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JERUSALEM (AP) — The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his father "went when he decided to go." The 85-year-old Sharon died today after spending the last eight years of his life in a coma following a stroke.

The hospital that had been treating him says Sharon had had "ups and downs" during his years in a condition defined as "minimal consciousness."

The hospital said last week that Sharon's health was declining as he began to suffer failure of vital organs including his kidneys.

The hard-charging Sharon was one of Israel's most iconic figures.

After a distinguished, and controversial, military career, he went into politics and held a number of Cabinet posts.

He was elected prime minister in 2001, and despite his hardline views, led Israel's historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrats want to make an increase in the minimum wage a major campaign issue in 2014, but in California a proposal to push the mark to $12 an hour is coming from a registered Republican who once tried to unseat Gov. Pete Wilson.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz says a wage jump would nourish the economy and lift low-paid workers from dependency on food stamps and other government aid.

Democrats in Congress are pushing a bill to raise the $7.25 federal minimum to over $10 an hour.

Unz is a former publisher of The American Conservative magazine with a history of against-the-grain political activity, including pushing a 1998 ballot proposal that dismantled California's bilingual education system.

His proposal has not yet qualified for the state ballot.

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