SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Politics trumped progress on Friday as President Barack Obama and Republican leaders traded blame for $85 billion in forced spending cuts after they failed to come up with a compromise to avert the harshest impacts.
The president signed an order required by law that set in motion the automatic, government-wide cuts.
Obama and congressional leaders from both parties met for about 45 minutes at the White House, but no agreement emerged to avert the cuts that both sides oppose.
After weeks of campaign-style events intended to inspire public outrage over the cuts, Obama sought to temper his description of their impact while making clear he thinks Republican intransigence prevented a deal to avoid the economic harm they'll cause."We will get through this," he told reporters. "This is not going to be an apocalypse as some people have said. It's just dumb and it's going to hurt."
Still, a White House budget office report sent to Congress and released with Obama's order said the cuts would be "deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions."
The action was described in the report as "a blunt and indiscriminate instrument" that was "never intended to be implemented and does not represent a responsible way" for the country to realize deficit reduction.
In a sign of the potential impact, the Department of Justice sent furlough notices to employees that warned they may be forced to take days off without pay in coming months.
Similar furloughs, as well as reduced services, were expected at other agencies if the cuts don't get replaced or eliminated. Military leaders have warned of impaired readiness of U.S. forces.
However, the full impact of the cuts weren't expected until April at the earliest.
The cuts amount to roughly 9% for a broad range of non-defense programs and 13% for the Pentagon over the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
They were included in a 2011 deal to raise the federal borrowing limit as an unacceptable outcome if Congress failed to agree on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.
However, election-year politics stymied progress on such a deal, leading to the situation Friday in which both sides acknowledged being unable to prevent something neither wanted.
"There are smarter ways to cut spending," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, after the meeting with Obama.
Boehner repeated his past assertion that the GOP-led House has offered proposals to replace the forced spending cuts while the Democratic-led Senate has not, as well as his party's opposition to any increased tax revenue to offset the forced spending cuts.
Others who also took part in the White House gathering were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In the White House briefing room, Obama told reporters that Republicans in Congress "allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful (tax) loophole to help reduce the deficit."
"As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well off and the well connected and they think that that's apparently more important than protecting our military or middle class families from the pain of these cuts," Obama said.
He was referring to a procedural vote on Thursday in which Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic proposal that called for eliminating some tax loopholes as part of a package with spending cuts.
Boehner and Republicans say the president and Democrats have yet to propose a serious plan to reduce spending, including costly entitlement programs, on a scale necessary to bring chronic federal deficits and debt under control.
Both Obama and Boehner foreshadowed the next major spending showdown - a March 27 deadline for Congress to authorize funding to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year.
Boehner told reporters that the House will take up a measure next week to authorize federal funding beyond that deadline.
"The president and leaders agreed legislation should be enacted this month to prevent a government shutdown while we continue to work on a solution to replace the" forced spending cuts, said a statement by Boehner's office.
Although the funding measure is unconnected to the spending cuts, Obama indicated he was open to a broader agreement that would resolve both issues.
"I do know that there are Republicans in Congress who privately, at least, say that they would rather close tax loopholes then let these cuts go through," said Obama in response to questions from reporters.
"... In the coming days and the coming weeks, I'm going to keeping on reaching out to them -- both individually and as groups of senators or members of the House -- and say to them, 'Let's fix this, not just for a month or two, but for years to come,' because the greatest nation on Earth does not conduct its business in month-to-month increments or by careening from crisis to crisis," Obama said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- On Friday night, the US government may slash $1.2tn from the federal budget over the next decade. Who will these cuts hurt?
Congress has until 23:59 EST on Friday (04:59 GMT on Saturday) to come up with an alternate budget plan that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. If that fails to happen - and the consensus in Washington DC right now is that it will not - the entire country will default to what was considered a worst-case scenario. That means automatic budget cuts designed to inflict maximum pain.
