What? I can't hear you--I've got a monopoly in my ear! Qwest finally vanquished the City of Portland in the year-long rate debate. The city agreed to pay retail for phone service to city offices, even after installing its own $12 million phone system in an attempt to cut costs. The deal requires Qwest pay the city $500,000 in return--proof empire-building ain't entirely free.

Following reports that smaller sneaker makers were nipping at its winged heels, Nike agreed to buy Converse for $305 million. Cons will join an ever-expanding stable of Nike brands that include skatewear maker Hurley and preppy cobbler Cole Haan. Word is Portland's indie diehards are already chucking their Chuck Taylors in disgust.

Another beauty-pageant triumph for the East Side! Following in the high-heeled footsteps of former Miss America Katie Harman, a Greshamite, April Robinson of Troutdale grabbed the title of Miss Oregon 2003. Robinson won a $10,000 scholarship and a shot at the national title, where she and 50 others will once again send a strong message to America's youth: It's OK to wear a tiara and a swimsuit in public.

Did DG Airparts Inc. make moolah from the mullahs? The owners of the Jacksonville, Ore.-based company, nabbed in a federal dragnet, may face fines and prison time for illegal sales to an alleged Iranian arms ring based in London.

It's a cruel, cruel summer for unemployed Oregonians. Since May, 45,000 new job-seekers are jostling for positions. Unemployment checks now go out to 8.5 percent of the state's workforce--the highest rate in 17 years.

Big-boned? Horizontally enhanced? Rubenesque? Whatever euphemism they're using, Oregon's obese peeps are getting no love from legislators, who turned down a $2.2 million federal grant to help battle the bulge in the West's beefiest state.