World
The First Brick in the Wall between US & Mexico

President Donald Trump's administration announced a USD 600 million bidding contest late Friday night to kick off construction of The Wall, a towering physical barrier between the United States and Mexico.

 

The process will start with little walls — an unknown number of barriers of concrete and other materials that will serve as models for the bigger wall, which Trump made central to his political campaign.

 

Construction will proceed with unusual haste. Companies have just two weeks to submit proposals. Finalists will make a two-and-half hour long oral presentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which is overseeing the contest. Winners will be announced by late May.

 

Steven Schooner, a professor of government contracting at George Washington University, tweeted that the process was "extremely/uniquely complicated (and confusing)."

 

But CBP officials said the approach was designed to get the best value for the government.

 

"Through the construction of prototypes, CBP will partner with industry to identify the best means and methods to construct border wall before making a more substantial investment in construction," the agency said in a statement.

 

The bidding documents released Friday provide important clues as to what the Trump administration hopes to erect on the 1,200 miles of border with no physical barriers. Some 650 miles are already fenced.

 

The little walls are supposed to be tall. They should be "physically imposing in height" — 30 feet is preferred, though 18 feet is acceptable. However, the prototypes will be as little as 30 feet long, and cost as little as $100,000.

 

The little walls are supposed to be strong. They must be able to withstand attacks from "sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch" for at least one hour, preferably four. They should also be able to span 45 degree slopes, and block tunneling. Contractors will build prototypes of concrete — Trump's preferred material — but also other materials that will allow visibility between the two sides. Once the government has determined a model, the prototypes may be demolished.

 

Finally, the little walls are supposed to be pretty — at least on the U.S. side of the border. The agency wants the walls to be "aesthetically pleasing" so that the color and texture blends into the environment on the "north side of the wall." There is no similar language for the Mexican side of the wall.

 

In addition to the tough building conditions, the agency clearly understands another difficulty will be political: Interested builders are urged to discuss their experience in "executing high profile, high visibility and politically contentious" construction projects.

 

Immigration activists are expected to protest construction of the wall, deploying tactics learned during the long, bitter protests over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The bid calls for companies to hire their own private security contractors to protect their projects.

 

The final cost of the wall — and even whether it will be built — is a matter of debate. Trump has said he anticipates the final bill to be from $10 billion to $12 billion. The Department of Homeland Security has suggested a cost of around $21 billion. Trump's proposed budget has called for $2.6 billion to begin construction.

 

In Congress, some Republicans and many Democrats have opposed spending billions for an untested and possibly ineffectual border barrier. Trump has said he will force Mexico to pay for the wall. The Mexican government has rejected the possibility.

 

What is clear is that the Trump administration's methods will favor large, experienced government contractors with demonstrated experience in big construction projects. Companies such as KBR, Tutor Perini Corp., Parson Corp. and Fluor Corp. have all indicated an interest in building the edifice.

 

At the same time, the agency has asked bidders to explain how they will meet the agency's goals to deliver contracts to small, minority and veteran owned companies. Customs and Border Protection aims to pay 38 percent of its contract to small business, 5 percent to woman-owned firms and 3 percent to companies owned by disabled veterans.

 

In practice, the likely outcome is a few large government contractors overseeing a small army of subcontractors to build the wall.

 

More than 700 companies signed up for notifications about the building the wall, including more than 140 minority-owned firms — about 20 percent of the total. It is unclear how many of the firms possess the necessary experience and ability to participate in the bid.

 

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COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

2 days ago

I feel if we too can create such barriers on our borders much of the present infiltration,smuggling, cross border terrorism etc. can be averted. The cost for such a construction in our case will be prohibitive.

Global Warming—Really?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
 
If our planet were really warming, we, in the medical profession, will need to worry as there might be exponential growth of vascular disease. In theory, many other calamities could occur, including some of the island nations getting submerged.
 
I was in London during the early 1970s, for some time. The fear, then, was of global cooling. The media was agog with predictions of global cooling and of an impending ice age! The trigger was a long winter then, which got extended by a month, and sleet covered the ground in Europe, leading to absence of any plant growth. The Al Gores and Rajendra Pachauris were not in the picture then. The spring vegetation did not come up.  Thank God! Public memory is short. Suddenly, in the past 10-odd years, there is a hue and cry about global warming and the powers that be in the US have been granting huge grants for so-called research. Scientifically, future predictions never come right in this non-linear world, as we use linear mathematics to calculate weather forecasts.
 
