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Qatar accuses the boycotting countries of putting the Gulf Cooperation Council at risk

September 1, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

On Thursday, Mohamed Ben Abdul Rahman Al-Thani, the Qatari Foreign Minister, accused the countries that are boycotting his country of putting the Gulf Cooperation Council at risk by “violating the basic principles of the council, and directly resorting to attacking a nation member instead of opting for conflict resolution measures”. This statement was made during a conference in the European parliament headquarters in Brussels, as an answer to a question about the repercussions of the Gulf crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Qatari minister said “the Gulf Cooperation Council is an important entity, and its most important pillar is the security of the Gulf. Doha has been adhering to the principles of the Council. However, these countries (boycotting countries), […]

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Come Melania’s-Heels-Or-High-Water, ‘Stupid News’ Rules The Media

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by David Weisberg via TheHill.com,

Tropical Storm Harvey has by now flooded the Houston area with over four feet of rain, causing the deaths of more than 30 people, forcing more than 30,000 residents to flee their homes, and destroying property worth many tens of billions of dollars.

Given the biblical proportions of the deluge, one would think that journalists would be hard-pressed to choose among an over-abundance of gripping and newsworthy stories.

The New York Times and the Washington Post, two pillars of the journalistic establishment, have both identified one such story: the height of Melania Trump’s heels.

I am not making this up; I couldn’t if I tried.

Both newspapers recently featured stories focusing on the height of the heels the first lady was wearing when she boarded a helicopter to take her and the president to Air Force One, which would then fly them from Washington to Texas.

“Melania Trump’s stilettos aren’t insensitive — but using shoes to sow discord is” https://t.co/hs5kMdFobz pic.twitter.com/wnzLCp3nXY

— The Hill (@thehill) August 31, 2017

When she exited the plane in Texas, Trump was wearing sneakers, but that fact apparently did not diminish the newsworthiness — at least in the minds of the reporters and editors of those two august newspapers — of the heels she had worn earlier that day.

We’ve encountered the phrase “fake news” quite often over the last year. There was, however, nothing fake about the stories that were published in the New York Times and the Washington Post: Trump was in fact wearing high heels. In that sense, the stories were genuine rather than fake.

So, perhaps we need a new phrase. I would suggest “stupid news,” meaning that, even if the story is factually accurate, you would have to be stupid to think it was worth reporting.

Just what is going on here?

So-called mainstream news outlets are so determined to damage the image and reputation of the president and anyone associated with him that they will publish anything – literally anything – that, in the minds of their news and editorial leaders, might help to achieve that end.

Even the pretense of fairness or objectivity has been abandoned; if a story might possibly damage President Trump, it will be published. “All the news that’s fit to print, including the stupid news.”

Who exactly is the media serving with these stories? Whose interests are being served other than their own?

In 1981, when then-Pres. Ronald Reagan was wheeled into the operating room after being shot by John Hinckley, he said to the surgeons, “Please tell me you’re Republicans.”

It was light-hearted and humorous because the people he was addressing were all doctors, and everyone knows that doctors take an oath to do their utmost to heal every patient, regardless of their personal feelings toward the patient.

Melania Trump’s office: It’s sad that people are worried about her shoes during a natural disaster https://t.co/II7zVZeJtK pic.twitter.com/97GIKSQOTM

— The Hill (@thehill) August 30, 2017

In fact, those lines of work that we think of as “professions” typically require that practitioners must put the interests of the people they serve above their own interests.

Fledgling doctors and lawyers, at the beginning of their careers, pledge to put the interests of their patients and clients ahead of their own. Of course, those pledges are not always fulfilled as they should be, but professionals are subject to disciplinary measures when they transgress.

Journalists and journalistic institutions are supposed to serve the interests of the people who consume their stories. Journalists don’t take any oath, but their readers expect them to use their best judgment in choosing the stories they write and the content they include. The editorial and opinion pages, as we all know, are different beasts. The news stories, however, are supposed to reflect what a competent and (dare I say?) professional journalist has learned about an important issue of the day.

There were plenty of stories in the Times and the Washington Post that focused on important aspects of Harvey and also on other major news items. Not everything in those publications is “stupid news.” But some of the stories are just that.

Sometimes little things say a lot. Stories about Melania Trump’s heels, published in the middle of a catastrophic event of almost unimaginable proportions, reveal much more about the media than they do about Mrs. Trump or the Trump administration.

They reveal with startling clarity that certain journalistic institutions are hell-bent on damaging the current administration in any way they possibly can.

And they reveal, in addition, that those institutions have abandoned the practice journalism as a profession; to them, journalism is just a job. They’re not committed to delivering high-quality stories to their readers, because that is what their readers expect and deserve.

Rather, they’re committed to publishing anything that they think will damage the president and his administration, because they just don’t like this president.

