National briefs (8/2/13)

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Goldman trader is found liable

NEW YORK -- Fabrice Tourre, the former Goldman Sachs trader at the center of a toxic mortgage deal sold to investors on the eve of the financial crisis, was found liable Thursday for civil securities fraud.

Five years after the crisis, he is the only employee of a big U.S. bank to lose a courtroom battle to Wall Street's top regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC took only a handful of employees to court over the crisis, but most cases were settled.

The nine-person jury concluded that Mr. Tourre had misled investors about the mortgage deal.

Mr. Tourre, a 34-year-old Frenchman who is enrolled in a doctoral economics program at the University of Chicago, now faces a fine, or worse, a ban from the Wall Street.

Chemical plant safety

WASHINGTON -- The White House issued an executive order Thursday to improve safety and security at chemical facilities in the wake of the explosion last April at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 people and created a fireball that leveled much of the town.

The order calls for increased coordination among federal agencies that oversee chemical facilities, a move the industry welcomed. But more pressing to Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state elected officials is a pending request for the White House to overrule the Federal Emergency Management Agency and issue a major disaster declaration for the area, providing more than $35 million in additional federal assistance.

Troubleshooter for IRS?

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Thursday chose a retired corporate and government official with experience managing numerous organizations in crisis to take over an Internal Revenue Service under fire for targeting political groups.

John Koskinen, 74, came in to overhaul mortgage buyer Freddie Mac after its near collapse in the financial crisis at the end of the George W. Bush administration. He also helped restructure the assets of the largest failed life insurance company in U.S. history, Mutual Benefit Life, and reorganize the Penn Central Transportation Company after it became the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Deadly 17-story fall

NEW YORK -- A 35-year-old woman fell 17 floors to her death from her apartment balcony in midtown Manhattan early Thursday after the railing apparently gave way, the authorities said.

The woman, identified by the police as Jennifer Rosoff, had been sitting on the railing of her balcony, smoking a cigarette and talking with a male friend when the railing appeared to buckle, the friend told the police, causing her to suddenly fall backward. The police said there did not appear to have been any foul play involved.

Also in the nation ...

The FBI has concluded that there was little its agents could have done to prevent the Boston Marathon bombings, according to law enforcement officials, rejecting criticism that it could have better monitored one of the suspects before the attack. ... Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama, won confirmation Thursday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations with an 87-10 vote that completes the administration's foreign policy team for the second term. ... Gay couples in Minnesota and Rhode Island began exchanging vows Thursday as the roster of places where same-sex couples can wed grew to more than a quarter of U.S. states.

-- Compiled from news services



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