Tag Archive: Gas prices


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0815/Case-against-Egypt-s-Mubarak-is-shoddy-say-some-lawyers

Cairo

Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarakappeared in court Monday as advocates for a guilty verdict complained that the state’s case against him was shoddy.

Mr. Mubarak is charged with corruption and with ordering the killing of hundreds who died in the uprising that swept him from power on Feb. 11 this year. Without a thorough and fair investigation of those charges, some worry that a Mubarak conviction would be hollow – and undermine the people’s faith in the justice system at a delicate time of transition.

Lawyer Gamal Eid said that the state should conduct a new investigation and that the prosecutor general should resign.

“This is a very important step in the path of regaining or restoring the trust in the Egyptian judiciary,” says Mr. Eid, who is representing families of 16 of the more than 800 people killed in the uprising.

Trial resumes Sept. 5; no more TV coverage

Nearly 100 lawyers swarmed near the front of the courtroom hours before the hearing began Monday, their shouting matches at times turning to pushing and shoving as they argued over their demands. Judge Ahmed Refaat sharply rebuked them when he took the stand, refusing to continue until they were seated and quiet.

Lawyers representing the family members of some of those who died were pleased that Judge Refaat ruled that Mubarak’s case would be rejoined with that of Egypt’s former Interior Minister, Habib El Adly, who is also charged with killing protesters. The trial will resume Sept. 5.

But Mr. Eid says that the police and prosecution have done a poor job of investigating the crimes and putting together a case, thereby jeopardizing justice. He said that the state prosecutor, who was a part of Mubarak’s regime, must be removed, and the judge should appoint a committee to redo the whole investigation from scratch, he said.

Lawyers have also asked to separate the charges of corruption and the killing of protesters into two separate cases, though the judge has not done so. Mubarak, Mr. El Adly, and El Adly’s deputies are charged with ordering the killing of protesters, while the former president, his two sons, and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem are also charged with corruption.

Refaat also ruled that the live broadcast of the hearings would be banned until the verdict is issued, and his decision was met with applause in the courtroom. While protesters had demanded that the trial be broadcast as proof of transparency, some lawyers now hope that taking away the cameras will tame the chaotic behavior of scores of lawyers representing victims’ families, as some of them have seemed to relish seizing the limelight on national television.

Courtroom calls for Mubarak’s execution

As in his first appearance, Mubarak was wheeled into the cage used for defendants in Egyptian courts Monday on a hospital bed, this time for his second appearance, he arrived with an IV. His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, again stood in front of him, partially blocking him from the cameras.

The stands were mostly filled with journalists, lawyers, and state security conscripts, with many empty seats and few family members of victims allowed to attend. At one point, a woman wearing a brooch with a picture of Mubarak burst into a tirade directed at journalists who were commenting on the color of the former president’s shoes, accusing them of humiliating Mubarak. Those around her were drawn into a shouting match.

As the hearing ended, several family members of victims and lawyers jumped up onto the benches, gesturing toward the cage and shouting “execution!”

 

 

 

 

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Gas prices expected to drop 50 cents by summer

In this May 5, 2011 photo, the price for one gallon of unleaded regular gasoline is seen on the sign outside a BP gas station in Beachwood, Ohio. Amerhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110507/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gas_prices

By CHRIS KAHN, AP Energy Writer Chris Kahn, Ap Energy Writer 2 hrs 30 mins ago

NEW YORK – Some relief from suffocating gas prices will likely arrive just in time for summer vacation. Expect a drop of nearly 50 cents as early as June, analysts say.

After rocketing up 91 cents since January, including 44 straight days of increases, the national average this past week stopped just shy of $4 a gallon and has retreated to under $3.98. A steady decline is expected to follow.

It might not be enough to evoke cheers from people who recall gas stations charging less than $3 a gallon last year. But it would still ease the burden on drivers. And it might help lift consumer spending, which powers about 70 percent of the economy. A 50-cent drop in prices would save U.S. drivers about $189 million a day.

Typically, gas prices peak each spring, then fall into a summertime swoon that can last several weeks. This year’s decline should be gradual but steady, said Fred Rozell, the retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service.

