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George Shultz praises Clinton speech, but isn’t endorsing her

still for hill
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rom website Still4Hill.com

When Hillary Clinton gave her big speech on terrorism Wednesday that doubled as a full frontal assault on Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Republicans were quick to return fire.

Trump attacked her on Twitter and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said she and President Obama “have been wrong about ISIS at every turn.”

But one prominent Republican had kind words for Clinton. “I thought she made a good speech,” said Ronald Reagan’s former secretary of state George Shultz.

He should know. The 95-year-old Hoover Institution fellow and San Francisco high society poobah was in attendance at the Bechtel Conference Center.

Does that mean he’s switching sides to Clinton? “No,” said Shultz who endorsed both Mitt Romney and John McCain, but has stayed out of this year’s campaign.

“I’ve been on (Stanford’s) campus for over 40 years,” he said. “When something comes, I go.”

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George Shultz to co-chair Sundheim’s Senate run

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz will serve as a co-chair of Republican candidate Duf Sundheim’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Duf SundheimShultz, of Stanford, “is one of the most knowledgeable and respected public servants in our lifetime. He has served our nation with distinction and honor,” Sundheim, a former California Republican Party chairman from Los Altos Hills, said in a news release. “He has been a mentor of mine for over a decade. I can think of no higher honor than to have him play such an important role in our campaign.”

Shultz said Sundheim embodies the idea that “there is no limit to what a person can achieve if they do not care who gets the credit. … He has the integrity, compassion and resolve to be a great Senator.”

Shultz is one of only two men to have served in four different Cabinet positions: as Secretary of Labor (1969-70), Treasury (1972-74) and State (1982-89) and as director of the Office of Management and Budget (1970-72).

Sundheim is vying with fellow former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, in next June’s top-two primary to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Another Republican, Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez, is exploring a run.

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Global panel touts drug reforms to stem HIV/AIDS

It’s hard to paint former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz of San Francisco as a drug-loving, latter-day hippie with no regard for the law.

George Shultz (AP photo)Shultz and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, along with 18 other international luminaries, are part of a commission that’s calling for radical changes to the war on drugs in order to stem the tide of new HIV infections.

The report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy comes in advance of the International AIDS Conference, the world’s largest gathering of HIV/AIDS experts, which is being held next month in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years.

The global drug war drives the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners, the report notes: An estimated 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The report describes the failure of drug law enforcement policies in reducing global drug supply; for example, the worldwide supply of illicit opiates such as heroin has increased by more than 380 percent in recent decades.

Instead, the commission concludes, nations should be scaling up proven ways of reducing HIV infection such as sterile syringe distribution, safer injecting facilities, and prescription heroin programs. “Failure to take these steps is criminal,” the report states.

Nations that treat addiction as a health issue are winning the fight against HIV, the report notes: In Australia and European countries such as Portugal and Switzerland, newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among people who use drugs, just as vertical transmission of HIV has been eliminated in countries where broad access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus is available.

But nations including the U.S., China, Russia and Thailand have ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programs, with devastating consequences, the report says. For example, about one in 100 Russian adults is now infected with HIV; here in the United States, Congress recently reinstated a longstanding ban on the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs, meaning more users are likely to share needles and spread disease.

The report says the costly and wasteful drug war as it’s being fought today drives drug users underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high-risk environments.

The commission is urging national governments to halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to measure their drug policy success by indicators such as reduced transmission rates for HIV and other infectious diseases, fewer overdose deaths, reduced drug market violence, fewer individuals incarcerated and lowered rates of problematic substance use.

In addition to Shultz and Volcker, the commission also includes the former presidents of Mexico, Poland, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Switzerland; the former prime minister of Greece; Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson; various former United Nations officials; and others.

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‘Think Long Committee’ won’t go for 2012 ballot

The Think Long Committee for California – a panel of experts funded by an itinerant billionaire that had developed plans for tax reform and a citizens’ oversight committee – will delay putting its plans to voters from 2012 to 2014.

The committee, which released its report in November, issued a statement today sying it has been “vigorously discussing and developing a viable action plan and timeline for implementing our broad range of proposals ever since.”

“Consistent with our collective view that California needs to think, plan and act for the long term, we’ve been guided by the cardinal rule that it is far more important to get our reforms done ‘right’ than ‘right away,’” the committee said.

The committee had proposed broadening the state’s tax base while raising $10 billion per year in new revenue by extending the state sales tax to services such as auto repair, dry cleaning, legal work and accounting (but not health care or education), while lowering the sales tax on goods, reducing personal income tax rates and reducing the corporate tax rate.

It also proposed creating an “independent, impartial and nonpartisan” Citizens Council for Government Accountability. That council would have 13 members — including nine named by the governor — to oversee government functions and conduct long-term planning. It would have power to place measures directly on the ballot without collecting signatures, and to have the secretary of state publish its comments and positions on measures in the state voters’ guide. It also would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Members of the committee include former Gov. Gray Davis; former Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown; former U.S. secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz; GOP power broker Gerald Parsky; Google Chairman Eric Schmidt; and many others. Committee founder and funder Nicolas Berggruen had promised to put up at least $20 million to convince voters to implement these plans as ballot measures in 2012.

