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Russia

Moscow's New 'Silent' Subway Won't Disturb Underground Bolshoi Theater

Moscow is trying to get people out of their cars, with expanded connections and swanky new subway cars. The project also includes special anti-vibration tracks and tunnels designed to protect the Bolshoi Theater’s brand new underground concert call.

A Moscow subway station
A Moscow subway station

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES



MOSCOW – The Russian capital is as famous for its maddening traffic as for its world-class ballet and borscht. Hoping to ease the congestion, Moscow is set to spend a record 2.2 trillion rubles, ($70 billion) to update the metropolitan area's transport system. That is more then twice the amount spent for any single municipal program in Moscow in the past five years.

The lion's share of the money is going to be spent on new roads, including improvements in Moscow's connections to other regional cities, and the development of the municipal subway system. By 2016, the city expects to have built 474 kilometers of new roads and 85.6 kilometers of new metro lines.

Although the city is planning to expand the roads for private cars, the real hope is that improvements in the public transportation system will entice commuters to leave their cars at home. To make public transport more attractive, the city is making the buses, trams and trolley-buses more comfortable, and replacing 2,373 subway cars and 119 escalators at subway stations.

As part of the improvements in the metro system, Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has also promised to install special anti-vibration tracks and tunnels in the area surrounding the Bolshoi Theater. Home to the famous Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera, the theater has been closed for reconstruction since 2005, with the much anticipated reopening set for next month. Part of the reconstruction was a new 330-seat concert hall located underground, less than 30 meters from the closest subway station, and officials consider these special anti-vibration measures necessary to protect the acoustics of the new hall.

In addition to the public transport changes, the city will add 15,000 taxis to the current fleet of 10,000. Getting a cab will also become easier: Passengers will be able to order a cab by sending an SMS, and the wait time is expected to drop from 30 to 15 minutes.

Read more in Russian here and here.

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*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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