Average gas price in U.S. hits $3.07

Gasoline prices have surged to a record nationwide average of $3.07 per gallon, nearly 20 cents higher than two weeks earlier, oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said yesterday.

The previous record was $3.03 a gallon on Aug. 11, 2006.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. average gallon was $2.87, but the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide on Friday showed an increase of about 19.5 cents to $3.07. That's up 88.4 cents since Jan. 19, Lundberg said.

The recent increases are due mostly to refinery problems, Lundberg said, adding that there have been at least a dozen additional partial shutdowns in the U.S. and internationally that cut refining capacity.- AP

A climbing threat in the Everglades

LOXAHATCHEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Fla. - Like the insatiable plant from the musical

Little Shop of Horrors

, a verdant menace is eating the Everglades.

The Old World climbing fern, known to botanists as Lygodium microphyllum, is smothering the flora of the glades' unique tree islands and starving out the endangered wood storks and other fauna.

The climbing fern and other invasive plants now cover more than two million acres of the Everglades, including 70 percent of this national refuge and growing stretches of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.- AP

Warnings issued on tainted drugs

WASHINGTON - Regulators in the United States are warning drugmakers, suppliers and health professionals to be on the alert for counterfeit medicine additives that substitute a poison used in antifreeze for a common sweetener.

The Food and Drug Administration knows of no contamination cases in the United States such as those that caused deaths in Panama, Haiti and elsewhere, the agency said.

Some Chinese suppliers have used poisonous diethyline glycol, or DEG, as a substitute for glycerin, a more expensive sweet syrup, in certain medicines, the New York Times reported yesterday. The FDA "is emphasizing the importance of testing glycerin for DEG due to the serious nature of this potentially fatal problem," the agency said on May 4. - Bloomberg

Elsewhere:

Wrapped in crimson and gold robes, the 14th Dalai Lama tucked in his red-stockinged feet yesterday morning and implored a capacity crowd at Millennium Park's Harris Theater in Chicago to open their minds to the multitude of faiths around the world.

The demand for good translators in Iraq has become so high that those with the expertise are commanding salaries that often exceed that of the war's top general. The translators are paid up to $190,000 for a year's work in Iraq.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is counting on donations from politically active women to stay competitive in fund-raising for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, the Washington Post reported.