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VIDEO World’s Longest and Deepest Rail Tunnel Opens in Switzerland

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VIDEO World's Longest and Deepest Rail Tunnel Opens in Switzerland

Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first imagined it in 1947: a massive tunnel, unprecedented in length, buried a mile and a half under Switzerland’s symbolic Gotthard mountain range.

Nearly seven decades later, after redesigns, political disagreements and the long, slow work of drilling beneath the Gotthard massif, as it’s called, Gruner’s dream is complete.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel — a record-setting 35.4 miles long, and farther below ground than any other tunnel — was inaugurated Wednesday. The occasion was marked with a celebration that promoted “Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability,” as the tunnel’s website puts it.

The $12 billion project was completed on time, The Associated Press notes.

The 35.4-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world's longest railway tunnel. Dancers performed at Wednesday's opening ceremony.

The 35.4-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world’s longest railway tunnel. Dancers performed at Wednesday’s opening ceremony. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The most eye-catching part of Wednesday’s ceremony was an extended modern dance sequence — featuring stony-faced dancers dressed in orange construction gear and boots, dancing on and around a flatcar.

Another sequence featured dancers in white briefs and one figure with wings and an oversize head, while yet another sequence had people covered in suits resembling a cross between a pompom and a hay bale.

The spectacle represents the mythical significance of the Gotthard massif to the Swiss (more on that below), and the achievement of the new tunnel, according to swissinfo.ch. There was another dance performance outside, after a ceremonial train trip through the tunnel, which you can watch for yourself courtesy of Ruptly TV:

The inauguration of the tunnel also featured alphorns, an interfaith blessing of the tunnel and a tunnel theme song. Leaders from across the EU — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, according to the AP — were in attendance.

This weekend, tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in a public festival with events on either side of the tunnel — and, of course, the option to ride the train beneath the mountain range.

Artists perform in Erstfeld, Switzerland, on Wednesday at the opening of the Gotthard rail tunnel. The show was directed by German director Volker Hesse.

Artists perform in Erstfeld, Switzerland, on Wednesday at the opening of the Gotthard rail tunnel. The show was directed by German director Volker Hesse. Peter Klaunzer/AFP/Getty Images

When it opens for commercial service in December, the tunnel will remove thousands of polluting trucks from roads through pristine Alpine landscapes, as NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley has previously reported. The high-speed rail running through the tunnel will make the train trip between Zurich and Milan about 45 minutes shorter, cutting it to 2 1/2 hours.

From first blast to opening celebration, the tunnel took 17 years to complete; nine people died in the process. “Engineers had to overcome crumbling rock and underground rivers they found along the way,” Eleanor says. “The entire Swiss nation was captivated by the project, following it every step of the way.”

The world was watching, too.

Miners celebrate beneath the Swiss Alps in 2010, after a giant drilling machine bored through to create the world's longest tunnel. After several more years of work, the train line through that tunnel is now open.

Miners celebrate beneath the Swiss Alps in 2010, after a giant drilling machine bored through to create the world’s longest tunnel. After several more years of work, the train line through that tunnel is now open. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Six years ago, when the massive boring machines met each other in the middle of the mountain range, JJ Sutherland waxed philosophical here on the Two-Way:

“There is a certain majesty in projects of grand engineering. A majesty and an ambition to reshape the very make up of the world. You can’t stand before the Hoover Dam, or transit the Panama Canal, or drive over the Golden Gate Bridge without being moved. They are sublime in their impact, symphonies of concrete and steel that just make you proud to be human.”

He noted the importance of the Gotthard crossing, writing that the conquest of that mountain range was significant in the history of Europe:

“The pass and then the original tunnel, higher up and shorter, were so important a trade route, a route of people and goods and information, that Swiss troops were concentrated there in World War II. And Swiss citizens decided the Gotthard Base Tunnel was important enough they would tax themselves to pay for it, about $1,300 each. Every man, woman and child. This is not just a project of engineers, it is a project of a people.”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

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Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Would you pay $1200 a month for a bunk bed in a shared space? Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are opting for pods in communal home with a desk, locker and personal TV

With the cost of rent continuing to rise, some Americans are taking unusual measures to find a place to sleep.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, where prices are particularly exorbitant, people have taken to renting bunk beds in communal homes.

PodShare, which provides 10 to 15 co-ed bunkbeds in six locations across California, is hoping to help solve the affordable housing crisis.

The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month.