Known in Washington DC jargon as the sequester, these cuts would slash $1.2tn (£791bn) from the federal budget over the next decade. They were designed to draw blood from projects valued on both sides of the aisle, and in doing so spur lawmakers to compromise on a more realistic deal.
They did not, and now the American people are stuck with harsh cuts - at least until a new law is passed.
While everyone agrees that funding is being slashed from crucial programmes, the effects of such budget butchery will not be spread evenly throughout the country.
"The overall effect is not going to be turning a light switch off" and banishing the entire US to darkness come the stroke of midnight, says Memo Diriker, director of the European-American Business Institute at Salisbury University.
Instead "it will be a slow build," he says. "If you look at the totality of the cuts, they are spread out over ten years."
Some groups will feel the pain more than others. Here is a timeline of who will get hit and when:
Those who work for defence contractors have already started to feel the effects of the sequester. "Several companies have already reduced their workforce or hiring," says Diriker.
That is because defence spending could take a hit to the tune of $46bn this year and $495bn over the subsequent nine years. Companies that rely on federal defence funds are planning for the worst.
So too are some private-sector companies who are not targets of the automatic cuts but worry about their effect on the general economy.
"For people that make decisions based on projections of where the macro economy is going over the next six months to a year, they are already going to start building in the assumption that the economy is not going well," says Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts.
That is because the lead-up to the sequester saw flat growth in the Gross Domestic Product and unemployment figures. "We're on the edge of the recession right now," says Pollin.
The cuts - which would lead to lay-offs of federal employees, teachers, and other workers - could push the US right over that edge. In preparation, private companies may scale back hiring and expansion plans.
Three to six months
Federal dollars for the year have already been allocated, so social service agencies and other recipients of government money will not immediately see their budgets slashed. But once they run out of federal money, they are out. Some teachers will finish out the school year, but "come May or June, they are going to be told they're not coming back," says Diriker.
States have discretion over how they allocate money given to them by the federal government, so different programmes will run out of money at different times depending on the state.
But Diriker predicts that between now and September, programmes like Meals on Wheels, which provides food to homebound citizens, will run out of federal cash in several states.
Six to 12 months
Expect the general American economy to take a hit over the next year.
"The [Federal Reserve] itself is saying no improvement in the economy over the next 12 months," says Pollin. It is also predicted that the cuts could knock half a percentage point off the Gross Domestic Product and keep the unemployment rate between 7.3% and 7.7%.
Economic reports produced on the last day of February indicated slight growth in the economy, with more confidence in consumer spending and fewer layoffs, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the budget uncertainty has economists worried that growth will stall when the flow of federal money slows.
"That's the reality of austerity, and once that reality sets in, certainly it's not going to help move the economy forward," says Pollin.
By then, the government may come to a new agreement restoring funding to needed areas. But until then, those who depend on government funds - whether billion-dollar weapons companies or a hungry, housebound pensioner - may have to get used to doing more with less.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- All of that talk that Apple has reduced iPhone 5 component orders due to slumping demand for the smartphone might be wrong.
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu today wrote in a research note to investors that Apple's reported cuts to component orders have nothing to do with weak demand. Instead, Wu said that while component orders are lower, they're due to "much improved yields meaning lower component builds and supplier shifts."
"As far as we can tell, iPhone 5 demand remains robust," Wu said.
Baird analyst William Power offered up a similar evaluation to investors today, saying that he was "actually raising our calendar fourth quarter iPhone forecast slightly," adding that "most demand indicators remain favorable."
The debate over iPhone 5 orders cropped up on Sunday when The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources, that Apple had cut its iPhone 5 screen orders in half. Those sources said that the cut was due to "weaker-than-expected demand."
On Monday, investors responded by selling off Apple shares. The company's stock ended the day down 3.6 percent to land at $501.75 -- a far cry from its 52-week high of $705.07 a share.
