** IOWA POLL: EDWARDS AND OBAMA LEAD DEMOCRATS. THREE-WAY TIE AMONG REPUBLICANS. In a new Strategic Vision poll for the first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential caucus, John Edwards is in a strong first and Barack Obama a strong second among Democrats, while the Republicans are bunched in a three-way tie between John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney.
** PAT BROWN AWARDS. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez will each receive the Governor Pat Brown Award from the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance tomorrow in Sacramento for their leadership roles on climate change.
** RICHARDSON IN IOWA. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, the former UN ambassador, energy secretary, and House intelligence subcommittee chairman, will pick up the pace of his Iowa campaign in the wake of multiple polls showing him moving up into a notable fourth place in the Democratic presidential race there. He will also increase the tempo of his much praised TV advertising campaign there, which he has just begun.
** HILLARY ON PRE-SCHOOL AND OUTSOURCING. I was on a conference call this morning with Senator Hillary Clinton, who declared the expansion of preschool one of her top priorities. How would she fund it? Through the elimination of “500 outsourcing contracts.”
“I have done a careful analysis of everything this administration has outsourced,” said the former first lady. Outside contracting, she said “has not been proven to save government money.” There are “not the usual safeguards” with outsourcing, and there are “many reasons to go after the outsourcing epidemic.”
I asked her to tell me what was wrong with the outsourcing contracts she would sacrifice to fund expanded preschool programs.
They are “throughout government,” said the Democratic presidential frontrunner. “There may well be better kinds of ways” to do those tasks. “I am certain we will find those ways to save money.”
** HILLARY CLINTON. I was just on a conference call with Senator Hillary Clinton. And, as is not infrequently the case these days, with information cascading from around the globe, pressed the “star 1″ combination to ask a question without having any idea of what I was about to ask the Democratic presidential frontrunner. Yet, we came up with something interesting. Nonetheless, it would not be inaccurate to say that I am looking forward to Memorial Day weekend.
** OBSCENITY, OR INSANITY? Pakistan’s female minister of tourism has resigned following criticism of her for “obscenity.” Was she in an illicit sexual relationship? Did she appear in an explicit adult film? Er, no. As incredibly shocking, as it were, as such acts might be, she is actually guilty of something far worse. She learned how to parachute jump in France. After completing a successful jump, she was photographed hugging her instructor. This, according to a leading Islamic fundamentalist cleric, was obscene.
** JERRY BROWN AND CALIFORNIA PREPARE TO SUE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. The Bush Administration is “acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries,” said California Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown. The two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination says California is preparing to sue the federal government if it blocks the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas-causing emissions from motor vehicles. Sources around Arnold Schwarzenegger confirm this.
Addressing a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing this morning in Washington, Brown said federal law allows California to set vehicle emission standards tougher than federal regulations, and then allows other states to adopt the California standard.
“The California legislature passed a greenhouse law in 2002 requiring automakers to reduce vehicle global warming emissions 30 percent by 2016,” Brown explained. “There is no doubt that automobile manufacturers can meet that goal, and since the federal government does not want to seek such a reduction California intends to move forward.” Brown said that 11 other states — Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have since adopted the California standard.
“Together we represent one-third of the population of the United States, and the people of our 12 states want to act now to combat global warming. We are not willing to wait while President Bush offers only rhetoric, excuses and delays. Suing the federal government is not our first choice, but we will have no choice if our legitimate efforts to protect our planet are blocked because of partisan political games in Washington.”
Brown noted that inCalifornia and the other states, the fight against the greenhouse effect is a bipartisan effort.
“The California law was passed by a Democratic legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican,” the former governor noted. “Governor Schwarzenegger supports our plans to sue EPA if we are not allowed to implement the California law. Protecting our planet is not a partisan issue, and the states now want to do what we can in the absence of federal action, and the EPA has no right to deny us the ability to move forward.”
Brown said the proposed California standards are the most comprehensive effort to combat global warming in U.S. history. The attorney general noted that California filed its request for an EPA waiver, which in the past has always been routinely granted, in December 2005. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt stricter standards by requesting a waiver from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Such requests have been approved more than 50 times in the past. Approval of California’s waiver means the other states would get approval automatically.
** BRITS SAY EX-KGB OFFICER MURDERED PUTIN CRITIC LITVINENKO. British prosecutors say that ex-KGB officer Andrei Lugovoi is responsible for the spectacular London assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, by polonium poisoning. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office says it expects Russia to comply with an extradition request. But, of course, that won’t happen. These developments are distressing for admirers of Russia. But not surprising.
** GIULIANI OPPOSES CURRENT IMMIGRATION BILL. The former New York mayor and leading Republican presidential candidate opposes the “present version” of the immigration bill. Giuliani says he wants a database that will let the federal government “know everybody who is in the United States, who comes here from a foreign country.”
“If you make that your goal,” he says, “then everything follows from that or leads to that. There should be a tamper proof ID card, a biometric ID card that everyone who comes here from a foreign country should have. In order to make sure you identify everyone, in order to be secure.”
Giuliani, an advocate of immigrants rights in the past, holds out some hope for another version of the bill, which might emerge through further debate in Congress. But the reality is that momentum on the issue is stalled, and the planned for vote prior to Memorial Day is now delayed till sometime in June.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are up around $66 per barrel.
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