Poor fleet sales push US car market toward 1982 lows

DETROIT (AP) âÄî ChryslerâÄôs U.S. vehicle sales plunged 55 percent in January, while General MotorsâÄô tumbled 49 percent and FordâÄôs dropped 40 percent, starting 2009 at an abysmal pace for the whole auto industry as lower sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies weighed down the results. ToyotaâÄôs sales dove 32 percent for the month, NissanâÄôs dropped 30 percent and HondaâÄôs fell 28 percent, putting the overall industry on track for its fourth straight month in which U.S. sales plunged 30 percent or more. But Subaru bucked the trend of declines for a second month in a row, posting an 8 percent sales increase, and Hyundai said its sales jumped 14 percent. Hyundai credited its increase to its offer to cover a new vehicleâÄôs depreciation if customers return a car within 12 months because they are unable to make the payments. âÄúThis program gets to the root cause of todayâÄôs economic concerns âÄî fear of job loss,âÄù Hyundai regional general manager Peter DiPersia said in a statement.

Iraqi police: âÄòMotherâÄô of women bomber recruiters arrested in rare glimpse into networks

BAGHDAD (AP) âÄî A woman accused of helping recruit dozens of female suicide bombers looked into the camera and described the process: trolling society for likely candidates and then patiently converting the women from troubled souls into deadly attackers. The accounts, in a video released Tuesday by Iraq police, offer a rare glimpse into the networks used to find and train the women bombers who have become one of the insurgentsâÄô most effective weapons as they struggle under increasing crackdowns. In a separate prison interview with The Associated Press, with interrogators nearby, the woman said she was part of a plot in which young women were raped and then sent to her for matronly advice. She said she would try to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame and to reclaim their honor. The AP was allowed access on condition the information would not be released until the formal announcement of the arrest. The United States and Iraqi militaries have made past claims without providing much evidence about efforts by insurgents to recruit vulnerable women as well as children as attackers. Those included statements by the Iraqis that two women who blew themselves up last year in Baghdad had DownâÄôs Syndrome, accounts that were not supported by subsequent investigations.

Lesbian couple who championed fight for gay marriage rights in Massachusetts files for divorce

BOSTON (AP) âÄî A lesbian couple who led the fight for gay marriage in Massachusetts has filed for divorce. Julie and Hillary Goodridge were among seven gay couples who filed a lawsuit that led to a court ruling making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriages in 2004. The couple became the public face of the debate in the state and married the first day same-sex marriages became legal. The divorce case was filed last week in Suffolk Probate and Family Court and was not unexpected. The couple announced they were separating in 2006. Messages left for the Goodridges were not immediately returned Tuesday.