Now, though, analysts are lining up to make clear that the iPhone 5 is doing just fine. Mark Moskowitz, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, yesterday called the iPhone 5 demand rumors "more noise," according to AppleInsider. The analyst went on to say that the "order cuts are a direct result of manufacturing yields improving following the fast-and-furious product roll-outs of the iPhone 5 as well as new iPads and Macs."
And about those cuts? It appears they might not be as deep as the Journal's sources said. Those folks indicated that iPhone 5 component orders were cut by "roughly half." According to the New York Times, which spoke with NPD DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza, Apple had expected to order 19 million displays for its iPhone 5 in January, but cut it to between 11 million and 14 million.
The question now, though, is whether investors will respond favorably to the latest spate of news. As of this writing, Apple's shares are up 82 cents to $502.57 in pre-market trading.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – OPEC will likely cut its oil production next year as prices risk falling in reaction to higher output from top crude consumer the United States and amid a slowing of energy demand growth, analysts say.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided on Wednesday to hold its oil output ceiling at 30 million barrels per day, which stands about one mbd below the cartel’s actual production.
At a ministerial meeting in Vienna -- where OPEC is based -- its 12 member countries also chose to re-appoint Secretary-General Abdullah El-Badri to head the group for another year after failing to agree on a new leader.
“When you look at the price now, there is not concern at this time,” El-Badri told reporters at a post-meeting press conference in the Austrian capital on Thursday.
“I think the current price, at $110 (a barrel for benchmark Brent crude), is acceptable for both producers and consumers.”
OPEC said on Wednesday that “the biggest challenge facing global oil markets in 2013 is uncertainty surrounding the global economy, with the fragility of the eurozone remaining a major concern.”
It added in a statement following its meeting: “World oil demand is forecast to increase slightly during... 2013, (but) this is likely to be more than offset by the projected increase in non-OPEC supply” -- such as from the U.S..
OPEC’s “overall interest is certainty in demand, and nobody can really tell whether this certainty in demand will be fully there,” independent energy market analyst Karin Kneissl told AFP after Wednesday’s meeting.
OPEC, which includes the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia among its dozen members, forecast that demand for its crude oil next year would contract to 29.7 mbd -- or about 1.5 mbpd down on current output.
The International Energy Agency, which represents consumers, said on Wednesday that non-OPEC production was expected to rise to 54.2 mbd next year following “the highest growth rate since 2010.”
Demand for OPEC oil expected to fall
OPEC members agree that the oil market “is currently well-supplied and demand for the group’s crude will fall next year,” said Julian Jessop, analyst at the Capital Economics research group.
“The US, Canada and Mexico combined now produce more oil than the total of... (OPEC’s) Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran,” he added.
A weakening of demand for OPEC oil risks weighing on high crude prices, despite a background of Middle East unrest, notably over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
Oil prices fell in trading on Thursday after OPEC’s warning of an over-supply amid uncertainty surrounding the outlook for the global economy, analysts said.
Brent North Sea crude for January delivery shed 24 cents to $109.26 a barrel.
OPEC on Wednesday said its members “would, if necessary, take steps to ensure market balance and reasonable price levels for producers and consumers.”
While analysts said OPEC would cut output in the coming months, its members would be wary of stripping back too far for fear of sending prices too high, hurting economic recovery.
“Most member states in the exporting group will be happy with the current market balance and price levels, while fearing that falling production could see a further price rise and hurt already struggling demand growth into 2013,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital financial group.
Long-term meanwhile, a spike in shale oil and gas production risks weighing on prices of conventional crude, according to industry experts.
The IEA recently forecast that the U.S. would become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017 thanks to an explosion in hard-to-reach energy trapped in shale, or sedimentary rock.
“According to the numbers we have seen, we think there will be competition” from U.S. shale, UAE Energy Minister Mohammad bin Dhaen al-Hamli said in Vienna this week.. www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - The bread is zapped in a sophisticated microwave array which kills the spores that cause the problem.
The company claims it could significantly reduce the amount of wasted bread - in the UK alone, almost a third of loaves purchased.
