California Policy and Politics This Morning

State's "cap-and-trade" program could provide funds for high-speed rail -- A new financing strategy is a centerpiece of a revised business plan that state leaders will unveil Monday in Fresno for the proposed high-speed train system. Tim Sheehan in the Fresno Bee -- 4/1/12

Questions remain despite revised California rail plan -- The agency overseeing California's high-speed rail project has issued a back-to-the-drawing-board business plan that dramatically lowers the system's estimated cost and expands its initial phase, but critics say it still remains too costly and does not deliver what voters intended. DON THOMPSON Associated Press -- 4/1/12

Lawmakers skeptical about Jerry Brown's high-speed rail revision -- California lawmakers expressed skepticism Saturday about the timing and magnitude of Gov. Jerry Brown's high-speed rail revision, saying it may take longer than the governor wants to sort through the numbers. David Siders SacBee Capitol Alert -- 4/1/12

High-speed rail plan slashes costs to calm critics -- State transportation officials have slashed the price tag for California's controversial high-speed rail project by $30 billion and expanded the first stretch of track to run from Merced in the Central Valley south to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/1/12

A closer look at California's $2 billion court computer project -- California's finances were reeling and the nation's largest court system was sharing the pain. Every courthouse in the state closed one day every month - a drastic step never taken before, even during the Great Depression. Hundreds of workers received layoff notices and the wheels of justice turned even slower. PAUL ELIAS Associated Press -- 4/1/12

Senator and regional transportation board ramp up long-standing feud -- The 12-year feud between Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier and the Bay Area's largest road and transit planning agency shows no signs of letting up. Lisa Vorderbrueggen in the Contra Costa Times -- 4/1/12

   Economy - Jobs

NASA budget might have less space for JPL's planetary science -- President Obama's $17.7-billion budget request for NASA for the 2013 fiscal year includes a $300-million cut to planetary science, the very work JPL specializes in. It's a dark development in an otherwise heady time. Scott Gold in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

National Science Foundation program at Stanford aims to tap into Silicon Valley know-how -- The National Science Foundation has hit some grand slams in its day: Research projects funded by the federal agency have gone on to become Google, Netscape and the Internet itself. Peter Delevett in the San Jose Mercury -- 4/1/12

   Taxes - Fees

Borenstein: Bureaucrats engineer rigged election to get taxpayers' money -- Protecting creeks, the Delta and San Francisco Bay from polluted stormwater runoff makes good sense. But Contra Costa's "2012 Community Clean Water Initiative" campaign is a sham. Daniel Borenstein in the Contra Costa Times -- 4/1/12


Low-income students struggle with AP exam fee waiver cuts -- In December, Congress slashed funding for Advanced Placement fee waivers for low-income students, leaving them scrambling to find the cash or forgoing the exams. Stephen Ceasar in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

State budget cuts could nix Cal-Learn program for teen parents -- When Nohely Zuniga discovered she was pregnant with twin boys at age 15, she thought her education would have to wait. Kelly Puente in the Long Beach Press -- 4/1/12

Initiative to boost arts education launches -- Hoping to raise the profile of arts education in public schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Saturday he has formed a new task force to help carry out the arts initiative. Lori Weisberg UT San Diego -- 4/1/12

Saunders: University echo chamber drowns out diverse voices -- Political activism has drawn the University of California into an academic death spiral. Too many professors believe their job is to "advance social justice" rather than teach the subject they were hired to teach. Debra J. Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/1/12

   Health Care

Diabetes drug metformin may double as cancer-fighting medicine -- Metformin is a workhorse drug for people with diabetes. It helps patients control their blood sugar and makes them more sensitive to insulin. But soon, metformin may take on a new role fighting cancer. Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

Lopez: The bizarre calculus of emergency room charges --Debbie Cassettari had outpatient foot surgery to remove a bone spur. She arrived at the surgery center at 8 a.m., left at 12:30 p.m., and the bill came to $37,000, not counting doctor fees. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12


Climate education effort targets regional leaders -- An unusual alliance of social scientists, researchers and communications experts in San Diego County is trying to elevate the nation’s literacy of climate science — though the effort itself might inflame skeptics of global warming. Mike Lee UT San Diego -- 4/1/12

