Four U.S. Companies Have Been Contracted to Build Prototype Border Walls

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has contracted four American companies to build prototypes of a southern border wall with Mexico, in a major step toward realizing one of President Trump’s core campaign promises.

Caddell Construction, Fisher Industries, Texas Sterling Construction, and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction, have each been charged with building a concrete wall that’s 30-feet long and up to 30-feet high, NBC News reports. The DHS is also expected to commission four non-concrete wall prototypes.

On completion, the government will evaluate…

When Colleagues Won’t Stop Talking Politics

Gracia Lam

Send your workplace conundrums to workologist@nytimes.com, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.

I work at a manufacturing plant, interacting with a variety of teams. I am constantly subjected to political conversations and remarks — and most of my co-workers have political views very different from mine. Being reminded of this all day makes me want to scream.

This happens despite my constant pleas to please refrain from such talk. I always felt and was taught that political conversations do not belong in the work place, and that one should definitely not bring those topics up with colleagues (or people in general) you don’t know well.

Given the deaf ears of an indifferent human resources staff that has to juggle hundreds of employees, how do I navigate this politically charged climate and convince my co-workers to not discuss politics for eight hours a day?

BUFFALO, N.Y.

More than a quarter of workers surveyed by the American Psychological Association earlier this year reported that workplace political chatter was having some negative impact on them, from increased stress to decreased productivity. Meanwhile, a separate survey by Peakon, an employee analytics firm, found that more than a third of American workers avoid talking politics with colleagues altogether, to avoid disputes or discomfort.

So if human resources or management is simply blowing this off, they’re making a mistake. Surely it should be no surprise to anyone, given the political climate and the intense news coverage describing it, that this might have a real impact on a workplace if it’s allowed to dominate.

It sounds as if you’ve tried discouraging your colleagues from such talk in your presence, but maybe you can vary your tactics. It might be most effective to keep the request somewhat light: “Hey, I hear enough about that stuff on the news, mind if we talk football (or whatever) instead? Or, I don’t…

Harvey aid: White House to ask Congress for initial $5.9bn

The White House has prepared a request to Congress for an emergency $5.9bn (£4.6bn) package in Harvey recovery aid, as flood waters receded in Houston to reveal swaths of devastation wrought by the former hurricane.

It is expected to be followed by further requests that could exceed the $110bn to victims of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

Rescuers continued plucking people from flood waters across Texas as the death toll rose to 44 almost a week after the storm slammed into the Gulf of Mexico coast. Emergency crews and volunteers in boats, trucks and aircraft scoured inundated suburbs around Houston and cities to the east for people still in need of evacuation.

Police rescued 18 people from flood waters overnight, said Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner. “Crisis ebbing but far from over.”

In dryer areas recovery crews started to assess damage and remove debris. They braced for the discovery of bodies.

Harvey, once a category 4 hurricane, was downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved over north-eastern Louisiana and into Mississippi.

The emergency aid plan will be sent to Congress on Friday with House and Senate votes likely next week.

The White House homeland security adviser said the initial aid money would be a down payment for immediate recovery efforts, to be followed by larger packages later.

Tropical storm Harvey: the story so far – video report

“We’ll go up to Congress and give them a sound supplemental request number. We’ll add to it,” Tom Bossert said. “And when we can get a better handle on the damage we can come back with a responsible last, so to speak, supplemental request.”

Donald Trump has also pledged to donate $1m in personal funds to the relief effort.

Fires and two explosions early on Thursday at a chemical plant in Crosby, north-east of Houston, have jolted residents to the presence of new dangers as waters recede.

The plant, which makes organic peroxides used in plastic resins and paint, lost refrigeration due to the storm. An executive warned that eight more tanks could burn and explode. Contradictory messages from officials left people unsure if emissions were toxic.

The Texas department of public safety said 48,700 homes had sustained flood damage, including 17,000 with heavy damage and 1,000…

Those Who Were Barred From U.S. During Trump’s First Travel Ban Can Reapply for Visas

(NEW YORK) — Foreigners who were barred from entering the U.S. during President Donald Trump’s first attempt to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority nations will get government help reapplying for visas under a lawsuit settlement reached Thursday.

Civil rights lawyers and the Trump administration announced the deal during a conference call in federal court in Brooklyn, one scene of the legal battle over the treatment of hundreds of travelers who were processed at U.S. airports over a chaotic weekend in January.

Under the terms of the settlement, the government agreed to notify an unspecified number of people overseas who were banned that they can reapply for visas with the help of a Department of Justice liaison for a three-month period. In return, the plaintiffs said they would drop all their claims.

“We are pleased with the settlement and that this chapter in the…

Election 2018 Vermont Republicans Steer Clear of National Politics at Fundraiser

Gov. Phil Scott (left) talking to his former Republican primary rival, Bruce Lisman - TERRI HALLENBECK
TERRI HALLENBECK Gov. Phil Scott (left) talking to his former Republican primary rival, Bruce Lisman

When Vermont Republicans gather to rally their troops and raise money for the 2018 election, you might wonder: How do they address the elephant in Washington who threatens to make this a dismal campaign cycle for them?

The answer: They don’t.

Gov. Phil Scott, former governor Jim Douglas and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu addressed a crowd of about 150 at a Republican Party fundraiser Thursday evening at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. They kept their politics as local as they could.

Jokes about New Hampshire vs. Vermont were big: Why is Vermont’s maple syrup sweeter? You have more tree-huggers, Sununu quipped.

