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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.

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“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.

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.

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

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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2020 Election

Demand grows for Pete Buttigieg to come clean about his time at ‘corporate greed machine’ McKinsey

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"The political risk is not that his former employer, a multibillion-dollar corporate entity that promotes fraud across the globe, will be mad at him. It's what he would have to disclose."

Days after reports surfaced about the global consulting firm McKinsey's work advising the Trump administration on immigration policy, calls are growing louder for South Bend, Indiana mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to disclose details about the work he did for the company.

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Deutsche Bank busted in money-laundering scheme case

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Prosectors in Frankfurt have dropped their investigation into two Deutsche Bank employees who were accused of aiding tax evasion schemes in the Virgin Islands, due to "lack of suspicion." The institution has instead been fined for compliance lapses.

“With the closure of these proceedings it is clear that the prosecutors have not found any instances of criminal misconduct on the part of Deutsche Bank employees following the raid of our Frankfurt office in November 2018,” Deutsche Bank spokesman Joerg Eigendorf said in a statement.

“The investigation that has now been closed due to lack of sufficient suspicion had a heavy impact on Deutsche Bank last year,” he added. “It is true that the bank had weaknesses in its control environment in the past. We identified these weaknesses and we have addressed them in a disciplined manner.”

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North Carolina towns forced to cancel Christmas celebrations over fear of violence from right wing extremist groups

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Two North Carolina towns are canceling their annual Christmas celebration parades "amid fears of violence due to Confederate groups’ participation in the events," The Daily Beast reports.

Citing a “potential for violence,” for the first time in over 70 years the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina says it will have no Christmas parade. Garner, NC, has also canceled its Christmas parade.

The Daily Beast cites "reports that Garner had plans to include a float sponsored by a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans but said social-media posts led town officials to believe 'the event could be targeted for disruption.'"

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