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Saab continues down wrong road

Little more than a year after General Motors engineered a sale that saved Saab from oblivion, the carmaker is facing a fresh bout of financial troubles that threaten to spread pain across Sweden.

Production has been halted since Tuesday at the Saab plant in Trollhattan, near Gothenburg, after several disruptions last week and amid disputes with suppliers over payments and contracts. Saab said Thursday that assembly lines would not resume until early next week as it scrambled to find money to pay its suppliers.

Saab sold 31,696 cars wholesale in 2010, compared with 27,482 in 2009. That modest increase was not enough to prevent a net loss of 218 million euros ($311 million) in 2010 on sales of 819 million euros ($1.17 billion). Froberg, the author, said Saab’s new owners “totally misjudged the time, effort, and money” needed to resume production and reopen sales channels.

Spyker is sticking to a goal of selling 80,000 cars this year and turning a profit in 2012, and will add the new 9-4X crossover and update its mainstay 9-3 and 9-5 models later this year.

Matthew Saltmarsh, The New York Times

Slaughterhouse shortages in Bay Area drive local beef out of business

One might expect the Bay Area — as the epicenter of the eat-local movement and a region with a long tradition of cattle ranching — to be a mecca for producers of organic and grass-fed beef. But there is a problem: A shortage of slaughterhouses is so acute that it is stunting the growth of this emerging industry.

Only one slaughterhouse remains in the Bay Area, in Petaluma, and there are just a smattering of them in all of Northern California. Ranchers must often truck their grass-fed cattle hundreds of miles to the nearest plant, and they face backlogs in the busy season that can lead to waits lasting many months. This means fewer — and more expensive — local skirt steaks at the butcher shop, and more carbon with that grass-fed burger.

The slaughterhouse shortage, and associated difficulties in creating an efficient supply chain, has already kept aspiring local-beef entrepreneurs out of the business, University of California researchers say. And when the local supply of grass-fed meat gets low, out-of-region producers pick up the slack.

Meanwhile, established local purveyors fret about what could happen if the Petaluma slaughterhouse, Rancho Veal, closed.

Slaughterhouses were once common in the Bay Area. Rosemary Mucklow, director emeritus of the National Meat Association, an industry trade group based in Oakland, said that as recently as 45 years ago, there were still dozens of slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants in San Francisco.

David Ferry, The Bay Citizen

Barry Bonds trial goes to jury

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal prosecutors gave one final appeal to jurors in Barry Bonds’ perjury case Thursday, asking for them to find Bonds guilty and emphasizing how simple it would have been for him to avoid this trial in the first place.

“All he had to do was tell the truth,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nedrow said to start the government’s 85-minute closing argument. “He chose not to tell the truth and that’s why we’re here.”

Bonds, the former San Francisco Giants star, is charged with three counts of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he testified that he never knowingly took steroids or that he was never injected by someone other than his personal doctor. He is also charged with one count of obstruction of justice in connection with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroids investigation.

Each count carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, though federal guidelines would probably call for a sentence of 15 to 21 months. If convicted, Bonds — who was indicted more than three years ago — is likely to serve far less time than that.

The jury listened to more than four hours of closing arguments before walking out of the courtroom to deliberate. Evidently, it had enough for the day. The panel — eight women and four men — decided to return Friday morning to begin deliberations.

Juliet Macur, The New York Times

Despite recent weather, Japan reconstruction continues

The Japanese central bank announced measures on Thursday to help reconstruction efforts in areas affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last month.

The Japanese economy, already burdened by deflation and anemic growth, was dealt a heavy blow by the disasters that struck the northeast part of the country on March 11. The direct damage caused by the quake and tsunami, combined with subsequent power shortages and disruption to supply chains, caused production to plunge.

In an immediate reaction to the turmoil, the Bank of Japan, the central bank, pumped liquidity into the financial markets, strengthened an asset purchase program and intervened in the foreign exchange markets to try to stop a spike by the yen.

Bettina Wassener, The New York Times

Teen injured in missile attack

JERUSALEM — A 16-year-old Israeli boy was critically wounded Thursday when an antitank missile fired from Gaza struck a school bus in southern Israel, according to military officials, setting off a new round of hostilities along the Israel-Gaza border.

The attack, which marked the first time that an antitank missile had hit a civilian target in southern Israel, prompted an intensive Israeli retaliatory bombardment of Gaza, killing five.

The military wing of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, claimed responsibility for the attack on the bus, saying it had specifically aimed at the target as a response to Israel’s killing of three Hamas commanders last Saturday. Israel said the three had been planning to kidnap Israelis.

Gaza militants later fired 45 rockets and mortars at southern Israel, hitting one house but causing no more injuries.

The Israeli military immediately returned fire with artillery and tank shells.

Isabel Kershner, The New York Times