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month. Pictured: Bunkbeds at a PodShare location

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Every ‘pod’ comes with a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV. Pictured: A resident at one of the PodShare locations

It’s no secret that housing prices have rapidly spiked over the last decade and incomes have not kept up

One 2018 study published found that only about one-third of millennials currently own homes.

This is fewer than the number of Generation Xers and baby boomers who owned homes when they were the same age.

And a study conducted by Harvard University this year found that one-in-three Americans can’t afford to pay rent.

It’s unsurprising considering that, in cities such as San Francisco, the average rent for an apartment is about $3,900.

But for $1,200, if you rent with PodShare everyone gets a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV.

Each location also provides a communal living room, food such as cereal, toiletries such as toilet paper, laundry machines and WiFi access, reported CNN.

Tenants are known as ‘pod-estrians’.

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Additionally, each location has a communal living room, a kitchen (pictured), laundry machines and WiFi access. Pictured: One of the kitchens

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

The company was founded in 2012 by 34-year-old Elvina Beck. Pictured: One of the communal workspaces

Although the set-up may seem like an adult dormitory or a hostel, the company uses the term ‘co-living’.

‘PodShare makes life more affordable because there is no security deposit or cost of furnishings and we provide flexible living,’ co-founder Elvina Beck told Vice in 2016.

‘Pod life is the future for singles which are not looking to settle down, but focus on their startups and experience something new.’

There are no curtains to close off the beds, and the only doors are to the bathroom, reported Time Out Los Angeles.

Although there’s no privacy, pod-residents are willing to exchange that for affordability or a reduced travel time to work.

Beck, 34, told CNN that she founded the company in 2012 because she wanted to meet new people and provide housing security to others.

‘Maybe they don’t have two months’ rent to put down or they don’t have proof of income,’ she said.

‘Whether it’s from a divorce or their family kicked them out for being gay or because they’re in a different country or a different city.’

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Beck says that most of the early residents were between ages 24 and 30, and that now they are in their late 20s or early 30s. Pictured: Lockers at one PodShare location

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Hard rules that each tenant must follow include: lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex. Pictured: Bunkbeds at one PodShare location

She told CNN that, when she began PodShare, most residents were between ages 24 and 30. Today, however, most ‘tenants’ are in their late 20s or early 30s.

Additionally, many of the early residents were young adults who had just moved to a new city. But many new residents are older adults and even those traveling on business.

However, there some rules that people are required to follow. Lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex.

‘You can’t invite any friends over,’ Beck told CNN. ‘Sorry. Just make new ones here.’

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Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck

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Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck

Shocking footage of a wheelchair-bound pensioner being tied to a tree by the neck by a caretaker has sparked controversy in China.

The caretaker claimed to have no other way but to bind her frail client with a rope because she had to rush back home to deal with family emergency.

Furious onlookers demanded the caretaker free the pensioner immediately. The domestic worker defended her act by calling the incident ‘no big deal’.

The video was reportedly shot in Beijing recently, according to local news outlet Btime.com.

Related: Killer Snatched Girl, 11, Suffocated Her Then Dumped Corpse in Sewer

The pensioner appeared extremely distressed throughout the video and could not speak clearly.

One angry male passer-by accused the caretaker: ‘How would you feel if your daughter treated you like this?’

He criticised the caretaker and said she should bring the pensioner with her.

The caretaker replied: ‘[If I had] pushed her back, she would tell [on me].’

Another female bystander pointed out that the pensioner neck had turned red because of the rough treatment.

After being lambasted by eyewitnesses, the caretaker untied the pensioner and pushed her away.

Authority said the clip had been uploaded onto the social media by residents in a neighbourhood called Nanyuan on the outskirts of southern Beijing.

But they had not been able to identify the exact location of the incident or track down the individuals involved.

Police have been alerted of the video and launched an investigation, according to Beijing Evening News.

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Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

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Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

“Calming the Canines,” at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC), is a new Independence Day tradition.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

Last year, over 300 people from the community showed up at the shelter’s two locations around Phoenix, Arizona.

It was overwhelming to see how the community responded. It really helped spread our message that MCACC is here to help.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

Amy Engel, who attended Calming the Canines last year said that she definitely plans on attending this year, too.

Engel wrote about her experience last year

Some people sang to them, some people read to them, some people just sat there and gave treats! It was so, so awesome because the dogs absolutely love the attention and were focused on the people and not the fireworks going on outside.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

MCACC wrote:

Many participants developed lasting relationships with the shelter, returning to provide foster care, adopt a pet or volunteer.

The shelter suggests people to bring blankets to sit on, or folding chairs, and to let the dog or cat approach them to sit calmly and quietly.

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