The technique can also be used with a wide range of foods including fresh turkey and many fruits and vegetables.
World of waste
Food waste is a massive problem in most developed countries. In the US, figures released this year suggest that the average American family throws away 40% of the food they purchase - which adds up to $165bn (£102bn) annually.
Bread is a major culprit, with 32% of loaves purchased in the UK thrown out as waste when they could be eaten, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
One of the biggest threats to bread is mould. As loaves are usually wrapped in plastic, any water in the bread that evaporates from within is trapped and makes the surface moist. This provides excellent growing conditions forRhizopus stolonifer, the fungus that leads to mould.
In normal conditions, bread will go mouldy in around 10 days.
But an American company called Microzap says it has developed a technique that will keep the bread mould free for two months.
At its laboratory on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, chief executive Don Stull showed off the long, metallic microwave device that resembles an industrial production line. Originally designed to kill bacteria such as MRSA and salmonella, the researchers discovered it could kill the mould spores in bread in around 10 seconds.
"We treated a slice of bread in the device, we then checked the mould that was in that bread over time against a control, " he explained.
"And at 60 days it had the same mould content as it had when it came out of the oven."
Question of taste
The machine the team has built uses much the same technology as found in commercial microwaves - but with some important differences, according to Mr Stull.
"We introduce the microwave frequencies in different ways, through a slotted radiator. We get a basically homogeneous signal density in our chamber - in other words, we don't get the hot and cold spots you get in your home microwave."
20th-Century history of bread
- 1928: First bread slicing machine, invented by Otto Rohwedder, exhibited in US
- 1930: Large UK bakeries take commercial slicers and sliced bread first appears in shops
- 1933: About 80% of US bread is pre-sliced and wrapped, and the phrase "the best thing since sliced bread" is coined
- 1941: Calcium added to UK flour to prevent rickets
- 1942: The national loaf - much like today's brown loaf - introduced to combat shortage of white flour
- 1954: Conditions in bakeries regulated by the Night Baking Act
- 1956: National loaf abolished
- 1961: The Chorleywood Bread Process introduced
Source: The Federation of Bakers
The company's device has attracted plenty of interest from bread manufacturers - but it is worried that it could push up costs in an industry where margins are very tight.
And there is also a concern that consumers might not take to bread that lasts for so long. Mr Stull acknowledges it might be difficult to convince some people of the benefits.
"We'll have to get some consumer acceptance of that," he said. "Most people do it by feel and if you still have that quality feel they probably will accept it. "
Mr Stull believes that the technology could impact bread in other ways. He said that bread manufacturers added lots of preservatives to try and fight mould, but then must add extra chemicals to mask the taste of the preservatives. If bakers were able to use the microwave technology, they would be able to avoid these additives.
While a wholesale change in the bread industry might be difficult to achieve, there may be more potential with other foods, including ground turkey.
In 2011, food giant Cargill had to recall 16 million kg of the product after a salmonella outbreak. Mr Stull believes that using microwaves would be an effective way of treating this and several other products ranging from jalapenos to pet foods.
The only fruit that his device was unable to treat effectively were cantaloupes.
"We've used our tumbler machine to treat them, he says "but you can't tumble cantaloupes because they damage."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Britain's government has said it will stop all aid to India in 2015 and slash its remaining handouts, bowing to domestic pressure over its foreign development budget at a time of austerity.
Justine Greening, the international development secretary, said on Friday that the move, which will save Britain around $320m from 2013 to 2015, recognises India's "changing place in the world".
Prime Minister David Cameron has faced growing opposition at home to the aid commitment to India, with commentators often pointing out that Britain's booming former colony is able to fund its own space programme.
After visiting India this week with Foreign Secretary William Hague, Greening said that the relationship with India would now focus on "trade not aid".
"India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st century India," Greening said.
'Aid is the past'
Conservative Cameron's coalition government is trying to save money as part of its efforts to reduce a record deficit.
