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U.S. sold $40B in weapons in 2015, topping global market

Inda largest arms importerThe United States again ranked first in global weapons sales last year, signing deals for about $40 billion, or half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar, and far ahead of France, the No. 2 weapons dealer with $15 billion in sales, according to a new congressional study.

Developing nations continued to be the largest buyers of arms in 2015, with Qatar signing deals for more than $17 billion in weapons last year, followed by Egypt, which agreed to buy almost $12 billion in arms, and Saudi Arabia, with over $8 billion in weapons purchases.

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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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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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27 shot, 7 fatally, over Christmas weekend in Chicago

27 shot in Chicago over Xmas weekendTwenty-seven people have been shot in Chicago over the Christmas weekend, seven of whom have succumbed to their wounds.

The figure was recorded in a 48-hour period by the Chicago Police Department, according to a New York Times report on Sunday.  It marks a sharp rise in homicides and shootings since last year in one of the largest American cities, located in the state of Illinois.

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Pipeline uncertainty illustrates broader concerns for tribes

Pipeline uncertaintyFor hundreds of protesters, it was cause to cheer when the Obama administration this month declined to issue an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline's final segment. But that elation was dampened by the uncertainty of what comes next: a Donald Trump-led White House that might be far less attuned to issues affecting Native Americans.

"With Trump coming into office, you just can't celebrate," said Laundi Germaine Keepseagle, who is 28 and from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where the demonstrators have been camped out near the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

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More than half of Florida death row inmates may be resentenced

Florida death row sentencesMore than 200 inmates on Florida's death row may be entitled to new sentencing hearings after the state's Supreme Court issued two rulings that recodify how the death penalty is applied in convictions.

The Florida Supreme Court issued rulings Thursday that solidify death penalties for inmates sentenced before June 2002 while offering a chance for more than half the inmates on death row to potentially be resentenced to life in prison.

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Pharma company settles SEC foreign bribe case for $519 million

Teva pharmaceuticalsA multinational pharmaceutical company will pay $519 million to settle foreign corruption charges, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Thursday.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited allegedly made $214 million in illicit profits by bribing government officials in Russia, Mexico and Ukraine, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Those bribes gave Teva a greater market share, regulatory and formula approvals, and “favorable drug purchase and prescription decisions,” the SEC said.

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