September 2017

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Bulgarian arms exports rose due to Middle East conflicts

Bulgaria’s light weapons exports rose 60% in 2016 compared to 2015. It reached its highest levels – comparable to during the communist era – due to the plethora of conflicts in the Middle East, according to official figures released on Thursday. The exports of light weapons, ammunition and missiles amounted to more than one billion Euros, surpassing the average of 670 million euros, which was recorded during the era when the country exported weapons to pro-Soviet regimes or movements in the Middle East and Africa. Half of these exports went to Iraq and Saudi Arabia and were worth 259 million and 239 million Euros, respectively, followed by the United States (98 million), Afghanistan (55 million), Croatia, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt and […]

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Brazil government freezes Amazon mining plans

Fri, 2017-09-01 04:22

BRASILIA: Brazil’s government said Thursday it has frozen attempts to license commercial mining in a huge natural reserve in the Amazon after a court decision put the controversial project on hold.
Mining and Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho “ordered a stop to all procedures having to do with eventual mineral rights” in the reserve in the eastern Amazon known as Renca, a statement from the ministry said.
“From now, the ministry will begin a broad debate with society on alternatives for protecting the region,” the statement said. Measures to prevent ongoing activities destroying the rainforest would be discussed, it said.
The government admitted it was responding to public pressure since President Michel Temer signed a decree last week opening up the Renca area, which is the size of Denmark, to large- scale mining.
The rainforest there is rich in gold and other valuable commodities but has been protected for decades from private industry and is home to several indigenous tribes.
On Wednesday, a federal court in the capital Brasilia issued an injunction suspending Temer’s decree. It was not clear from the mining ministry’s statement Thursday whether the government was still pursuing an earlier promise to appeal that injunction.
The ministry’s statement said that in 120 days it will issue its conclusions “based on this broad debate and any measures for promoting sustainable development, with a guarantee of conservation.”
Critics of Temer’s decree included international environmental groups, the Catholic Church and even supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who is Brazilian.
The Renca reserve is home to the indigenous Aparai, Wayana and Wajapi tribes and vast swaths of untouched forest, covering more than 17,800 square miles (46,000 square kilometers).
It contains important reserves of gold, manganese, iron and copper which until now have been available only to relatively low-level state-owned mining, although illegal miners also operate in the area.
The government insists that vital areas within the reserve, including where indigenous people live, would have remained off limits even if commercial mining companies were brought in.

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August Payrolls Preview: Prepare For Disappointment

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


  • 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.


  • 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%)


  • 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


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.


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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Rescuers in Texas intensify efforts as Harvey moves offshore

Fri, 2017-09-01 03:50

ORANGE, United States: Emergency workers in storm-hit southeast Texas on Thursday staged dramatic rescues by air and water in towns that were until now cut off by raging floodwaters unleashed by monster storm Harvey, which finally started to move inland.
Nearly a week after the storm smashed into the US Gulf Coast as a Category Four hurricane, thousands of rescuers and civilians eager to help battled difficult conditions to reach victims of the unprecedented flooding.
“We felt we’d be alright. We were wrong,” said Lonnie Givens, who refused to evacuate their one-story home in the town of Orange. Now, he and wife Missy have about four inches (10 centimeters) of water in the house and no power.
“We really got nowhere to go,” Givens said.
The story told by Givens held for many others in Texas towns inundated by days of torrential rains, with highways still submerged and homes destroyed.
A hospital in the hard-hit town of Beaumont was forced to evacuate its patients — nearly 200 people — when the town’s water supply went down.
So far, Harvey has been blamed for at least 38 deaths and tens of billions of dollars of damage.
“We are still in response mode and that means life saving,” Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert told a White House briefing. “There are still people up to their waists in water.”