Some drivers might not notice much of a price drop at first, Rozell cautioned. When average gas prices fluctuate nationally, some areas are affected more than others. In cities with many service stations, for instance, prices can be slower to fall. It’s even possible prices will rise at some stations in coming days even if they decline nationally.

And after the galloping surge in prices this year, many gas station owners are reluctant to lower prices until they see their competition doing the same, Rozell said.

“It’s just the nature of the business,” he said. “They’re going to try to get the most they can.”

Station owners still feel bruised from their own higher costs earlier this year. In some cases, their suppliers raised prices so quickly that station owners couldn’t pass along those higher costs to consumers fast enough. Competition also makes it hard for some stations to raise prices.

“So station owners will be watching each other this summer,” Rozell said. “When one guy drops, so will the other.”

A drop in prices would take some pressure off struggling consumers as well as businesses. As prices soared this year, surveys showed that motorists started to drive less. MasterCard SpendingPulse said this past week that it had recorded its sixth straight week of declining gasoline consumption.

That’s a cautionary sign for the economy, because most drivers conserve fuel only after curbing spending on other discretionary items like furniture, computers and vacations.

Over the past month, gas prices have risen 36 cents a gallon in Columbus, Ohio, to $4.10. Steve Garrett has felt it. He’s scrapped a summer trip to Myrtle Beach, Fla. And the bakery distribution center where he works has begun closing sites and laying off staff to save fuel on bread and pastry shipments.

If prices fall fast enough, Garrett, 43, said he may think about another vacation in August.

“But right now, I’m still just scared about the economy,” he said. “I still might lose my job.”

This past week, a confluence of factors stemmed the rise in gasoline prices.

Oil, which is used to make gasoline, tumbled 15 percent in price. Investors who were worried about rising oil supplies and falling gasoline demand in the United States helped drive down the price. Oil prices were also responding to a rising dollar. Oil is priced in dollars. So a stronger dollar makes oil less appealing to people buying with foreign currencies.

It was the largest weekly drop for oil in two and a half years. Some analysts predict that oil will keep falling in coming weeks — from about $97 a barrel to about $80.

Many U.S. refineries also are expected to boost production after a series of unplanned shutdowns stemming from power outages and other problems. Those refineries would pump more gasoline to gas stations. And the increased supplies should push down prices.

“It’s going to be $3.50 per gallon this summer,” oil analyst Andrew Lipow said. “At the very least, you can expect prices to fall 40 cents or so over the next several months.”

Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., have recorded average prices above $4 per gallon. Prices shot up much higher than that in Hawaii, Alaska and parts of Illinois.

The run-up persuaded U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska to ask residents to post photos of local pump prices because “the rest of the country doesn’t understand” what it’s like to live with gasoline above $4.20 per gallon.

In Illinois, florist Harry Schneider said he had to cut back on shipments from his Melrose Park shop just before Mother’s Day. With Chicago-area gas prices averaging $4.45 a gallon, Schneider said he couldn’t afford to deliver some arrangements.

“I need to make enough to cover the driver’s wages, wear-and-tear on the vehicles and fuel,” Schneider said. “I keep looking at my own bottom line and wonder, `How long do I want to keep losing money?'”

In San Francisco, some top officials have traded their city-owned SUVs for more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. Police Chief Greg Suhr said he and his command staff would switch to Ford Fusion Hybrids. Mayor Edwin Lee opted for the Fusion sedan, which gets an average mileage of 39 miles per gallon.

Elsewhere, some hotel chains are starting to offer discounts to help offset higher gasoline costs.

Those changes may need to stay in place for a while. Even if oil falls steeply in coming months, analysts note that world demand continues to rise. Lipow predicts that oil could return to about $110 a barrel by year’s end.

If that happens, and if any major hurricanes this year disrupt refining operations later this year, expect gasoline prices to once again flirt with $4 a gallon.

“It all depends on the weather,” Rozell said. “Trying to predict anything beyond 30 days is witchcraft.

___

Associated Press Writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Tammy Webber in Chicago and Robin Hindery in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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