If you go back and look at the temperature charts, the earth was much warmer than it is now, several times in the past. But, each time, it cooled down gradually. This period could also be one of such rise in temperature. There were troughs also predicting the ice age that got corrected. The question still remains whether humans can really warm or cool the globe. The earth is too big for us to have the power to drastically change its climate. But there are many more manmade disasters that could annihilate mankind on this planet about which we do not make much fuss. One example comes to mind immediately. We have chemically poisoned all our rivers, thanks to the money-making industries discharging their deadly chemical effluents into our rivers, making drinking water a problem for mankind. In fact, if there is a Third World War in the future, it could be over water. Burning of fossil fuels by the transport industry is ever increasing; but, again, vested interests prevent any research in that area. 
 
To cap it all, the health-scare industry which, in effect, is only a sickness-care industry, uses deadly chemicals alien to the human body to treat diseases that are never cured by chemicals anyway. Chemicals in cosmetics and agriculture have reached a record high. A recent study of cord blood in new-born babies was found to have nearly 278 deadly chemicals from these sources. The worst calamity that is waiting to explode, much more dangerous than the supposed global warming, is the adverse drug reaction (ADR) epidemic. It has been called a weapon of mass destruction. ADR is an injury caused by taking a medication. Cancer chemotherapy is a trillion-dollar business. The chemical drug business, where they can hike the prices sky-high at will, is another zillion-dollar business. 
 
ADR supposedly kills millions all over the world. One audit in the US showed it as the 10th leading cause of death there; another showed it as one of the top five; but  a recent survey showed ADR to be top of the list. While global warming makes daily headlines in the mainline media, I have yet to see the media highlighting ADR.
 
This has another fallout. While all reductionist chemicals are rejected by the human system, they are sent to the liver for destruction in that chemical factory. If one were to carefully watch the liver’s functioning after a chemical medicine is consumed, one would see a flurry of activity there as it tries to destroy the drugs. 
 
A new epidemic has raised its ugly head lately, called the non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver that is killing people. The pharma industry loves this new syndrome, as it is a money-spinner through liver transplants. Drug-related deaths are only statistics for the industry. The ADR syndrome alone nets more than 70 billion dollars a year for the drug industry.
 
“The fastest way to dumb down the population is to scare them.”  —  Anon

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COMMENTS

Carbon Fraud

4 days ago

AGW is nothing but FRAUD only the mentally challenged believe in.

A simple greenhouse test:

- 20x20x8' greenhouse has 3,200 cubic feet
- The amount of CO2 is 1.28 cubic feet
- Does any grown sane adult honestly believe adding or removing 1 cubic foot of CO2 from the greenhouse is going to magically change the temperature by 2C?

If this was true why would anyone need to pay for energy to heat their house? All they would need to do is put a clear bubble on their roof and fill it with 100% CO2.

- The amount of CO2 increase since 1960 is equal to 7x7x7" in the greenhouse. Does anyone think this makes a difference?

- The fact is 224 cubic feet of CO2 is required to make the greenhouse temperature rise by 1C, about 70,000 PPM.

MSM and governments are scam artists, brainwashing the ignorant masses with fairy tales while they are taxed into oblivion.

REPLY

Ian R Orchard

In Reply to Carbon Fraud 4 days ago

Whoops, you forgot to include all the water vapour that is the primary greenhouse gas that keeps Earth from being a frozen snowball. Contrary to the popular belief, we are slightly outside the so-called Goldilocks zone where water is a liquid. Without the traces of CO2, CH4 & other GHGs Earth would be uninhabitable. We've known about that since the 1800's.

Jack Bushong Jr.

5 days ago

I'm a retired meteorologist of 27 years. I've been watching and studying global warming since I got serious about it when the 1998 El Niño brought the temperatures of the Earth to a record high. I was a sceptic turned believer then and with a few doubts here and there, I now believe the Earth slowed its warming since then due to more La Ninas than El Niño's. Then 5 years ago the Earth showed the hottest temperatures despite a La Niña. We are now going into a 15 to 20nyear period of More El Niño's and the temperatures are now rising like a bat out of heck. We had a record high in 2014 until 2015 broke that record, then by a huge margin 2016 broke that record.

Most of the CO2 is being produced in the northern hemisphere. It took a while but while Antarctica was staying about the same temperatures, it is now warming with re ord low ice during its Summer.

With the coming period of El Niño's again I can still see the Earth temperatures rising sharply for the years to come now.

No the Earth is not too big for us to change the Climate. We could do it in a matter of minutes in an all out nuclear war of humanity's 16,000 nuclear bombs going off at once. Don't kid yourself.

