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Drilling begins on high-speed Alpine rail running from France to Italy

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A six-metre-wide drill roared to life Tuesday in Chiomonte in northeast Italy and began boring a reconnaissance tunnel for a controversial fast train from Lyon, France to Turin, Italy.

The latest phase in a project which has suffered years of delays kicked off with only Italian and French dignitaries as well as media informed about it to avoid potential violent demonstrations.

“We have entered the drilling phase, the project is now more irreversible than ever,” Turin’s mayor Piero Fassino said.

The Italian and French parliaments are racing to rubber stamp the project before a summit on November 20 in Rome, amid fierce protests from locals and environmental campaigners who say it is too expensive and is unnecessary.

Europe will stump up 40 percent of the 8.5 billion euros ($11.43 billion) needed to build the 57 kilometre (35 mile) long transalpine tunnel, with Italy paying out 2.9 billion euros and France 2.2 billion euros.

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The first 200 metres of the reconnaissance tunnel were dug using mechanical diggers. With the tunnel boring machine excavators expect to advance between seven and ten metres a day to cover the 7,300 metres remaining.

The shaft will be used to better understand the geological make-up of the mountain range and serve as an access route while the main rail tunnel is being dug out, and in the long term as an emergency escape route and ventilation tunnel.

The high-speed Lyon-Turin line “has a triple value: European, economic and environmental,” said Louis Besson, the head of the French delegation.

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The link, set to come into service in 2025, is expected to see one million fewer lorries on the motorways a year, and reduce train times between Paris and Milan from seven hours to just over four.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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GUILTY: Jury rules Michael Flynn’s former business partner is guilty of lobbying for Turkey

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Michael Flynn's former business partner Bijan Kian was found guilty by a jury for illegally lobbying for a foreign country.

The information was uncovered as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and as the Justice Department's crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying, CNN explained.

Flynn has had a difficult go in his court case, but information Flynn gave was helpful, according to the DOJ.

Kian is an Iranian-American businessman who was charged with conspiring to hide his lobbying work for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent for the Turkish government.

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“It’s as bad as it looks”: Pelosi under fire for debt ceiling deal that hands GOP power to kneecap progressive agenda

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"It sets up a crisis of the first year of the next president's administration," said a former congressional staffer. "We're letting them light the fuse on another bomb and place it squarely in the middle of the next president's first year."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have helped temporarily avert a looming fiscal crisis on Tuesday by striking a budget deal with the Trump administration, but progressives warned the agreement hands Republicans power to kneecap the next president's agenda by suspending the debt ceiling until after the 2020 elections.

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FLASHBACK: Mueller makes GOP lawmaker look like an absolute fool during 2013 hearing

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While previewing former special counsel Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony before the House of Representatives, CNN on Tuesday played a clip from six years ago showing Mueller schooling Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who tried to corner the then-FBI director about his agency's work on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

During the hearing, Gohmert tried to get Mueller to explain why the FBI supposedly hadn't visited the mosque that was frequented by the Tsarnaev brothers, the two American citizens of Chechen descent who carried out the attack.

"Why did no one go to the mosque and say, who are these guys?" Gohmert asked. "Why was that not done?"

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