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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

US Airways cutting 24 jobs at Buffalo Niagara Airport

US Airways is cutting 24 fleet service jobs at Buffalo Niagara International Airport as part of a restructuring at 11 airports. The company will no longer handle fleet service for the regional carriers serving its subsidiary US Air Express.

Fleet service workers work "below the wing" on the tarmac loading baggage and guiding airplanes to and from gates.

The company said it has openings for similar jobs elsewhere in the company for any employee who wants to relocate.

US Air has an average of 23 daily flights from Buffalo, six served by the airline and 17 by regional carriers. US Air uses five regional carriers in Buffalo: Republic Airlines, Air Wisconsin, Mesa Airlines (on Saturdays) and wholly owned subsidiaries PSA and Piedmont Airlines.

Across the company, 122 fleet service jobs and 54 ticket and gate agent jobs are being eliminated, including 91 jobs at Pittsburgh International Airport.

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Federal deficit narrows

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal budget deficit narrowed slightly in December compared with a year ago, but the deficit for the entire year is still on pace to exceed $1 trillion.

The government ran a deficit of $80 billion last month, down 12.4 percent from the previous December, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. Through the first three months of the current budget year, the deficit totals $370.8 billion, an improvement of 3.1 percent from the same period a year ago.

Private economists expect that the tax-cut package signed into law last month will lead to a much larger deficit while also helping to boost economic growth.

The tax package provided a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes for individuals and accelerated tax breaks for businesses that invest in new equipment. It also extended for two years Bush-era tax cuts.

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China pressed on currency

WASHINGTON (AP) -- China's currency is substantially undervalued and Beijing is moving too slowly to fulfill its promise to let it rise, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday.

Geithner said it's in China's own interests to accelerate the pace of currency reform. He said the undervalued yuan is increasing the risk of inflation that will harm Chinese growth.

Geithner addressed a range of economic policy issues at the center of U.S.-Chinese relations in a speech in advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next week.

In addition to the currency issue, he mentioned widespread theft of U.S. intellectual property in China, Beijing's protection policies that hurt U.S. exporters, and accusations that the government provides subsidies to Chinese businesses that violate World Trade Organization rules.

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Plea OK'd on heart device

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A federal judge signed off Wednesday on a plea agreement that calls for Boston Scientific Corp.'s Guidant unit to pay $296 million for failing to properly disclose changes made to some implantable heart devices, but added three years of probation to the deal.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank had rejected the plea deal last spring as insufficient. His acceptance Wednesday came after Guidant filed papers giving him more information about its compliance policies and community service programs.

Guidant has 10 days to pay the fines and forfeiture fees.

Guidant discovered a short-circuiting problem in 2002 and 2004 with some of its defibrillators, a problem that could render them unable to deliver the lifesaving jolts that patients depended on. The company changed the devices but was accused of falsely reporting on the changes or not reporting them at all, leaving doctors and patients unaware of potentially dangerous problems.

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Wikipedia marks 10th year

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wikipedia, the online trove of assorted facts and trivia, is trying to be more well-rounded.

As the encyclopedia nears its 10th birthday on Saturday, its leaders are seeking a more diverse group of editors -- specifically, women, people in developing countries and people with expertise in assorted disciplines.

Wikipedia is about to open an office in India and wants to expand further in Brazil, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Today, 20 percent of the site's pages are written in English, but the organization expects that to change over the next 10 years.

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