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Auto Dealers’ Best December in Five Years

By David Welch and Mark Clothier - Tue Jan 03 16:48:28 GMT 2012

U.S. consumers, who are more confident than they have been in eight months, were lured to auto showrooms by holiday discounts and may have pushed car sales to the second fastest pace in more than two years.

“From Thanksgiving on, they’ve been very aggressive,” Bob Tasca, whose family owns Ford, Lincoln, Mazda and Volvo dealerships in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, said of automaker discounts. “We’ve had the best deals of the year.” Tasca said he expects his best December in five years.

Light-vehicle sales in December, set for release tomorrow, may have run at a 13.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAARTOTL), the average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, up from the 12.5 million pace a year earlier. While the rate may trail the 13.6 million seasonally adjusted pace in November, typically a slow sales month, the number of units sold increased in December, according to the average of five estimates.

Consumer confidence reached an eight-month high in December, according to the Conference Board, as carmakers aired holiday ads and continued promotions begun in late November, which led to the highest seasonally adjusted rate of the year. Campaigns like General Motors Co. (GM)’s “Chevy’s Giving More,” featuring Santa Claus as a car salesman, brought consumers into showrooms seeking year-end deals.



Video Shows Firebombing Of NYC Home; Store, Prominent Islamic Center, Other Home Also Attacked

By VERENA DOBNIK and COLLEEN LONG | Associated Press | 7 minutes ago in

A police security tower rose into the sky Monday, keeping watch over a globally prominent Islamic cultural center that was firebombed amid a handful of attacks being investigated as possibly linked bias crimes.

Police, who had made no arrests, released a sketch of a suspect and a videotape from a surveillance camera at a private house that was one of the targets.

The video shows a car pulling up Sunday night. Someone suddenly appears, lifts his right arm high and hurls a lit object that strikes the house and explodes into flames.

Earlier Sunday evening, the entrance to the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation also was struck by two Molotov cocktails, the types of bombs usually made of glass bottles filled with flammable liquid and corked with rags.



Iran Opposes US Hegemony

The US has slapped sanctions on Iran, targeting its financial sector while the EU is considering an embargo on Iranian oil. But if the West suffocates Iran, it will have no option but to respond in a severe manner, Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi told RT.

­“The problem is that the US is pushing this conflict, this confrontation, in a direction which is becoming dangerous,” said Marandi of the University of Tehran. “In the eyes of many Iranians the Americans really do not want the nuclear issue to be resolved. They simply do not recognize Iran as an independent state, because Iran opposes American hegemony.”

“The maneuvers in the Persian Gulf are basically to show the United States that Iran is strong and can protect itself,” Marandi added. “And it is basically the only way in which to force the United States to recognize that certain lines just should not be crossed.”

With the naval drills Iran has proved it has enough resources to carry out its threat and close the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil export route linking the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, he believes.



NGOs Slam ‘Anti-Semitic’ US Think Tank Comments

"Think tanks are entitled to their political viewpoints – but they’re not free to slander with impunity," AJC says of CAP.

The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League weighed in last week on the mushrooming anti-Israel scandal surrounding a group of bloggers working for the US think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).

Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of government and international affairs, told The Jerusalem Post by e-mail on Friday that “think tanks are entitled to their political viewpoints – but they’re not free to slander with impunity. References to Israeli ‘apartheid’ or ‘Israel-firsters’ are so false and hateful they reveal an ugly bias no serious policy center can countenance.”

He called on CAP to “disavow them and put a stop to them.”


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