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Vox Sentences: California’s train plan derails

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High-speed rail is a no-go in California; the House votes to condemn the war in Yemen.


A high-speed railway to nowhere

California High-Speed Rail Authority via Getty Images
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision earlier this week to scale back the state’s high-speed rail project is disappointing to supporters of expanding transit — and it demonstrates the weaknesses in how the US approaches transit. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • There was a lot of confusion about what Newsom’s announcement actually means: Opposers and proponents of the high-speed rail are still unsure what Newsom plans to do now. He can’t abandon the project or he’ll lose the federal funding he got for it. The state will continue an environmental review of the proposed line, and “bookend” rail lines in Southern California and the Bay Area will also get support. All that’s stalled is the Central Valley railway that links regional train routes. [Capital Public Radio / Ben Adler]
  • President Trump claimed that California owed $3.5 billion to the federal government, but Newsom retorted that money belongs to the state. The high-speed line was estimated to cost $77 billion and be completed in 2033. [CNN / Holmes Lybrand]
  • The train is now going to go from Bakersfield to Merced — connecting two inland cities where the economy isn’t booming in the way it is in San Francisco and Los Angeles. [New Yorker / Nathan Heller]
  • The cancellation comes just as Democrats were getting excited about the Green New Deal, which called for expanding rail service to reduce demand for air travel. Globally, high-speed rail has done exactly that. [Slate / Henry Grabar]
  • California’s high-speed railway was one way that vague goals in the Green New Deal could be realized. Trains use 2 percent of all energy used for transportation and offer comparable prices to planes for passengers in some areas. California’s struggle reveals how reliant American is on air travel — and how long the Green New Deal may actually take to effect change. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • America doesn’t have rail infrastructure like those in other developed countries like China. Large US cities remain disconnected by rail largely because highways are prioritized, soaking up tax dollars that could be used for development projects. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]

The House votes against the war in Yemen

  • The House of Representatives is trying to end American involvement in the three-plus-year war in Yemen, passing a resolution on Wednesday to remove US armed forces from the conflict. [WSJ / Joshua Jamerson]
  • The resolution passed 248 to 177, with support from some conservatives. The Senate passed a similar measure last year, before Congress turned over. If the vote goes the same way this time, it could end up being President Trump’s first veto. [NYT / Catie Edmondson and Charlie Savage]
  • The conflict in Yemen, led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has killed more than 50,000 people. The US-backed Saudi coalition, in coordination with the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states, has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, providing intelligence and arms and reportedly fueling warplanes. [Vox / Tara Golshan and Alex Ward]
  • Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Warsaw this week to attend a summit with Arab states in the name of promoting Middle Eastern peace and confronting Iran — who backs the Houthi rebels. Yemen’s foreign minister was present at the meeting. [The National / Joyce Karam]

Miscellaneous

  • President Trump declared a state of emergency on Friday to direct $8 billion to build and repair a wall on the US-Mexico border. In a live address defending his use of executive action, Trump also spoke about an impending trade deal with China and an upcoming summit with North Korea. [Politico / Anita Kumar and Caitlin Oprysko]
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed support for President Trump’s national emergency declaration — but the GOP has been tentative about such an extreme step. [Atlantic / David A. Graham]
  • Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is about to release a book, in which he describes how he began investigations into President Trump’s ties with Russia following the firing of his boss, James Comey. The White House has called McCabe’s investigation “baseless.” [60 Minutes]
  • Haiti’s high level of anti-corruption protests prompted the US State Department to issue a warning to Americans to avoid the country. A court report ignited anger over the misuse of development funds, reportedly involving Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • India has vowed to completely “isolate” Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 people in India-controlled Kashmir on Thursday. Pakistan denies responsibility for the attack, committed by the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. Violence has been increasing in Kashmir, with at least 500 people killed last year. [BBC]

Verbatim

“Our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening. Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.” [Diocese of Covington Bishop Roger Foys in a letter to parents at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, via NPR]


Watch this: Who actually pays for your credit card rewards?

Here’s why you’re paying for credit card rewards — even if you use cash. [YouTube / Danush Parvaneh]


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