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4 Reasons Why “Gold Has Entered A New Bull Market” – Schroders

September 1, 2017 GoldCore 0

– 4 reasons why “gold has entered a new bull market” – Schroders
– Market complacency is key to gold bull market say Schroders
– Investors are currently pricing in the most benign risk environment in history as seen in the VIX
– History shows gold has the potential to perform very well in periods of stock market weakness (see chart)
– You should buy insurance when insurers don’t believe that the “risk event” will happen
– Very high Chinese gold demand, negative global interest rates and a weak dollar should push gold higher

This week gold broke through the key resistance of $1,300. For some time market commentators have been signalling this level as the point of entry for a new bull market.

Often price can be distracting when it comes to trying to figure out what is going on. Two Schroders fund managers called the new bull market in gold about a week before the price broke through the key level.

Gold has entered into a new bull market. As we have discussed previously, there are four main reasons for our stance:

  1. Global interest rates need to stay negative
  2. Broad equity valuations are extremely high and complacency stalks financial markets
  3. The dollar might be entering a bear market
  4. Chinese demand for gold has the potential to surge (indeed, investment demand in China for bar and coin already increased over 30% in the first quarter of 2017, according to the World Gold Council)

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Russia Responds: “The US Has Declared The Hot Phase Of Diplomatic War”

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Just minutes after Russia was given 2 days to implement today’s decision by the State Department, shuttering Russia’s consulate in San Francisco, California and two diplomatic annexes in Washington, DC and New York City, in “the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians”, the Russian responses started coming in, and they were not happy. 

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was first on the tape, saying he  “expressed regret about the escalation of tensions in bilateral ties”, noting “it wasn’t Russia that started the escalation.”

Lavrov told Tillerson that Moscow would “closely study” the new US measures and would inform Washington of its reaction in due course. Ironically, earlier in the day the US said that it “is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted,”even as the State Department prompt tweeted that the “US hopes to avoid further retaliation & move forward with improved relations & cooperation with #Russia

US hopes to avoid further retaliation & move forward with improved relations & cooperation with #Russia https://t.co/M3frokDACn

— Department of State (@StateDept) August 31, 2017

To be sure, former US ambassador to Moscow and vocal Putin critic, Michael McFaul, was skeptical:

Let’s see. https://t.co/zkIWW51zdF

— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 31, 2017

And judging by the immediate outpouring Russian reactions, he has every right to be. According to AP, the newly arrived Russian ambassador to the US invoked Vladimir Lenin in saying Moscow will carefully consider its response to the latest US diplomatic escalation: Anatoly Antonov flew into Washington on Thursday, hours after the State Department’s announcement of the closure.

Russian news agencies quoted him as saying: “We have to act calmly and professionally. Speaking like Lenin, we don’t need hysterical impulses,” citing a Lenin maxim.

But the heavy artillery was as usual relegated to domestic Russian politicians:  Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Duma’s foreign affairs committee, accused the U.S. of a sharp escalation in diplomatic tensions.

Slutsky, one of the top Russian diplomats, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying, “It’s a highly unjust step. It means that the U.S. is declaring the hot phase of diplomatic war.”


Leonid Slutsky

Cited by AP, he also said that closing institutions abroad is more serious than the U.S. decision last year to expel 35 Russian diplomats and close two estates used by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Other takes on the latest diplomatic spat were just as skeptical. Former US diplomat Jim Jatras said that while President Trump says he wants better relations with Russia, he recently qualified that with “some day” and “eventually.”

For a lot of people in Washington, having bad relations with Russia is an end in itself, it’s not a means to an end. And they are calling the shots, not President Trump,” Jatras said. “If there is anybody in his administration who wants to improve ties with Russia, it is him – but as far as I can tell, he’s about the only one.”

“This is all part of an escalation of tensions between the US and Russia which, I am sad to say, the US initiated,” Dan Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, told RT. “Just when there appeared to be a welcome breakthrough between the US and Russia at the G-20 Summit, the US Congress reacted to the possibility of a détente by immediately and overwhelmingly acting to impose a new round of sanctions against Russia aimed at Russia’s natural gas trade in Europe,” Kovalik said.

The sanctions were adopted with veto-proof majorities, so President Donald Trump had to sign them into law at the beginning of August.

“It appears that there is strong, bipartisan opposition in the US to a peaceful relationship with Russia, and this opposition is putting the entire world at risk of more war and conflagration,” Kovalik said. “It is high time the US pull back from such provocations of Russia and find a way to work with Russia as a friend and partner, just as Russia has wanted for many years.”

“This tit-for-tat will mean eventual catastrophe for everyone on earth, unless we finally get some sanity in US leadership, to pull back from the brink,” said Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at New York University. “Judging from the warlike posture of both parties and the US media, it’s hard to see where such restraint will come from; and yet those of us who see the danger must do all we can to warn against it.”

Finally, retired FBI agent Coleen Rowley told RT that US foreign policy sometimes looks as if five-year-olds were in charge of it. “This childish tit-for-tat game will not end well unless there’s a grown-up in the room who can put an end to it.”

So far the only grown ups in the room are intent on further escalating said “game.”