Musicians' straw bale home in harmony with environment -- Thirty-five miles southeast of Sacramento stands an unusual home. On its grounds a weather-beaten electric-powered Porsche sits idly, and an industrial-looking windmill towers near a chicken coop. Edward Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee -- 4/1/12


For San Francisco Immigrants, Mirkarimi Case Exposes Private-Public Faultline -- Eliana Lopez’s tireless public defense of her husband, embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, is typical behavior of abuse victims, say anti-domestic violence advocates. But, for editors of the city’s ethnic media, her behavior also reflects a desire all too familiar to immigrant communities here: the need to keep the family together, at all costs. Elena Shore New America Media -- 4/1/12


Workers honor Cesar Chavez on birthday -- To 16-year-old Jose Lopez, walking with his parents in a labor union march Saturday, the point of Cesar Chavez Day is to honor laborers who worked in the fields. Jeanette Steele UT San Diego -- 4/1/12

César Chávez celebrated despite driving rain -- Of course, there were chants of "Si, se puede!" (Yes, we can.) But marching for miles in the rain in the annual Cesar Chavez Day march provoked some other, more seasonal, chants, such as, "Llueve, llueve, el pueblo no se mueve," and its English counterpart, "The rain, the rain, the people will remain." Carlos Alcalá in the Sacramento Bee -- 4/1/12

Hackers, investors, designers collaborate at Super Happy Block Party in Palo Alto -- Participants met up in designated buildings or a tricked-out empty parking garage to talk shop about everything from software problems to deals to job offers -- or simply catch up. Tracy Seipel in the San Jose Mercury -- 4/1/12

Tech firms' data gathering worries most Californians, poll finds -- Trust is low even for the most widely used Internet and smartphone companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. David Sarno in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

After 100 Years, Muni Runs Slower -- The San Francisco Muni is turning 100 this year. And in that century of great technological progress, in which an aircraft broke the sound barrier in 1947 and a supersonic car did the same in 1997, Muni has actually become slower. ZUSHA ELINSON Bay Citizen -- 4/1/12

   POTUS 44

The state of Obama’s swing states: President takes back the lead in Florida -- Two polls released this month give Obama the edge in Florida, which has the third-most Electoral College votes of any state in the presidential election. Jonathan Easley The Hill -- 4/1/12

GOP points to stumbles as signs of Obama's 2012 vulnerabilities -- They argue Obama’s hot-mic comment to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about his “flexibility” on missile defense after the election — paired with the rough treatment his health law received at the Supreme Court — prove the president is on shaky ground with voters. Amie Parnes The Hill -- 4/1/12

The Obama Campaign Tries Out a New Cellular Weapon -- The Obama campaign fundraising machine has debuted a new text message tool with encouraging results for the President’s bean counters. MICHAEL SCHERER Time -- 4/1/12

First lady commissions newest Coast Guard cutter -- Two years ago, first lady Michelle Obama broke a bottle of Champagne across the bow of the Coast Guard cutter Stratton, christening the vessel and spraying herself. On Saturday, she caught up with the Stratton again on Alameda's Coast Guard Island to participate in the ship's commissioning ceremony. This time, everybody got doused. Gary Peterson in the Contra Costa Times John Coté in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 4/1/12


Romney, Santorum try to appeal to Wisconsin conservatives -- The rival Republicans speak on abortion, contraception and healthcare in the run-up to Tuesday's primary. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

Signs of Supreme Court activism worry Reagan administration lawyers -- Advocates of judicial restraint say conservative justices should be wary of the impulse to strike down the healthcare law passed by Congress. David G. Savage in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/1/12

GOP mega-donors slow to switch candidates -- Big GOP super PAC donors have been stubbornly standing by their favorite presidential candidates — even those with doomed campaigns. ROBIN BRAVENDER Politico -- 4/1/12

The GOP Final Four -- While college basketball fans descend on New Orleans for the NCAA’s Final Four, another "final four" compete across the country for the Republican presidential nomination. Natalie Vernon Google Politics & Elections -- 4/1/12