Nation briefs 11/10/03

Monday, November 10, 2003

Gas prices drop, down 4.33 cents over two weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Retail gas prices dropped more than 4 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, but a slight recovery in the crude oil market could slow or reverse recent price declines, according to a nationwide industry survey released Sunday.

The average price Friday for a gallon of self-serve gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.55, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations. That was a decrease of 4.33 cents per gallon from Oct. 24, the date of the last Lundberg Survey.

Average prices have slipped nearly 20 cents in the past two months following the end of a supply crunch caused by the summer driving season, electricity blackouts and a pipeline rupture that halted gas deliveries to Arizona.

Malvo's defense to mirror Muhammad's prosecutors

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Defense attorneys finalizing their plans for trying to keep sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo out of Virginia's death chamber have had an unlikely ally: the state.

As the 18-year-old defendant goes on trial today in Chesapeake, prosecutors in nearby Virginia Beach have been trying to convince a jury there that fellow suspect John Allen Muhammad, 42, exerted such control over Malvo that Muhammad should be held responsible for the shootings that killed 10 and wounded three in the Washington area last fall.

"Our strategy is their strategy," Malvo attorney Michael Arif said. "If you watch the prosecutors in Muhammad's case carefully, they will never put on evidence that Lee was the shooter in any of the shootings in question."

Researchers find way to slow nerve disease

WASHINGTON -- A new method of slowing the most common inherited nerve disease may point the way for novel treatments for nerve disorders.

Researchers working with rats retarded the progression of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which gradually reduces the ability to use the arms and legs and affects about one in 2,500 Americans.

The team found success using a chemical that blocks a protein associated with more than half of all cases of CMT. People with the most common form of CMT have a genetic defect that causes overproduction of that protein.

While the chemical, onapristone, probably would not be useful in humans with CMT because of the side effects, other drugs in the same class may work and cause fewer problems, said an expert not involved in the study.

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