Washington D.C. -- After exhaustive negotiations that strained the country's patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts. In the 257-167 vote late Tuesday, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans favored the bill; 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it. Had the House not acted, and the Bush-era tax cuts that were set last decade expired fully, broad tax increases would have kicked in. In addition, $110 billion in automatic cuts to domestic and military spending would have taken place. The combined effect could have dampened economic growth and possibly tipping the U.S. economy back into a recession.
In Other News Skywatchers will be setting their alarm clocks for the early morning hours Thursday when the annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks. This year's show in the sky may not produce as many highlights for some viewers because of light from the moon, NASA said in a statement. Meteor watchers can expect to see 60 to 200 meteors an hour streak across the sky, NASA said. Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said by e-mail that the shooting stars would be visible after about 11 p.m. in each time zone in the United States, with the best viewing time from 3 a.m. until dawn. The robbers, police say, were "well informed" and had carefully chosen the time and place of their heist. As police officers were busy keeping an eye on areas popular with New Year revelers, four armed and masked robbers forced their way into an Apple store in central Paris and made off with as much as $1.3 million worth of iPhones, iPads and other devices. They loaded the stolen goods, estimated to have a retail value of around one million euros ($1.3 million), into a Mercedes van parked nearby and sped off, he said.