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Winding down its current session, the US Supreme Court denied an appeal Monday by environmental groups that would have kept the Bush administration from fast-tracking construction of a fence along the border with Mexico.

Financial services giant Citigroup Inc. was remaining mum on a published report that it would announce the layoffs of up to 6,500 employees as soon as Monday. The Wall Street Journal said the downsizing would come in the company's investment banking division. Citigroup has posted $15 billion in losses over the past two quarters. In January, it laid off more than 4,200 employees.

Despite reports of an impending recession, Americans contributed to charities at essentially the same rate last year as in 2006, an annual study by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy found. Its Giving USA Foundation report estimated that contributions from individuals and corporations reached $306.4 billion, or 2.2 percent of gross domestic product.

Republican Party hopes of retaining the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Vito Fossella of New York were dealt a major blow by the death of candidate Frank Powers Sunday, reports said. Powers, a retired Wall Street executive, had never previously sought elective office. Republicans have held that seat for almost 30 years.

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