Gov. to meet with U.N. Secretary-General

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who recently called for a series of meetings with world leaders to begin discussion on a global climate change solution, will meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tomorrow and tour a San Jose business that’s developing greenhouse-gas emission reduction technology.

“The Secretary-General has made climate change one of his top priorities at the U.N. and has taken swift action, calling for world leaders to work together to develop a global consensus on fighting global climate change,” Schwarzenegger said in a news release. “A critical part of the global solution must address the needs of fast-growing economies like China and India and we have innovative technologies to make that happen right here in California. I am eager to show the Secretary-General our state’s advancements in technology that may help to reduce emissions and hope we can work with the United Nations on their commitment to building a global solution.”

UC Berkeley research has shown that in 2006, California received more than $1.1 billion in cleantech investment, about 44 percent of the U.S. total. Of that, Silicon Valley received about 60 percent. California also led the way in cleantech venture investments in 2006, bringing in a total of $1.1 billion, a 127 percent increase from the 2005 total. And the five most active global investors in clean technology all operate out of California: Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Khosla Ventures, Nth Power, Rockport Capital Partners and DFJ Element.

“California’s green industry is on the cutting edge of the technologies that may assist these countries in reducing their environmental impact, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to promote this,” the governor said.


Lee’s next Darfur bill advances

lee3.jpgThe House Financial Services Committee today unanimously approved Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to bar international companies whose business in Sudan supports the genocide in Darfur from receiving taxpayer-funded federal contracts. The bill is now scheduled for a floor vote next Monday.

“No one should have to worry that they are supporting genocide, whether it’s through their tax dollars or their pension fund,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a release. “This bill is designed to wash the blood off of our federal contracts, protect the rights of states to divest their own public pension funds from companies doing business in Sudan and increase the financial pressure on Khartoum to end the genocide in Darfur.”

This is Lee’s third Darfur bill to reach a floor vote this year. The House in April voted 425-1 for her resolution urging the Arab League to acknowledge and step up its efforts to end the genocide. (The one dissenter was Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, R-Texas, who never votes for legislation unless it’s expressly authorized by the Constitution.) And the House in June voted 410-0 for her resolution urging China “to use its unique influence and economic leverage” to influence the Khartoum regime. Both those earlier bills are now pending in the U.S. Senate.


House adds money for criminal aliens

The House this afternoon voted 388-39 for a bipartisan amendment introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Linda Sánchez, D-Lakewood; and David Dreier, R-San Dimas, to increase funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) by $55 million to a total of $460 million for FY 2008.

SCAAP is the federal government’s reimbursement to state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating undocumented criminal aliens. California usually gets about 40 percent of the allocation.

“Many states, including California, have come to rely on SCAAP funding to help them absorb the costs of incarcerating undocumented alien criminals,” Lofgren said in a news release. “Immigration policy is an inherently federal responsibility, and the federal government should do all it can to ensure that our state and local governments are not unduly burdened by its actions. Increasing SCAAP funding is a common sense response to what has become a funding problem at the state and local level. $55 million will have a real and direct positive impact on state and local governments.”

The program began in 1994 but the Bush Administration for years has been proposing to defund SCAAP completely, including no money at all for the program in its budget proposal; each year Congress adds some money back in. Congress approved $250 million for it in 2003; $296.8 million for 2004; $301 million for 2005; $405 million for 2006; and $405 million for 2007. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plus 16 other governors in May had asked Congress to provide $950 million for SCAAP in Fiscal Year 2008.


House hearing on habeas corpus tomorrow

The full House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hear testimony at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday on “Upholding the Principle of Habeas Corpus for Detainees.” Committee member Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, is preparing to ask pointed questions, her staff says.

Two bills to restore habeas corpus rights to non-citizen enemy combatants are pending: House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., introduced one last month (with Tauscher among the 29 original co-sponsors) and a similar Senate bill was introduced in January by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking member Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

An explanation of habeas corpus and a list of tomorrow’s witnesses, after the jump… Continue Reading


Feinstein endorses Clinton, too

feinstein.jpgU.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., just finished a conference call endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, saying her fellow Senator has “the experience, the heart and the strength to be a great American president.”

Feinstein said we need a president who can restore America’s standing worldwide while addressing crucial issues at home, who can rebuild confidence in government and demand accountability, and who can nominate mainstream U.S. Supreme Court justices. She described Clinton as “a woman of strength and compassion who has a powerful voice” and said she has been “deeply impressed with how Hillary has handled herself in the Senate.”

Clinton said she admires Feinstein’s ability to work across party lines to achieve results: “She has been someone to whom I’ve turned for advice and counsel.”

Feinstein berated a Los Angeles radio reporter who asked Clinton how she felt about the marital infidelity of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also has endorsed her; she said Clinton has bigger things to think about than this. Clinton basically agreed it’s not an issue.


DeSaulnier blasts budget impasse, calls for reform

After being locked onto the floor of the Assembly until the wee hours one morning last week to force a vote on a state budget, Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, told Contra Costa business leaders today he will seek reforms of the state’s budget approval process.

Elected in November 2006, it was DeSaulnier’s first front-row seat to the state budget process and his first vote on the matter.

It’s ludicrous, DeSaulnier says, to hold the state budget hostage under a super-majority rule that only two other states use — Rhode Island and Arkansas. He says he was further exasperated to hear that the state Senate had one Republican willing to vote for the budget — Sen. Abel Maldonado — but couldn’t round up a second one.

“A state with a population of 38 million and a budget of $140 billion has been held up for lack of one vote in the Senate,” said an incredulous DeSaulnier to a lunch meeting of several hundred members of the Contra Costa Council.

DeSaulnier agrees the state needs a balanced budget but says it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative manner with an eye on the longterm impacts rather than a late-night arm-twisting session where the public won’t learn of the consequences until it’s far too late.

To end the annual impasse where a handful of dissenters stall the entire state, DeSaulnier says he wants to create a small commission charged with recommending a new budget adoption process, perhaps a hybrid of successful systems in other states.

He said he will introduce a bill later this year or early next year.

Watch DeSaulnier’s speech on CCTV and Comcast public access station Channel 27 on Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. or Aug. 8 at 2 p.m.