" It's time to recognise India's changing place in the world."
- Justine Greening, International Development Minister
British aid to India was reduced last year as part of widespread austerity measures, but still committed London to spending $445m a year until 2015.
Total spending between 2013 and 2015 will now be $318m less than had been planned previously, although Britain would complete all of its aid programmes in India, Greening said.
The Department of International Development confirmed in a statement: "Justine Greening will not sign off any new programmes, and financial aid programmes to the country will end completely in 2015."
Cameron has rejected growing pressure from politicians in his centre-right party to scrap his pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.
But while he has previously defended aid to India on the basis that tens of millions of Indians live in poverty, an end to the payments has been on the cards for sometime.
Britain was stung in February when New Delhi announced a big contract to buy French warplanes instead of the UK-backed Eurofighter Typhoon.
That came despite intense efforts to expand trade with India, with Cameron leading a huge business delegation to India in one of his first trips after taking office in 2010.
The same year, however, Britain suffered another snub when India's then-finance minister Pranab Mukherjee - now the president - reportedly dismissed the aid from Britain as a "peanut".
On Thursday, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid had signalled the country would soon stop receiving aid from Britain after holding talks with Hague.
"Aid is the past and trade is the future, so we are looking to the future," Khurshid told journalists in New Delhi after meetings with Hague.
"We discussed a lot of trade, investment and cooperation issues and I think that is how we see our relationship grow."
Aid groups however said the decision to cut the aid was premature.
Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said the agency was concerned that completely withdrawing British aid to India by 2015 was "too hasty".
"Despite the fact India is a country of growing wealth it is also a hugely divided country with extreme levels of poverty and inequality," he said. "The scale of the challenge remains huge."— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Furious Greek unions have vowed to stage "the mother of all strikes" as the country's parliament prepares to vote on new austerity measures, the condition for further rescue funds that will keep bankruptcy at bay and, in so doing, secure continued membership of the euro.
The fresh round of cutbacks and tax increases – the fourth such package since the outbreak of Europe's debt crisis in Athens three years ago – is likely to be passed, but not without a fight, as public and private sector employees walk off the job on Tuesday in a 48-hour showdown with prime minister Antonis Samaras's fragile coalition.
"These measures may be voted through, but they cannot be enforced because the tolerance levels of Greeks have really passed their limits," said Panos Skourletis, spokesman of the main opposition Syriza party.
"The government does not have the political legitimacy to pass policies which it promised it would renegotiate during the election campaign [in June] and which it knows will lead to the annihilation of our nation. The only way out is fresh elections here and now."
With cuts amounting to more than 5% of GDP, the €13.5bn package has stirred ferocious passions, both in the governing coalition where politicians have spent almost five months negotiating the reforms with international creditors at the EU and IMF, and on the street where anti-bailout forces have pledged to do "whatever it takes" to stop the implementation of measures that will undoubtedly exacerbate the debt-choked country's economic freefall.
Indicative of the heightened political tensions, the small Democratic Left party, a junior partner in Athens' conservative-led alliance, pledged it would not support the austerity bill, which foresees the retirement age being increased from 65 to 67, controversial wage and pension cuts and a radical overhaul of the labour market – all in return for a crucial €31.5bn cash injection to keep the moribund Greek economy afloat.
"We will abstain from voting in favour of the austerity programme because we disagree fully with the labour reforms that are also included in the package," said Dimitris Hadzisokratis, the party's economics chief.
With Greece mired in its worst recession since the second world war amid record levels of poverty and unemployment, the party has argued that further cuts to wages and severance payments will devastate a workforce that has already borne the brunt of the crisis. But Hadzisokratis rejected mounting rumours that the leftist party was considering quitting the coalition, predicting that far from being explosive the social backlash to the measures would be limited. "My own personal feeling is that social reaction will not correspond to the weight of the measures and will be much less than anticipated because people can see there is no alternative," he said.
