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It was called "Plan B". It was a Republican effort to avoid some of the tax increases that are part of the fiscal cliff. The White House had always planned to veto it, as Press Secretary Jay Carney detailed before the vote. "The Republicans in the House have decided to run down an alley that has no exit," he said.
But Republicans didn't even get very far down the alley. In a Washington surprise, Plan B fell last night, after House Speaker John Boehner failed to muster the support in his own party to pass it. He sent Congress home for Christmas and said in a statement that it's now up to the Senate to work with the president to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The National Rifle Association holds a news conference this morning, a week after a gunman killed seven adults and twenty children in Newtown, Connecticut. Some have pointed out that the NRA is responding to this tragedy differently than it has to other mass shootings.

Honk if your palms are sweaty. That seems to be the next big thing in car technology -- tracking everything from a driver's stress level to blood-sugar levels. Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are among the carmakers that are busy doing research to take us down this road.

The Census Bureau has released its latest population estimates which tells us which states are growing the fastest. Arizona and Florida remain in the top ten with growth just over one percent. Nevada is number six, and the top two are places where the recession has been almost non-existent. The government-job center of Washington, D.C., and North Dakota which is in the middle of an oil boom. Both are growing faster than two percent.

The Longshoremen's Union is in heated contract negotiations with 14 ports along the East Coast and Gulf Coast. If an agreement isn't reached by December 30th, it could mean a strike that would have big economic implications.

Greece is heading into its sixth straight year of recession. The economy is set to shrink another four percent in 2013 and unemployment is now at 26 percent. Sometimes those numbers are hard to wrap your head around which brings us to one example of the tough economy in Greece which may be easier to understand: Two soccer teams are so cash-strapped, they are turning to some unusual sponsors to make ends meet.

To Canada, where someone brought a reindeer to the offices of the Toronto Star newspaper to spread a little Christmas cheer. The problem is that's not all it spread. According to tweets from a number of staffers, Ivy the reindeer left a few presents on the visit, including one in the editor in chief's office.

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Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson