Nation briefs 8/21/04

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Crude price spike could send gas prices higher

WASHINGTON -- Amid soaring crude oil prices, gasoline costs have been dropping. But don't expect that to last, economists say. Motorists can expect prices at the pump to level off or reverse course if crude prices remain near $50 a barrel, as they were Friday. Gasoline prices again could even edge toward the $2-a-gallon range nationwide in the coming weeks, analysts said. Consumers also should be ready to pay more to heat their homes this winter because crude costs probably will push up heating oil prices. Natural gas prices also could rise if some industrial users shift from oil to natural gas, according to analysts.

Israel pressured to move West Bank barrier

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli Supreme Court order and a rare admonition from that country's attorney general increased pressure on Israel to reassess its West Bank security barrier Friday as a senior government official said the country would have to explain why it won't heed a world court ruling to dismantle the contentious structure. Attorney General Meni Mazuz on Thursday warned that the International Court of Justice's July ruling at The Hague, Netherlands, urging Israel to tear down the barrier could lead to sanctions against the Jewish state. Mazuz's warning was an unusual acknowledgment that the country could be punished because of its policies toward the Palestinians.

Afghanistan withdrawal urged by U.N. union group

UNITED NATIONS -- The bombing of a U.N. election office in Afghanistan that injured six policemen drew calls from a U.N. union Friday that the world body consider withdrawing staffers from the embattled nation. The Staff Union urged a security review and revamped safety measures for Afghanistan-based U.N. personnel, saying the safety of staff remained the highest priority. Guy Candusso, the union's vice-president, said, "We think the U.N. should consider suspending operations and rethink security before moving into the next critical phase of the election process." The union noted that other recent attacks on election workers have highlighted the danger.

Second explosion rocks Texas gas storage facility

MOSS BLUFF, Texas -- A second explosion in less than 24 hours rocked a burning underground gas storage facility early Friday, prompting authorities to expand an evacuation zone around the site. The fire at Duke Energy's Moss Bluff natural gas facility intensified overnight, an official said. The second explosion was reported at 1:15 a.m. and was seen as far as 20 miles away, witnesses said. No injuries were reported. The first explosion was blamed on leaking gas. The second explosion Friday morning happened because the fire caused a valve to give way on top of the storage cavern, said Danny Gibbs, a spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy.

Vaccinated soldiers help in anthrax treatment

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Soldiers vaccinated against anthrax have the opportunity to help future anthrax victims by donating their blood. The government plans to develop an experimental treatment for anthrax from the blood of people vaccinated against it. Such a medicine has never been tested on people, but scientists think it has a good chance of working based on animal tests. Federal health officials are aiming for an emergency stockpile that could treat about 2,700 people in case of another anthrax attack. Five people died from anthrax in 2001.

U.S., S. Koreans fail to agree on timeline

SEOUL, South Korea -- Top U.S. and South Korean defense officials failed Friday to agree on a timeline for the planned reduction of American forces on the divided peninsula amid Seoul's concerns the departing troops will weaken its defenses against North Korea. The redeployment of some 12,500 troops away from South Korea is part of Pentagon plans for a worldwide realignment of American forces that President Bush has said would help the United States better respond to today's threats. His Democratic challenger, John Kerry, has criticized the move, saying it would embolden North Korea even as the international community seeks to get the communist nation give up its nuclear ambitions.

-- From wire reports

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: