Gas Prices Drop Nationwide

The average price for all grades of gasoline nationwide has fallen nearly 4 1/2 cents per gallon in two weeks, the Associated Press reported. The lower prices are a result of the drop in crude oil prices and slightly lower demand. The average retail price of all three grades dropped 4.46 cents to $2.27 per gallon between April 8 and Friday, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semi-monthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations around the country. The most popular grade, self-serve regular, was priced at $2.24 a gallon, while customers paid $2.34 for mid-grade. Premium averaged $2.44 a gallon for the period.

Patent Fight Settled
Los Angeles surgeon-turned-inventor Gary Karlin Michelson walked away with a $1.35 billion settlement from Medtronic Inc. over the licensing of patents covering his back surgery products. The settlement, reached Friday, was surprising in that it more than doubles the sum a federal jury in Memphis, Tenn., awarded Michelson last fall in his battle with the Minneapolis-based medical device maker, the Wall Street Journal reported. While the settlement puts the litigation to rest, it also gives Medtronic a stranglehold on the fast-growing back surgery market.

Starz Could Become DirecTV Property
Questions about the future of the struggling Starz Entertainment Group could lead to a merger with Showtime or ownership by a satellite service such as L.A.-based DirecTV, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The cable channel operator could become a bargaining chip in discussions between its parent company, Liberty Media Corp., and DirecTV owner News Corp., over a buyback of Liberty's stake in News Corp. Separately, SkyTerra Communications completed the acquisition of 50 percent of Hughes Network Systems from DirecTV, it was announced on Monday.

MTA and Bus Riders Union Gear Up for Continued Battle
With a consent decree mandating added bus service set to expire next year, L.A.'s Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Bus Riders Union are preparing to fight over its extension, the Daily News reported Monday. The Bus Riders Union said the MTA continues to spend more on suburban trains than inner city buses, while former MTA board member Nick Patsouras said the consent decree has blocked development of coherent transit policies.

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