That is what proponents of California’s high speed rail project say when asked about the whys and wherefores of the system. In other words, if it works somewhere else it will work here.
That argument, though, falls in the face of a rather basic fact: California and Japan are different.
It is true that Japan’s high speed rail system, first begun in 1964, actually makes money – a lot, in fact. The iconic first line, Shinkansen Tokaido, alone carries 90 million people a year and has an operating profit of about $4.4 billion dollars. That does not include capital costs, but teasing that number out after 60 years of operation and the privatization of the route in the late 1980s is extremely difficult – suffice to say the deal has “worked” for the owners.
There are multiple other Shinkansen lines in Japan, most of which also realize an operating profit (the latest expansion to Hokkaido – the very large island north of the Japanese mainland – has proven to be problematic, though.)
Since the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron has repeated a mantra on behalf of his NATO partners: “We are not at war with Russia.”
Nearly one year in, that notion has officially been dispelled.
“We are fighting a war against Russia,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said this week.
Baerbock was trying to assuage NATO allies’ frustration over German reluctance to send Leopard 2 tanks into Ukraine. She can now claim vindication. In a reversal of its initial position, the German government has announced it that will deliver Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army.
To overcome German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s jitters, the White House engaged in an about-face of its own, approving the shipment of 31 US-made M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Scholz had insisted on conditioning any German tanks to a similar US commitment. Up until this week, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin was “dead set against providing” the M1s, and declared there to be “no linkage between providing M1s and providing Leopards.” Austin had argued that the M1s are too cumbersome for Ukraine, requiring costly jet fuel, heavy maintenance, and lengthy training.
Just last month, a senior US defense official declared that “even one M1 was out of the question,” according to the Washington Post. When used by US troops in Iraq, the M1s were “hard for us to sustain and maintain,” the official noted. For Ukraine, “it would be impossible.” Even last week, senior Pentagon official Colin Kahl dismissed the prospect of sending the “very complicated” M1, because “we should not be providing the Ukrainians systems they can’t repair, they can’t sustain, and that they, over the long term, can’t afford.”
Senior Pentagon officials told lawmakers in the House Armed Services Committee last week in a classified briefing that Ukraine is unlikely to retake Crimea from Russia, POLITICO reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the briefing.
The briefing reflects other recent reporting that said US officials don’t think Ukraine has the capability to take the peninsula, which Russia has controlled since 2014. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said back in November that the probability of Ukraine kicking Russia out of the territory it captured since last February and Crimea is “not high.”
Milley reiterated this point on January 20. “I still maintain that for this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from all –– every inch of Ukraine and occupied –– or Russian-occupied Ukraine,” he said.
The United States has ramped up pressure on China in trade, technology and defence ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's trip this weekend, and Washington's strategy to contain Beijing is unlikely to change after the talks, according to analysts.
Blinken's visit to China will be the first by a US secretary of state in five years. As the highly anticipated trip approaches, tensions between the world's two biggest economies show few signs of easing.
On Tuesday, the US released its annual "notorious markets" list identifying major Chinese e-commerce platforms accused of failing to crack down on the trade of counterfeit goods.
Iraq’s foreign exchange rate has steadily declined over recent years, falling to lows which are severely damaging the Iraqi economy. Ironically, this comes at a time when the foreign reserves meant to back the Iraqi dinar’s global position are at a near-term high.
Starting with the 2003 US invasion and occupation, the Central Bank of Iraq has remained closely linked to the US Federal Reserve. This was one of several long-term linkages meant to ensure the US retained strong sway over the future Iraqi economy to react to any tensions, and in the increasingly likely event that the US feels like increased mucking about regionally.
The US regime got it in its head that Syria and Iran were using the relatively free economy of neighboring Iraq for money laundering. That’s not an entirely unreasonable suspicion, as many Iranians are heavily invested in the Iraqi economy after the damage done to Iran’s economy by US sanctions. Trying to rein this in, the US Federal Reserve is keeping a tight grip on the foreign reserves it holds “for” Iraq.
The other day I stumbled across a 2014 opinion piece in The Guardian titled “It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war” by Seumas Milne, who the following year would go on to become the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications under Jeremy Corbyn.
I bring this up because the perspectives you’ll find in that article are jarring in how severely they deviate from anything you’ll see published in the mainstream press about Ukraine in 2023. It places the brunt of the blame for the violence and tensions in that nation at that time squarely at Washington’s feet, opening with a warning that the “threat of war in Ukraine is growing” and saying there’s an “unelected government in Kiev,” and it only gets naughtier from there.
I strongly recommend reading the article in full if you want some perspective in just how dramatically the mass media has clamped down on dissenting ideas about Ukraine and Russia, beginning with the frenzied stoking of Russia hysteria in 2016 and exploding exponentially with the Russian invasion last year. I doubt there’s a single paragraph which could get published in any mainstream outlet in the media environment of today.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, broadcasted a video on Thursday, showing its air defenses confronting the Israeli warplanes as they were attacking the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Brigades said in a statement that they confronted Israeli warplanes “with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft missiles.”
The Israeli occupation army announced that it had carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip at dawn Thursday, hours after it intercepted a rocket fired from the Strip. No casualties were reported on the Israeli side.
An illegal Jewish settler assaulted on Thursday a Palestinian boy from the town of Huwwara, near the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Suleiman al-Mukhtar, the boy’s father, told WAFA that an illegal Jewish settler driving in Huwwara stopped his vehicle and pepper-sprayed his 14-year-old son Faysal, who was standing on the side of the street when the settler passed by.
