Nationa briefs: Gas price falls to year's low

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DALLAS -- Gasoline at U.S. service stations fell to the lowest level in a year as refining and retail margins sank, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 11.72 cents in the two weeks ended Dec. 21 to $3.2579 a gallon, extending its decline for nearly three consecutive months, the survey of about 2,500 stations by the Camarillo, California- based survey company showed.

The average, now the lowest since Dec. 16, 2011, has declined 57.96 cents a gallon over the past 11 weeks and is 70.92 cents below the year-to-date high of $3.9671 on April 6.

"This is the end of the price crash," Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said Sunday, predicting U.S. pump prices may rise 5 cents to 10 cents a gallon over the next few days as refiners and gasoline retailers seek to widen margins that declined to the lowest since February and August, respectively.

U.S. gasoline inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 14 to 219.3 million barrels, the highest level since March 30, Energy Department data show. Supplies have jumped almost 19 million barrels in the past month as refiners processed more than 700,000 barrels a day more crude and other feedstocks.

SEAL: Apparent suicide

WASHINGTON -- U.S. military officials are investigating the apparent suicide of a Navy SEAL commander in Afghanistan. An official spoke about the situation on condition of anonymity because the death is still being investigated.

Navy SEAL Cmdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pa., near Philadelphia, died Saturday of a non-combat-related injury while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

A U.S. military official confirmed Cmdr. Price was from Virginia Beach, Va.-based SEAL Team 4, which is part of the mission to train Afghan local police to stave off the Taliban in remote parts of Afghanistan. He is survived by a wife and a daughter.

Mayor out of hospital

BOSTON -- Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has left a hospital just in time for Christmas.

The longest-serving mayor in the city's history was released Sunday from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He joked that city government has been running well, even without him.

Mr. Menino spent about six weeks at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He was admitted for treatment of a respiratory infection that developed during a vacation in Italy.

While at the hospital, he suffered complications including a compression fracture in a vertebra in his spine. He also was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Few answers on storm

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. -- For more than a month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that the recent superstorm didn't cause significant problems at any of the 247 Superfund toxic waste sites it's monitoring in New York and New Jersey.

But in many cases, no actual tests of soil or water are being conducted, just visual inspections. The EPA conducted a handful of tests right after the storm, but couldn't provide details or locations of any recent testing when asked last week.

Politicians have been asking similar questions, too. On Nov. 29, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., wrote to the EPA to ask for "an additional assessment" of Sandy's impact on Superfund sites in the state.

-- Compiled from news services



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