In many respects, “Things Can Only Get Better.” But is that true of
the California budget stall?
** BLAIR REPORT. After his initial five-day trip to the Middle East as the new envoy of the Mideast Quartet (US, Russia, European Union, UN), during which he met with top leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, Tony Blair reports that he will have offices secured in Jerusalem and return to the region for two weeks in September before meeting again with the Quartet’s foreign ministers. After that, he should be in the region for a week each month.
** NEW NATIONAL BATTLEGROUND POLL: CLINTON TRAILS GIULIANI. OBAMA LEADS GIULIANI. The Battleground Poll conducted by the Republican Tarrance Group and the Democratic Lake Research has Hillary Clinton running much worse against the leading Republicans than Barack Obama.
Here are the numbers: Clinton 44%, Giuliani 50%. Clinton 47%, Thompson 45%. Obama 52%, Giuliani 43%. Obama 56%, Thompson 36%.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: Nothing to report. Other than delayed transportation projects.
The California Transportation Commission has delayed $800 million in projects around the state until the Legislature passes a budget.
** SCHWARZENEGGER TO ADDRESS THE UNITED NATIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE. Earlier this morning on his webcast from Echelon Corp. in San Jose, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted the personal invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to address a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The session, which will focus on climate change, which the UN chief describes as his top priority, will take place on September 24th. The gathering is in preparation for a beginning round of negotiations in December in Bali, Indonesia for a post-Kyoto set of accords on reining in the greenhouse effect.
Ban and Schwarzenegger made brief speeches and entertained some questions from the press — getting entangled at the beginning by the eternal question of Taiwan’s lack of membership in the UN — after touring Echelon. The company makes sensors that monitor energy usage, enabling automatic switch-offs when the power is not needed and allowing users to shift power usage to off-peak times when possible.
Schwarzenegger spoke enthusiastically of the world entering a new era, one that is no longer “carbon-based” but “carbon-free,” of moving “from the Industrial Age to the GreenTech Age.” For his part, Ban, a one-time California exchange student who was foreign minister of South Korea before the US, Britain, and others helped engineer his election as secretary-general, praised Schwarzenegger for his “visionary leadership.” He called the emerging moves of California in combating the greenhouse effect a model for the world. At which point it became fairly obvious he would be inviting Schwarzenegger to play a starring role at the UN meeting in September.
Schwarzenegger was asked by one reporter if he doesn’t emphasize technology too much as a fix for the greenhouse effect, which he has a tendency to do, with people “still driving around in their SUVs,” which didn’t seem to please the former action superstar all that much. The governor allowed as how it is certainly not simply a question of technology, but of conservation as well. And that the two go hand in hand, as is the case of the company they had just toured.
“I don’t think you dislike the SUV,” said Schwarzenegger. “You dislike the engine that is in that SUV.” He went on to say that the key is to change engines and fuels, noting that a California-based company, Tesla Motors, is producing a very desirable all-electric sports car and that “Detroit is still on its butt.”
After questions from the press, Ban asked Schwarzenegger to appear at the UN meeting in September. Not surprisingly, the former Mr. Universe agreed, saying he is “honored.”
** U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE HIS TOP PRIORITY. Last night at a World Affairs Council event in San Francisco, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that climate change is his top priority. He’s visiting California now to learn about the state’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In September, he hosts a UN conference on climate change and wants President Bush to attend. That’s a meeting in preparation for a December conference in Bali to beginn planning for a new version of the Kyoto Accords.
** CALIFORNIA AIR BOARD ADOPTS TOUGH DIESEL REGULATIONS. In what should answer some questions about the direction of the Air Resources Board in the wake of its management shake-up, the board, under the leadership of new chair Mary Nichols — who chaired the air board under then Governor Jerry Brown in the late ’70s and early ’80s — yesterday adopted the toughest diesel regulations in the country. The regulations affect off-road diesel vehicles used in construction, at airports, and so forth. About 180,000 vehicles will need to be retrofit or replaced to come into compliance.
** BROWN MOVING ON GREENHOUSE GASES. Very interesting article in today’s Sacramento Bee on how it’s turning out to be Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown who is having the first actual impact on greenhouse gas emissions in California. That’s because the state’s two big new laws on climate change haven’t gone into effect yet.
The former Oakland mayor and two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination is using a lawsuit against sprawling San Bernardino County and possible suits against other localities to start getting climate change included in the planning process. Key Brown quote: “We are looking for cooperative agreements with local government to get moving now on reducing greenhouse gas emissions where practical.”
The attorney generalship is an extraordinarily powerful office, the second most powerful in California. Brown got a good look at it as a boy when his father, the late Governor Pat Brown, was attorney general for eight years in the 1950s.
** NEW NATIONAL POLL. CLINTONS LEADS AMONG DEMOCRATS, GIULIANI AND THOMPSON TIED AMONG REPUBLICANS. A new Diageo/The Hotline poll has Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama, 39% to 30% nationally among Democrats, with John Edwards a distant third at 11%. On the Republican side, it’s Rudy Giuliani 20%, Fred Thompson 19%, John McCain 17%, and Mitt Romney 8%.
** SCHWARZENEGGER WEBCAST THIS MORNING WITH U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning in Silicon Valley. The two will tour Echelon Corporation, a San Jose company making sensor equipment that may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Third World and elsewhere. A live webcast of their press conference takes place at 10:30 AM. Perhaps the secretary-general can mediate the California budget impasse.
It turns out, incidentally, that Schwarzenegger’s blind trust has invested in a huge investment fund that owns a share of the company. Conflict of interest? Coincidence? Unfortunate situation? No big deal? What do you think?
** REPUBLICANS AND THE CNN/YOUTUBE DEBATE: SO THEY DON’T LIKE VIDEO SNOWMEN. Top-level Republican participation in September 17th’s scheduled CNN/YouTube GOP presidential debate in Florida looks dicey. Mitt Romney says he doesn’t want to take questions from a snowman. And Rudy Giuliani’s staff reportedly says he’ll have a scheduling conflict.
Hey, I found it fairly inane, too. But let’s not pass up the chance for another exciting debate. Hmm. On second thought …
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. American troops are now in the midst of a 75th day of searching for the remaining two US soldiers captured by Al Qaeda in an ambush south of Baghdad. They have had no luck so far. A video put out by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq claims that all three men were executed after being captured. But, with the exception of the Californian found floating in the Euphrates River, that claim can’t be confirmed. The US high command in Baghdad has revealed that ID cards for the other two American prisoners were found in an Al Qaeda safehouse on June 9th.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Most crude oil prices are around $76 per barrel.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.