Sununu, the most loquacious speaker of the three, is the only one who mentioned the T-word: President Donald Trump. And that came during a half-hearted attempt at a joke about the three governors meeting in the basement of Trump Tower.

“I don’t know where that joke would go,” he safely declared.

Vermont Republican Party vice chair Brady Toensing (left) and Gov. Phil Scott chatting with attendees - TERRI HALLENBECK
TERRI HALLENBECK Vermont Republican Party vice chair Brady Toensing (left) and Gov. Phil Scott chatting with attendees

Otherwise, the three speakers emphasized the importance of supporting local Republican candidates….

Georgia Police Officer Fired for Saying ‘We Only Shoot Black People’

A police officer in Georgia will be fired after he was recorded on video telling a woman during a traffic stop, “We only shoot black people.”

The video, which was obtained by WSB Atlanta, shows Lt. Greg Abbott of the Cobb County Police Department telling a white woman she can use her phone during the traffic stop. When the woman responds that she was afraid to because she has seen “way too many videos of cops,” Abbott stops her to say she will be fine because she’s not black.

“But you’re not black,”…

Could a new political party be on the way?

The Palace of Westminister, seen through iron railings
How realistic are Westminster whispers about a new political party?

Whispers of collaboration waft through the air. Rumours of a new political entity emerging into the light. Stories of politicians ready to cast aside tribal instinct and join something new.

But that is quite enough about the political intrigue in Germany where, weeks before the general election, there is no doubt breathless discussion in the cafes near the Bundestag about who Angela Merkel may end up working with if she’s returned as chancellor again.

I talk of the occasional chat here, among those who describe themselves as forced to sleep on the political streets: homeless in the era of Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn.

Destitute, desperate and with a desire for something different, the story goes, they are smooching their way discreetly towards an immaculate political conception.

They are searching for the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of France’s En Marche, the miracle birth over the water.

Supporters take photographs with the French President Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron galvanised a French electorate disillusioned with the political status quo

President Emmanuel Macron built his own political kit car widget by widget, and, fuelled by the French electorate, drove it straight to the Elysee Palace.

So this political correspondent peeled himself away from the feverish summer squalls over the Big Ben bong ban, and instead made some inquiries.

‘Militant, muscular moderates’

One household name had already told me privately that they frequently passed colleagues from other parties in the corridors here, and thought that they had much more in common with them than plenty of their own supposed political brethren.

Another well-known politician told me of their desire to “create a home for those deeply politically engaged people who I call the ‘militant, muscular moderates'”.

“On the surface, there is the two-party system, but it is more complex than that,” I was told.

“There is a lot of voter churn – the electorate is soft and fluid.”

That’s Westminster speak for: “No-one’s quite sure what’s going on, so anything’s possible.” Possibly.

Look closely and what could be the embryonic beginnings of a new party are there.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Left-leaning parties worked together to try to defeat the Conservatives at the general election

There was what was called the Progressive Alliance

Hurricane Harvey Shifts Political Winds in Washington

Cleaning out a damaged home on Wednesday in Houston. Recovery aid will be a key project for Washington.

WASHINGTON — In swamping large swaths of Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Harvey also forged a new reality for President Trump and the Republicans governing Washington.

Gone are the confrontational talk of a government shutdown and the brinkmanship over the debt limit. Instead, both Mr. Trump and his putative allies in Congress — many of them professed fiscal hawks — are promising an outpouring of federal aid to begin a recovery and rebuilding effort that will last for years and require tens of billions of dollars, if not substantially more, from Washington.

The storm has utterly transformed the federal fiscal picture.

“This is going to change the whole dynamic for September and, quite frankly, for the Republican establishment for the remainder of the 115th Congress,” said G. William Hoagland, a longtime chief budget adviser to Senate Republicans who is now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “The truth of the matter is, they don’t need money to build a wall in Texas, but to rebuild the shoreline in Texas.”

Facing a difficult September, deeply divided over spending and what to do about the debt limit, Mr. Trump and congressional leaders may find that a devastating storm has provided them the common cause that has proved so elusive after their failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Trump is eager to be seen as a competent manager in his first big test in a natural disaster, and a shutdown could shatter that image. Lawmakers want to deliver for the Texas and Louisiana communities pounded by Harvey, a region that is not only a driver of the national economy but a center of Republican strength.

At the same time, a huge relief program tacked on to the federal deficit could undermine the claim by the president and his party that they are stewards of a leaner, more efficient federal bureaucracy.

The magnitude of the storm threatens to overwhelm that agenda as well as relegate to the background Mr. Trump’s demands for a border wall. Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, has already said that members of his group will not insist, for now, on funding it.

And it may make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to follow through on his promises of a broad crackdown on illegal immigration.

The altered landscape is going to force conservative lawmakers who have balked at tabs for past storm relief to swallow hard and rally behind a long-term recovery program. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, two Texas Republicans who opposed…

Donald Trump’s handwriting ‘coming along nicely’, teacher says

Donald Trump’s penmanship is improving by leaps and bounds since becoming president according to his private tutor.

As president, Trump is often required to write handwritten notes to staff as well as dignitaries and world leaders. This was considered something of a problem as Trump hadn’t written a single word since leaving high school…

Ageing British political leaders putting ‘incredible strain’ on the NHS

The NHS is under more strain that it can bear due to an ageing set of political leaders in Britain, according to experts.

At a combined age of 202, Jeremy Corbyn, Vince Cable and Theresa May are getting up there in years and, with funding cuts across the board, the NHS is struggling to cope.

In fact the three ageing leaders…