TPM News

1||The Obama administration announced on Tuesday a six-year, $53-billion-dollar project to expand high-speed rail service in the United States - promising trains reaching 250mph. The budget request is in addition to $8-billion already allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Even so, those billions are a drop in the bucket compared to the investment European and Asian countries have been making to their rail networks for decades. Above - a Japanese bullet train - top speed 275 mph. ||flickr/kubotake&&

2||The inside of a Japanese bullet train. Japan's rail network carries over 150 million passengers annually on its 1,528 miles of track. Currently, the only high-speed passenger rail in the US is Amtrak's Acela line which runs between Boston to Washington, D.C., and it hits top speed only briefly along that route.||Kyodo/Newscom&&

3||In this photo a German high-speed train sits next to a yellow Eurostar train. After Japan, West Germany was the second country to develop a high-speed rail network. Germany ordered its latest set of trains in 2008 - 15 trains costing 500 million euros. At current exchange rates that's $684.3 million, or 9% of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocation for high speed rail.||Robert Schlesinger/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom&&

4||While Europe has had a head start, it is China that has the world's largest high-speed network with 5,193 miles of track. Above, a new high-speed line connects a Chinese provincial capital to a nearby city. The new line opened in January 2011.||Color China/Newscom&&

5||Passengers wait board to trains at Shanghai Train Station. China's current high-speed rail plans call for over 10,000 kilometers of high-speed rail.||flickr/nojhan&&

6||China's signature rail project is a connection of Beijing to Shanghai - the first commercial line designed to travel at a top speed of 380 kilometers per hour. The 820-mile trip will take under four hours. The engine above will be one of the engines propelling those new trains.||STEPHEN SHAVER/UPI/Newscom&&

7||A prototype of France's next generation of high-speed trains. The prototype debuted in 2008, and a private Italian train company will receive the first production trains in 2011. ||Stanislav Zbynek/MCT/Newscom&&

8||The Eurostar is famous for quick travel under the English Channel. Passengers get on in London and arrive in Paris less than two hours later.||David Wimsett/Photoshot/Newscom&&

9||A high-speed train in Taiwan.||flickr/POHAN&&

10||But the future of rail travel may be maglev trains which never physically touch the ground when traveling. Currently, the only operational maglev train in the world connects Shanghai to its suburban airport. It makes the 19 mile trip in seven minutes. With Shanghai traffic, the trip by bus can take hours.||wikimedia/Alex Needham&&

11||The unique track Shanghai's maglev train runs on. Shanghai's maglev uses magnets to levitate itself above the track even when the train is at rest in the station. ||flickr/maxim303&&

12||The current fastest train in the world is the Central Japan Railway Company's experimental maglev in Yamanashi, Japan. In 2003 it reached a top speed of 361 mph.||flickr/Globalism Pictures&& 13||Another photo of Japan's experimental maglev.||Natsuki Sakai/Newscom&& 14||Another photo of Japan's experimental maglev.||Natsuki Sakai/Newscom&&

The anti-abortion group LiveAction released a third undercover video today targeting Planned Parenthood in a James O'Keefe-style sting, which LiveAction says shows an employee in a clinic in the Bronx describing to a pimp and prostitute how to get taxpayer funded insurance for underage sex workers.

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Election fraud alert!

An employee of the Nassau County Board of Elections has been accused of writing eight fake addresses on campaign forms in 2009, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office announced Tuesday. Imtiaz Insanally, 27, of Valley Stream, is alleged to have used the fake addresses on a petition to add Republican Christian Browne to the ballot on the Tax Revolt Party line. Browne was running for County Legislator in the Fifth Legislative District.

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by Michael Grabell ProPublica, Feb. 8, 2011, 4:24 p.m.

Most private plane owners would no longer be able to prevent the public from tracking their flights in real time under a new policy being considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a trade group.

As we reported last year, plane owners can currently keep their flight information secret for any reason [1] by simply having the trade group send a request to the Federal Aviation Administration. While that policy was created for security and competitive business concerns, ProPublica found a number of individuals and companies that signed up for the program after receiving bad publicity.

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Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld continued his reappearance to the media world for his new book Known or Unknown: A Memoir. And he continued to defend his decisions on Iraq with little to no regrets.

On ABC's Good Morning America earlier today, Rumsfeld took a series of tough questions from George Stephanopoulos, including one which led him to deny that calls for increasing troops from top officials -- including Coalition Provisional Authority administrator Paul Bremer -- were ever made.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says upcoming spending legislation will forbid the White House from using any federal dollars to pay to implement the health care law.

"I expect to see one way or the other, the product coming out of the House to speak to that and to preclude any funding to be used for [ObamaCare]," Cantor told reporters at his weekly press availability Tuesday.

Notice he refers to the "product coming out of the House." Implicit in this is an acknowledgment that the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House will fight them bitterly, and somebody will have to tap out. Indeed, it almost suggests that Cantor knows the House will be out-muscled. So it's not exactly a line in the sand -- it's more like a high opening bid, but more evidence that this will be a chronic fight between the parties.

Sharron Angle, the Republican former Nevada state Representative who lost her campaign last year against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been working to keep herself in the limelight -- most notably with a recent visit to Iowa. But interestingly, she has now distanced herself from a PAC that was associated with her, the Patriot Caucus PAC.

As Jon Ralston reports, Angle put out a statement yesterday, which "clarified," in the release's words, her relationship with the PAC. "I had originally lent my name to this PAC to help them start-up so that they could assist in organizing TEA Party efforts and local conservative grass-roots GOTV (Get-Out-the-Vote) efforts," Angle writes.

"They are off to a good start. I am pleased to have been of assistance. I was not, and am not now, involved in their decision-making processes.

"I am working on several projects and will announce them, as I update my website: www.sharronangle.com."

Failed GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell is back, and she's telling supporters she wants her newly formed political action committee ChristinePAC to "investigate and counter attack leftwing groups."

O'Donnell, who wrote that her losing campaign sent "shockwaves" throughout the nation, said in an e-mail to supporters Tuesday that her group will look into the groups "funded with one million dollars or more from billionaire leftist George Soros."

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A group of the most conspicuous names in tea party politics will gather at the National Press Club tonight for the Tea Party Express' first Washington town hall since their big wins in November. Expected at the event are the pantheon of tea party pols, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

Also in attendance will be a man who very much wants some tea party cred these days: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). A top name on many tea party target lists, Hatch doesn't want to go down the way his former comrade, Sen. Bob Bennett, did last year. The objectively conservative Bennett was booted from the Senate after tea partiers used his TARP vote against him at the state convention and denied him the GOP nomination.

Hatch clearly wants to avoid the same fate, and his appearance at tonight's Tea Party Express event could turn a love fest into a shouting match.

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