Nation Digest

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U.S. holiday retail sales lag

U.S. holiday retail sales this year are the weakest since 2008, after a shopping season disrupted by storms and rising uncertainty among consumers.

A report out Tuesday that tracks spending, called MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, says holiday sales increased 0.7 percent. Analysts had expected sales to grow 3 to 4 percent.

Much of the shortfall comes from Superstorm Sandy, which caused sales declines after striking the East Coast in late October.

And consumers grew increasingly nervous as lawmakers failed to reach a deal to head off tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week.

In the end, even steep last-minute discounts werent enough to get people into stores, said Marshal Cohen, chief research analyst at the market research firm NPD Inc.

A lot of the Christmas spirit was left behind way back in Black Friday weekend, Cohen said, referring to the traditional retail rush the day after Thanksgiving. We had one reason after another for consumers to say, Im going to stick to my list and not go beyond it.

Hero dog seems to have beaten cancer A veterinarian at the University of California-Davis has some good news about a dog from the Philippines who became an international hero after sacrificing her snout to save two young girls.

Veterinarian Gina Davis told the San Francisco Chronicle the dog named Kabang appears to have beaten the cancer she was suffering from.

Kabang, however, is still facing treatment for heartworms in her arteries before she can have the gaping wound on her face closed.

Newspapers in the Philippines have reported that Kabang had her snout and upper jaw sheared off when she jumped in front of a speeding motorcycle, saving her owners daughter and niece who were apparently about to be hit.

Kabang ended up in Davis this year after a nurse from Buffalo, N. …