U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris said yesterday she supports the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), tipping the balance of the state's 11-member delegation in favor of the divisive treaty.

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U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris said yesterday she supports the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), tipping the balance of the state’s 11-member delegation in favor of the divisive treaty.




McMorris, R-Spokane, said farmers in particular would benefit from reducing tariffs with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. “Our wheat growers, apple producers and potato industry believe this agreement is crucial for our economic growth,” she said in a statement. A vote on the measure could come this week.




McMorris joins Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Reps. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, and Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, in supporting CAFTA.




The opponents are Reps. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, Brian Baird, D-Olympia and Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens.




Getty Images




Service for China




gets under way




Getty Images said yesterday that it has launched Getty Images China, a service based in Beijing that will offer the ability to search, download and license images from Getty collections. The office will also have local content specifically for the Chinese market.




The images will be accessible starting next month on a Chinese-language Web site, Getty said. China is now the fifth-largest market in terms of advertising spending, and is poised to surpass Japan, the company said.



Targeted Genetics



Arthritis treatment




effective in trial




Targeted Genetics said its injectable rheumatoid-arthritis treatment was safe, and showed some signs of early effectiveness, based on preliminary results from a 15-patient clinical trial.




The Seattle biotech company said that after four weeks of follow-up, nine of the 11 patients who took its treatment for the painful joint disease showed some signs of improvement.




Four other patients took placebo injections, and two showed some signs of improvement.




Based on the results, the company said it plans to move the rheumatoid-arthritis treatment into another clinical trial starting in the third quarter.




The trial will include patients taking other biotech drugs, but who still suffer pain in one or more joints.




Compiled from Seattle Times staff




Nation/World



Motorola



Wireless e-mail




handset planned




Motorola said yesterday it plans to sell a wireless handset that sends e-mail, creating a competitor to Research In Motion’s BlackBerry pager.




The keyboard-equipped handset, dubbed Q, will go on sale in the first quarter of next year. The company also plans to ship a music-playing phone made with Apple Computer in the next two months, Motorola Chief Executive Officer Ed Zander said.




Zander is stepping up the introduction of high-priced multifeature phones to nab market share from leader Nokia and meet a goal of widening the company’s profit margin. Motorola’s Q phone would add to pressure facing Research In Motion, which is adding fewer subscribers than analysts expected and faces a lawsuit that could throttle U.S. sales.




At less than a half-inch thick, Motorola’s Q is thinner than the popular Razr, which helped boost second-quarter sales at the fastest pace in three periods. The Q device features Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer participated in the unveiling of the phone via videoconference.




Motorola stock rose 15 cents to $20.69 yesterday. The stock has gained 20 percent this year.



Qwest



Former executive




to settle fraud case




Federal regulators said yesterday that a former Qwest executive has agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle civil charges that he participated in a fraud conspiracy that forced the telecommunications company to restate billions in revenue.




Gregory Casey also agreed to cooperate with the investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into accounting irregularities at Qwest.




“This is an important settlement and this will move our case forward,” said Mary Brady, assistant SEC regional director for enforcement. “We view him as an important witness.”




Casey was one of seven former Qwest executives, including former CEO Joseph Nacchio, charged in a civil lawsuit alleging accounting schemes that later forced the company to erase revenue. Nacchio has denied wrongdoing. His case is still pending.




Visa / Mastercard




Antitrust lawsuit




dismissed by court




A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Visa USA, MasterCard International and three banks brought by merchants who accused the companies of antitrust violations by fixing fees on transactions.




U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco ruled that the merchants didn’t have standing to bring their claim, MasterCard said in a statement. Richard Joseph Archer, an attorney for the merchants, said he planned to appeal the ruling.




Visa and MasterCard face lawsuits by merchants who say that they conspire with their member banks to set so-called point-of-sale interchange fees paid by merchants for processing credit-card purchase transactions.



Automobile industry



Sales could reach




4-year high mark




Auto sales could hit a four-year high this month thanks to popular employee-pricing discounts, leading some dealers to believe that U.S. automakers will extend the deals until Labor Day.




General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler all are allowing consumers to buy vehicles at the employee rate through Monday, but they would not say whether they plan to continue the deals.




Automakers are scheduled to report July sales on Aug. 2.




Compiled by Bloomberg News and The Associated Press