6:55am

Sat January 7, 2012
Opinion

Iowa, New Hampshire: Small States With Big Roles

Iowa and New Hampshire are not demographic snapshots of America. They are smaller, less diverse and more rural than California, New York or Illinois, which have a lot more votes.

But Iowa and New Hampshire win a lot of attention early in an election year. As an old political columnist, now departed, once told me over the din of clinking cups in an Iowa diner, "If the first presidential caucuses were in Hawaii, congress would give federal subsidies to make gasoline out of pineapples."

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6:53am

Sat January 7, 2012
The Salt

Mystery Solved: Why The Cat Craves Mushrooms (And People Do, Too)

Why do cats have an affinity for mushrooms?
Marco Varrone iStockphoto.com

Anyone who lives with a cat knows that fruits and vegetables do not top the feline food chart. So it's a surprise to hear that some cats do crave mushrooms.

This tale starts with Ellen Jacobson, an amateur mushroom hunter in Colorado. As she was cooking up a bolete mushroom, her cat Cashew started brushing against her legs. She put some of the mushrooms in a bowl, and Cashew gobbled them up. "He didn't like them raw," she told The Salt. "He only liked them cooked."

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6:09am

Sat January 7, 2012
Economy

What Jobs Numbers Mean For Obama's Employment

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 1:38 pm

President Obama speaks about jobs in Manchester, N.H., in November. The Labor Department reported Friday that unemployment dropped to 8.5 percent.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama acknowledged Friday that the economic recovery has a long way to go. Still, he was able to share some good news. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent.

"Obviously, we have a lot more work to do," he said, "but it is important for the American people to recognize that we've now added 3.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 22 months."

Those better-than-expected numbers could help Obama as he tries to hang onto his own job.

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6:02am

Sat January 7, 2012
Arts & Life

Elizabeth McGovern, Acting At An Intersection

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 10:20 am

Elizabeth McGovern was nominated for an Oscar as turn-of-the-century Broadway sensation Evelyn Nesbit in the film of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. She plays Lady Cora Grantham in Downton Abbey.
Nick Brigg ITV/Masterpiece

Elizabeth McGovern is back — though she was never really gone. She just moved across the pond.

She was 19 when a star — hers — was born, after she played the love interest in Robert Redford's film Ordinary People. She went on to co-star with some of Hollywood's leading men, including Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and landed an Oscar nomination for Milos Forman's big-budget film Ragtime.

But in the early '90s, McGovern married a British guy and gave up Hollywood for London. She raised a family and developed a British acting career.

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6:02am

Sat January 7, 2012
Election 2012

Romney's Week: A Squeaker, A Love Fest And A Shrug

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 10:55 pm

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pleaded with his supporters at a rally Monday in Dubuque, Iowa, saying, "I need every vote." He did — winning the Iowa caucuses the next day by just eight votes.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

When Mitt Romney kicked off this past week with a blitzkrieg tour of Iowa, he had no way of knowing just how true this statement would be: "You guys in Dubuque, you're the best. Get out there and vote tomorrow. I need every vote!"

He wasn't kidding. When the final numbers were tallied in Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor edged his closest rival, Rick Santorum, by the smallest margin in Iowa history — just eight votes.

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6:01am

Sat January 7, 2012
Business

Italian Shopkeepers Say 'No, Grazie' To More Hours

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 7:50 pm

A butcher shop serves customers in a Rome market on Dec. 31. A new law went into effect in Italy on Jan. 1, allowing shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 throughout the year.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Italy's new prime minister, technocrat Mario Monti, wants to stimulate growth by boosting productivity and competitiveness. A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 allows shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 all year long, holidays included. This deregulation puts Italy ahead of many European countries, but many Italians are resisting.

Friday — the Day of the Epiphany — was the first holiday of the year. In Rome, however, hardly anyone took advantage of the liberalized shop hours.

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5:00am

Sat January 7, 2012
Politics

Debate Over Appointees Hinges On One Word: Recess

President Obama took a controversial step this week in making appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board during what the White House considered a congressional recess, bypassing any objections from lawmakers.

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5:00am

Sat January 7, 2012
Law

When Property Rights, Environmental Laws Collide

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 10:20 am

Chantell and Mike Sackett say the EPA violated their right to due process when it said they were building a house on a wetland. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case near and dear to EPA haters.

It would seem to be a David-and-Goliath case that pits a middle-class American couple trying to build their dream home against the Environmental Protection Agency. But the couple, Michael and Chantell Sackett, is backed by a veritable who's who in American mining, oil, utilities, manufacturing and real estate development, as well as groups opposed to government regulation.

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7:02pm

Fri January 6, 2012
-New York Ski Report

Ski Report January 6th, 2012

Ski report for New York from Ski Areas of New York.  

6:37pm

Fri January 6, 2012
The Two-Way

Rights Group Says Prominent Activist Beaten By Govt. Forces In Bahrain

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 6:44 pm

Two men try to extinguish a tire fire Thursday in Sitra, Bahrain, near the site of an opposition rally.Nightly clashes between riot police and protesters continued Thursday night nationwide.
Hasan Jamali AP

The struggle between government forces and protesters continues in the Gulf nation of Bahrain. Today, it came back into focus when Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist, was detained and beaten by government security forces.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said Rajab was beaten "for participating in a peaceful protest" in the capital city of Manama, today. In a press release, the organization reports:

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