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Meredith Dobes

Minimum wage raise proposed by Obama, Republicans disagree

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, but President Barack Obama asked Congress to raise it to $9 an hour.

Should the proposal be passed, the federal minimum wage would gradually be raised until 2015, when it would reach $9. The minimum wage would rise with inflation in attempt to have it correlate with the cost of living and prevent unemployment from rising.

Some economists theorize that raising the minimum wage may increase unemployment because it increases the cost of business for companies that employ minimum wage workers.

Obama has countered this theory by arguing that CEOs are paid at higher rates today than ever before, and this wealth should be distributed more evenly within companies.

Raising the minimum wage would attempt to benefit low-income families, particularly families where an adult works a full-time minimum wage job and still lives below the poverty line.

Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. has a low minimum wage, according to the International Labor Organization. Japan and Spain are behind the U.S. in terms of how much minimum wage workers make as a percentage of the median wage. Greece, Portugal, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, France and New Zealand have higher minimum wages.

However, the growth of minimum wages across all developed countries since the onset of the recession in 2008 has declined, according to the International Labor Organization.

Since Obama proposed raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner sided with other Republicans, saying that an increase in the minimum wage would cause unemployment to rise.

“It could mean the difference between groceries or the food back; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead,” Obama said in his address.

Christopher Dorner dead? Law enforcement officials believe so

Is Christopher Dorner dead? Police are speculating that this may be the case after a man who is believed to be Dorner engaged in a shootout with police from a cabin in Big Bear Lake, Calif. that left one sheriff’s deputy dead and another wounded. Following the shootout, the cabin burst into flames and burned down.

The remains of a body were found inside the cabin after the fire was extinguished, and police believe the body is Dorner’s, as his driver’s license was found near it.

A manhunt for Christopher Dorner by the Los Angeles Police Department was ongoing after he killed four people last week. An ex-Los Angeles police officer, Dorner, 33, was upset that he was laid off and sought revenge, targeting law enforcement officials, particularly his ex-coworkers.

Prior to his supposed death, Dorner posted a video on the Internet speaking of his anger and saying that he projected he would die in a huge confrontation with police. The LAPD offered a $1 million reward for his capture and took precautions to offer over 50 police officers’ families 24/7 protection.

Leading up to the shootout, game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife saw a purple Nissan that was reported stolen and followed it. They suspected the driver to be Dorner. After losing the Nissan, a white pickup truck drove toward the wardens’ vehicle, and the driver, who is reported to be Dorner, fired shots at the wardens.

The wardens returned fire, and the pickup truck crashed at the roadside. The driver ran to the cabin where the shootout ensued.

According to the Associated Press, law enforcement said a single shot was heard from inside of the cabin before the fire began.

Westminster Dog Show chooses Banana Joe as Best in Show

The Westminster Dog Show was won by a 5-year-old Affenpinscher named Banana Joe V Tani Kazari, or just Joe, Tuesday night. Joe’s handler, Ernesto Lara, celebrated the win by lifting Joe up and telling him they won.

This year marked the 137th year for the Westminster Dog Show, and there were 2,721 entries in 187 breeds. Joe managed to stand above all the rest and is the first of his breed to win Best in Show.

Joe’s face resembles that of a monkey, and his personality resembles that of a human. According to his owner, Mieke Cooijmans, he can understand German, Dutch, Spanish and English.

Though Joe has lived with his handler in Pennsylvania for the past three years, his owner lives in the Netherlands, and he will return home with her after he walks his victory lap at the close of the Westminster Dog Show.

Joe is no stranger to winning shows, as this is his 86th Best in Show title and the last show he will participate in.

“He’s won a lot of big shows, but not like this one,” Lara said.

According to Lara, Joe carries himself like Mr. America.

“He doesn’t think he’s funny,” he said. “He doesn’t know his size or know that he has a pushed-in face.”

Westminster Dog Show Judge Michael Dougherty said Joe was picked because of his perfect condition and composed manner.

Another pooch got a chance to shine at the show, too. For the first time since 1925, the Westminster Dog Show named a Reserve Best in Show, a 20-month-old Old English Sheepdog named Swagger.

Swagger entered the Westminster Dog Show as a class dog, a category reserved for dogs who have not won any American Kennel Club championships but have won a major show. Swagger’s owner and handler Colton Johnson views his dog as an underdog because of his class dog status.

“When you come with a class dog, you’re just happy to be seen,” he said. “To win the group is astonishing.”

Many other dogs had their time in the limelight after winning in their groups, too. The Westminster Dog Show gives out awards in many categories.

State of the Union address draws negative responses from citizens, politicians

The State of the Union address given by President Barack Obama last night to the population of the United States stressed the importance of the parties working together and the need for a solution to the looming budget cuts that will happen across the board of American government automatically in about three weeks.

As Obama’s first State of the Union address of his second term, the focus was mostly on how Congress, particularly Republicans, should put Americans’ best interests before party. The issues Obama mentioned are on his agenda to tackle for his second term include solving unemployment and underemployment, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform and gun control.