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August Payrolls Preview: Prepare For Disappointment

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

If there is one common theme across sellside previews of tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls number, expected at 180K after a surprising jump to 209K in July, it is to brace for disappointment, or in Wall Street parlance, “downside risks.” And it’s not because of Harvey which hit the US far too late in the month to be reflected in the monthly payrolls.

The simplest reason for tomorrow’s miss is shown in the following Morgan Stanley chart, which predicted the July 209K print with dead-on precision, and which extrapolates the recent Y/Y slowdown in job growth to only 136K jobs in August (which, in the current “bad news is good news” environment, should be sufficient to send stocks to new all time highs as it will mean an even greater delay by the Fed).

In addition to the base effect, there are several other notable reasons why tomorrow’s job report will likely be a dud, among which i) the recent slowdown in both the manufacturing ISM and today’s Chicago PMI prints; ii) construction job growth is expected to hit a brick wall, while mining and energy job creation has once again slowed down as shale appears to have peaked; iii) last month’s unexpectedly strong print was largy due to a one-time surge in leisure and hospitality jobs which is not expected to persist…

… and finally August payrolls have historically been the softest of any other month in the year.

The good news is that even if the payrolls number is a major disappointment, Wall Street – and the Fed – will be far more interested in the average hourly earning number, although here too the risk is for disappointment, as today’s Personal Income and Spending report showed, specifically the ongoing slowdown in both private and and government worker wages, both now below last month’s 2.5% Y/Y increase in AHE according to the BLS.

But the best news, for stocks at least, is that while a good payrolls and wages number will send stocks higher, while Treasurys selloff, on “confirmation” of the Fed’s tightening bias, a miss for both categories will supercharge risk gains, and everything – bonds, stocks, gold and of course bitcoin will be bought aggressively, as another slowdown in the economy will be interpreted as a Fed which is again indefinitely on the sidelines.

With that said, here is a complete preview of what to expet as well as a full rundown of sellside expectations, courtesy of RanSquawk

US NON-FARM PAYROLLS (AUGUST 2017) PREVIEW

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release August nonfarm payrolls data at 1330BST (0830EDT) on 1 September 2017
  • The consensus expects headline payroll growth of 180k in August, in line with the 12-month average.
  • Given that U.S. growth has firmed and headline payrolls has been solid, inflation (specifically wage growth) has been the missing key for the Fed; accordingly most attention will likely fall on the average hourly earnings data which is seen rising slightly
  • Note: The impact from Hurricane Harvey will not be reflected in the August payroll data.

ANALYST FORECASTS:

  • Non-farm Payrolls: 180k (144k – 211k, Prev. 209k)
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (4.2% – 4.5%, Prev. 4.3%)
  • Average Earnings Y/Y: 2.6% (2.5% – 2.7%, Prev. 2.5%)
  • Average Earnings M/M: 0.2% (0.1% – 0.3%, Prev. 0.3%)
  • Average Workweek Hours: 34.5hrs (34.4 – 34.5hrs, Prev. 34.5hrs)
  • Private Payrolls: 179k (140k – 200k, Prev. 205k)
  • Manufacturing Payrolls: 9k (3k – 5k, Prev. 16k)
  • Government Payrolls: No forecasts (Prev. 4k)
  • U6 Unemployment Rate: No forecasts (Prev. 8.6%)
  • Labour Force Participation: No forecasts (Prev. 62.9%)

BANK AUGUST PAYROLL ESTIMATES:

  • Commerzbank: 160K
  • Goldman: 160K
  • Citi: 170K
  • RBC: 175K
  • HSBC: 180K
  • Wells: 186K
  • UBS: 190K
  • Barclays: 200K
  • Cap Econ: 200K

Trend: Headline non-farm payrolls have averaged 184k in the first seven months of 2017, a touch lower than 187k average in 2017. But the trend rate of payroll growth has ticked up in recent months; on a three-month rolling average basis, payroll growth averaged 195k in July, the strongest rate since February (201k on a rolling three-month average), and above the 180k 12-month rolling average.

Seasonal patterns: Historically, August’s official payrolls data has tended to be weak due to measurement issues, but is often revised higher in subsequent months.

Wages: Data has painted a picture of a healthy labour market, as of late, with the rate of job growth plodding along nicely. In its July statement, the FOMC noted that the labour market has “continued to strengthen” and “conditions will strengthen somewhat further” in the months ahead. But with that said, the FOMC has stated that “market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low”.

Given that the headline payroll growth has been solid, the latest round of US GDP data (for Q2) surprised to the upside, and personal consumption, real personal consumption and personal income data also surprised to the upside (July data), PCE inflation (fell to 1.4% Y/Y in July, hitting the lowest since late 2015) and general wage growth has been the missing piece of the puzzle for the Fed. Accordingly, attention will firmly be on the wages components.

Some, therefore, have argued that this month’s data may be less important for the monetary outlook given the better tone of data leave some room for a headline miss, as well as seasonal issues affecting the August data.

In August, the rate of average hourly earnings growth is expected to come in line with the lacklustre pace that we have been accustomed to, as of late. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have also noted that calendar effects may play a role this month, and forecasts a below-consensus 0.1% M/M, explaining that “early payroll survey weeks are historically associated with weaker average hourly earnings growth. These effects may have to do with the intra-month timing of wage payments, which US Treasury Statement data suggest are elevated around the 1st and 15th of each month.”

