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News Wrap: CR Intrinsic to Pay $600 Million in SEC Insider Trading Settlement

March 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Securities and Exchange Commission says it has reached the largest insider trading settlement ever. Under the deal announced today, the hedge fund CR Intrinsic Investors will pay more than $600 million dollars. It will not admit or deny any wrongdoing. Regulators charged that one of the fund’s managers illegally made trades on an Alzheimer’s drug based on confidential test results.

There was word today that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is under investigation by a federal grand jury in Miami. The Washington Post reported the panel is looking into his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor. The veteran Democrat has already reimbursed the government for two flights he took aboard the donor’s private jet. In a statement, his office said his actions have always been appropriate.

The Vatican is attacking claims that Pope Francis never confronted a brutal military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Some human rights activists say the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio acquiesced in the face of torture and murder. But a Vatican spokesman lashed out today at the allegations, calling them a defamatory left-wing campaign.

FATHER FEDERICO LOMBARDI, Vatican Spokesman: The anti-clerical accusations against Bergoglio are known and obvious. They refer to a time when he wasn’t yet a bishop, but a Jesuit superior in Argentina. It concerns two priests who were kidnapped and he allegedly didn’t protect. There has never been a concrete and credible accusation made towards him. He denied the accusations and provided proper documentation to support him.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Francis is due to be installed as pope next Tuesday.

The head of a U.N. investigating team charged today that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan violate the country’s sovereignty. The official said the Pakistani government told him it doesn’t consent to the strikes, something U.S. officials have disputed. President Obama has stepped up CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region since 2009. The Pakistani government says it has confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths.

President Obama has put a new timeline on Iran’s progress toward building a nuclear weapon, a little over a year. But he says the U.S. has significant capabilities to prevent that from happening. He spoke in an interview that aired on Israeli television last night, ahead of his Middle East trip next week.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, United States: We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close. And what we’re going to be doing is to continue to engage internationally with Iran, understanding that we have set up the toughest sanctions ever. It’s having a significant effect.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Iran maintains that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

It was energy of a different kind that took the president to Illinois today. He called for cars that go coast to coast without gasoline. Mr. Obama toured the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago and talked up his proposal for new auto research. The focus would be on biofuels and better batteries for electric cars. The president wants Congress to authorize $2 billion dollars over the next decade for the research.

North Dakota may become the first state to ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. That could be as early as six weeks after conception. The state Senate approved the ban today and sent it to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple. He opposes abortion, but has not said whether he would sign the bill into law.

Gay marriage has picked up a prominent new supporter, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. It makes him the only Republican in the U.S. Senate to take that position. Portman explained his change of heart in The Columbus Dispatch. He said it began two years ago, when his college-age son told his family that he is gay.

Wall Street backed up a bit as the week ended. That ended a 10-day winning streak by the Dow Jones industrial average, its longest in 17 years. The Dow industrial average lost 25 points to close at 14,514. The Nasdaq fell nearly 10 points to close at 3,249. For the week, the Dow gained just under one percent; the Nasdaq rose a 10th-of-a-percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.