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In brief: Social Security hike will be 3.6 percent

Washington – Social Security benefits will go up by 3.6 percent next year, the first increase since 2009 for the one in five Americans who rely on government retirement and disability programs, the Social Security Administration confirmed Wednesday.

Starting in January, 55 million Social Security recipients will get increases averaging $39 a month, or just over $467 for the year. In December, more than 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor, will get increases averaging $18 a month, or about $216 for the year.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is tied to an inflation measure.

Quake, aftershocks rattle Big Island

Waimea, Hawaii – A 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck the north part of the Big Island on Wednesday, and the shaking was followed by a series of smaller temblors.

The first quake struck 13 miles southeast of Waimea at about 2 p.m., the U.S. Geological Survey said. About two dozen smaller quakes ranging in magnitude from 1.7 to 3.6 followed within two hours.

There were no immediate reports of damage. Residents across the island reported feeling light to moderate shaking.

Astronomers discover planet in early stages

Honolulu – A University of Hawaii astronomer has captured the first direct image of a planet being born.

Adam Kraus and his colleague, Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, used Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to find the planet being formed from gas and dust, the Institute for Astronomy said Wednesday.

LkCa 15 b is 450 light years away from Earth and is the youngest planet ever found.

Kraus presented the discovery Wednesday at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.


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