest in lottery history. Now what? Perhaps it's time for a tropical vacation or a new car. There are bills to pay, loans to settle, debts to square.

Lines by Madonna and other celebs pop up in stores

This holiday season you're likely to spot singer Jennifer Lopez in Kohl's. You could get a peek at pop music icon Madonna in Macy's. You might even catch a glimpse of reality TV star Kim Kardashian in Sears. Well, not literally.

Cyber Monday likely to be busiest online sales day

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history. Shoppers are expected to spend $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday, up 20 percent from last year, according to research firm comScore. That would not only make it the biggest online shopping day of the year, but the biggest since comScore started tracking shoppers' online buying habits in 2001.

Holiday shopping season off to record start

NEW YORK (AP) — If you make holiday shopping convenient, Americans will come in droves. It's estimated that U.S. shoppers hit stores and websites at record numbers over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation on Sunday. They were attracted by retailers' efforts to make shopping easier, including opening stores on Thanksgiving evening, updating mobile shopping applications for smartphones and tablets, and expanding shipping and layaway options.

Cyber Monday likely to be busiest online sales day

NEW YORK (AP) — Bye-bye Black Friday. So long Small Business Saturday. Now, it's Cyber Monday's turn. Cyber Monday, coined in 2005 by a shopping trade group that noticed online sales spiked on the Monday following Thanksgiving, is the next in a series of days that stores are counting on to jumpstart the holiday shopping season.

Black Friday creeps into Thanksgiving permanently?

This season could mark the end of Black Friday as we know it. For decades, stores have opened their doors in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, major chains such as Target and Sears ushered in customers on Thanksgiving itself, even before the turkey leftovers had gotten cold, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.