Mayor @sylvesterturner Chief @artacevedo & HFD Chief Pena board HPD helicopter to survey Houston

— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) August 31, 2017

Bossert estimated that 100,000 homes had been affected by flooding — some with eight feet (2.4 meters) of water or more — and said the White House would be asking Congress for emergency funds.
On Thursday, the lack of power to refrigeration units at a chemical plant in Crosby sparked twin explosions and a fire that spewed black smoke, but authorities said the danger was limited.
There was a bit of good news — in Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, some of the 2.3 million residents got relief as the raging waters receded.
“We’re going to stay with you until we bring southeast Texas back to being bigger and better than ever before,” said US Vice President Mike Pence in the town of Rockport, which sustained major damage when Harvey made landfall.
President Donald Trump, who visited Texas on Tuesday, will return to the state on Saturday — and may also visit Louisiana, which has also seen serious flooding.
In Orange, a National Guard truck stopped to rescue three people near the Givens home.
“They are life savers!” shouted one of the women, after she waded out of knee-deep water.

In Beaumont, to the northwest of the coastal city of Port Arthur, the water system was down.
Brock Long, the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said his agency was working with the state and the military to open water distribution points for those affected.
Indeed, military trucks fanned out, loaded up with bottled water, military backpacks and personnel ready to help.
The breakdown of the water system forced the evacuation of nearly 200 patients from a Beaumont hospital, some by military helicopters.
“It is very, very organized,” hospital spokeswoman Mary Poole said. “We’ve practiced this many times before.”
“We’re trying to keep them as close as possible,” she said of the evacuated patients. “Part of the healing process is to be with your family.”

Early in the day, a pair of explosions rocked a flooded chemical plant in Crosby, a town of around 3,000 people some 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston, sending a plume of smoke into the air.
Officials ordered residents living within 1.5 miles of the facility to evacuate amid concerns about the fumes emanating from the facility, which produces organic peroxides — compounds that can combust if not cooled to the right temperature.
The company said the chemicals could cause eye, skin or respiratory irritation as well as nausea, drowsiness or dizziness, and urged nearby residents to turn off their air conditioners to avoid possible smoke exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it was reviewing data from an aircraft that surveyed the scene and had no indication that dangerous amounts of toxic materials have been released.
“We believe along with the local authorities that we’ve moved everyone out of harm’s way, and that no one is in danger,” Richard Rennard, a senior executive for French plant owner Arkema, told a news conference.
Fifteen sheriff’s deputies who responded to the fire were briefly hospitalized.
Crosby resident Lane Averett, 59, told AFP at a church shelter in the town that he was worried about the animals he had left behind.
“I had to leave because of the plant,” Averett said.
“I got a dog and three cats, and a calf shut up in the trailer where they can’t get no water or feed or nothing,” he said. “They need to get some water and feed today.”

In Louisiana, authorities scrambled to safeguard their state from Harvey, whose onslaught evoked painful memories of Hurricane Katrina’s deadly strike 12 years ago — but New Orleans escaped with minimal rain.
So far, parts of Texas have seen more than 50 inches (1.27 meters) of rain, while in Louisiana, the total neared 24 inches.
More than 30,000 people have found refuge in shelters across Texas, from the giant Houston convention center to small churches, according to FEMA.
In Houston, where Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a nighttime curfew to aid search efforts and thwart potential looting, the two major airports have reopened on a limited basis, signaling a slow return to normality.
In Texas, the storm damage is staggering — Enki Research put its “best estimate” at between $48 billion and $75 billion.

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Crude falls as flooding from Harvey roils US oil industry

U.S. crude futures fell in early Asian trading on Friday, partly reversing sharp gains from the previous session.

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Open Board Meeting

Final Rule Establishing Restrictions on Qualified Financial Contracts of Systemically Important U.S. Banking Organizations and the U.S. Operations of Systemically Important Foreign Banking Organizations.
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Open Board Meeting 2

Final Rule Establishing Restrictions on Qualified Financial Contracts of Systemically Important U.S. Banking Organizations and the U.S. Operations of Systemically Important Foreign Banking Organizations.
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DHS Selects 4 Contractors To Build Prototypes For Trump’s Border Wall

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”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

* * *



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.

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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.

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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.

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Technology First


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.

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Fitting In


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.

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Mesh Fencing


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.

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

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.



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.



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.

— 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. Nuevo análisis del huracán #Irma por The Weather Channel

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

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