Jewish settlers, protected by the army and with a green light from their racist government, have recently escalated their violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories.
According to a report issued by the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers carried out more than 700 attacks against Palestinians and their properties during the month of January.
Serbia’s populist president warned during a chaotic parliamentary session on Thursday that the Balkan nation could become a European “pariah” state if it rejects a Western plan for normalizing relations with Kosovo.
President Aleksandar Vucic faced a hostile reception from the right-wing opposition, which urged parliament to reject the plan and accused him of betraying Serbia.
The plan hasn’t been made public formally, but Vucic said it stipulates that Serbia wouldn’t object to Kosovo’s inclusion in international organizations, including the United Nations, though it wouldn’t have to formally recognize its statehood.
“I haven’t signed anything. I said we will continue with the talks,” Vucic said. “People need to understand … Would we become a European pariah? Yes, we would.”
Energy giant Shell has announced record annual profits nearing $40bn, after oil and gas prices surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
The British company’s earnings in 2022 were the highest in its 115-year history, a milestone that has angered many Britons struggling with a cost-of-living crisis largely driven by inflated energy bills.
Boeing has been awarded a $1.6 billion contract to provide guidance subsystem support for US Minuteman III Intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Work will be performed at Hill Air Force Base in the state of Utah, and is expected to be completed by Feb. 1, 2039, the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The Minuteman III, which has been in service for 50 years, is a warhead-equipped missile that can carry a nuclear bomb during wartime.
The Pentagon carried out a routine test of the missile on September 7. The operation had been announced in advance in order to avoid any flare-up of tensions with Russia in the midst of its war in Ukraine.
Martial law was declared in several areas of military-run Myanmar on Thursday, a day after authorities extended a state of emergency throughout the country wracked by violence that some U.N. experts have described as a civil war.
State-run MRTV television broadcast an announcement by Aung Lin Dwe, secretary of the military’s State Administration Council, imposing martial law in 37 townships across eight of the country’s 14 regions and states. Eleven of the townships are in Sagaing region and seven in Chin state, areas in the northwest where fighting has been fiercest between the army and guerrillas belonging to pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces and their allies in ethnic minority militias.
The army has been struggling to contain a nationwide insurrection by opponents of military rule who took up arms after peaceful protests against the army’s Feb. 1, 2021, seizure of power were suppressed with lethal force. The military has declared martial law before, most notably in early 2021 in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, after which violence escalated against protesters. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent watchdog group that tracks killings and arrests, at least 2,948 civilians have been killed since the army takeover.
China, only the third country to put a man in space after the Soviet Union and United States, is to build ground stations on Antarctica to back its network of ocean monitoring satellites, state media said on Thursday.
China's global network of ground stations to support a growing number of satellites and outer space ambitions has drawn concern from some nations that it could be used for espionage, a suggestion China rejects.
In 2020, Sweden's state-owned space company, which had provided ground stations that helped fly Chinese spacecraft and transmit data, declined to renew contracts with China or accept new Chinese business due to "changes" in geopolitics.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Co. is to build the stations at the Zhongshan research base, one of two permanent Chinese research stations on Antarctica, after winning the tender with its 43.95 million yuan ($6.53 million) bid, state-controlled China Space News reported.
On January 19, during one of its raids in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli military arrested a Palestinian journalist, Abdul Muhsen Shalaldeh, near the town of Al-Khalil (Hebron). This is just the latest of a staggering number of violations against Palestinian journalists, and against freedom of expression.
A few days earlier, the head of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS), Naser Abu Baker, shared some tragic numbers during a press conference in Ramallah. "Fifty-five reporters have been killed, either by Israeli fire or bombardment since 2000," he said. Hundreds more were wounded, arrested or detained. Although shocking, much of this reality is censored in mainstream media.
The murder by Israeli occupation soldiers of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, was an exception, partly due to the global influence of her employer, Al Jazeera Network. Still, Israel and its allies labored to hide the news, resorting to the usual tactic of smearing those who defy the Israeli narrative.
Hunter Biden is making a bold move by asking the Federal Government and the Delaware Attorney General to go after individuals who shared personal information from his laptop.
According to the letter sent by his lawyer to the Justice Department, Hunter Biden is targeting close allies of former President Donald Trump, including John Paul Mac Isaac (the laptop repair store owner), Rudy Giuliani, his attorney Robert Costello, Steve Bannon, Garrett Ziegler, Jack Maxey, and Yaacov Apelbaum.
Robert Costello, a lawyer for both Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, told CBS News the letters to the Justice Department and Delaware were a "frivolous legal complaint trying to intimidate."
The news of Hunter Biden’s request has sparked a heated debate between political factions on either side of the aisle. While some view the move as a necessary step to protect his privacy and the right to information, others view it as a political ploy to silence his detractors.
It’s still unclear at this point whether there will ever be a complete reckoning with all the misinformation, disinformation and outright lies that were spread by authorities in government, media and the corporate sector about COVID and vaccines during the pandemic. But one mea culpa DID recently appear in Newsweek, penned by Texas MD/Ph.D student Kevin Bass, who explained at length how lives were lost and confidence in institutions undermined by the knowing spread of false information and defamation of anyone who contradicted the COVID narrative.
In the videos, Rogers is seen discussing gender with the young viewers of his show. “Boys are boys from the beginning, girls are girls right from the start. Everybody’s fancy, Everybody’s fine. Your body’s fancy and so is mine.” he says.
The message is a stark contrast to the current progressive view on gender identity, which is becoming increasingly mainstream. In recent years, the media and Hollywood have done their best to normalize transgenderism and the idea that a person’s gender is malleable.