Morning headlines

"WTO" results: Lots of debate this morning about whether moviegoers were more or less inclined to see "World Trade Center" in light of last week's terrorist news. The $19 million gross ranked No. 3, but it sounds like that fell within expectations. Not surprisingly, grosses in New York exceeded those in L.A. by 10 percent. By comparison, “Talladega Nights” took in 40 percent more in Los Angeles than N.Y. in its opening weekend.

Relief at pumps?: The government announces its weekly gas price survey later today, but with BP planning to keep 200,000 barrels a day flowing in the western half of the Alaska oil field, pump prices will likely hold their own - and perhaps even continue a several-week decline. Whatever the effect on prices, BP's well-oiled publicity machine has taken a considerable hit, especially given the confusing reports early last week. Meanwhile, oil prices have fallen about a buck in trading this morning.

Downloading on MySpace: The decision by News Corp. to start selling downloadable Fox films and TV shows on its Internet platforms, including MySpace, is unlikely to create a major revenue source. For the moment, you will only be able to watch on a computer (no burning onto a DVD). Without that capability, how can News Corp. determine the potential download-to-own market out there?

Factory jobs wanted: High-skilled, high-wage manufacturing jobs are apparently tough to fill. Older workers have been retiring and folks who have been laid off in recent years are unwilling or unable to receive the kind of training that would make them job candidates. By the way, L.A.'s continues to see a steady decline in manufacturing employment. This year they'll be an estimated 468,000 jobs in Los Angeles County, down from 812,000 in 1990.

Shaq in China: O'Neal signs a deal with Li Ning to endorse a line of "Li Ning Shaq" basketball shoes and apparel only in China. The company, which in recent years has fallen to third place in the market behind Nike and Adidas, wouldn't reveal the terms of the deal. Not to be missed: Shaq is scheduled to be in China this week on a promotional tour.

Do-it-yourself games: Microsoft will announce today a XNA Game Studio Express software that will allow just about anybody working from their home PC's to create video games. The idea is to develop a kind of "YouTube" for games.

Port suit: Was there any funny business in the decision by the Port of Los Angeles to turn a man-made island into a cargo terminal for Maersk instead of using the island for hazardous shipments? Community activist Stanley D. Mosler has filed a false claims lawsuit against the port, Maersk and former harbor Executive Director Larry Keller. The question is whether the port misappropriated federal money in constructing the Maersk terminal.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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