Today's Story Line:

Both our Mexico-based and Canada-based staff correspondents, with their respective ears to the ground, have detected rumblings about moves to link the three North American currencies. In financial markets, it seems bigger is better in the face of the euro's strength. Quote of note: "The de facto euro zone will be twice the size of the dollar zone." - Tom Courchene, Queen's University economist. We also discovered that more greenbacks have circulated outside the United States than in it since 1994 (see chart) and that helps lower US taxes. If Yasser Arafat were a card player, he would know when to fold for a round. That may be his tactic in possibly backing off from a threat to declare a Palestinian state and avoid helping elect an Israeli right-wing candidate. How a nation treats its orphans is a good social and economic indicator. In Russia, the treatment is under attack by a a foreign human rights group. Of 15,000 young adults released from orphanages, more than half end up homeless or in prison, or commit suicide. -Clayton Jones World editor REPORTERS ON THE JOB LIVING BY PESOS OR DOLLARS: When Latin America bureau chief Howard LaFranchi and his family arrived in Mexico in the fall of 1994, the peso stood at a little more than 3 to the dollar. Today it trades at right around 10 to the dollar - that in just five years. He is somewhat protected from the accompanying high inflation because he is paid in dollars - and you can see why Mexico City accountants and lawyers bill in dollars - but you can see why people dream of a stabler currency when you think of the millions of families who earn and live by the peso. Victor Jaramillo, a chile pepper importer in McAllen, Texas, was recently quoted in an AP story saying one of the reasons he moved his family to the US from Mexico was so his children "will not have to worry about economic turmoil in Mexico." CULTURAL INSIGHTS SEPARATE WAYS: The percentage of married adults is dropping on both sides of the Atlantic, according to government reports in both the US and Britain, though US officials appear more optimistic about marriage survival rates. Britain's Government Actuary Department says married people will be in the minority for the first time since records began if trends continue, with the percentage of married adults expected to fall from 55 percent to 48 percent by 2011. In the US, married couples remain in the majority at 56 percent. That's down from 68 percent in 1970, though Census officials say the decline has slowed since the divorce-heavy decades of the 1970s and 1980s. Let us hear from you. Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail:

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