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Saturday, Jan 21st

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Minimum wage to increase in 21 states next year

Protests for increasing minimum wageMillions of minimum wage workers in 21 states will get a raise in 2017.

The highest state minimum wages in 2017 will be $11 in Massachusetts, which is a $1 increase from this year, and Washington, up from $9.47 in 2016. Other higher wages are in Arizona ($10), California ($10), Connecticut ($10.10), Oregon ($10.25 in July) and Vermont ($10). The other state raising the minimum in July is Maryland, where the minimum wage state-side will be $9.25.

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The Problem With Trump’s Admiration of General Patton

Gen. George PattonThere are scholar presidents, and presidents who don’t read much, and then there is President-elect Donald Trump, who has said he has no time for books at all. But he does enjoy a few historically themed movies—one of which is Patton, George C. Scott’s 1970 embodiment of the World War II general.

Patton is one of the very few role models Trump held up during his campaign; he frequently rued the fact that the military lacked modern-day Pattons, and when he picked retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary, Trump proclaimed Mattis “the closest thing we have to Gen. George Patton.”

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Democrats Plotting ‘Collision Course’ With Trump’s Tax Plan

Richard Neal“There’s going to be opposition if these tax cuts are directed to the people at the top again,” said Representative Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who represents his party’s first line of defense as the next ranking member of the House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. “We’re going to be pretty united.”

Neal and others say they’ll zero in on upper-income tax breaks pitched by Trump and House leaders in an attempt to make it politically difficult for Republicans to support large parts of the emerging plans. Their initial comments suggest that the 115th Congress, which convenes Jan. 3 with a Republican-led agenda of instituting a broad tax overhaul and repealing Obamacare, will be peppered with debate over income inequality.

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New court aims to redefine youth justice in Chicago

New Chicago courtTwo young men from Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood were charged with committing a string of burglaries. The boys, who were in their late teens and charged as adults, allegedly broke into four homes when their owners were away and stole electronics and $16,000 in cash.

The charge was a turning point for both of them. One of the young men pleaded guilty in 2011 and was given a sentence of eight years in prison. He became one of the staggering 70 percent of men in North Lawndale who have criminal records and was only released on parole earlier this year.

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China Lodges Complaint Over Taiwan’s Place In U.S. Defense Bill

Obama signs defense billChina has lodged “stern representations” with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law a U.S. defense policy bill that suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act “expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan”.

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Afghanistan funds abusive militias as US military 'ignores' situation, officials say

Afghanistan funds abusive militiasThe US military and the CIA are turning a blind eye as Afghanistan’s spy agency spends foreign donor money on militias which are committing human rights abuses that help destabilise the fragile country, according to local and western officials.

The Afghan national directorate of security (NDS) arms strongmen ostensibly to fight the Taliban and other militants. But some militia leaders use their new power to fight local turf wars, including against elected government officials, rather than insurgents.

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Ice Storms, Snow Cause Chaos in Dakotas

Ice storms, snow in dakotasTravel conditions remained hazardous as a winter storm swept across much of the northern Great Plains Monday, with blowing and drifting snow forcing the closure of an airport and creating near-zero visibility on some roads.

The combination of freezing rain, snow and high winds that forced the shutdown Sunday of vast stretches of highways in the Dakotas continued into Monday, and authorities issued no-travel warnings for much of North Dakota.

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Questions hang over Trump plan on infrastructure

Trump infrastructure plans questionedDoubts are growing that President-elect Donald Trump will be able to push through a massive infrastructure package in his first 100 days, as he had once promised.

He faces likely pushback from conservatives, and he will also have to weigh many other competing priorities.

When radio host Hugh Hewitt asked incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about a stimulus package that could be used to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges, Priebus said that the administration would likely focus on tax reform and ObamaCare in the first nine months of the year.

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Civilians killed by barrel bombs near Damascus: reports

Civilians killed near DamascusAt least 14 civilians have been killed and several others wounded in a series of barrel-bomb attacks on rebel-held areas near Damascus, Al Jazeera has learnt.

Syrian government air strikes targeted the town of Wadi Barada, northwest of the capital, on Monday, injuring dozens of people, including several children, activists told Al Jazeera.

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