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Hispanic coalition urges pending nominee Senate confirmation

WASHINGTON — A coalition of Hispanic groups on Monday applauded the Senate’s confirmation of two Latino presidential appointees, but urged lawmakers to push through a backlog of nominations when it returns after the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

The Senate last week confirmed South Texas native Raul Yzaguirre as ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Washington lawyer Jimmie Reyna to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

“While Hispanics across the U.S. can today celebrate the accomplishments of Mr. Yzaguirre and Mr. Reyna, we urge the Senate to continue to make progress on nominees for other critical positions that remain vacant,” said Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

The NHLA said the Senate has failed to confirm other Hispanics nominated by President Obama for important administration and judicial posts.

Michael Camunez of California awaits confirmation to be assistant secretary of commerce, as does Mary Murguia of Arizona, nominated to fill a vacancy on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Albert Diaz in North Carolina was nominated a year ago for an opening on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the Senate approved the nomination of Yzaguirre, the former president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Sanofi Aventis makes Genzyme bid hostile

Frustrated by a lack of cooperation from executives at Genzyme Corp., French drug maker Sanofi Aventis SA Monday began a hostile bid for the state’s largest biotechnology firm.

Sanofi refused to budge from the $69 a share it offered in August for Cambridge-based Genzyme — about $2 below the stock’s closing price Monday — in what was seen as the opening gambit of a protracted takeover battle. The $18.5 billion bid was quickly rejected by Genzyme’s board, with chief executive Henri A Termeer insisting it undervalued his company.

While Sanofi has since hinted it might raise the bid and Genzyme suggested it was open to a deal at a higher price, neither side has changed its position and Sanofi Monday opted to appeal directly to shareholders. The company is asking them to turn over their Genzyme shares by Dec. 10, in a tactic known as a tender offer.

But with Genzyme’s share price edging up Monday to $71.01, investors will not be in a hurry to cash out. Analysts said Sanofi’s aggressive move is more likely intended to pull Genzyme’s leaders into negotiations, something they have resisted as Sanofi’s overtures intensified.

Visa, Mastercard agree to tentative deal in antitrust suit

Consumers may see more discounts for using cash instead of a credit card under a tentative deal announced Monday by the Justice Department and the credit card companies Visa and MasterCard.

The proposed settlement, which is subject to court approval, came after a two-year investigation into rules imposed by Visa, MasterCard and American Express that often prohibit merchants from steering customers toward cash, checks or other payment types that avoid transaction fees.

“We want to put more money in consumers’ pockets, and by eliminating credit card companies’ anticompetitive rules, we will accomplish that,” the attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., said at a news conference.

Merchants had already scored a major victory against the credit card networks earlier this year. As part of a major overhaul of financial regulation, Congress passed legislation that is expected to limit the swipe fees that Visa and MasterCard can charge merchants for each debit card transaction.

Drones kill militants from West in Pakistan

WASHINGTON — Drone aircraft operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed several militants with German citizenship in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, according to Pakistani and U.S. officials.

The missile strikes were part of an escalating barrage of attacks by the CIA over the past month and came amid tension in European capitals over the possibility that operatives of al-Qaida who are based in Pakistan and North Africa might be planning terrorist attacks somewhere on the continent.

A small stream of German Muslims has traveled to Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas in recent years, part of what some European counterterrorism officials see as al-Qaida’s effort to recruit young Westerners who might be able to return to Europe or the United States to carry out attacks.

It was unclear whether the drone strikes Monday were related to the suspected terrorist plots in Europe. News organizations in Pakistan reported that missiles struck a mosque in Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, the region where most of the drone strikes have occurred this year.

U.S. officials offered few details about the strikes Monday, and there were conflicting reports about the number of German militants killed in the attacks. A Pakistani official said 10 to 12 people were killed, at least four of them German.

Usually, it takes the CIA several days to analyze communication intercepts and other information to confirm the identities of those killed in airstrikes.

On Sunday, the State Department issued a vague travel alert to Americans in Europe, warning of threats to “tourist infrastructure” but not mentioning any specific countries that might be at risk.