The bank adds that “pay periods that are relatively early may miss some of the later payments. In months when the Saturday of the reference week falls on the 12th of the month—as is the case in August 2017—average hourly earnings growth tends to be particularly weak.” It is worth noting that August 2017 also had three additional workdays relative to July, which Goldman

LABOUR MARKET INDICATORS

ADP: ADP Reported the addition of 237k payrolls in August July’s data was revised up by 23k to 201k, with the headline coming in at the top-end of expectations. Moody’s chief economist, who helps compile the data, noted that the US labour market continues to power ahead, and job creation was strong across nearly all industries and company sizes, adding “mounting labour shortages are set to get much worse” in the months ahead. However, as always, analysts cautioned about reading too much into the data: ING suggested taking this data with a pinch of salt, pointing out that the model heavily relies on lagged values of the official jobs data, and to a certain degree, other economic indicators, and “this mean’s ADP’s estimate isn’t always that accurate when it comes to predicting the closely-watched payrolls number.”

CHALLENGER JOB CUTS: US employers signalled their intentions to cut 33,825 jobs from their payrolls in August, according to Challenger Grey and Christmas, representing a 19.4% rise M/M, and a 5% rise Y/Y. Analysts pointed out that this was the first M/M rise in intended job cuts since March, although some quickly noted that the rate in the first eight months of the year is around 26% lower when compared to the same period in 2017. “Although job cuts have risen this month, they continue to be significantly lower compared to the same time last year,” Challenger commented.

WEEKLY CLAIMS: The most recent initial jobless claims data shows claims at 236.75k on a four-week moving average basis, slightly lower than the 242k rate heading into July’s payrolls data. In their analysis, analysts were far more focussed on the weeks ahead, and many argued that claims will rise significantly over the coming weeks due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey. There is uncertainty about the degree to which they will rise, but analysts at Pantheon Macroeconomics note that claims jumped by 96k after Katrina.

WHAT BANK DESKS ARE SAYING:

BARCLAYS: We forecast nonfarm payrolls to rise by 200k in the August employment report and for private sector payrolls to rise by 190k. The labor force participation rate has moved higher by two-tenths in recent months to 62.9% and has yet to move above 63.0% since March 2014. As a result, we look for solid employment and lack of further near-term upward momentum in participation to lead to a one-tenth decline in the unemployment rate to 4.2%. Elsewhere in the report, we expect average hourly earnings to rise by 0.3% m/m (2.7% y/y) and for average weekly hours to remain at 34.5.

CAPITAL ECONOMICS: We estimate that non-farm payrolls posted another healthy gain of 200,000 in August. The latest data suggest that the recent strength of employment growth has continued in August. The employment index of the Markit manufacturing PMI is still relatively subdued, but the services index remains close to an 18-month high. Furthermore, initial jobless claims continue to trend lower. At 4.3% in July, the unemployment rate is already below Fed officials’ estimate of its natural level. Based on the surge in firms reporting difficulties filling job vacancies, we suspect the unemployment rate fell to just 4.2% in August, with further declines looking likely over the coming months. Finally, another 0.3% m/m increase in average hourly earnings would lift the annual growth rate back up to a six-month high of 2.7%.

CITI: Given continued soft inflation readings, average hourly earnings (AHE) remains the focus of the payrolls report as markets look for evidence that wage pressures are building. We expect on-consensus AHE growth of 0.2% MoM and a pickup from 2.5% to 2.6% YoY. We see risks around these prints as tilted to the downside however. A downward miss to consensus AHE would marginally reduce market pricing of a Fed hike in December. But the August CPI print, released a week ahead of the September FOMC meeting, will matter much more. Strong readings on economic activity and solid GDP tracking make payrolls growth less of a focus. After solid gains of 231k in June and 209k in July, we expect job growth to slow to below-consensus 170k. Still, a slight miss on headline payrolls is unlikely to significantly affect the market outlook given strong recent prints. Also some may dismiss a lower reading as being due to residual seasonality in August (we have had a string of low initial August readings). We expect an unchanged unemployment rate at 4.3%, with the market likely more sensitive to a downside miss.

COMMERZBANK: The US employment report for August should disappoint at first glance with payroll gains of only 160k. After all, the pace of monthly job creation has averaged 185k this year to date, which should more or less reflect the trend. However, in the past years the August report often disappointed initially, before August payroll gains were then mostly revised upwards. The reason could be that because of vacations an unusually high number of companies report their employment data too late to be included in the first release. Even a monthly gain of 160k would be sufficient to drive the unemployment rate slowly further down on trend, because at present only some 100k persons additionally enter the labour market each month. In August, however, the unemployment rate probably stood at 4.3% as in the month before (consensus: 4.3%); after all, at 4.3497% in July it came in just below the rounding limit. As for average hourly wages, which are strongly impacted by calendar effects, only a growth rate of 0.1% on July seems to be on the cards this time (consensus: 0.2%).

