National briefs: 'Deathbed' note in bombing case

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BOSTON -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a "deathbed" note scrawled inside the hull of the boat in which he was captured, claiming he and his older brother set off bombs at the Boston Marathon as retribution for America's attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, a law enforcement source said Thursday.

The note said the victims of the April 15 attack -- three dead and more than 260 injured -- were essentially collateral damage, the source said.

Investigators believe a badly wounded Mr. Tsarnaev, 19, thought he was dying when he scrawled it, the source said.

Dow faces $1.2B penalty

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A federal judge has ordered Dow Chemical Co. to pay $1.21 billion in damages after it lost a class-action lawsuit that accused it of conspiring to fix prices.

Dow says it will appeal.

The Feb. 20 jury verdict was for Dow to pay $400 million in damages. The jury decided that Dow had participated in a price-fixing conspiracy for the chemical urethane, which is used in a wide variety of products.

The final order by Judge John Lungstrum that was filed Wednesday includes a tripling of the jury verdict, as called for by U.S. antitrust law.

Corporate taxes targeted

WASHINGTON -- Apple chief executive Tim Cook plans to propose a "dramatic simplification" of corporate tax laws when he testifies for the first time before Congress next week, just as lawmakers are eyeing an overhaul of the tax code.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Cook said he will present specific proposals at a Senate hearing Tuesday aimed at encouraging companies to bring back foreign earnings to the United States and invest that money into creating jobs, as well as research and development.

Energy chief confirmed

WASHINGTON -- Physicist Ernest Moniz won unanimous Senate confirmation Thursday to be the nation's new energy secretary.

Mr. Moniz, 68, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in President Barack Obama's first term.

Also, Mr. Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, was quickly approved by a Senate committee when Republicans abandoned their boycott of a vote after what Sen. David Vitter, R-La., described as "significant steps forward" on transparency issues important to the GOP. However, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., still has a hold on her nomination that will have to be withdrawn before a floor vote can occur.

Cracking at nuke plant

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A nuclear plant near North Carolina's capital city was shut down after operators reviewing ultrasonic tests from last year found the results showed tiny marks of corrosion and cracking that need repair, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

Operators at the Shearon Harris plant on Wednesday found a quarter-inch flaw in the covering of the reactor vessel, which contains superheated steam produced by the nuclear reaction's energy.

Also in the nation ...

Amtrak announced Thursday that it had upgraded its cellular-based Wi-Fi offering using broadband technologies that will improve the speed and reliability of the Internet in its passenger cars. ... The Powerball jackpot jumped to $550 million Thursday for Saturday's drawing -- the third largest lottery in history.



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