Lawmakers, White House move closer to aid agreement

Pushing deficit concerns aside, Democratic and Republican leaders moved closer to agreement with the White House yesterday night on emergency tax cuts and benefit increases to jolt the economy out of its slump, including opening new financing windows for some home loans.

Congressional leaders were to negotiate into the evening with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, underscoring the urgency of the effort.

Lawmakers learned during the day that the government’s deficit already would swell to $250 billion this year because of falling corporate tax revenues – then they signaled they were willing to balloon it higher by more than $100 billion with a stimulus package.

Legislation calls for more renewable energy by 2016

Within eight years, 10 percent of the electricity sold to Michigan consumers would have to come from renewable energy sources such as wind under bipartisan legislation passed Wednesday by a state House committee.

The standard would nearly triple by the start of 2016 the amount of renewable energy now being sold by utilities and other power producers in the state.

Because renewable energy can be more expensive to produce, the standard could cost residential customers an extra $36 a year, commercial customers an extra $199 and industrial customers an extra $2,250.

EPA: California greenhouse gas waiver was justified

EPA officials told the agency’s administrator that California had “compelling and extraordinary conditions” to justify a federal waiver allowing the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, according to excerpts of documents released yesterday.

Yet when Administrator Stephen Johnson denied the state’s request for a waiver in December, he said the California standards were not needed to meet “compelling and extraordinary conditions,” one of the criteria in federal law.

The excerpts from Environmental Protection Agency documents were released by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., whose environmental committee is investigating Johnson’s decision and has called him to testify at a hearing tomorrow.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip
Thousands of Gazans cross into Egypt to shop

On foot, in cars and in donkey carts, tens of thousands of Gazans flooded into Egypt on Wednesday through a border fence blown up by militants – puncturing a gaping hole in Israel’s airtight closure of the Gaza Strip and giving a boost to Hamas.

In a shopping spree that was both festive and frenzied, Gazans cleared out stores in an Egyptian border town, buying up everything from TV sets to soft drinks to cigarettes.

As waves of people swarmed through the destroyed barrier – some estimated the crowd in the hundreds of thousands – Egyptian security forces lined up on one side of the border and Hamas forces lined up on the other side. None of them interfered in any way, and it appeared Hamas militants actively participated in the border breach.

– Compiled from

Daily wire reports

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