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United States & Canada - March 3

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Obama May Have To Give Away 70% of Carbon Credits, Merrill Says

Mathew Carr, Bloomberg
President Barack Obama may need to give away as much as 70 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions permits to win support for his cap-and-trade program, Merrill Lynch & Co said.

The budget blueprint Obama sent to Congress yesterday foresees revenue of $645.7 billion by 2019 from the sale of permits to polluters from 2012.

Obama will likely have to cut the amount of allowances sold to about 30-50 percent of the initial total to win support, Abyd Karmali, the London-based head of carbon emissions for Merrill Lynch & Co., the New York investment bank bought by Bank of America Corp., said by phone yesterday.
(27 February 2009)

The Financial Crisis Fuels U.S. Diplomatic Talks

Steve Levine, BusinessWeek
President Barack Obama has long vowed to offer diplomatic talks to U.S. rivals and adversaries. But a month into his Presidency, Obama may be benefitting from the financial crisis and low oil prices, which—while they have shaken banks, investment funds, and entire nations—seem to have created potential breakthroughs in some of the U.S.'s thorniest relationships.

On China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has shifted climate change—previously thought to have little or no chance of progress—to the core of U.S. policy toward Beijing. On Iran, the plunge in crude oil prices may make Tehran more flexible toward Washington and open the possibility of a fresh source of natural gas to Europe. Likewise, oil prices have made Russia much less able to finance geopolitically motivated energy projects, such as pipelines the U.S. opposes, and more open to a thaw with Washington.

Experts do not foresee easy agreement with any of these countries; indeed, each of the three appears to be attempting to turn the financial crisis to its advantage. Yet "there are lots of grounds for optimism that Obama can use his popularity and prestige for openings that may have been created by the financial crisis," says Michael Fullilove, a foreign policy analyst with the Brookings Institution.
(1 March 2009)

Number of households with kids hits new low

Jack Gillum, USA TODAY
The percentage of American households with children under 18 living at home last year hit the lowest point — 46% — in half a century, government data reported Wednesday.

The trend reflects the aging of the Baby Boom generation and younger women having fewer children, demographers say.

... He adds that the economy will continue to affect family size: When cash-strapped workers have fewer dollars to feed another mouth, couples are likely to have fewer children, or none.
(26 February 2009)

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