USA

Ford Motor Company plans to cut 25,000 to 30,000 hourly jobs and close at least 10 assembly plants in North America, The Detroit News reported. The plan is being presented to the company's board of directors and will not be announced publicly until Jan. 23, the paper said Wednesday. If the report proves accurate, the cuts would be far deeper than those forecast earlier. The initial reports said as few as three plants would be closed and about 7,000 jobs would be cut.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government can seize a person's Social Security benefits to repay old student loans. The decision came on an appeal by Seattle resident James Lockhart, whose government benefits were cut by 15 percent to cover debts from the 1980s. About half of the roughly $7 billion delinquent student- loan debt in the US is more than 10 years old.

California state Sen. John Campbell (R) was elected to fill the 48th Congressional District seat in Orange County vacated by former US Rep. Christopher Cox (R). Senator Campbell received 45 percent of the vote. The race turned largely on immigration policy. One of Campbell's opponents, American Independent Party candidate Jim Gilchrist, is the founder of the Minuteman Project border patrol group. Gilchrist, however, finished third with 25 percent of the vote. Cox was appointed by President Bush to head the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year.

About one in four Internet users is hit with e-mail scams every month that try to obtain personal information from consumers, according to results of a new study by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance. Of those receiving the phony e-mail, seven in 10 were fooled into thinking they'd come from legitimate businesses. Almost 75 percent of those surveyed said they use their computers for sensitive transactions such as banking, stock trading, or reviewing medical records.

Mayor Jim West (R) of Spokane, Wash., was ousted by voters in a special election Tuesday, becoming the city's first chief executive to be recalled. Upon certification of the results, he must leave office by Dec. 16. The recall campaign began after the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported in May that West had used a city computer to seduce other men over the Internet. He has not been charged with a crime, but FBI agents have confiscated his personal computers as part of an investigation.

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