Gas prices have recorded their biggest one week increase since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

March 4, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Economic News, Featured Stories, US News

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Gas prices have recorded their biggest one week increase since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s totally ridiculous, man,” said Anthony Pollard. He is feeling the pinch at the pump, like many other motorists. “I’m putting $50 in here today. And that’ll probably get me half a tank.”

Pollard owns a Chevy pickup. His other vehicle is a gas-guzzling Lincoln, and he refuses to drive that until prices come back down, which may not be anytime soon.

AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Rick Remington says prices jumped 21-22 cents nationally and 18 cents in the Delaware Valley over the past week.

Remington says there’s a lot of volatility out there, so drivers would be wise to shop around.

“We’re seeing prices vary from $3.14 in South Jersey to $3.50 in Philadelphia. So within about a 15-20 minute drive, quite a spread.”

Industry experts predict we could see prices head up to the $3.75 zone by April.

And if you’re booking a flight anytime soon, be prepared for a little sticker shock.

Blame the higher cost of jet fuel. Delta started the latest wave of fare hikes by raising prices up to $20 a flight Thursday. American Airlines went with a $10 increase — and then United, Continental and US Airways also kicked up fares by $10 bucks.

Jet fuel prices are at their highest March levels since 2008.

Tom Parsons of www.bestfares.com says that means leisure travelers should be doing their shopping now.

“If you’re traveling in summer, you better be poking around right now and hope you can lock in a great airfare.”

Right now analysts say demand remains strong — but if prices continue to climb, leisure travelers may decide not to fly.

Reported by Paul Kurtz and Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio

US tightens military grip on Gaddafi Naval and air forces close in on Libya as David Cameron plans no-fly zone to protect civilians

March 3, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Featured Stories, US News, World News

The west was edging towards a possible military confrontation with Muammar Gaddafi‘s regime, as the US deployed naval and air force units around Libya, and David Cameron ordered contingency plans for Britain to help enforce a no-fly zone.

The steps were part of a concerted western effort to hasten Gaddafi’s downfall and avoid a prolonged civil war and a humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern flank.

The US froze $30bn in assets held by Gaddafi and his officials, a record for the United States. France meanwhile dispatched two aircraft full of medical and humanitarian supplies to the rebel-held town of Benghazi, the start of what it said would be “a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of liberated territories.”

Cameron said he had told the Ministry of Defence and the chief of the defence staff to draw up plans for a no-fly zone in coordination with Britain’s Nato allies and report back to him within days.

A no-fly zone would be designed principally to prevent attacks on Libyan people by the Gaddafi regime – mainly by his helicopter gun ships.

Cameron suggested the UK might even consider arming the Libyan opposition forces if Tripoli used more violence to crush demonstrations.

Officials said discussions on a range of military options began last week between British and US officials at the Pentagon. They said that the support of US and British armed forces might also be required to protect corridors to channel humanitarian relief into Libya through Tunisia and Egypt, if further conflict brought about a mass displacement of the population and a collapse in the food supply.

The prime minister discussed imposing a no-fly zone over Libya in a telephone call with president Nicolas Sarkozy of France. An emergency summit of all the EU’s 27 leaders is now expected to be held in Brussels next week.

Gaddafi remained defiant. “They love me, all my people love me,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “They would die to protect me.” He again blamed al-Qaida for the rebellions. “This is al-Qaida, not my people,” Gaddafi said. “They come from outside.”

The military deployment and heightened rhetoric coming from Washington and London were designed to multiply the pressure on Gaddafi and his top officials, but there are serious political obstacles.

Western officials say any military intervention in the unfolding conflict would have to be coordinated by Nato and would require the approval of the UN Security Council, and that is far from guaranteed. Russia and China, who both hold a veto, have voiced their opposition to any outside interference. France too has cautioned about Nato involvement.

Resistance in the security council and within Nato would leave Washington and London to draw on a “coalition of the willing” to carry out a humanitarian intervention, something both are extremely reluctant to do. A diplomatic source at the UN headquarters in New York said however that more security council meetings were likely this week and the pressure for action would rise if the bloodshed and suffering continued to escalate in Libya. “We have not yet reached the high-water mark for council involvement,” the source said.

The Gaddafi regime continued to use its air force against the opposition, which claimed that Libyan air force jets bombed the rebel-held city of Ajdabiya, 160km south of Benghazi.

Two army officers from Benghazi’s military committee confirmed jets that had taken off from Tripoli each dropped bombs on the city at around 4pm.

“We had several anti-aircraft positions, which fired at the planes and they left,” said Colonel Hamid Belkhair, who runs the rebel military in Benghazi. “Then they fled.”

Officials in Benghazi’s new interim council, which aims to provide a political face to the revolution, said Gaddafi loyalists intended to cut water and electricity supplies to cities in the east and attack them from the air.

The city of Misrata, in western Libya was also bombed and strafed by helicopters, residents told the Guardian.

An anti-aircraft position was established on Benghazi’s waterfront against an expected increase in attacks. The east of the country remains lightly armed compared with the loyalist army.

The rebel military has no anti-aircraft missiles and only a small number of old jets. The remnants of the air force still loyal to the veteran dictator are flying predominantly Russian-made MIGs.

The Pentagon’s announcement that it was repositioning naval and air forces in the region gave no details of what units were involved. “We have planners working and various contingency plans and … as part of that we’re repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

In Geneva, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said that the warships could be used for humanitarian and rescue missions. “There is not any pending military action involving US naval vessels,” she said.

Following RAF rescue missions over the weekend, Cameron raised the possibility of further British military involvement in Libya. “We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets, we must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesman said later: “The prime minister spoke to President Sarkozy this evening to discuss the situation in Libya. They agreed that the actions of the Libyan regime had been totally unacceptable. The international community had been right to respond quickly through the UN and now the EU.”

The defence secretary, Liam Fox, discussed the possibility of a no-fly zone with the Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, but Rasmussen has said repeatedly that there would be no Nato involvement without UN Security Council approval.

“I think the framework here and now is, and should be, the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council last week. That resolution excludes the use of armed forces and a no-fly zone is not mentioned,” he said.