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More cuts at Ford Motor

Times Staff Writers

The Ford Motor Co., which was outsold last month for the first time by Toyota, announces it will slash fourth-quarter production by 286,000 vehicles, a 9% cut over 2005’s output.

The announcement raises expectations of even steeper cuts, including more factory closings and payroll trimming in management, plus substantially reduced sales revenue. Ford lost $1.3 billion during the first six months of 2006.

“The short-term ramifications will be ugly,” says one industry analyst.

Meanwhile, bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi Corp. says another 6,300 of its workers have chosen to be bought out or retire early. More buyouts are to come next month. Page C1

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Germans uncover terrorist train plot

German authorities say they’ve uncovered a terrorist plot using propane tanks concealed in train luggage timed to explode simultaneously.

The propane tanks were cushioned by clothing and surrounded by gasoline bottles intended to spark a fireball when detonated. Station security cameras recorded two men carrying the luggage onto two separate trains.

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They apparently disembarked later. Train workers found the unexploded bombs onboard.

A federal prosecutor attributes the foiled plan to a terrorist group and calls it “an attempt to kill a large number of people.” Page A13

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Baghdad bans cars for two days

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Iraqi government officials impose a 48-hour ban on vehicles in Baghdad this weekend to curb bloodshed during a major Shiite festival.

Authorities estimate more than a million people will attend the celebration, which marks the death in 799 of a major Shiite saint.

Rumors of a suicide bomber during last year’s festival caused a stampede across one Tigris River bridge in which 1,000 people were trampled or drowned.

Meanwhile, sectarian violence continues across Iraq on Friday with a suicide car bomber detonating near a mosque in Dora and gunmen killing seven pilgrim pedestrians in western Baghdad. Page A4

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Six Flags seeks to sell all six parks

Six Flags takes another step in its apparent plans to sell six of its amusement parks, including Magic Mountain in Valencia, to real estate developers.

The New York-based company, which needs revenue to reduce $2.1 billion in debt, releases detailed financial information to potential buyers. Statements by executives that they’d like to sell all six parks as a package seems to reduce the likelihood that the local parks would be developed for housing.

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“The real estate angle might be overrated,” said one expert.

Besides Magic Mountain, the parks are in Buffalo, N.Y.; Denver; Seattle; Houston and Concord, Calif. Bundling all six together would ensure that the less desirable parks are sold too. Page C1

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Real estate sales leader dies

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Richard Loughlin, who helped build Century 21 into the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales group, dies. Loughlin, also a minority owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, was 74. Page B13

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THE CRITIC: ‘There was . . . an absence of the staging excesses that turn so many country concerts into exercises in artificiality these days.’ Richard Cromelin on the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert. Calendar, E1

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Arms control

The United States and Israel begin a broad diplomatic attempt to discourage other countries from rearming Hezbollah. Citing fears that new weapons will reignite the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting, officials press major arms suppliers, including China and Russia, not to allow their sales to reach Lebanon. Page A8

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CALENDAR

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Nora riffs and rants

Let’s just say it out front: Nora Ephron has issues with her wattle. Her meditation on aging with wit, sans gray hair, “I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” debuted as a bestseller this week. Page E1

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Snakes get a window seat

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And you thought your biggest worry in the skies was bird-dogging fellow passengers for suspicious carry-on beverages.

Now comes a movie in which the cabin is besieged with not just an assassin but slithering snakes -- in coach, of course.

As film critic Carina Chocano writes, “Snakes on a Plane” is a great summer catchphrase, if not a great summer movie -- too chipper for horror, not serious enough for camp. A hapless surfer witnesses a mob murder, and FBI agent Samuel L. Jackson is escorting him from Hawaii to L.A. to testify when the mobster sets snakes loose at 30,000 feet.

“Why bother with explosive substances,” Chocano notes, “when you can obtain a large quantity of international poisonous reptiles from a kooky survivalist in the desert, and then spray the passengers’ welcome leis with snake pheromone, which drives them wild, and not in a good way. It’s foolproof!” Page E1

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The other L.A. designers

They’ve made guest appearances on “Bewitched,” “The Wedding Planner,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and “Nip/Tuck.”

We’re talking, of course, of Sonya Ooten’s signature crocheted gold wire earrings.

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Suzanne Felsen tried to buy her dad some contemporary cufflinks and when she couldn’t, she took a silversmith class and made him a pair.

While it was not the path a career counselor might urge, it was Felsen’s launch into the niche of L.A.'s indie jewelers.

As staff writer Valli Herman reports, someone could get the wrong idea that only a couple of men bejewel all those who walk the red carpets of the entertainment world.

But it is mostly young women, like Ooten and Felsen, who dominate the independent jewelry scene, which is rich with style-makers whose offbeat pieces are sold at places like Barney’s New York. Page E1

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SPORTS

Ready for some fauxball?

Fans pay the same price as if the games counted -- from tickets to beer to parking, and a team owner stands to make an average of at least $10 million on just four exhibition games. That, Sam Farmer writes, is why the NFL will continue to stage four preseason games despite player concerns about injuries. “Four games is ridiculous, man,” said Washington’s Clinton Portis, injured in a preseason game.

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The risk of wear and tear to players in games whose scores don’t matter results in teams fielding non-marquee players, prompting NFL teams to ask: faux football anyone? Page D3

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ON LATIMES.COM

Ebert ailing, but his show goes on

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Eye on Ebert: Channel Island TV blogger Scott Collins has the latest on the condition of ailing film critic Roger Ebert. Collins looks at the future of his TV show, which has seen critic Richard Roeper keep the Ebert chair warm with a variety of guest critics, including Jay Leno.

latimes.com/channelisland

Snakes scene: What was it like when the months of hype over “Snakes on a Plane” met the actual film? It was a scene where bloggers flew in to meet the monster they helped create.

latimes.com/entertainment

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