HANDBAGGED BY THE IRON LADY Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz missed hosting a lunch at Stanford University's Hoover Institution Wednesday because he was in London as co-leader of the U.S. delegation to the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Lunch co-host Sidney Drell, a retired Stanford physicist and Shultz colleague in the quest to eliminate nuclear weapons, said Shultz once was "handbagged" by Thatcher, whose structured, black handbags symbolized femininity and toughness. Thatcher "was one of the people who thought it absurd to get rid of nuclear weapons," Drell recalled. When she "handbagged" Shultz on the issue, Shultz reportedly told Thatcher that even her great friend and ally Ronald Reagan believed in the elimination of nuclear weapons.
ON THE RAIL FRONT ... Palo Alto hasn't conceded defeat in its long, litigious feud with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, but this week it decided not to challenge the rail authority's latest victory in court. After a closed-session discussion Monday night, the City Council voted unanimously not to appeal a recent decision in favor of the rail authority by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge. Palo Alto was one of the plaintiffs in a suit that claimed the rail authority failed to adequately describe the latest design of the $68 billion project in its Environmental Impact Report. Judge Michael Kenny disagreed and wrote in his Feb. 27 decision that while the rail authority's process "was not absolutely perfect," it was good enough to comply with state law. While Palo Alto will not be disputing this ruling, it continues to be involved in an appeal of an earlier decision. That case focuses on the rail authority's ridership projections, which Palo Alto has long maintained are grossly inflated.