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Business in brief: USDA admits security breach

The Social Security numbers of as many as 150,000 people who received Agriculture Department grants have been posted on a government Web site since 1996, but were taken down last week.

Free credit monitoring is being offered to those affected.

The security breach was noticed last week and promptly closed, the Agriculture Department and Census Bureau announced Friday.

But a study has begun to see if 32 other federal agencies may have followed the same practice. The Agriculture data that included Social Security numbers were removed from the Web April 13 and similar data from 32 other agencies taken down April 17 as a precaution, said Agriculture spokeswoman Terri Teuber.

JetBlue executive apologizes again

The chief executive of JetBlue Airways Corp. apologized again Friday for his airline’s shoddy performance during a Valentine’s Day storm.

“As long as I’m head of this company, it will never happen again,” David Neeleman testified at a House subcommittee hearing.

Neeleman also argued against proposals to restrict how long airplanes can wait on airport tarmacs before passengers have the right to deplane.

Consumer and lawmaker outrage followed JetBlue’s handling of a winter storm on Feb. 14, when the airline canceled more than 1,000 flights affecting at least 100,000 passengers. Some passengers were stuck inside aircraft for 10 hours at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Paulson prods China on currency

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday that China was not moving quickly enough on currency reform, and said he hoped high-level talks next month would produce results.

“They’re not moving in my judgment quickly enough,” Paulson said in a speech in New York. “I feel quite strongly there’s a need to move more quickly in the short term, but we need to get to a point in the intermediate term where China has a market-determined currency.

Paulson has been pushing China to move more rapidly to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar as the Bush administration seeks to ward off a protectionist backlash in Congress over rising U.S. trade deficits.