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Senate panel clears way for Geithner's approval

WASHINGTON: The Senate Finance Committee cleared the nomination of Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary yesterday despite unhappiness over his mistakes in paying his taxes. The committee approved the nomination on an 18-5 vote, sending it to the full Senate for a vote either today or next week. The committee vote came a day after Geithner appeared before the panel to apologize for what he called "careless mistakes" in failing to pay $34,000 in taxes earlier in the decade, when he worked at the International Monetary Fund. The nomination was expected to win approval by the full Senate. All five of the "no" votes on the committee came from Republicans. They said they did not believe Geithner had been candid in his answers on why he failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Senate OKs wage-bias law, moves it to House

WASHINGTON: The Senate has passed wage discrimination legislation reversing a Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult for workers to file claims after discovering they get paid less than their colleagues. The House is expected to move quickly to approve the bill and send it to the White House, where is could be one of the first major bills signed by President Barack Obama. Obama backs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, unlike former President George W. Bush who threatened to veto it. The legislation reverses a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that narrowly defines the time period during which a worker can file a claim of wage discrimination, even if the worker is unaware for months or years that he or she is getting less than colleagues doing the same job.

Bank seeks foreclosure on N.J. Resorts casino

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: Its lender wants to take over Resorts Atlantic City, saying New Jersey's first casino has defaulted on its mortgage. Column Financial, a commercial mortgage subsidiary of Credit Suisse, filed a petition yesterday with the state Casino Control Commission asking permission to foreclose on the casino, which has not paid its mortgage since October. Failing that, Column Financial wants the owners, affiliates of Colony Capital LLC, to surrender the title to the casino. Column would keep the casino open while searching for someone to run it. Messages seeking comment from Colony Capital were not immediately returned yesterday. Paul O'Gara, a lawyer for Column, also declined to comment.

Soldier's death changed to 'negligent homicide'

WASHINGTON: An Army investigation called the electrocution death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq a "negligent homicide" caused by military contractor KBR Inc. and two of its supervisors, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press. An Army criminal investigator said the manner of death for Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Pittsburgh, has been changed from accidental to negligent homicide because the contractor failed to ensure that "qualified electricians and plumbers" worked on the barracks where Maseth died, according to the document. Heather L. Browne, a spokeswoman for Houston-based KBR, said that the company cannot comment on the report because the company has not seen it. The Green Beret died on Jan. 2, 2008, after being electrocuted while taking a shower in his barracks in Baghdad.

Hamas seeks accord with Abbas supporters

DAMASCUS, Syria: Hamas called yesterday for reconciliation with supporters of rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but insisted on pursuing "resistance" against Israel. The condition appeared to preclude any agreement with Abbas, who seeks a peace deal with Israel and whose moderate Fatah faction was not among the groups that backed the statement by eight Damascus-based radical Palestinian factions including Hamas.

Mexico inaugurates wind farm project

LA VENTOSA, Mexico: Mexico inaugurated one of the world's largest wind farm projects yesterday as the nation looks for alternative energy, in part to compensate for falling oil production. Mexico is trying to exploit its rich wind and solar potential after relying almost exclusively on petroleum for decades. With oil production down by 9.2 percent in 2008, Mexico now is turning to foreign companies, mainly Spanish, to tap its renewable riches.

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