Addressing his own wavering MPs, Samaras insisted that the choice was stark. Either the measures were passed, or bankruptcy and euro exit beckoned. "The problem is not whether this measure or the other is adopted … [but] what would happen if the measures did not pass, if the loan agreement was not finalised," he said conceding that ordinary wage earners had already lost 35% of their income over the past two years. "If we were forced to leave the euro now, we would lose at least twice that amount within a few weeks. Our standard of living would fall by about 80%," added the leader, emphasing that the spending cuts would be the "very last" to be imposed on a nation that has come ever closer to breaking point.
But unions beg to differ. With over a quarter of the country's entire workforce out of work and extremism rising on left and right, many fear the package will prove to be the tipping point for Greeks.
Increasingly MPs in the government's other party, the once mighty socialist Pasok, have also revolted with as many as seven deputies refusing to back the measures. Politicians have argued that further belt-tightening will be counter-productive when, far from being tamed, Greece's monumental debt load is projected to hit a record 192% of GDP in 2014 – despite private creditors accepting a write-down in the value of Greek bonds in March.
The country's economy is expected to contract for a sixth straight year in 2013 with national outlay estimated to drop by 4.2% – bringing total losses since the crisis erupted to a whopping 25% of GDP.
"Everyone knows that our debt is totally unsustainable and with that in mind it has made voting for these measures seem even more pointless," confided one socialist deputy.
Dissent in Pasok means that the government is unlikely to pass the measures with anything more than a slim majority which will add to the turmoil in Greece as the coalition's viability comes under ever greater question.
"Elections are inevitable," said Nikos Filis, editor of the Avgi, the paper widely aligned with the views of the main opposition Syriza party. "It is one thing to hear about measures, another to have them applied. The more these are enforced, the greater the reaction will be and the greater the loss to the government's authority."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Carmaker Ford has announced plans to close two UK plants with the loss of 1,400 jobs.
Its Southampton Transit van factory and the stamping plant at Dagenham, Essex, will shut, with union sources saying the job losses could reach 2,000.
Ford said it planned to close the plants next year.
The news came a day after Ford said it had started consultations on closing its factory at Genk in Belgium with the loss of 4,300 jobs to cut costs.
The firm told the unions it was looking to close the Genk factory, which makes the Mondeo and S-Max models, in 2014.
Ford said it hoped to achieve the job losses through voluntary redundancies and redeployments.
"We will address the crisis in Europe with a laser focus on new products, a stronger brand and increased cost efficiency," said Ford boss Alan Mulally.
"We recognise the impact our actions will have on many employees and their families in Europe, and we will work together with all stakeholders during this necessary transformation of our business."
The carmaker also announced it would be investing in a new diesel engine range at Dagenham.
Ford said the decision to close the plants was taken "against a backdrop of the severe and persistent economic crisis in Europe", which had seen demand for cars in Western Europe drop by 20% since 2007 and car sales in the region hit a 20-year low. It predicted a loss for Ford Europe of more than $1.5bn (£930m) in 2012.
Paul Everitt, head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the move was "part of wider restructuring to ensure a stronger and more competitive European automotive industry".
"The immediate priority is to help those impacted secure alternative employment. The decline in European vehicle markets and the uncertain future growth prospects has resulted in a number of vehicle manufacturers restructuring their operations.
Ford's plan to close the two plants is part of its efforts to revive its loss-making European division, rather than a reflection of the efforts and quality of its UK workforce.
Car sales in Europe have slumped during the eurozone crisis, and Ford expects the weakness to persist.
Demand for commercial vehicles such as the Transit has also fallen as many of its business customers are in difficulty.
Ford says it is eager to scale back its manufacturing capacity to match demand, a logic that might please investment analysts but will do little to comfort those whose jobs are on the line.
"These are difficult times for the European automotive industry as manufacturers adapt to new market conditions and changing patterns of global demand."
However, unions criticised Ford for its decision and the way the carmaker went about announcing it.
