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Senate agrees to debate vote for D.C.

WASHINGTON: The people of the District of Columbia were closer to gaining the voting rights they were deprived of more than two centuries ago after the Senate agreed yesterday to take up a bill giving them a fully vested representative in Congress. The Senate vote to debate the bill sets the stage for more legislative hurdles and a probable court challenge if the bill is enacted into law. But with the Senate action, the district's 600,000 residents have their best chance of securing a real voice in Congress since a proposed constitutional amendment to enfranchise the federal capital failed a quarter-century ago. The bill would give the district a vote in the House starting in January 2011. To offset the near-certain Democratic pickup in House representation, the bill would add a fourth seat for Republican-leaning Utah, bringing House membership to 437.

Solis confirmed as labor secretary

WASHINGTON: The Senate confirmed Rep. Hilda L. Solis of California as labor secretary yesterday, more than two months after President Barack Obama nominated her for the post. After a series of missteps, including revelations of $6,400 in outstanding tax liens owed on her husband's auto repair business, Solis' path to confirmation was cleared when Republicans rejected plans to invoke a rule that would have forced a filibuster-proof 60 supporting votes. Solis will manage an agency with an annual budget of about $53 billion and nearly 17,000 employees.

A little alcohol raises women's cancer risk

As little as one alcoholic drink a day increases a woman's risk of several types of cancer by 13 percent, according to a British study of more than 1 million women. The risk is not statistically large, and scientists already knew that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk for these cancers in women, including tumors of the breast, esophagus, larynx, rectum and liver. "What is novel about this study is that even low to moderate amounts of alcohol increase the risk," said epidemiologist Naomi E. Allen of the University of Oxford, who led the study published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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