Now that the State of the Union address has had some time to settle with Americans, political analysts have speculated that Obama suggested too many policy change goals, which may overwhelm citizens and be received poorly by them.

As for the State of the Union address in general, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refuses to attend and has avoided the event for the past 16 years. Why?

Well, this year he was attending a talk sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates, during which he explained, “[The State of the Union address] has turned into a childish spectacle. I don’t want to be there to lend dignity to it.”

Scalia elaborated that the justices in attendance look to the Chief Justice to determine when to clap and when not to clap and that the typical form to follow involves clapping when something patriotic is said and not clapping when something anyone can argue over is said.

As far as reaction from the general public regarding the State of the Union address, or at least the Internet population, goes, USA Today reported after asking readers to pick a word that best described the true state of the Union, the most popular word was “screwed.”

Kepari Leniata, 20-year-old Papua New Guinea woman, burned to death by mob for 'witchcraft'

Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother from Papua New Guinea, was accused of witchcraft and burned alive in front of hundreds, according to police.

Kepari Leniata was a mother of two. A 6-year-old boy neighbor died in a hospital Tuesday after complaining of stomach and chest pains. The boy’s relatives suspected witchcraft was involved in his death and tracked down two women who went into hiding in a nearby jungle. The women admitted to practicing witchcraft but named Kepari Leniata as the person responsible.

The boy’s family tracked Leniata down Wednesday, stripped her of her clothes and tortured with a hot iron rod on the way to her death. She reportedly confessed to practicing witchcraft while being tortured.

The mob behind her death covered Leniata in gasoline while her hands and feet were bound and threw her in a pile of burning trash. They threw burning car tires on top of her, as well.

According to the National Post, no arrests have been made in connection to Leniata’s death.

“It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongs that they actually have nothing to do with,” Prime Minister Pete O’Neill said.

In a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, the crime was called a “brutal murder” and provided as evidence of “pervasive gender-based violence” in the country.

Police report that sorcery and witchcraft are practiced in the nation by cults and that typically sorcery is fought back against by more sorcery, but violence has become more prevalent, recently.

Microchip implants required for U.K. dogs by 2016

A microchip implant will be necessary for all British dogs by April 2016, as mandated by a new law passed in the U.K. this week.

These microchip implants will work to combat the country’s stray dog problem. According to U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, 110,000 dogs are lost each year and cost the country $90 million annually.

In the U.S., many still consider pet microchip implants to be a luxury. In the U.K., if dog owners fail to adhere to the new law, they can be fined up to $800.

Microchip implants in dogs can help owners track down their lost pets and help the government track down a dog’s owner. This can be particularly beneficial in situations where aggressive dogs are on the loose.

Some U.K. interest groups have qualms about the new law, suggesting that forcing law-abiding dog owners, particularly the elderly, to implant microchips in their dogs is a form of punishment, and this new law should be directly solely at dog owners who break the law.

According to British animal welfare group Dogs Trust, microchip implants feel like a pinch for the dogs receiving them and can be detected by a scanner. Stray dogs found on U.K. streets following the April 2016 deadline will be scanned for microchips.

According to Paterson, microchip implants will be free for dog owners in need of financial aid and subsidized by animal welfare groups.

“It’s a shame that in a nation of dog lovers, thousands of dogs are roaming the streets or stuck in kennels because the owner cannot be tracked down,” he said. “I am determined to put an end to this and ease the pressure on charities and councils to find new homes for these dogs.”

Signing Day 2013 has schools awaiting commitment of their top picks

Signing Day 2013, a day dedicated to college football teams looking to sign top-ranked high school football players, is causing fax machines across the country to come to life.

Signing Day 2013 has its own live blog dedicated to it at SportsIllustrated.com, and the organization has been documenting each decision made.

So far today, four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel from Avon, Ind. chose Auburn over Ole Miss, despite a commitment to Ole Miss since November. Number one overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche chose Ole Miss, which was not very surprising, according to Sports Illustrated. Four-start defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick from Port St. Lucie, Fla. signed with Florida. Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil signed with Ole Miss. Number 15 overall player Matthew Thomas signed with Florida. Four-star offensive tackle Denver Kirkland signed with Arkansas.

An early morning outlook at National Signing Day 2013 showed that Florida and Arkansas were doing well and Miami was doing poorly.

Twentieth-ranked pro-style quarterback Joshua Dobbs signed with Tennessee instead of Arizona, which he had a commitment to since June. Five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams signed with Auburn. Five-star safety Vonn Bell signed with Ohio State, despite designating his last visit to Tennessee. Number 20 overall prospect and defensive end Chris Jones signed with Ole Miss, honoring a verbal commitment he made in June. Top receiver Jordan Cunningham signed with Vanderbilt.

Top-ranked prospect in the greater D.C.-area, Yannick Ngakoue signed with Maryland. Four-star wide receiver Stacy Coley chose Miami. Four-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander signed with Clemson, and three-star linebacker turned safety Mackenro Alexander signed with Auburn.

Midday of Signing Day 2013, Ole Miss seemed to be on top, building its best team in the program’s history.

Twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson signed with Oregon. Four-star defensive tackle Dee Liner signed with Alabama. Four-star outside linebacker Quinton Powell signed with USC instead of Florida. Four-star quarterback Asiantii Woulard signed with UCLA. Four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant chose Florida. Four-star linebacker Jermaine Grace chose Miami.

Schools in the South have signed most of the prospects at this point of Signing Day 2013, and the latest decisions are expected to be in by 8 p.m.

Four-star wideout Shelton Gibson signed with West Virginia. Five-star running back Alvin Kamara signed with Alabama. Four-star offensive guard Tyrone Crowder signed with Clemson. Five-star defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson signed with Alabama instead of Texas.

As the day has gone on, USC closed out Signing Day 2013 losing many of its commitments. Missouri lost its top prospect, running back Ezekiel Elliott, to Ohio. Signing Day 2013 will come to a close this evening, with the decisions of many top prospects still being awaited.

Chris Brown accused of faking community service, violating probation

Chris Brown, R&B musician, is scheduled to appear in court today for a progress report on his probation and community service. Yesterday, Brown was accused of faking his community service hours by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

Brown was sentenced to five years of probation and to complete 180 hours of community service in Virginia after pleading guilty to a felony account of assault after attacking ex- and possibly current-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Murray filed a 19-page motion for the judge to reject Brown’s community service report due to “at best sloppy documentation and at worst fraudulent reporting,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The motion gives evidence that Brown was on a plane to Cancun during one of the days he reported he was picking up trash and in Washington, D.C. hosting a charity event for the developmentally disabled on another day he reported picking up trash in Richmond, Va.

Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos, told the Associated Press that the motion is “frivolous, scurrilous and frankly defamatory” and plans to seek sanctions against the district attorney.

The motion also outlines some of Brown’s behavior in the years following his sentence, which could be potential violations. These include getting in an altercation outside a California recording studio on Jan. 27 this year, testing positive for marijuana multiple times and failing to obtain a travel permit in 2012 and throwing a chair through a window after an interview on Good Morning America on March 22, 2011.

If Brown is found guilty of violating his probation, he could face jail time.

USPS announces elimination of Saturday mail delivery

USPS, the United States Postal Service, announced today that first-class mail will no longer be delivered on Saturdays after Aug. 1 due to financial difficulties.

USPS lost $16 billion last year, according to CBS News. Eliminating first-class mail service on Saturdays will save the Postal Service $2 billion each year, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

According to USPS, it has lost money over the year because of citizens turning to private shippers, email and online banking for services they once needed the Postal Service for. Previously, USPS has cut down hours at half of its 26,000 post offices and laid off about 35 percent of its workforce.

David Walker, a member of a panel examining possible postal reforms, told CBS News that the lack of Saturday service “won’t come close to solving the Postal Service’s problem.” He said that USPS will need to look at infrastructure, compensation costs, retirement obligations and what organizations it works with.

There are currently laws in place prohibiting USPS from eliminating Saturday service, but its lawyers believe that it has figured out a way around the law.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. said, “Despite my disappointment, it’s hard to condemn the Postmaster General for moving aggressively to do what he believes he can and must do to keep the lights on at the Postal Service, which may be only months away from insolvency.”

American Postal Workers Union president Cliff Guffrey said, “The APWU condemns the Postal Service’s decision to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, which will only deepen the agency’s congressionally-manufactured financial crisis.”

Because USPS is an independent agency, the White House just found out about its decision Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We put forward a year and a half ago a series of proposals for reform of the Postal Service that would put it on much more firm financial ground, and it passed the Senate. Unfortunately, the House failed to take it up. So it would be our preference that that comprehensive package of reforms be implemented for the sake of a stronger future Postal Service.”

Ryan Braun will cooperate with MLB drug inquiry

Documents surface linking Braun to Biogenesis

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers slugger, appeared on three reports released in an article by Yahoo! Sports Tuesday night from Biogenesis, a Miami clinic under investigation for the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs. One of the reports shows Braun owing $20,000 to $30,000 to the clinic.

Braun was also linked to a lawyer who apparently helped him avoid a 50-game suspension last year after testing positive for elevated testosterone levels, according to Yahoo! Sports. However, the reports released showed no drug notations next to Braun’s name.

Biogenesis’s owner, Anthony Bosch, has been linked to various other MLB players, as well.

Braun refutes any allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs, saying that his lawyers consulted Bosch during the appeal of his positive drug test as an authority on drug tests and the possibility that Braun’s drug test was tampered with. Braun noted that his lawyer and he are listed under “moneys owed” and no other category.

According to the New York Times, Bosch is not a licensed physician in the state of Florida, where his clinic is, and his medical credentials are unknown.

Braun is the first player in the MLB to appeal a positive drug test. MLB officials currently do not have possession of the documents Yahoo! Sports and the Miami New Times released connecting players to Biogenesis. However, MLB officials are aware that they can review Braun’s report following his positive drug test on which he was required to list names of doctors and medical consultants he was associated with. Braun could be suspended for lying if he did not list Bosch or Biogenesis.

“I have nothing to hide and never have had any other relationship with Bosch,” Braun said. “I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”