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Gas prices trickle down

October 24, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

A new federal report shows the price of gasoline at the pump continuing to decline.

Nationally, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $2.208, nearly 40 cents cheaper than a year ago.

California's prices remain higher. The price here fell 5.9 cents during the last week to $2.481, 34.6 cents cheaper than a year ago.

"Demand is down from the summer months," says one analyst. "There is ample supply. The hurricane season is almost over."

A pledge by OPEC nations to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day failed to halt the price declines from the July record high of $78.40 a barrel.

December oil futures fall 52 cents to settle at $58.81. Page C2


Ford posts worst quarter in 14 years

Ford Motor Co. announces it had the worst quarterly loss since 1992.

For the third quarter, Ford lost $5.8 billion as it imposed a fundamental restructuring plan. For the calendar year so far, Ford's losses are $7.24 billion.

It sold 710,000 vehicles in the third quarter, 64,000 fewer than the year-ago quarter. Third-quarter revenue fell 10% to $36.7 billion. Ford's stock slips slightly, closing at $7.90. Page C1


Wal-Mart cuts new spending

Faced with Wal-Mart's stagnating stock price in recent years, investors have been calling on the world's largest retailer to curb spending.

Wal-Mart executives meeting in New York announce they will do just that. Capital spending next year will increase only 2% to 4%, compared with 15% to 20% this year.

Wal-Mart has 3,900 stores in the United States and 6,600 worldwide. It expects to add up to 340 new stores domestically this year and possibly as few as 305 next year. Page C3


7 killed in bloody Gaza skirmish

An Israeli army reconnaissance unit, assigned to disrupt the almost daily homemade-rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, killed a militant commander and six other Palestinians in a running gunfight.

At least 17 other Palestinians were wounded in the fighting that also involved helicopters and tanks and winds through the alleys of Beit Hanoun.

Palestinians say the dead were en route to a wake for another militant killed in the ongoing Gaza skirmishes. Page A4

In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seeks to strengthen his unpopular center-left coalition by adding a far-right party, the Yisrael Beiteinu, to the government. Page A4


Santa Clarita vs. the 'mega mine'

Los Angeles County uses 34 million tons of sand and gravel every year but produces only 5 million tons.

Which is one compelling commercial reason why the giant Mexican company Cemex has set its eyes on a giant deposit of sand and gravel right by the growing city of Santa Clarita.

The city and others have long opposed the project as a "mega mine," posing a threat of more pollution, dust and traffic.

City leaders are so serious about thwarting the project that they have spent $7 million on legal efforts, a public relations campaign to denounce it and purchase of the land. Page B1


Middle-class enclave

Tenants of 110 Manhattan apartment buildings in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village -- sold last week for $5.4 billion in one of the nation's largest residential real estate deals -- fear their rent-stabilized status is threatened. Page A10


THE CRITIC: 'The thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly intimate exhibition is also an inspiration to no-budget do-it-yourselfers whose journeyman enthusiasms generate far more satisfaction and goodwill than financial remuneration.' David Pagel reviews a photography show at the Norton Simon Museum. Calendar, E3



This 'Parade' reigns

"My Black Parade," the new album by My Chemical Romance, "creates a new role for rock in the age of virtual reality," reviewer Ann Powers says. Lead singer Gerard Way's songs unite the authentic and the imagined, she writes, bringing punk's immediacy to a generation weaned on video games and online communities. It's exciting, Powers says. And it's the future. Page E1


He's not really a PC, he's a writer

"I'm a PC," John Hodgman intones on TV commercials for Apple Computer, then proceeds to reveal himself as inept and, even worse (for the ads' target audience), uncool. But in real life Hodgman is anything but inept, and although his persona practically screams "nerd," he's so good at being nerdly that he's legitimately cool.

"My friends and people who know me are as surprised as I am," Hodgman says of his newfound celebrity, which he owes to the commercials and his nonsensical commentaries on "The Daily Show." Those jobs didn't come by way of acting school or improv performances though; Hodgman first attracted attention in a rather quaint manner: by writing essays. Page E1


Finding the way to 'Sesame Street'

What kind of show would "Sesame Street" be in an impoverished country where many children start working before age 6? How about in a country where AIDS has turned a large number of children into orphans? Or where ethnic tensions threaten to boil over?

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