The Latest | Southern California breaking news and trends

KPCC DIGEST PM (Sep. 25)—California's new minimum wage, 'Popular Science' calls off the engagement, UCI gets Guinness record

Griffith Observatory at dusk.
Griffith Observatory at dusk.
Photo by Gregg Jaden via Flickr Creative Commons

1. California minimum wage will increase (KPCC)

Calling it a "matter of justice," Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will hike California's minimum wage to $10 an hour within three years, making it one of the highest rates in the nation. The legislation — signed Wednesday at a ceremony in downtown L.A. — will raise the current minimum of $8 an hour to $9 on July 1, 2014, then to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.

The increase is the first to the state's minimum wage in six years.

2. Michael Jackson died from 'his own bad choices,' AEG lawyer tells jury (KPCC)

The defense began closing arguments Wednesday in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. An attorney for AEG told the jury that Jackson died because of his own bad choices, and that the conglomerate did not hire Dr. Conrad Murray and therefore was not liable for the pop star's death.

A day earlier, a lawyer for Katherine Jackson had portrayed AEG Live executives and Murray as mercenaries who sacrificed the Michael Jackson's life in a quest to boost their own fortunes. Closing arguments are expected to wrap up Thursday.

3. Popular Science website calls off the engagement (KPCC)

The online content director for the venerable 141-year-old publication says will be disabling article comments because of a small but vocal minority of "shrill, boorish specimens of the lower Internet phyla" who were ruining it for everyone else.

"[C]ommenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded—you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the 'off' switch."

4. A high school diploma that hinges on college acceptance (KPCC)

To graduate from Lawndale's Environmental Charter High School, students must first be accepted into a four-year college or university. They must also perform community service, present a thesis, and complete the A-G requirements. State law allows districts to set graduation requirements.

The college-first focus seems to be working. In California, only 28 percent of Hispanic students graduate high school with completed A-G requirements. At Environmental Charter High School, it's 98 percent. 75 percent of the student body is Latino, and most come from low-income families.

5. UC school sets Guinness World Record for the largest-ever water battle (KPCC AudioVision)

College life in Southern California occasionally goes beyond academics. Way beyond. On Tuesday, 3,875 students at UC Irvine broke the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever water blaster fight (the previous record was set in 2007 by 2,671 residents in Valladolid, Spain).

Associated Students of UCI spent $12,908.16 at Walmart for 6,000 water guns which will be donated to local charities. See our photos.

6. Delayed unemployment checks to be expedited (KPCC)

State officials said they would expedite payments to tens of thousands of Californians who are still waiting to receive their unemployment benefits following a computer problem with the state’s updated payment processing system.

People who are waiting for their benefits will receive payment as early as Thursday, said Loree Levy, spokeswoman with the state’s Employment Development Department.

7. Report: Child welfare systems are not tailored to the needs of youngest kids (KPCC)

A national survey finds that state welfare agencies do not consider the unique needs of infants and toddlers who come in contact with the child welfare system, but that California is doing better than most.

Released Wednesday, the survey shows the majority of child welfare agencies using a "one-size-fits-all" approach, treating children under 3 years of age the same as older children in foster care.

8. FBI releases video of Aaron Alexis moving through Navy Yard building (NPR)

The FBI on Wednesday released some preliminary findings in its investigation of the Washington Navy Yard shootings that left 13 people dead including the shooter. Among the evidence was a security video that shows Aaron Alexis, 34, methodically moving through Building #197 armed with a sawed-off shotgun etched with several phrases.

The FBI is still analyzing documents that suggest Alexis was motivated by a belief that he was being attacked by electromagnetic waves.