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News Briefs

Oil Prices Dip to About $50 As Supply Concerns Wane

Oil prices fell to a four-week low on Monday, briefly dropping below $50 a barrel, as traders grew less concerned about possible threats to supplies.

Crude oil futures for December delivery fell $1.63 Monday, to $50.13 a barrel, after touching $49.30 during trading, their lowest level since Oct. 4. Oil prices have gained 73 percent in the last year. Last week, prices reached a record $55.65 a barrel.

Oil prices rose steadily over the summer as analysts and traders feared that supplies from oil-producing countries like Iraq, Russia and Nigeria could be interrupted at a time when demand, especially from Asia, was surging at an unexpected pace. But while oil producers are pumping at record levels to keep up with consumption, few of the market’s concerns about supplies have materialized.

“This price isn’t justified,” said Doug Leggate, an analyst at Citigroup. “The idea that there is a shortage is nonsense. The reality is that the market is oversupplied.”

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Victims’ Rights in Domestic Dispute

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide an important case about the rights of those who turn to the police for protection against a violent family member or acquaintance.

The question, framed in a lawsuit brought by a woman whose estranged husband murdered their three young daughters, is whether the failure by the police to enforce a protective court order she had obtained violated her constitutional right to due process.

The lower courts have confronted the question numerous times in recent years and have produced conflicting answers. In the case the justices accepted, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Denver, voted 6-5 to permit the woman’s lawsuit, against the town of Castle Rock, Colo., to proceed to trial. The federal district court in Denver had dismissed the suit, in which the plaintiff, Jessica Gonzales, is seeking $30 million in compensatory damages and millions more in punitive damages.

Colorado law makes it mandatory for the police to provide protection once a protective order is issued. “A peace officer shall use every reasonable means to enforce a protection order,” the state law provides.

Teenage Suicide Bomber Kills 3 In a Market in Tel Aviv

A 16-year-old Palestinian blew himself up on Monday in an outdoor market here, killing three Israelis and wounding 32 others, three days after Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, left the region for medical attention in France.

The scene at the Carmel market was chaotic and grisly, with scattered cartons, bits of metal and crushed fruit in pools of blood, the pungent sweet odor of guavas mixed with the rusty tang of blood and explosive.

The bomb, although relatively small, was set off in a crowd of customers near stalls that sold salads, cheese and clothing. One of the dead was the owner of the clothing shop, who was filling in for her sick husband; another was a young woman who had recently gone to work selling cheese. At the clothing shop, wire hangers were bent, and a blouse still hung above the wreckage, with holes from shrapnel and powder burns. The third fatality was identified as Shmuel Levy, 65, of Jaffa.