Although the proposals had seemed to meet with muted, if not negative reactions from many current politicos, the committee’s statement today says it was “gratified by the overwhelming interest from elected leaders in both parties, including Governor Brown, stakeholders and everyday citizens in these bold, broad-based changes.”

California is “hungry for real reform and are more willing than ever to support a sweeping plan that is fair and will put an end to California’s perpetual financial volatility and suffocating wall of debt,” the committee said.

“At the same time, we recognize the practical constraints of the 2012 election calendar – and have come to the conclusion that it will take more time to perfect these proposals, eliminate unintended consequences and provide every stakeholder and everyday Californians a meaningful voice in that process,” it said.

And so the committee will keep trying to sell the plan with hopes of putting it to voters on the November 2014 ballot.

“In the meantime, a high-turnout election is a terrible thing to waste. California voters deserve the opportunity in 2012 to begin the long process of reforming state government,” the committee’s statement said. “Therefore, in the coming days, we will be announcing our intention to partner with other organizations by generously supporting one or more reform measures that have already been filed for the 2012 elections, consistent with our Blueprint.”

The statement doesn’t specify which measures the committee will back.

The committee said it also will co-sponsor the California Economic Summit in May to develop a statewide job creation and competitiveness implementation plan; support regulatory reform, including that of the California Environmental Quality Act, to maintain the state’s environmental leadership while speeding up permissions for job-creating projects; and work with the governor and other state, federal and local officials to create “plug-and-play” pre-permitted zones to attract new investment to California.

UPDATE @ 3:40 P.M.: Gov. Jerry Brown just issued this statement: “Think Long is doing very important work and I look forward to working with them on the critical issue of more permanent tax reform.”

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Prop. 23 fight spawns ongoing green-jobs group

What began as an effort to protect the state’s landmark climate-change law against a ballot-driven rollback has become a permanent, bipartisan coalition dedicated to creating jobs in renewable energy and fighting climate change, organizers said Friday.

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Farallon Capital Management senior partner Tom Steyer of San Francisco announced they’ll continue co-chairing “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs.” The group – the outgrowth of the campaign against last November’s Proposition 23 – will support state, regional, and local clean energy policies, support implementation of the state’s climate-change law (AB 32), and promote renewable energy jobs, projects, and businesses.

“We are trying to continue to push on the very points that we made in the ‘No on Prop. 23’ campaign – I think we felt then that we managed to put together a bipartisan coalition that was statewide … and which managed to make clean energy not just something that the overwhelming majority of Californians favored, but something that was important to them,” Steyer told reporters on a conference call this morning. “What George and I are trying to continue to do is to make sure that impulse in the state of California continues to be followed.”

“I hate to say we’re getting the band back together, but: We’re getting the band back together.”

Shultz pursuing clean energy makes fiscal and national-security sense.

“Right now oil prices are soaring again. It’s like a gigantic tax increase. Do we need a huge tax increase at this stage of our economic life? No,” Shultz said. “How many times do you have to get hit on the head with a 2-by-4 before you realize somebody’s hitting you?”

Shultz said implementing AB 32 without hurting the economy means “putting a price on carbon … in a way that’s gradual” while encouraging innovation in other energy sources and conservation.

He also said that although other already-existing groups have similar agendas, this coalition “brings something else to the party” – a proven track record. Only 38.4 percent of Californians voted for Prop. 23, an oil-industry-funded measure which would’ve suspended AB 32’s implementation until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5. percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. The 5,974,564 votes against the measure was the largest vote total in any candidate race or ballot measure in the nation last November.

“We’re not philosophers, we’re doers,” Shultz said.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will produce a daily newsletter and website highlighting clean tech projects, defend and promote clean energy policies and legislation that protect clean air and promote job growth, and conduct other activities to continue momentum in the fastest-growing segment of the state’s economy.

The group says its immediate goals will be:

  • implementing AB 32 so that California is the global leader in clean energy jobs and air quality while protecting consumers and taxpayers;
  • expanding renewable energy investments in California to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, including 12,000 megawatts of locally generated electricity, by 2020;
  • increasing investments in energy efficiency, and
  • continuing California’s commitment to clean energy research and development, and providing incentives for its growing clean tech economy.
  • Coalition partners include the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Natural Resources Defense Council; the Environmental Defense Fund; Los Angeles Business Council; California League of Conservation Voters; California Business Alliance for a Green Economy; the American Lung Association in California; the BlueGreen Alliance; and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

    The group’s news release quoted Brown as saying “clean energy creates jobs and investment, and that’s exactly what we need to help turn our economy around. Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will be a strong voice to ensure that California leads the nation in sustainable energy technology.”

    And State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the group “will play a critical role in helping promote policies that will create jobs, attract businesses and venture capital to our state, and expand the clean energy economy in California.”

    More than half a million Californians hold “green jobs,” according to the state Employment Development Department. And the National Venture Capital Association says California in 2010 attracted nearly $10 billion in venture capital for the clean tech industry, more than six times that of any other state.

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    Whitman to raise money tonight in Bay Area

    It’ll be a GOP all-star bash tonight as Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Meg Whitman’s campaign holds a fundraiser at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City. On the headliners list: former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney; 2008 Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

    What an interesting bunch of people with whom to talk, n’est pas? Mais non! “Tonight’s event will be open to the press but there will be no availability for interviews,” sayeth the campaign.