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INTERNATIONAL: Queen Elizabeth tried to get a UK poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace....

* Couldn't resist this item from the San Francisco Chronicle (AP) this afternoon:  "Queen tried to get UK poverty fund to heat palace"  From the Chronicle:

   Even a monarch needs a little help from time to time — especially when the cost of heating those drafty old palaces spirals past $1.5 million a year. But a request for assistance from a government fund that provides subsidized heating to low-income Britons has caused a spot of bother for Queen Elizabeth II, long one of the world's wealthiest women.

   Her Majesty's application in 2004 was politely turned down by the government — in part because of fear of adverse publicity — and quietly forgotten until The Independent newspaper published the correspondence Friday after obtaining it via a Freedom of Information request. The documents quote an unidentified functionary as gently reminding the royal household that the program was meant for people in need, not the upper crust, and he noted the potential public relations disaster. "I also feel a bit uneasy about the probable adverse press coverage if the Palace were given a grant at the expense of, say, a hospital," the official said. "Sorry this doesn't sound more positive."


GOVERNOR'S RACE: Politics, energy policy, Proposition 23....

* Yesterday Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman went public with her position on Prop. 23 on the November ballot:  She said she opposes the effort to suspend implementation of AB 32 but also that she is in favor of a one-year moratorium before the measure is implemented.  Los Angeles Times reports today that Democratic nominee Jerry Brown has now accused Whitman of "double-talk" on this issue.  From the LAT:

   Even as both major gubernatorial candidates are opposing a November ballot proposal that would suspend California's global warming law, the landmark environmental measure remains a salient issue in the campaign, exposing key differences over how the next governor would shape energy policy.

    Democrat Jerry Brown has fully embraced the 2006 law, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels over the next decade. And he is using the issue to drive a wedge between Republican rival Meg Whitman and the state's environmentally conscious voters. Whitman is trying to walk a finer line. She dodged the issue for months before announcing Thursday that she opposes the November suspension measure, Proposition 23.


  The issue is politically potent and could move voters in a race that is locked in a dead heat. According to a July poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, two-thirds of Californians support the global warming law.


  Bruce Cain, a political scientist at UC Berkeley, said Whitman's compromise position could resonate with independents, a voting group the candidates are splitting, according to a Field Poll released Thursday. "She is trying to split the baby," Cain said. As for Brown, Cain said the candidate's strident stance could help him woo back Democrats who intend to vote for his opponent. According to the Field Poll, 69% of Democrats support Brown, but 15% would cross party lines to vote for Whitman.


SCHWARZENEGGER: SEIU - Proposition 19 - pension reform....

* "SEIU is off-base on legalizing pot" - I see that the Los Angeles Times today has an op-ed by Governor Schwarzenegger critical of SEIU's endorsement of Prop. 19 (and the legalization of the sale of marijuana) as a means of avoiding cuts to social programs and bringing the focus back to the issue of pension reform, which he says would be a better means of addressing the budget deficit.  From the LAT:

   I was surprised to read that leaders of the state's biggest union — the SEIU — had decided to endorse Proposition 19, which would allow Californians to legally grow and possess marijuana. Any patrol officer, judge or district attorney will tell you that Proposition 19 is a flawed initiative that would bring about a host of legal nightmares and risks to public safety. It would also make California a laughingstock.

   Leaders of the Service Employees International Union say they support Proposition 19 so the state can avoid cuts to healthcare, home care, education and elderly care programs. Yet even the best-case estimates show Proposition 19 (assuming it would even pass constitutional muster) bringing in only $1.4 billion in annual revenue — a fraction of our current deficit. 

   The SEIU could embrace a far better and more responsible solution for saving state programs: pension reform.

***And it appears that Schwarzenegger's LAT op-ed has also been picked up by the Sacramento Bee....


POLITICS: "The real un-Americans"

* Harold Meyerson column in the Washington Post:  "The real un-Americans"  From the WP:

   There are un-Americans among us. They don't share our values, yet they control the most powerful offices in the land. We must rid ourselves of this fifth-column menace.

***Interesting reading for those who follow or ponder the world of politics.....


MTA BUS SERVICE CUTS: 4% reduction in bus service, intent to save $30 million a year.... 

* Los Angeles Times reports today that, as part of an effort to conserve the agency's strapped budget, the LACMTA board voted to reduce or cancel service on 18 bus routes throughout the county.  From the LAT:

   Over the objections of some transit riders, L.A. County officials on Thursday eliminated almost 4% of the county's bus system by canceling or reducing service on 18 routes from the San Gabriel Valley to the South Bay. The cuts, which are the first major reductions in years for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, eliminate three Metro Local and five Metro Rapid bus lines and reduce service during weekdays and weekends on the remainder of the routes. The changes begin Dec. 12. MTA officials say, however, that the loss of the Rapid lines will be backfilled with conventional Local buses, which generally travel more slowly and make more stops than Rapid service. One route, the 168 in the San Fernando Valley, was spared from cancellation pending further study.

   Overall, about 270,000 hours of bus service a year will be dropped at an estimated savings of $30 million annually. The amount, MTA officials say, will help erase a $250-million deficit in its budget for bus and rail operations.

***Perhaps not surprisingly, the cuts are not sitting well with transit advocates and members of the Bus Riders Union....