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The claim that railroads built the West is now being re-examined by contemporary historians, and the claim that high-speed rail will solve the state's future transportation needs is also being questioned. Why is the first leg from Fresno to Bakersfield? Have the costs been underestimated and ridership wildly exaggerated? With construction scheduled to start next year, is it time to put on the brakes? Also, more cuts at the LA Times, including columnist Tim Rutten, who's been there since 1972. On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, how does gridlock look from outside the Beltway?

Main Topic Is High Speed Rail Too Big a Gamble for California? 18 MIN, 31 SEC

Based on plans laid in 1996, California voters in 2008 approved almost $10 billion in bonds to begin building a bullet-train system to connect the state's major cities. The ballot argument promised hundreds of thousands of jobs, a billion in annual profit and no need for state taxpayer subsidies. The Obama Administration has come up with $3.5 billion in federal money and construction is set to begin next year on 100 miles of track between Fresno and Bakersfield. But numerous experts and agencies are saying it's time for another look before it's too late.

Lance Williams, Center for Investigative Reporting (@LanceWCIR)
Jeff Barker, California High Speed Rail Authority
Richard Tolmach, California Rail Foundation

Reporter's Notebook More Layoffs at the LA Times 7 MIN, 19 SEC

Since 1972, Tim Rutten has been reporter, editor and columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He's four years short of retirement and his son is about to start college. Yesterday, he was told, he's being laid off. He will be missed.

Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Daily News

Main Topic How Is America Reacting to the Debt Ceiling Drama? 26 MIN, 42 SEC

Nobody knows what the first default in US government history might look like, and it might take until midnight Tuesday before the world knows whether it's going to happen.  The House and the Senate are still going in different directions. They look like they're working hard, but it doesn't appear they can resolve the debt-ceiling issue before the weekend. Informal surveys of ordinary Americans are getting responses like "shameful," lunacy," "clowns" and "embarrassment." How does it look in various parts of the country?

Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times
David Yepsen, journalist (@DavidYepsen)
Wayne Bennett, TheFieldNegro.com (@fieldnegro)
Bruce Cain, University of California Washington Center
Scott Huffmon, Winthrop University (@winthroppoll)
Wayne Slater, journalist and author (@WayneSlater)

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