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The biggest public works project in California history might begin next year. Then again, it might not. Central Valley farmers are already in court challenging the first leg of the bullet train from LA to San Francisco. Polls show voters who approved it four years ago are against it now. But last week the legislature agreed to allocate $8 billion in state and federal funds for a project expected to total $68 billion. Where will the rest of the money come from? Will cities, counties and private land owners ever agree on which routes the track should follow? On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, is America ready for unmanned drones?

Banner image: Artist's rendering of one of the the high speed trains, courtesy of the California High Speed Rail Authority

Main Topic Will California Really Get High Speed Rail? 26 MIN, 53 SEC

The state legislature has given Governor Brown and President Obama a victory by approving $4.7 billion in bonds to begin building a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. That sewed up an additional $3.3 billion in federal money. But the total project will cost at least $68 billion and take decades to finish — if the rest of the money can ever be found.

Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times (@RVartabedian)
Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors (@SCCgov)
Lee Ann Eager, Fresno County Economic Development Corporation (@fresnocountyedc)
Anja Raudabaugh, Madera County Farm Bureau
David Herd, Buro Happold

Main Topic Is America Ready for Unmanned Drones? 25 MIN, 18 SEC

Image-for-WWLA.jpgUnmanned drones include Predators and Reapers able to carry missiles and 500-pound bombs. The new Switchblade weighs six pounds all by itself, fits into a soldier's rucksack, and can take out a rooftop sniper without destroying the building he stands on.  Drones small enough to fly inside buildings will be available soon. Congress has ordered the FAA to develop new rules for the use of drones for civilian purposes inside the United States, anticipating that some 30,000 drones of all sizes will be using American airspace before 2020. In the meantime, the $6 billion drone industry has developed a voluntary Code of Conduct. What are the civilian applications?  What are the risks?  Can rules be developed quickly enough to keep up with a spreading technology?

William Hennigan, Los Angeles Times / Chicago Tribune (@wjhenn)
Peter W. Singer, Brookings Institution (@peterwsinger)
Catherine Crump, American Civil Liberties Union (@CatherineNCrump)
Steve Gitlin, AeroVironment (@aerovironment)

Wired for War

P. W. Singer

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