Despite efforts by President Bush to reassure political opponents that he won't choose a nominee to the Supreme Court based on abortion or other controversial issues, a leading Senate Democrat reportedly was overheard vowing that his party planned "to go to war" over the selection. Bush, on an official visit to Denmark, urged senators Wednesday to engage in "a civil discourse" over his choice to succeed retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and said he'd apply "no litmus test" other than "people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from." But the Drudge Report posted a partial transcription of US Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York telling an unidentified person on a cellphone call: "It's not about an individual judge; it's about how it affects the overall makeup of the court."

Calling it, "a terrific day for California," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced a deal with Democrats in the legislature Tuesday on a new state budget that increases spending on education and transportation without raising taxes. But while ending a weeks-long standoff, the spending plan does not significantly reduce the huge state deficit, and the two sides are expected to square off again in November over special ballot questions that would impose a spending cap on the budget, restrict the ability of unions to use member dues for campaign contributions, and strip the legislature of the ability to redraw voting districts. The proposed budget is expected to total $117 billion, The Los Angeles Times said.

Union and transit system negotiators agreed to a tentative contract settlement at 3 a.m. Wednesday, averting a strike that could have gridlocked San Francisco Bay Area freeways as commuters turned to their cars to get to work. Details of the agreement were not announced, pending a ratification vote by Service Employees International Union members that is expected to take at least a week.

An estimated 250,000 residents of the Gulf Coast were without electricity early Wed-nesday and authorities urged that as many as possible stay home instead of trying to commute to work after tropical storm Cindy pelted the region with heavy rain and unexpectedly strong winds. Property damage was not significant, but flooding was widespread. Storm trackers said the system was pushing northeast at about 14 m.p.h.

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