Struggling steel industry sparks crisis in UK

by Jill Lawless, The Associated Press Posted Mar 31, 2016 2:41 am MDT Last Updated Apr 2, 2016 at 5:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Struggling steel industry sparks crisis in UK LONDON – The British government scrambled Thursday to save the country’s struggling steel industry after Tata Steel announced plans to sell its U.K. plants, which employ almost 20,000 people.Prime Minister David Cameron held a crisis meeting at 10 Downing St., and said the government would do “everything it can” to keep steelmaking in Britain.But, he said, “this is a difficult situation. There’s no guarantee of success.”“This industry is in difficulty right across the world,” Cameron said. “There’s been a collapse in prices, there’s massive overcapacity.”The steel industry in Britain, like many developed economies, has been hit hard by cheap Chinese imports, which have depressed prices, and manufacturers have asked the government and European Union to impose anti-dumping duties.Tata Steel, which operates the country’s biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in south Wales, is losing 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) a day in Britain, the U.K. government has said. A sale or restructuring would likely involve heavy job losses in places like Port Talbot, a battered but proud steel town where Tata employs 5,500 people.Tuesday’s decision by the Indian company to shed its British steelworks appeared to catch U.K. authorities by surprise. Cameron was on vacation in the Canary Islands, while Business Secretary Sajid Javid was in Australia.Javid, who quickly flew back to Britain, said the steel industry “is absolutely vital for the country and we will look at all viable options” to save it.The opposition Labour Party has urged the government to nationalize the steel industry — as it did struggling banks, which received billions in public money to keep them afloat during the 2008 financial crisis.Labour’s economy spokesman, John McDonnell, said temporary nationalization would be “cost-effective in the long term.”“It isn’t just the cost of losing those jobs, as we’ve seen elsewhere. It’s the cost of devastation of whole communities. And remember, we will be paying out in unemployment benefits and other benefits to those people who lose their jobs,” he said.But Cameron said: “I don’t believe nationalization is the right answer.” He suggested the government could provide incentives to steelmakers, including a guarantee that British-made steel would be used in major defence and infrastructure projects.Critics say that may not be enough.Labour lawmaker Stephen Kinnock, who represents the Port Talbot area, accused the government of being in “disarray” over steel.He said the government “has been asleep at the wheel and has been more interested in rolling out the red carpet for China, than it has been in standing up for British steelworkers.”The crisis was seized on by both sides in the debate over Britain’s place in the European Union that is raging ahead of a June 23 referendum on membership. John Longworth of the Vote Leave campaign said Britain had “handed power over our trade policy to the EU,” which had failed to prevent the dumping of cheap steel from China.“If we vote leave and take back control we would actually have the power to combat unfair dumping of steel,” he said.But Cameron, who wants Britain to remain in the 28-nation bloc, said half of British steel is exported to EU countries, and leaving might mean it became subject to tariffs. The Tata steel plant dominates the skyline over the roof tops of Port Talbot, Wales, Wednesday March 30, 2016. UK authorities say they will look at all viable options to keep the British steel industry at the heart of its manufacturing base after Tata Steel announced it may sell its UK assets. The sale could put thousands of jobs at risk. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE read more

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Not enough new antibiotics in the pipeline UN report warns

The report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) says most of the drugs currently in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions. “Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom in a press release. The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250,000 people each year. “There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery,” Mr. Adhanom said. In addition to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, WHO has identified 12 classes of priority pathogens – some of them causing common infections such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections – that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics and urgently in need of new treatments. The report identifies 51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treat priority antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and the sometimes deadly diarrhoeal infection Clostridium difficile. Among all these candidate medicines, however, only eight are classed by WHO as innovative treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal. There is a serious lack of treatment options for multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant M. tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E.coli) which can cause severe and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes. The report also found that although oral antibiotics are essential for treatment outside hospitals or in resource-limited settings, few are in the pipeline. “Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence,” said Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO. To counter this threat, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) set up a research and development partnership. According to Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis Programme, research for tuberculosis is seriously underfunded, with only two new antibiotics for treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis having reached the market in over 70 years. “If we are to end tuberculosis, more than $800 million per year is urgently needed to fund research for new anti-tuberculosis medicines,” he said. read more

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