GOLDMAN SACHS: We estimate nonfarm payrolls increased by 160k in August, below consensus of +180k and the 3-month average pace of +195k. Our forecast reflects somewhat more mixed labor market fundamentals and a drag from residual seasonality, as first-reported August payroll growth has been consistently weak in recent years. We expect household job growth will be sufficient to leave the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.3%, but due to particularly unfavorable calendar effects, we estimate a 0.1% monthly rise in average hourly earnings (+2.5% year-over-year). While we believe payrolls and average hourly earnings are both likely to miss consensus estimates, we think the employment report may be somewhat less important than usual for the monetary policy outlook, because 1) recent data have been firm so we have some room for a miss, 2) the August seasonal issue is now well known so even a somewhat larger miss may not significantly alter the staff view, and 3) there are several months between now and December to make up for any weakness in tomorrow’s report.

HSBC: So far this year, monthly increases in nonfarm payrolls have averaged 184,000. The underlying pace of growth is probably close to this average. However, nonfarm payrolls have often surprised to the downside in August. The outcome has fallen short of consensus expectations for the past six years in a row. We look for a 180,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls. We expect that average hourly earnings rose 0.1% m-o-m, leaving the y-o-y rate of increase unchanged at 2.5%. We forecast the unemployment rate was steady at 4.3%.

RBC: On net we expect the payroll report will continue to show very respectable job gains – we look for headline and private jobs to come in at 175k and 160k, respectively. Importantly as it relates to the Fed, these numbers are well above the Fed’s expectations of breakeven – a point that seems to be lost on the market when we get even a modestly below Street consensus outcome (which as of this writing is where our numbers stand). We expect the unemployment rate will hold at the cycle low of 4.3%.

UBS: Payrolls & private payrolls +190k, unemployment down, soft avg hrly earnings We project continued strength in payrolls in August, a consequent decline in the unemployment rate, no change in the weak path of average hourly earnings, and a flat workweek. Nonfarm payrolls probably rose 190k in August, slowing from 209k in July and 231k in June but still somewhat above their 180k 12-month average. We also forecast private payrolls up 190k. Risks from manufacturing and from spending at restaurants Risks to the payrolls estimate chiefly come from manufacturing and from hospitality employment. In non-auto manufacturing, employment had surged in July—and while we expect a pickup in output, the gain may have been overdone. In auto manufacturing, payrolls were little changed in July despite sharp output cuts. Hospitality payrolls have also been surging—reflecting restaurant hiring—and while some acceleration is corroborated by our equity-analyst colleagues, the July rise (+53k versus a 30k per month year-to-date average) may similarly have been exaggerated. All in all, though, our forecasts would be consistent with considerable momentum. Hurricane Harvey won’t affect the August figures (the payrolls survey ended too early). And we doubt that they will have much impact on September

WELLS FARGO: After a slowdown this spring, monthly hiring broke back above 200,000 jobs in June and July. We expect another solid payroll print for August. Initial jobless claims declined in recent weeks, consistent with fewer layoffs. Meanwhile, the most recent readings on job openings and difficulty filling open positions sit at cycle highs. However, the BLS has historically underestimated the initial August print more than any other month. Therefore, we suspect the payroll figures will show a more modest gain in August of 186,000 jobs. The unemployment rate likely stayed at 4.3 percent following two months of above-trend gains in the household measure of employment.

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DHS Selects 4 Contractors To Build Prototypes For Trump’s Border Wall

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The Department of Homeland Security has finally reached a decision in the long-delayed process of selecting contractors who will build prototypes of President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. The department announced Thursday that it has selected four contractors to build wall prototypes, and that construction is slated to begin this winter, according to CNN.

The announcement comes after the Government Accountability Office on Friday dismissed a complaint filed by contractors who claimed their bids had been passed over, allowing DHS to move forward after the complaints had threatened to delay the selection until November.

Customs and Border Protection’s acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello announced that the designs will be constructed along the San Diego border. Four companies will be doing the building: Caddell Construction Co (DE), LLC, of Montgomery, Alabama; Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., DBA Fisher Industries, of Tempe, Arizona; Texas Sterling Construction Co., of Houston, Texas; W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, of Philadelphia, Mississippi.  

The government made two requests when it asked for bids: Designs for a 30-foot concrete wall, and anything else. The latter design plan will be revealed next week, CBP said.

According to CNN, construction on the wall prototypes was delayed after the shunned contractors filed protests about the decision back in July. The original plan had been to start construction in June.

However, further delays could ensue if bidders who weren’t selected choose to file complaints, the CBP said.

‘CBP did note that once contracts are awarded, companies will have another opportunity to protest, which could add further delays. Nevertheless, CBP said ‘we are confident in our processes, and we will proceed deliberately, to ensure compliance with the law.’”

The new designs that were selected will be added to the CBP’s “menu” of options for the wall.

“The prototypes will ‘help us create a ‘design standard’ for operational walls,’ CBP said. ‘The new designs would be added to our menu of existing designs, and allow us to tailor a specific wall design to the unique demands of individual areas of the border.’”

