San Diego joins lawsuit to clean up Tijuana River Valley FacebookTwitter KUSI Newsroom, Updated: 3:59 PM “San Diego’s natural environment is what makes our region so special and we’re going to keep fighting to preserve it,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We’ve made this a priority in meetings with federal agencies in both the U.S. and Mexico, and now we must force the government’s hand to ensure it takes action. This gives us a new tool in the battle against sewage and trash that flows across the border and into our waterways. I thank the City Council, Councilmember Moreno and City Attorney Elliott for their work on this issue.” Posted: January 29, 2019 KUSI Newsroom In December, Councilmember Moreno issued a memo requesting for Council to hear the options for joining a lawsuit on the Tijuana River Valley. Her memo was in response to the most recent sewage spill that began last month and continues to release millions of gallons of sewage daily, SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego City Council has voted in closed session to join a lawsuit brought against the International Boundary and Water Commission by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.The suit alleges the commission has violated the Clean Water Act by allowing the continuous flow of sewage, chemical waste and plastic pollution into the Tijuana River. A press release from Mayor Faulconer announcing the lawsuit is pasted below:San Diego Joins Lawsuit to Clean Up Tijuana River ValleyLEGAL MOVE AIMS TO PROMPT FEDERAL ACTION ON LONGSTANDING SEWAGE, SEDIMENT AND TRASH ISSUES IN SOUTH BAYSan Diego – Following calls for legal action from Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Councilmember Vivian Moreno, the City Council voted unanimously in closed session Tuesday in favor of joining the State lawsuit against the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) over the contamination occurring in the Tijuana River Valley, Tijuana River Estuary and the Pacific Ocean. For years, the USIBWC has failed to properly manage and operate its wastewater treatment facilities. As a result, sewage, sediment and trash from the Tijuana River Valley have affected local beaches and coastal waters, prompting frustration and public health concerns. Categories: Health, Local San Diego News In October 2017, City Attorney Mara W. Elliott served notice of the City’s intention to sue. Following today’s decision, the City Attorney’s Office will now begin working with the State Attorney General and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to prepare for trial. The court has set the trial date for April 13, 2020. “One of the first actions I took as a Councilmember was to request that the City join the lawsuit,” Councilmember Moreno said. “The discharge of sewage has been a threat to the health and safety of our residents for far too long. We must hold our federal government accountable and also send a strong message that the South Bay will not be a dumping ground.” January 29, 2019 The lawsuit against the USIBWC was filed in September 2018 on behalf of the people of the State of California, by and through the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The State Lands Commission intervened in December 2018 and is now also party to the lawsuit.“The pollution in the Tijuana River Valley is a disgrace, and I’m proud of this Mayor and City Council for fighting back against the federal government’s persistent disregard for our community’s health,” City Attorney Elliott said. “Joining the Regional Water Quality Control Board lawsuit represents San Diego’s best chance at a comprehensive solution to this troubling problem.”
2:57 End of an era for space exploration Share your voice Now playing: Watch this: A composite image of Kepler’s final view. The missing tiles are due to parts of the camera that failed. NASA The final thing NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope captured was everything, or at least it looks that way.NASA ran out of fuel last year and was put into a permanent sleep mode on Oct. 30. The final full-field image it took can be seen in the above mosaic captured Sept. 25. You can see the telescope’s full view of the sky and an abundance of stars within. Some blocks of the composite image are blacked out due to failures by parts of the camera. Fortunately, the device had a modular design that allowed for other parts of the image to be retained. Kepler helped revolutionize how we think about the universe by enabling the discovery of thousands of exoplanets beyond our solar system, making it clear our galaxy and others are packed with other worlds. Enlarge ImageKepler’s view of K2-138 with its six planets sized between Earth and Neptune. It was the first multi-planet system entirely discovered by citizen scientists. NASA/Ames Research Center But it struggled to make some of those discoveries. A few years into its mission, the parts that help it stay pointed at a target began to fail. Engineers had to come up with a work-around that basically used the subtle pressure coming off the sun itself to keep the telescope steady. Kepler went on making more finds for half a decade before finally running out of gas. To the right is one of the later star systems Kepler helped discover called K2-138. It is believed to host six planets roughly between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. The GIF shows images collected of the system during Kepler’s last day of photography.The pixelated view might not be much to look at, but Kepler played a pivotal role in pointing the way towards promising systems like this so that future telescopes might provide a clearer view one day, and perhaps even find evidence of alien life. NASA turns 60: The space agency has taken humanity farther than anyone else, and it has plans to go further.Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers. 1 Comment Sci-Tech Tags NASA Space
