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In brief

Ready to party hardy A member of the ‘Jarl Squad’ dressed in Viking costume shouts as he attends a procession with The Galley, a 30-foot-long wood ship in the Shetland Isles town of Lerwick, Scotland during the Up Helly Aa festival Tuesday. The Galley will then be burnt in the climax of the Up Helly Aa festival. Up Helly Aa originated as a Norse pagan festival and was then adopted by Christians to celebrate the end of the Christian holy period with feasting and bonfires.

AP photo
WASHINGTON Obama’s first bill passes

Congress sent the White House its first legislation of Barack Obama’s presidency Tuesday, a bill that makes it easier for women and others to sue for pay discrimination, even if the discrimination has prevailed for years, even decades.

The bill has long been a favorite of Democrats and groups representing labor and women’s rights, and could be the first major bill that Obama signs into law.

The bill is a response to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said a person must file a claim of discrimination within 180 days of a company’s initial decision to pay a worker less than it pays another worker doing the same job. Under the bill, every new discriminatory paycheck would extend the statute of limitations for another 180 days.

The plaintiff in the case, Lilly Ledbetter, argued that she did not become aware of the pay discrepancy until near the end of her 19-year career at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala.

TAMPA, Fla. Fund manager surrenders

A Florida hedge fund manager who disappeared this month just as he was due to pay investors $50 million turned himself in to authorities Tuesday to face federal securities and wire fraud charges.

Arthur Nadel, accompanied by two attorneys, surrendered in Tampa, about an hour north of his home in Sarasota, the FBI said.

Attorney Barry Cohen said asked that Nadel be released on his own recognizance, but a judge ordered him held at least until Friday.

Regulators last week sued Nadel for fraud, saying he misled investors and overstated the value of investments in six funds by about $300 million.

JERUSALEM Bomb kills Israeli soldier

A Palestinian roadside bomb killed an Israeli soldier patrolling the border with Gaza on Tuesday, and Israel responded with an airstrike that wounded a Hamas militant in a flare-up of violence that undermined a cease-fire on the eve of a visit by the new U.S. Mideast envoy.

Israel briefly sent tanks and bulldozers across the border into Gaza after its soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the bombing. Hamas said the Israeli airstrike wounded one of its militants as he rode a motorcycle.

It was the worst bloodshed since the sides declared the cease-fire on Jan. 18.

WASHINGTON Afghanistan focus redefined

Amid preparations for a major troop build-up in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Tuesday that the United States cannot become bogged down in the unrealistic goal of turning the country into an economically prosperous nation.

Instead, the U.S. must limit its focus to what it can achieve within five years, he said. The focus should be trying to ensure terrorists don’t regain control of the region and use it to coordinate attacks, Gates told the House and Senate armed services committees.

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