The money for the process came from $20 million that Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to pull from other places in the budget earlier this year after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January directing the federal government to begin construction on the border wall as soon as possible.

Of course, Congress has yet to appropriate any money for construction. Trump, for his part, has vowed to veto any spending bills that reach his desk in September unless they include funding for the wall – a promise that’s been complicated by Hurricane Harvey.

Read the full release below:

* * *

WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that contracts have been awarded for concrete prototypes of the Border Wall.

The companies selected to construct concrete border wall prototypes are:

Caddell Construction Co., (DE), LLC, Montgomery, Alabama,

Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., DBA Fisher Industries, Tempe, Arizona,

Texas Sterling Construction Co., Houston, Texas, and

W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company, Philadelphia, Mississippi.

These concrete prototypes will serve two important ends. First, given their robust physical characteristics, like, reinforced concrete, between 18-30 feet high, the concrete border wall prototypes are designed to deter illegal crossings in the area in which they are constructed.

Second, the concrete border wall prototypes will allow CBP to evaluate the potential for new wall and barrier designs that could complement the wall and barrier designs we have used along the border over the last several years. As the border security environment continues to evolve, CBP will continually refresh its own inventory of tools to meet that evolution.

CBP will make a decision on the “other materials” Request for Proposal (RFP) in the next week. CBP officials will meet with the vendors and determine construction timeline, however we expect to construct the prototypes in the fall.

Issued Jan. 25, Presidential Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, states that “the [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary shall take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”

On March 17, CBP issued two Requests for Proposals to acquire conceptual wall designs with the intent to construct multiple prototypes. One RFP called for concrete wall design and the other RFP called for Other than Concrete wall design. Today, CBP announces the award of the concrete prototype contracts. Prototyping is an industry-tested approach to identify additional solutions when considering a new product or methodology. Through the construction of prototypes, CBP will partner with industry to identify the best means and methods to construct a border wall.

The prototypes will inform future design standards which will likely continue to evolve to meet the U.S. Border Patrol’s requirements. Through the prototyping process, CBP may identify new designs or influences for new designs that will expand the current border barrier toolkit that CBP could use to construct a border wall system. The border barrier toolkit is based on USBP’s requirements.

*  *  *

While no images of the selected designs have been released, we noted a number of them in April

“As Pretty as the Parthenon”


RENDERING BY CRISIS RESOLUTION SECURITY SERVICES, INC.

WHO Crisis Resolution Security Services of Clarence, Ill., a global security management firm

DESIGN CRSS says the wall is meant to evoke famous walls in history, using crenellations, parapets and buttresses, and would be “as pretty as the Parthenon.” The wall would be built on a 30-foot-high dirt berm, graded to prevent vehicles from approaching. It also would follow existing interior roads and highways, which the company says would make it easier to transport materials and to maintain, while avoiding private-property issues. It would also create a wide zone in some places between the wall and the border. Bridges and gates would allow the inhabitants of that zone to cross.

* * *

Doubling as Nuclear Waste Facility


RENDERING BY CLAYTON INDUSTRIES

WHO Clayton Industries of Pittsburgh

DESIGN Owner Christian Clayton has proposed devising a wall that would carry electricity generated from municipal, medical and nuclear waste. “The wall is just a building block,” Mr. Clayton said. “Think of the wall as big conduit.” Mr. Clayton declined to detail many specifics of his plan, which would involve plants to convert the waste into power. Spent nuclear fuel rods and other waste would be buried 100 feet deep in a buffer zone between the border and the wall.

* * *

At an Angle


RENDERING BY CHANLIN INC.

WHO Chanlin Inc., of Middle River, Minn., a steel-fabrication construction company

DESIGN Chanlin’s design for a concrete wall consists of using 10-foot-wide by 30-foot-high panels with embedded steel plates welded in a vertical position. To prevent climbing or scaling with a hook, the design would be tilted 30 degrees toward Mexico and include a smooth concrete finish with a steel cap plate. Steel bars would allow border patrol to be able to see through the fence.

* * *

Design Beyond Reach


DRAWINGS BY J.M. DESIGN STUDIO

WHO J.M. Design Studio of Pittsburgh, an all-women team of designers and artists

DESIGN In a submission meant to protest the project, J.M. Design Studio’s proposals are designed to “invite other realms of thought and consideration.” One sketch shows nearly three million hammocks, for anyone’s use, strung across the border with 30-foot trees for support. Another one has a semicontinuous wall of nearly 10 million 30-foot-tall pipe organs, with openings every 20 feet allowing for people to pass through. Jennifer Meridian, a Pittsburgh artist involved in the submissions, called the actual border wall project “preposterous for so many reasons.”

* * *

Memorial Wall


RENDERINGS BY REILLY CONSTRUCTION

WHO Reilly Construction and Croell Inc., both of Iowa

DESIGN This joint venture would use tilt-slab construction consisting of concrete with reinforced fibers that the company says would make the wall more durable and resistant to damage. The panels would be 30 feet high and 15 feet wide with a footing underground to prevent tunneling. The concrete material could be engraved, colored or etched to make it more aesthetically appealing or should there be an interest in establishing a memorial in some places.