Speeding to the future The myriad benefits of high-speed rail go far beyond the strict monetary alternative to cars and planes. For one thing, most high-speed trains are electric, and as energy generation moves away from fossil fuels, this means rail becomes significantly greener than airplanes or cars — which is why Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez included it as part of the Green New Deal. Then there are the benefits to the communities along the route, and the jobs created during construction and during use. These benefits are something many other countries have seen, not least China, which in 10 years has gone from essentially no high-speed rail, to more high-speed rail than the rest of the world combined. No doubt these are expensive projects, and historically, only public money and support has made them possible. It will be interesting to see, as the projects above progress, if that’s still the case or if private investment is indeed possible. Best case, they all come to fruition and there will be multiple options for cities and states to add high-speed rail. Worst case? They don’t, or the government has to nationalize them (again). As a big fan of trains, I’m obviously hoping for the former. Count me in for a ride on opening day on each and every one. Share your voice Aug 6 • Trump says he’s watching Google ‘very closely,’ slams CEO Sundar Pichai California Both alphabetically and monetarily, this is the first project we should discuss. Running, in theory, from Northern California to Southern, linking Sacramento and San Francisco to Los Angeles and a few points in between, the California High Speed Rail is already well over budget and behind schedule. Despite my love for high-speed rail, and being a California resident, I was never impressed or optimistic about this project. Having now researched it significantly more for this article I’m… well, more neutral I guess. The pros probably outweigh the cons, mostly.The issue is there are lots of easily identifiable negatives. High-speed rail detractors love to point this project as a glowing example of why the whole idea of high-speed rail is bad. I suppose that’s true of any new rail project, and more so with this one given how expensive it’s become. On the negative side, even at the very high speeds the project is hoping for, it will still take 2 hours, 40 minutes to get from Union Station in LA to downtown San Francisco. It’s only 1.5 hours to fly, so even considering travel to and from airports, that’s nearly a wash. It’s hard to believe they’ll be able to keep ticket prices low enough to compete with airfare, which is often around $60 (roughly £45 or AU$85) each way. California HSR Authority says they’re aiming for an average price of $93 to get from San Francisco to LA, in today’s dollars. This is about 50 percent higher than a flight, but still in the “ballpark.” Personally I’d pay an extra $30 not to fly, and hopefully others will find the premium acceptable too. Now playing: Watch this: Tags 29 Photos Aug 6 • President Trump wants social media to catch shooters before they strike. It’s going to be hard For more about why it’s so challenging to have higher speeds on this route, and really why high-speed trains are difficult throughout the US, check out this previous explainer about why US trains are so complicated. Texas The Texas Central Railway is another private venture, this time aiming to connect Dallas and Houston in under 90 minutes. Driving would take at least 3.5 hours. The most interesting aspect of this project is the rolling stock: Japanese Shinkansen trains. Specifically, a variant of the N700 Series already in use throughout Japan. Most recently, the TCR has selected Spain’s Renfe to be the train operator (PDF). Initially it’ll offer technical advice on design and construction of the system, then once it’s up and running, it’ll “run the trains; maintain system components, such as the engines, signals and other equipment; oversee ticketing, passenger loyalty programs and other services.”It’s hoping for departures every 30 minutes, a top speed of 200 mph, ticket prices lower than airfare, and to open in the mid-2020s. Since, barring unforeseen delays, that will beat California’s high-speed rail by years, this will likely be the first “true” high-speed rail system in the US by any definition. Railroads need land, however, and so far Texas Central is having problems procuring it. The project is involved in a legal battle that could prevent it from being able to conduct surveys and acquire property. Referring to the problems, a Texas Central representative told CNET “Texas Central disputes that, saying it is having increasing success in securing land options.” See All Are US trains really that bad? It’s complicated Charger into the future: Inside Amtrak’s new 4,400 hp locomotive I crossed 3 countries in 14 hours on 4 trains and a bus. And I’m not dead. Here’s what it’s like to travel 8 hours across Japan by train From steam to Shinkansen: The massive machines of the Kyoto Railway Museum 28:48 Politics Sci-Tech Roadshow Jul 28 • Apple’s Q3 earnings are all about the iPhone 11 hints 47 Comments Read more about trains Japan has the Shinkansen. France has the TGV. Spain has AVE. China has more high-speed rail than the rest of the world combined. America has… the Acela Express. All 16 stops of it in one section of the country. It reaches its top speed of 150 miles per hour (241 kph) just for a few minutes in one short section, and even that speed is pokey compared to other countries. The Shanghai Maglev reaches 268 mph.But things are changing. Despite significant uphill battles, high-speed rail is coming to other parts of the country. Even the Acela is undergoing improvements that should make the service faster and more convenient. And high-speed rail is one of the principal pillars of the Green New Deal drafted by liberal House Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It proposes to overhaul the “transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible,” with high-speed rail as one of the main investments. This article doesn’t speculate on lofty goals like that. It’s not about proposed dream projects, like maglevs and hyperloops, nor is it a list of feasibility studies or “hey, we should check out high-speed rail” legislative initiatives. Instead, I’m going to tackle actual projects either in progress or seemingly about to begin. How high is high-speed? The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it seems. Title 49, subsection V, Part D, Chapter 261(c) of the US code says “sustained speeds of 125 mph or greater.” Other countries would call that “adorable” and “200 kph.” Even other portions of the US government say 150 mph or greater. For our purposes, we’ll go with anything above 125. This is faster than traditional trains, and given the limitations of the tracks throughout the US, a pretty reasonable increase in speed. Also, an article just about US trains capable of over 150 mph would be super short. Other parts of the country are working on improving their “regular” rail so that it’s a bit faster, like Chicago and elsewhere, but that’s for another article. Nevada (and California) A rail link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been in the works, on and off, for years. A company called XpressWest got the farthest in the process, and in September it was purchased by Brightline (yep, same one). This is another hard sell, since the current plans only get them from Las Vegas to Victorville. Victorville is Los Angeles as much as Philadelphia is Manhattan. So your average LA resident would need to get to Victorville, nearly two hours by car, then board a train for Brightline’s estimate of two hours to Las Vegas. A flight takes just over an hour, or alternately, it’s a fantastic drive in the same amount of time. There are other desert cities near Victorville, of course, so the trains probably won’t be empty. But as you can probably guess, the idea is to link up to the California regular and eventual high-speed rail network and go all the way to LA’s Union Station. It expects to begin construction this year, with initial service in 2022. Seems optimistic, but I wish it luck.Though no rolling stock has been decided yet, it wouldn’t be surprising if XpressWest plans to use Siemens Chargers since that’s what Brightline is using in Florida, and Siemens is already building a bunch in its California plant for Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route. Northeast Corridor (New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and DC) The Acela Express was America’s first, and arguably only, high-speed rail. I say “arguably” because in most parts of the world a top speed of 150 mph, and average speed less than half that, hardly qualifies as “high-speed.” It connects Boston to DC with 14 stops along the way, including New York and Philadelphia. The speeds are almost entirely due to limitations on the tracks and other infrastructure, which is why Amtrak has extensive plans for upgrading the tracks it owns, as well as working with states along the route to improve the non-Amtrak sections. The Acela trains were always far more capable than the tracks they were on, so even seemingly small improvements like raising speeds on a 30 mph section to 50 mph will reap big benefits overall. Many of the improvements will also benefit standard rail service in the area as well. Amtrak is also getting new trains, due in service in 2021. These high-tech models from Alstom are capable not just of higher speeds, but have better tilt capabilities, so they’ll be faster on the slower sections compared to the current trains. If the infrastructure improvements go as planned, new top speeds of 186 mph will be possible on some segments of the route. US Tech Policy US Tech Policy See trains from all over the world • As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does these tours of cool museums and locations around the world including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, airplane graveyards and more. You can follow his exploits on Twitter, Instagram and on his travel blog BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel. Aug 7 • Trump’s emissions and fuel economy rollbacks will cost Americans money, study says Going beyond the normal benefits for high-speed rail, California HSR Authority intends for the entire system to run on 100 percent renewable energy to power the trains. Since traveling on these trains would mean fewer cars on the road and fewer passengers on airplanes, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be sizable. With work progressing in the, admittedly easier, Central Valley sections, I’ll be curious to see how this plays out over the next decade(s). Especially since our new governor is far less enthusiastic for the project than our previous governor. Regardless of what happens with the overall project, numerous improvements to the rail infrastructure throughout the state are already underway and will be highly beneficial. Florida Florida has the only private passenger train company in the US: Brightline. In November 2018 it announced it was rebranding as Virgin Trains USA, after Virgin took a minority stake. Hopefully that will turn out better for everyone than what happened on England’s East Cost Main Line. Florida had initially received federal grants to create more high-speed rail, but then governor Rick Scott rejected them in 2011. Some of this route was developed into Brightline. Brightline/Virgin Trains USA currently connects Miami to West Palm Beach, but is too slow to qualify as high speed. However, it’s working on expanding its system north, connecting to Orlando airport via Cocoa. Part of this route will have new tracks on a new right-of-way, allowing speeds up to 125 mph. It uses Siemens Chargers, which we checked out extensively when they were unveiled for the Pacific Surfliner route in Los Angeles. Along with other funding, it’s going public to help get the money it needs. The company has plans to connect to Tampa eventually as well. reading • Is high-speed rail in the US ever going to happen? Travelling 2,600 miles across Europe in a VW camper 14 Photos High-speed trains in the US
At least two people were killed and seven injured when a Russian passenger aircraft made an emergency landing at an airport in Buryatia region in Siberia on Thursday.The incident occurred when an Antonov An-24 aircraft carrying 48 passengers, including five crew members, was on its way from Ulan-Ude to Nizhneangarsk. The plane overshot the runway after landing, hit a small building and caught fire, according to the regional emergency situations ministry.The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing when one of its engines failed, Reuters reported.Authorities said the accident killed a pilot and technician and the passengers had been safely evacuated before the fire destroyed the plane, reported the global news agency.The deputy head of the North Baikal District, Tatyana Prokhorova, told Russian news agency Interfax that around 31 people sought medical assistance after the crash. It is also reported that four passengers, including two children, were hospitalised.The transport investigation department of the Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case on charges of violating air traffic safety and air transport violations, reported Moscow Times.In 2018, at least 71 people were killed after a Saratov Airlines plane crashed in the south-east region of Moscow after taking off from the Domodedovo Airport.