Supreme Court rejects challenge to Seattle minimum wage law

2016-05-03 08:06:05

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by business groups to Seattle's law raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, a move echoed by other locales, in a case focusing on how the ordinance affected local franchises like McDonald's.The Seattle law's supporters hailed the court's action, which left intact a lower court ruling backing the measure, as a defeat for "the big business lobby" that has taken aim at minimum wage hikes.The International Franchise Association and the businesses that challenged the measure did not target the actual wage hike. Instead, they argued that it was unfair for Seattle to exclude local franchises of big companies like McDonald's (MCD.N) and Burger King (QSR.TO) from the small companies that the law gives three extra years to pay employees at least $15 per hour.Seattle was the first major U.S. city to commit to such a high basic wage amid pressure from unions and workers' rights groups. The move has since been followed to varying degrees by cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as by state lawmakers in California and New York. Seattle's law, which took effect in April 2015, requires businesses with more than 500 employees nationwide to raise their minimum wage to $15 by 2018. Smaller companies have until 2021 to do so.The high court's move means that cities and states that pass similar wage laws must treat franchises as offshoots of brand parents rather than independent small businesses. The franchise association said its 2014 lawsuit sought "to level the playing field" for the 600 franchise businesses that employ 19,000 people in Seattle, and it was disappointed with the court's action."Seattle's ordinance is blatantly discriminatory and affirmatively harms hard-working franchise small business owners every day since it has gone into effect," said the group's president, Robert Cresanti. A federal judge in Seattle in March 2015 sided with the city, and the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed.Working Washington, a coalition of labor and nonprofit groups that spearheaded the campaign to pass Seattle's wage law, called the Supreme Court's move not to hear the case a victory for workers."The big business lobby has thrown everything they got at Seattle workers," the group said, "but they keep on losing, and the economy continues to boom."Seattle officials and the Service Employees International Union, which backed the city in the case, said franchises are not typical small businesses because franchising offers inherent advantages such as access to loans, brand recognition and bulk purchasing. But the franchise association countered that those perks come at a cost, namely royalties, fees and rent.

Puerto Rico Zika cases now include 65 pregnant women, one death: CDC

2016-05-02 11:52:06

CHICAGO Health officials on Friday confirmed the first U.S. death of a patient infected with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.The man, who was in his 70s, died from severe thrombocytopenia, a bleeding disorder caused by abnormally low blood platelets, which are needed for blood clotting. Dr. Tyler Sharp of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dengue Branch in San Juan told Reuters the patient had Zika virus disease, which included symptoms of fever, rash and body pain. Shortly after those symptoms subsided, the man developed "bleeding manifestations" which sent him to the doctor for treatment.Sharp said the man was diagnosed with a rare Zika complication known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks blood cells, called platelets.Sharp said the ITP case followed the same pattern as patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a paralyzing neurological disorder linked to Zika infections in which the immune system attacks nerves. In both cases, the autoimmune attack occurs after symptoms of Zika have cleared.Sharp said researchers are studying how Zika causes these rare disorders, and are looking to see whether they are caused by the same mechanism. “We are actively investigating that. It's very interesting scientifically. But this is something that is a significant cause of morbidity and now mortality here in Puerto Rico, where I live. These are my neighbors. It's of high public health importance that we figure this out and as quickly as we can design some interventions to stop it,” Sharp said.The death in Puerto Rico is the first U.S. Zika-related death. Previously, Colombia reported three deaths among Zika patients who had symptoms consistent with ITP, Sharp said.Suriname has also reported one case of Zika-related ITP, and French Polynesia reported four such cases, but all of these patients survived. Although deaths from Zika are rare, the Puerto Rico death "highlights the possibility of severe cases, as well as the need for continued outreach to raise health care providers' awareness of complications that might lead to severe disease or death," researchers said in a report published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality weekly Report.In addition to the Zika-related death, Puerto Rico reported 683 confirmed cases of Zika, including 65 pregnant women with symptoms of the virus, the CDC said on Friday.Of the confirmed cases, five patients developed Guillain-Barre syndrome and were hospitalized.Zika, a virus known to cause the birth defect microcephaly, first began spreading in Puerto Rico in December. In Brazil, Zika has been linked to 1,198 confirmed cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. Zika has also been linked to other severe birth defects and with stillbirth.The World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency on Feb. 1. In addition to microcephaly, the agency says there is a strong scientific consensus that Zika can cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome.U.S. health officials said Zika remains a public health threat in Puerto Rico, with more cases expected throughout 2016. Residents of and travelers to Puerto Rico are urged to take steps to avoid mosquito bites including the use of mosquito repellent, take precautions to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of Zika, and seek medical care for any acute illness with rash or fever. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bernard Orr)

French new car registrations rise 7.1 pct in April - CCFA

2016-05-01 19:08:05

PARIS May 1 French new car registrations rose 7.1 percent year-on-year in April, with foreign carmakers' figures up 8.8 percent and domestic ones up 5.7 percent, the CCFA automobile association said in a statement on Sunday. PSA Peugeot Citroen saw new car sales rise 5.3 percent last month, while Renault's rose 6.2 percent. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Louise Ireland)

BRIEF-Smart Employee Benefits Q1 revenue increased 107.1 % to $23.4 mln

2016-04-30 14:01:06

April 29 Smart Employee Benefits Inc* Smart Employee Benefits reports first quarter, 2016 * Q1 revenue increased by 107.1 % to $23.4 million Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

North Korea sentences Korean American to 10 years hard labor

2016-04-29 11:03:06

SEOUL North Korea's Supreme Court on Friday sentenced a Korean American man to 10 years of hard labor for subversion, North Korean media reported, in the latest conviction of a foreigner for crimes against the isolated state.Kim Dong Chul, 62, was arrested in North Korea in October and had admitted to committing "unpardonable espionage" including stealing military secrets, the North's official KCNA news agency reported earlier."The accused confessed to all crimes he had committed ... and gathered and offered information on its party, state and military affairs to the south Korean puppet regime, which are tantamount to state subversive plots and espionage," it said.State prosecutors sought a 15-year sentence. His defense attorney requested leniency considering his old age, KCNA said.Kim was shown in photographs handcuffed and wearing a tie and blue jacket. He looked distressed and was flanked by uniformed guards.North Korea, which has been criticized over its human rights record for years, has used detained Americans in the past to extract high-profile visits from the United States, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations. It has previously handed down lengthy hard labor sentences to foreigners, though eventually freeing them before they served their full terms.Six foreigners, including Kim and three South Koreans, are known to be detained in the North.Kim, who has said he is a naturalized American citizen, had confessed to committing espionage under the direction of the U.S. and South Korean governments and apologized for his crimes, according to the North's KCNA news agency in March. He told foreign media in March that he was born in 1953 in Seoul and moved to the United States when he was 19. He said he set up a business in the North Korean special economic zone of Rason in 2008. China's Xinhua news agency on Friday said his business was a trading company called Dongmyong.Kim said his two daughters lived in New York and he had siblings in South Korea, KCNA said in March. Some foreigners held by North Korea have said after their release that their sometimes-elaborate confessions were made under pressure while in captivity. The North is holding an American, Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March for trying to steal a propaganda banner. It is also holding a Korean-Canadian Christian pastor, who is serving a life sentence for subversion.North Korea has tightened security ahead of its first ruling party congress in 36 years, which will begin on May 6. It has also intensified its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles since its fourth nuclear test in January. (Editing by Robert Birsel)

Older Post
No gift for Wall Street on Christmas Eve
N.Y. policeman guilty of manslaughter in shooting of unarmed black man
Peabody flags bankruptcy risk after skipping interest payment