* * *

Hadrian’s Wall


HADRIAN CONSTRUCTION

WHO Hadrian Construction Co. of Carlsbad, Calif.

DESIGN Company owner Rod Hadrian says his prefabricated product would make the wall cheaper and easier to install in remote border areas. The tridipanel wall system could be made to any thickness or color, and the diagonal pattern is meant to give the wall extra strength.

* * *

One-Way Visibility


RENDERING BY MICHAEL EVANGELISTA-YSASAGA, PENNA GROUP

WHO Penna Group of Fort Worth, Texas

DESIGN Penna Group’s proposal is for a double wire mesh fence that has a sheet of plexiglass lined with a one-way mirror allowing border patrol agents to see the Mexico side, but not the reverse. The fence would be 30 feet tall with a 6-foot footing, and both would be designed to sustain tampering by pickaxes, hammers, hand-tools, and torches for over an hour and a half. The double-lined, double-wire mesh design is often used in maximum-security prisons.

* * *

Perch


SAN DIEGO PROJECT MANAGEMENT, PSC

WHO San Diego Project Management, PSC, a full-service design-build organization

DESIGN This firm submitted a design for a wall similar to the ones used to protect medieval castles in Europe, according to the company. Most notably, the proposal includes a walkway on top called a “chemin de ronde” that allows for border agents to see Mexico through optical ports.

* * *

Camouflage


RENDERING BY CONCRETE CONTRACTORS INTERSTATE, SINGLE EAGLE INC.

WHO Single Eagle Inc. of Poway, Calif., a structural and decorative concrete specialist

DESIGN This proposal has a design option that could incorporate artistic representations of local cultures. The walls are built using a tilt-up method that is cast onsite and then put into position, making it easier to built the wall in remote areas.

* * *

Sensors


RENDERING BY DARKPULSE TECHNOLOGIES INC.

WHO DarkPulse Technologies, based in Arizona and New York

DESIGN Ballistic concrete is used, which the company says could withstand more than 12 hours of tampering. Using sensors, the wall and below-ground structure would notify border agents of the exact location of any tampering in real time. The wall would also include coating designed to prevent climbing and the use of grappling hooks.

* * *

Technology First


RENDERING BY VSCENARIO

WHO vScenario, a San Diego construction-technology company

DESIGN vScenario’s design would begin by using drones to develop a 3-D spatial model of the terrain. The proposed wall would feature cameras, volumetric microwave sensors and fiberoptics designed to detect intrusions.

* * *

Fitting In


WTC CONSTRUCTION

WHO WTC Construction

DESIGN This design aims to mimic a “rammed-Earth” construction style, which uses natural raw materials. The goal is a wall designed to look like an “extension of the surrounding landscape,” says the company. The system would include panels attached to reinforced concrete piers nested together to form a solid structure.

* * *

Mesh Fencing


RIVERDALE MILLS

WHO Riverdale Mills of Northbridge, Mass.

DESIGN A galvanized welded wire mesh called WireWall, which the company says is virtually impossible to climb or cut. The company’s fencing is in use along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, as seen above. The fencing could be up to 20 feet tall and could be installed to reach 6 feet below ground.

* * *

A Twist on Steel


HELIX STEEL

WHO Helix Steel, a unit of Pensmore Reinforcement Technologies, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Leesburg, Va.

DESIGN Helix would mix concrete with its Twisted Steel Micro Rebar, a reinforcement designed to prevent cracking. The material is now used at some residential and commercial sites.

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No Picture

Irma Turning Into Monster Hurricane: “Highest Windspeed Forecasts I’ve Ever Seen”

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Hurricane Irma continues to strengthen much faster than pretty much any computer model predicted as of yesterday or even this morning.  Per the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest update, Irma is currently a Cat-3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph but is expected to strengthen to a devastating Cat-5 with winds that could top out at 180 mph or more.  Here is the latest from the NHC as of 5PM EST:

Irma has become an impressive hurricane with intense eyewall convection surrounding a small eye.  Satellite estimates continue to rapidly rise, and the Dvorak classifications from both TAFB & SAB support an initial wind speed of 100 kt.  This is a remarkable 50-kt increase from yesterday at this time.

 

Irma continues moving west-northwestward, now at about 10 kt. There has been no change to the forecast philosophy, with the hurricane likely to turn westward and west-southwestward over the next few days due to a building ridge over the central Atlantic.  At long range, however, model guidance is not in good agreement on the strength of the ridge, resulting in some significant north-south differences in the global models.  I am inclined to stay on the southwestern side of the model guidance, given the rather consistent forecasts of the ECMWF and its ensemble.  In addition, the strongest members of the recent ensembles are on the southern side on the consensus, giving some confidence in that approach.

