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  • SEATTLE— Washington state's minimum wage will rise to the highest in the nation on Jan. 1. The Seattle Times reports that the minimum wage in the state will hit $9.47 an hour then. Washington and Oregon, along with 18 other states, are set to increase their minimum wages on New Year's Day, according to the nonprofit National Employment Law Project.

  • Lawmakers promise to help strapped oil-patch towns Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 10:24 AM ET

    BILLINGS, Mont.— Relief could be on the horizon for strapped public services in the Northern Plains' booming oil patch, as elected leaders in Montana and North Dakota move to steer more money into the region during the states' upcoming legislative sessions. Political leaders on both sides of the Montana- North Dakota border said they are optimistic more can be done...

  • Legislature will renew attempt to repair Lake Erie Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 | 10:22 AM ET

    TOLEDO, Ohio— A plan to slow down some of what's feeding the toxic algae in Lake Erie will be back in front of state lawmakers early next year. A key state lawmaker behind the bill, which would ban farmers in northwestern Ohio from spreading manure on frozen and saturated fields, expects those proposals to come back before the Legislature in January.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 24- The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Wednesday it had fined MF Global Holdings Ltd for wrongdoing during the collapse of the futures brokerage, but will continue its lawsuit against the firm's former chief, Jon Corzine. A federal judge in Manhattan approved a settlement in which the company will pay a $100 million fine and be...

  • Dec 24- Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users' privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed some state-law claims against the social media company but largely denied...

  • Officials cite progress on health care enrollment Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 3:23 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— The second sign-up season under President Barack Obama's health care law is off to a good start but has a way to go to make it a success, administration officials said Tuesday. The numbers don't include states running their own insurance exchanges, including California and New York. At her year-end news conference, Burwell dodged questions about a...

  • Denver shelters cite legal pot in homeless upswing Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 1:55 AM ET

    So he moved to Denver, where legal pot dispensaries are plentiful and accessible. "The older ones are coming for medical, the younger ones are coming just because it's legal," said Brett Van Sickle, director of Denver's Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter, which has more than doubled its staff to accommodate the increase. Colorado's homeless population and its...

  • UNITED NATIONS, Dec 23- A global arms trade treaty that aims to regulate the $85 billion industry and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals will enter into force on Wednesday, though the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified it. They say the treaty, which the United States signed in 2013, would require arms exporters around the world to meet...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 23- A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday threw out most of the claims in an investor lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon Corp as trustee for subpar mortgage-backed securities involved in an $8.5 billion settlement by Bank of America Corp.. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Bank of New York Mellon did not have to face claims stemming...

  • Church-based institutions ponder same-sex benefits Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 1:22 PM ET

    Many religious-based institutions are making no changes or sitting on the sideline, perhaps waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will settle whether gay couples should be able to marry in every state. The University of Notre Dame almost immediately decided to offer benefits to same-sex spouses after a court ruling in October cleared the way for gay...

  • Report advises Iowa to wait on drone regulation Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 9:38 AM ET

    IOWA CITY, Iowa— Iowa should take a wait-and-see approach to regulating unmanned aerial vehicles because of their huge potential for positive uses in business and government, the Iowa Department of Public Safety advises in a new report. Farmers use the pilotless aircraft to check on their crops, and University of Iowa scientists are deploying them in research.

  • Connecticut Colt gun factory to be national park Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 1:41 AM ET

    HARTFORD, Connecticut— As a decade-long push to make a national park out of Samuel Colt's 19th- century gun factory won approval, elected officials hailed the project as a way to boost one of Hartford's poorest neighborhoods and honor the revolver as a marvel of manufacturing. Notably absent from the celebrating was Colt's Manufacturing Co., as it and other gun...

  • DENVER, Dec 22- Colorado's Attorney General John Suthers has sued two more law firms in the state for fraud, accusing them of inflating foreclosure costs charged to homeowners, his office said. As part of an ongoing investigation, Suthers has filed eight civil law enforcement actions against Colorado foreclosure law firms in 2014, five of which resulted in...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 22- Victims of Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme will get a fresh $322 million payout if a U.S. judge approves the request by the trustee liquidating the convicted fraudster's firm, bringing the recovery total to more than $7 billion. The trustee, Irving Picard, said on Monday he would seek permission from a U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York to begin...

  • Judge OKs law shielding Michigan from $1.1B payout Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 2:24 PM ET

    It was designed to ensure that the state is not forced to pay $1.1 billion in refunds in about 134 cases similar to one in which the Michigan Supreme Court in July said IBM was owed roughly $6 million. IBM later challenged the state Treasury Department's ruling that it was not allowed to determine certain tax bases using a formula from a 1970 multi-state tax...

  • Tribes tread carefully into marijuana discussions Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 2:03 PM ET

    "Criminal activity is just going to go up more, and drug addiction is going to go up more, and everyone is going to be affected," said Edmund Yazzie, head of the Navajo Nation Council's Law and Order Committee. The split reaction among Navajo leaders reflects divisions on reservations around the country. Bureau of Indian Affairs assistant secretary and member of the...

  • Coming soon to US: Cuba Libre, with real Cuban rum Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 12:01 PM ET

    And it's unclear what the news means for industry titan Bacardi, which was driven from its Cuba headquarters by the 1959 Castro revolution. Bacardi said it's waiting to see what effects thawing U.S.- Cuba relations may have. In 1997, Bacardi bought the legal rights to the recipe and name of Havana Club, a popular rum created in 1935 by a Cuban family who eventually...

  • LONDON/ PARIS, Dec 22- Britain's Serious Fraud Office has charged a British subsidiary of French energy equipment firm Alstom with bribing officials to secure a power contract, making it the second Alstom unit to face UK charges this year. Monday's charges are the latest in a series of international bribery investigations into Alstom, which has suffered a drop...

  • *Taiwan seeks to block access to Uber. TAIPEI/ SHANGHAI, Dec 22- Uber Technologies Inc is under fire in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland mega city Chongqing over concerns that it and its drivers are not appropriately licenced, adding to a string of official complaints aimed at the fast-growing U.S. start-up. But an investigation in Chongqing- a city with a third more...

  • TAIPEI, Dec 22- Taiwan's transport ministry said Uber Technologies Inc is operating a taxi-hailing service "in violation of the law," and that it is investigating the possibility of blocking access to the U.S. company's website and mobile app. Ministry of Transportation and Communications Deputy Director Liang Guo Guo said on Monday that Uber only possesses a...