1:51pm

Mon January 2, 2012
Economy

U.S. Auto Sales Seen Continuing To Rebound In 2012

After hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth in 2012 — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession.

The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy.

Just two years ago, Detroit automakers were in peril. Car sales plunged as unemployment soared, and loans became harder to get. Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford avoided bankruptcy only by borrowing billions.

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1:10pm

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

The Caucuses: A Quick Guide

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 1:11 pm

Edward Lewis of Council Bluffs waved an Iowa state flag outside the Family Table Restaurant in Atlantic on Sunday, before the arrival of former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Those who remember newspapers might recognize this as a "clip and save." Maybe the more modern term would be a "cut and paste." Whatever, if you want some of the details and logistics about Tuesday night's caucuses in Iowa, here they are:

-- When: 7 p.m. Central time (8 p.m. ET).

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12:28pm

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

On Eve Of Vote, Romney Returns To 2008 Strongholds

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets voters after speaking at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Monday morning in Iowa, I caught up with Mitt Romney's strategist Eric Fehrnstrom after the campaign's first event of the day, a speech at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport.

In the last hours before Tuesday night's caucus, Fehrnstrom said, the former Massachusetts governor plans to consolidate his support by visiting areas in the eastern part of the state where he had a strong showing in 2008 — places like Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.

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12:15pm

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

Iowa Democrats Caucus Too; For Obama Team, It's Practice For November

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 12:17 pm

The focus is naturally on the Republican caucuses Tuesday night in Iowa, because the GOP is the party with a battle going on for its presidential nomination.

But President Obama's fellow Democrats in the state will be caucusing too. And by all accounts Team Obama is taking it all very seriously, even though he doesn't have a intra-party challenger.

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11:15am

Mon January 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Fencer Who Was Darth Vader In Famous Light Saber Scenes Has Died

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 11:24 am

PRNewsFoto/THQ Wireless

10:05am

Mon January 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Ranger Killed In Rainier Park Was 'Living Her Dream'

"Slain Ranger Was Living Her Dream."

That's the headline at the website of The Seattle Times, which profiles 34-year-old Margaret Anderson, who was shot to death Sunday in Mount Rainier National Park.

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9:58am

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

In Final Iowa Push, Once-Sunny Gingrich Says Romney 'Will Lie To You'

The Newt Gingrich campaign bus is rolling again Monday morning, leaving Waterloo, where the candidate spent the night and heading straight east to the small town of Independence. The venue? Heartland Acres Agribition Center, a modest-size exhibition hall for small, regional agribusiness conferences with a lot of interesting old farm implements on display, and a shop with some pretty cool toy tractors.

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9:15am

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

Bachmann Casts Herself As Thatcher-Style 'Iron Lady' In Last Iowa Ad

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in Pella, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2011.
Steve Pope Getty Images

8:30am

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

'Lonely' Jon Huntsman Won't Be Solo In N.H. Much Longer

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 9:11 am

GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman in Milford, N.H., on Dec. 8.
Cheryl Senter AP

Plug the name "Jon Huntsman," the state "New Hampshire" and the word "lonely" into a search field and you'll get lots of hits.

"In New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman Walks A Lonely Path," a Los Angeles Times headline reads.

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7:30am

Mon January 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Los Angeles Fires: 2 Men Charged In More Than 50 Blazes

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 2:13 pm

People inspect the damage following an overnight fire in Hollywood on Friday (Dec. 30, 2011).
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images
(The top of this post was rewritten at 3:15 p.m. ET.)

Authorities in Los Angeles just announced they've made two arrests in connection with the more than 50 fires that had been set in the city in recent days, causing several million dollars worth of damage but no serious injuries.

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7:00am

Mon January 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Iran Test-Fires Missile, Claims To Have Made Nuclear Fuel Rod

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 7:02 am

An Iranian Army soldier stood guard on a military speed boat during navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran late last week.
Ali Mohammadi AFP/Getty Images

As often happens with issues related to Iran's relations with the rest of the world, there's a mix of saber-rattling and diplomacy in the news again today:

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6:26am

Mon January 2, 2012
World

Iran's Navy Tests Surface-To-Surface Missile

Iran's navy said it test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday during a drill in international waters near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The missile, called Ghader, or Capable in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of a missile that has been in service before. IRNA said the missile "successfully hit its intended target" during the drill.

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6:20am

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

It's Almost Caucus Time: Candidates Hone Last-Minute Messages

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 6:24 am

Fired up on a cold day: Sunday in Ames, Iowa, Marilyn Izette Krocheski came to the West Towne Pub to see Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Good morning.

With just one full day of campaigning left before Tuesday evening's Republican caucuses in Iowa — the first truly important contest of the 2012 presidential election season — the stories and headlines are all about who's up, who's down and who needs to do what to survive and do battle again next week in New Hampshire.

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6:05am

Mon January 2, 2012
Around the Nation

Mass. Dog Walker Wounded By Deer Hunter

Originally published on Mon January 2, 2012 6:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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6:00am

Mon January 2, 2012
It's All Politics

2012 GOP Presidential Primary Season Designed To Slow Emergence Of Winner

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns Sunday in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

If GOP front-runner Mitt Romney cannot quickly persuade his rivals and voters that he is the inevitable nominee and that further resistance is futile, he may be in for an expensive and time-consuming slog.

Unlike GOP presidential primary seasons of the past, the one that begins in Iowa Tuesday was actually designed to slow down the emergence of a winner by stretching out the calendar and altering the delegate allocation rules.

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