Unite said the plant closures could lead to the loss of up to 2,000 jobs at Ford, with production of the Transit van moving to Turkey.
"Ford has betrayed its workforce and its loyal customer base," said the union's general secretary Len McCluskey.
"Unite is going to fight these closures. This announcement has been handled disgracefully.
"Only a few months ago Ford was promising staff a new transit model for Southampton in 2014. The planned closures will really hurt the local economies and the supply chain will be badly hit - up to 10,000 jobs could be at risk."
The GMB union said 1,000 jobs would be going at Dagenham.
"This is devastating news for the workforce in Southampton and Dagenham. It's also devastating news for UK manufacturing," said the union's national officer, Justin Bowden.
"Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures."
Some new posts will be created at the Dagenham engine plant, which will build Ford's new Panther engine, reports say.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Newsweek plans to end its print publication after 80 years and will shift to an all-digital format aimed at online users starting in early 2013. Job cuts are expected.
Newsweek's last U.S. print edition will be its Dec. 31 issue.
With more and more consumers on the go and using their cell phones and tablets to receive the news, media organizations have had to increasingly shift more of their emphasis online.
SmartMoney, for example, announced in June that it was shuttering its print publication in favor of a digital format. Dow Jones & Co., a unit of News Corp., said at the time that 25 positions at SmartMoney would be eliminated.
Newsweek's decision does not come as a complete surprise. Barry Diller, the head of the company that owns Newsweek, announced in July that the publication was examining its future as a weekly print magazine. Diller said then that producing a weekly news magazine in print form wasn't easy.
The announcement of the change was made by Tina Brown, editor-in-chief and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Co., on The Daily Beast website Thursday.
"In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format," she said.
Brown said staff cuts are expected, but didn't give a specific figure. She also said that Newsweek's editorial and print operations would be streamlined in the U.S. and abroad.
Brown said that the online publication will be called Newsweek Global and will be a single, worldwide edition that requires a paid subscription. It will be available for tablets and online reading, with certain content available on The Daily Beast website.
"We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it," she said. www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — US researchers found patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of attacks compared to those who did not.
The study in Arthritis & Rheumatism said cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
UK experts said the research offered "good evidence" of the benefits of eating cherries for people with gout.
Gout is a common type of arthritis that can cause sudden and very severe attacks of pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the feet.
It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes urate crystals to start to form in and around the joints and under the skin.
Gout affects about one in 100 people, with men two to three times more likely to be affected than women.
In this study, researchers from Boston University recruited 633 gout patients with an average age of 54, who were followed online for one year. Most were male.
People were asked to record gout attacks including symptoms, the drugs they used and their diet and drinking patterns in the two days prior to the attack, including whether or not they had eaten cherries or cherry extract intake.
Ten to 12 cherries was counted as one serving.
During the period the patients were studied, they had a total of 1,247 gout attacks.
Some 42% of those studied ate cherries or cherry extract.
These patients had a 37% lower risk of gout attacks than those who did not eat the fruit - in any form.
However, the benefit was only seen when eating up to three servings over the two days prior to an attack. Further cherry consumption provided no extra benefit.
But when patients ate cherries or cherry extract and took the common anti-gout drug allopurinol, the risk of attacks was 75% less than if they were doing neither.
Writing in the journal, the team led by Dr Yuqing Zhang, said: "Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack."
Prof Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK welcomed the research: "It has been thought for some time that some fruits, in particular cherries, may have benefits for diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis which are characterised by chronic inflammation.
"It has been suggested that antioxidant compounds found in cherries may be natural inhibitors of enzymes which are targeted by common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen."
Prof Silman added: "This study provides good evidence to suggest that cherry intake, combined with traditional uric-acid reducing drugs, can significantly reduce the risk of painful gout attacks.
"Eating cherries, in fact, is not dissimilar to taking ibuprofen on a daily basis.
"However, we'd like to see additional clinical trials are necessary to further investigate and provide confirmation of this effect."— www.shafaqna.com/English