US gas prices drop about 7 cents over past 3 weeks

Posted July 15, 2012, at 8:27 p.m.
Last modified July 15, 2012, at 9:18 p.m.

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped about 7 cents over the past three weeks.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices puts the average price for a gallon of regular at $3.41.

Analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the national average for a gallon of mid-grade is $3.57. For premium it’s $3.69 a gallon.

Lundberg says diesel prices fell 5 cents a gallon over the past three weeks, to $3.73.

Jackson, Miss., had the nation’s lowest average price for gas at $3. Chicago had the highest at $3.78.

In California, the lowest average price was $3.59 in Fresno, while San Franciscans paid the highest price at $3.73.

Wedding-hall blast kills at least 19, including prominent Afghan lawmaker

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber struck a wedding hall packed with VIPs from across northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 19 people, including a prominent anti-Taliban politician and a high-ranking police official. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which also left dozens injured.

President Hamid Karzai denounced the attack in Aybak, the provincial capital of Samagan province, and ordered a full investigation. He blamed “enemies of the people” — the usual phrase for the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

The main target of the powerful explosion was apparently the father of the bride, Ahmad Khan Samangani. A member of parliament and a major powerbroker in the north of Afghanistan, he was a close associate of warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, a fellow ethnic Uzbek.

On Sunday, a convoy carrying several senior Afghan officials, including a Cabinet minister and a governor, was hit by a bomb in northern Afghanistan, the third time in three days that prominent Afghan politicians were targeted for attack. Unlike in the previous two bombings, no one was killed.

There have been no claims of responsibility from the Taliban or other insurgent groups.

Red Cross declares Syrian conflict to be civil war

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s 16-month bloodbath crossed an important symbolic threshold Sunday as the international Red Cross formally declared the conflict a civil war, a status with implications for potential war crimes prosecutions.

The Red Cross statement came as United Nations observers gathered new details on what happened in a village where dozens were reported killed in a regime assault. After a second visit to Tremseh on Sunday, the team said Syrian troops went door-to-door in the small farming community, checking residents’ IDs and then killing some and taking others away.

According to the U.N., the attack appeared to target army defectors and activists.

“Pools of blood and brain matter were observed in a number of homes,” a U.N. statement said.

Syria denied U.N. claims that government forces had used heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and helicopters during the attack Thursday.

Shark kills surfer in western Australia

SYDNEY, Australia — A surfer was killed by a shark early Saturday on Australia’s western coast, the fifth such death in the region in less than a year.

A jet-ski rider who went to the aid of the surfer said that he too was attacked by the shark.

“I reached to grab the body and the shark came at me on the jet-ski and tried to knock me off, and I did another loop and when I came back to the body the shark took it,” the unnamed man told national broadcaster ABC.

He said that when he reached the scene near Wedge Island, 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) north of Perth, “there was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive white shark circling the body.”

The fifth such death in the region in less than a year was confirmed in a Twitter feed by Surf Life Saving WA (Western Australia).

More than 30 shark attacks have been reported during the past 40 years on the west coast, 12 of them fatal.

The region was responsible for one-quarter of all the shark-attack deaths reported in the world last year.

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