In brief | Nation & world 11-03-13


Swings in gas prices more common as nation runs on fewer refineries

NEW YORK — Local gasoline prices are swinging up and down ever more drastically, a result of a national fuel system that is operating with a shrinking margin for error.

Jumps of 20 cents per gallon or more in a single day are becoming more common, for example, according to an AP analysis of daily and weekly price changes at 120,000 U.S. gasoline stations tracked by GasBuddy.com. Sixty-three times this year at least one U.S. metro area has seen such a change. Like the 24-cent increase Decatur, Ill. drivers saw on Jan. 26, or the 24-cent increase in Superior, Wis. on April 30, and the 28-cent increase in Henderson, Ky. on Sept. 19.

Not since 2008 have there been so many 20-cent changes. Last year those happened 58 times. In 2011 they happened just 21 times, and in 2010 just 7 times.

“There’s more and more feast or famine,” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and GasBuddy.com.

The problem, analysts say, is a fuel system increasingly vulnerable to short-term shocks. That’s because refiners try to keep stocks of gasoline low to save money, just as other manufacturers aim to operate on a “just-in-time” inventory schedule. The nation has about 26 days’ worth of gasoline demand in storage, compared with 30 to 40 days’ worth during much of the 1980’s and 1990’s, according to the Energy Department. Also, there are 143 operating refineries, about half the total from 1980, so, if one has a problem, supplies quickly drop.

International panel’s report predicts more illness, war, disease with global warming

WASHINGTON — Starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease already lead to human tragedies. They’re likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income. A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic’s website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.

Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe’s poorest people.

Subway vigilante Bernie Goetz, who shot 4 in 1984, sells undercover officer marijuana

NEW YORK — Subway vigilante Bernie Goetz, who ignited a national furor over racism and gun control after he shot four panhandling youths on a train in the 1980s, has been charged with misdemeanor sale and possession of marijuana, authorities said Saturday.

Goetz was nabbed in a sting operation in Union Square park Friday evening for selling $30 worth of pot to an undercover officer, police said. He asked the woman if she wanted to get high, then went back to his apartment, where he has lived for decades, and returned with marijuana, authorities said. He was arrested on charges of criminal sale of marijuana.

Goetz wasn’t being targeted specifically; he just happened to cross paths with the undercover officer assigned to crack down on drug dealing in the park, authorities said.

The 65-year-old was arraigned Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court on three misdemeanor drug charges for sale and possession of marijuana. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court next month. He declined to discuss the case with reporters outside the courthouse.

By wire sources

Goetz became a household name as the skinny, bespectacled white man who rose from his seat on the No. 2 train in Manhattan on Dec. 22, 1984, and shot four black teens with an illegal handgun. The teens had sharpened screwdrivers and were asking him for $5. Goetz said it was self-defense and the youths intended to rob him.

By wire sources