National briefs: E-book price case settled

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WASHINGTON -- Macmillan, the last publisher left in a U.S. lawsuit alleging an e-books price-fixing conspiracy with Apple, reached a settlement with the U.S. government Friday, agreeing to void deals with retailers that restrict discounting.

The settlement also requires Macmillan to avoid entering any new restrictive agreements on price or promotions until December 2014. Macmillan, a unit of Stuttgart, Germany-based Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, also agreed to a compliance program that includes reporting to the government communications with other publishers.

The agreement, filed in federal court in New York City, will "immediately allow retailers to lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan's e-books," Jamillia Ferris, an attorney in the Justice Department's antitrust division, said in a statement.

The settlement, if approved by a federal judge in Manhattan, would mark the end of a lawsuit for publishers alleging they conspired with Apple to undermine discounter Inc.'s dominance in the e-books market.

Postal Service hit with losses

WASHINGTON -- The Postal Service said Friday it lost $1.3 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31 despite cutting costs 9.8 percent, as Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe called on Congress to authorize changes in its business to halt unsustainable losses.

Cost savings and a 4.7 percent increase in shipping and package revenue offset a 3.1 percent drop in first-class mail revenue from the same period last year, when the post office lost $3.3 billion. Total revenue held steady at about $17.7 billion during the first quarter, the post office's strongest period because of holiday mailings.

The Postal Service released financial results two days after Mr. Donahoe said he would end Saturday mail delivery without Congress's approval if necessary, pressing lawmakers to act on legislation to restore the post office's financial viability.

Hackers attack Bush family

HOUSTON -- A mysterious email hacker apparently accessed private photos and messages sent between members of the Bush family, including both ex-presidents.

The Secret Service is investigating the breach, which appeared to yield little more than a few snapshots and some family discussions. But the incident illustrated how easily hackers can pry into private lives, even those of one of the nation's most prominent and closely guarded political clans.

The Smoking Gun website displayed photos it said came from the hacker, including one that purported to show the elder Bush during his recent stay in a Houston hospital, where the 88-year-old spent almost two months undergoing treatment for complications from a bronchial infection.

The website said the hacker, who went by the online moniker "Guccifer," gained access to the material through Bush family members and friends.

Toomey picked for new post

WASHINGTON--Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey on Friday was named ranking Republican on a panel of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Mr. Toomey, a former Wall Street derivatives trader, will serve on the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee.

His work will involve oversight of financial institutions and regulatory agencies including the Financial Oversight Council, Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In his new role, Mr. Toomey said he will "work to enhance the soundness of the financial services system, limit taxpayer exposure to bailouts and eliminate unneeded rules that don't make sense, particularly for community banks."

Mr. Toomey was elected to the Senate in 2010.



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