 

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  31/2100Z 17.3N  34.8W  100 KT 115 MPH

12H  01/0600Z 17.8N  36.2W  105 KT 120 MPH

24H  01/1800Z 18.2N  38.3W  105 KT 120 MPH

36H  02/0600Z 18.3N  40.7W  105 KT 120 MPH

48H  02/1800Z 17.9N  42.9W  105 KT 120 MPH

72H  03/1800Z 16.8N  47.5W  110 KT 125 MPH

96H  04/1800Z 16.0N  52.0W  115 KT 130 MPH

120H  05/1800Z 16.5N  56.5W  120 KT 140 MPH

As of now, Irma remains in the far eastern Atlantic ocean and is moving west at roughly 11.5 mph.  Based on current projections, the storm will make its first landfall in the eastern Caribbean sometime toward the middle of next week.

IRMA

 

Longer term computer models still vary widely but suggest that Irma will make landfall in the U.S. either in the Gulf of Mexico or Florida.  Meteorological Scientist Michael Ventrice of the Weather Channel is forecasting windspeeds of up to 180 mph, which he described as the “highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting.”

These are the highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting. #Irma is another retiree candidate. pic.twitter.com/e6nMsp1myY

— Michael Ventrice (@MJVentrice) August 31, 2017

In a separate tweet, Ventrice had the following troubling comment: “Wow, a number of ECMWF EPS members show a maximum-sustained windspeed of 180+mph for #Irma, rivaling Hurricane #Allen (1980) for record wind”

Meanwhile, the Weather Channel has the “most likely” path of Irma passing directly over Antigua, Puerto Rico and Domincan Republic toward the middle of next week.

pic.twitter.com/XTQtUur1PH Nuevo análisis del huracán #Irma por The Weather Channel

— Roberto F. Pardo A. (@robertofaridp) August 31, 2017

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No Picture

In Latest Reversal, Trump Weighs Tying Debt Limit Increase To Harvey Disaster Aid

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

This afternoon, we showed that even as stocks were pushing back to all time highs, a part of the Treasury market was turmoiling as the “debt ceiling” T-Bill spread (Sept/Oct) blew out to the widest level on record.

 

There were several possible catalysts suggested for this spike in concerns about a favorable outcome of the debt ceiling negotiation, which has to be concluded ahead of the Treasury’s X Date, now expected as early as October 1: some cited Steven Mnuchin’s interview on CNBC, in which the Treasury Secretary said that the additional spending needed to help Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey may reduce the amount of time Congress has to increase the federal debt limit; another possibility was month-end liquidity needs and relative positioning across the curve. But the most likely explanation is that earlier today the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey should not be part of a vehicle to raise the debt ceiling.

Quoted by The Hill, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump ally who leads the conservative caucus, said disaster aid should pass on its own, apart from separate measures the government must pick up in September to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and fund the government.

“The Harvey relief would pass on its own, and to use that as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate,” he said an interview with The Washington Post, signaling agreement with what Trump’s approach on the matter has been. It would “send the wrong message” to add $15 to $20 billion of spending while increasing the debt ceiling, Meadows added.

Ironically, as we showed previously, it was precisely the Harvey disaster that prompted Goldman yesterday to lower its odds for a government shutdown from 50% to 33%, on the assumption that it would make conservatives more agreeable to a compromise, when in fact precisely the opposite appears to have happened, and the new dynamic is now playing out in the market where the odds of a government shutdown have never been greater.

Well, late on Thursday the dynamic changed yet again, as Trump now appears to have changed his mind, and instead of seeking a “clean” debt ceiling increase as he did as recently as one week ago, when he adopted the Democratic Party’s (and Steven Mnuchin’s) position and bucking conservatives who traditionally demand new curbs on spending in exchange for authorizing more debt, Bloomberg reported that Trump is now weighing tying the debt limit increase to the initial $5.95 billion request in disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey.

According to Bloomberg, the White House request, which could be unveiled as soon as tomorrow, would include $5.5 billion to FEMA and the remainder to the Small Business Administration. The request is being prepared primarily to cover funding demands through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year.

Earlier in the day, Texas Republican Senator Weber said Congress will most likely vote on the “first phase” of emergency relief money for Hurricane Harvey in mid-September, which however did not incorporate Trump’s revised plan and/or schedule.

Tying the debt limit increase to a Harvey bill is intended to ease early passage of a debt limit increase and avoid a potential stand-off over what could potentially escalate into a technical default – the outcome that is violently spooking the Bill market – and could rattle financial markets, one of the officials said. According to Bloomberg sources, “the White House would like to extend the debt limit long enough to move back the threat of a U.S. default until after Congress can deal with funding for the full federal fiscal year and tax legislation the Trump administration backs.”

In other words, yet another can kicking, one which would likely push back the debt limit debate to some time in December.

How likely is the success of this latest U-turn by Trump? Bloomberg writes that administration officials have already begun talks with congressional leaders about the new approach. It remains to be seen if Trump will be able to win over enough Democrats to silence what, at least as of this moment, appears to be staunch opposition by the Freedom Caucus which also succeeded in sinking Trump’s first attempt at repealing Obamacare back in March.

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