REPLY

Thiagarajan Sundaravadivelu

In Reply to Jack Bushong Jr. 4 days ago

Well said. For Dr.Hegde everything is a conspiracy.

Ian R Orchard

5 days ago

The panic over global cooling back in the 70's was entirely due to crap journalism, with no scientific backing at all, yes we are headed toward another ice age...in 10,000 years or so. Don't hold your breath.
And it is nonsense to suggest the planet is too big for humans to change it, we were doing that very successfully about the time we came out of the last ice age and there is evidence of our affect on the climate all over the place. Of course, you have to look out for it, appreciate what you are seeing, like melting ice, shifting seasons, rising sea levels, prolonged droughts, hotter heatwaves, heavier rainfall & floods. Even the cold snaps and snow dumps have an element of climate change in their explanation.

Is Blockchain the Future of Digital Transactions?
In October 2016, ICICI Bank successfully executed transactions in international trade finance and remittance using blockchain technology, in partnership with Emirates NBD from the Middle East. This was the first transaction using blockchain in India. This allowed all the parties—an importer, the bank from Mumbai, the exporter and Emirates NBD from Dubai—to track and authenticate ownership of assets digitally and execute the trade finance transaction in real time. The entire transaction was completed in a few minutes using blockchain technology, as against a few days under normal circumstances. So, what exactly is blockchain technology?   
 
Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between parties efficiently, in minutes. Blockchain also has the potential to eliminate error and detect fraud by providing a decentralised digital repository to check and authenticate the veracity of the transacting parties.  
 
Another aspect of blockchain is that it allows us to move towards ‘trust less’ from ‘trusted’. Let me explain. As mentioned above, blockchain, a type of distributed ledger system, when sufficiently secured, makes it impossible for a single party, or group of parties, to reverse transactions, once recorded on the database. This eliminates the need for trusted intermediaries to authenticate and settle transactions. Contracts or records, stored on blockchain, or authentic digital ledgers, eliminate the need for a central intermediary to provide trust in the system. This is important for increasing transparency while providing ease of compliance and reporting. No wonder, legislators, regulators and governments are realising the potential for distributed ledgers through technologies like blockchain. 
 
There are certain challenges though, including security and privacy of data stored on public blockchain and permitted ledgers, as well as regulation and legal framework. In the US, the state of Vermont is taking initial steps to recognise blockchain contracts in its courts. There is a long way to go before legal and administrative hurdles across the world can be overcome. 
 
Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. No wonder, this was used in creating the Bitcoin phenomenon. Bitcoin, as we know, is virtual currency and not permitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) due to several issues.  
 
R Gandhi, deputy governor of RBI, while speaking at the FinTech Conference 2017, rightly pointed out the issues and risks associated with virtual currencies. He said, “Blockchain, the foundation for Bitcoins-like innovations, is touted to be the death knell of currency. I believe its potential is being overstated. We can see that in these types of solutions for virtual currency, there is no central bank or monetary authority. They pose potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security-related risks. Virtual currencies, being in digital form, are stored in digital and electronic media; (they) are prone to losses arising out of hacking, loss of password, compromise of access credentials, and malware attack. Payments by virtual currencies are on a peer-to-peer basis. No established framework for recourse to customer problems, disputes and chargebacks is feasible. There is no underlying or backing of any asset for virtual currencies. Value seems to be a matter of speculation. Legal status is definitely not there.” 
 
Virtual currency, like Bitcoin, was just one of the innovations based on the blockchain technology. Hence it would be better that we do not mix virtual currencies (application) with blockchain (the technology). 
 
 Over the years, disruptive technologies have shown the capability to transform, wipe out, develop, shrink and turn upside down all the players from markets. With a bigger push for digital economy, innovative technology like blockchain can certainly offer better solutions for transactions in a transparent, effective and time-bound manner. But it will need not just push but also legal and regulatory framework to make the use of blockchain successful and productive.

User

COMMENTS

Aravind

4 days ago

Some of the disadvantages projected out does not exist , for one it is a distributed ledger so if lost can be rebuilt from the duplicate one and hacking will be a momentous task as you have to hack into lot of ledgers with the transaction. Assuming if it gets implemented world wide no one can hide any asset from anyone.

Mahesh S Bhatt

4 days ago

2 challenges with BITCOIN who Regulates? Who accounts? they say people account but where is the Master Ledger?Also what's the hedge?

Too many unanswered questions another Technology scammy bubble already done?? Mahesh Bhatt

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