WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is asking Americans this Labor Day to think about the rights and benefits that people often take for granted.<br />
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says he's optimistic about the growing economy. He says decisions made now will determine whether the recovery will pick up speed.<br />
Obama says workers and unions fought for things like Social Security, Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize. He says those fights built a stronger middle class.<br />
Obama says to strengthen the modern middle class, the U.S. must raise its minimum wage. He says states and businesses have raised wages already and Congress should, too.<br />
In the Republican address, Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana says Republicans are focused on creating jobs, lowering costs and restoring opportunity.<br />
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
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