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US to Award Contracts for Building Mexico Border Wall

Trump has said the wall will cost $12 billion, while Republican leaders in Congress have pegged its cost 20 percent higher than that. An internal Homeland Security report forecast the total cost could be as much as $21.6 billion.

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FILE - Workers continue work raising a taller fence on the Mexico-U.S. border separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico, and Sunland Park, New Mexico, Jan. 25, 2017.
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The U.S. government plans to start awarding preliminary contracts by April for construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, to fulfill one of President Donald Trump’s principal campaign promises.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it will accept “concept papers” for the wall’s design beginning next week and will choose the best ones by March 20. The agency will then ask vendors for construction cost estimates and, after reviewing their bids, begin granting contracts by mid-April — a remarkably quick schedule for a government construction project.

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Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the border-wall project was “way ahead of schedule.”

“We’re going to build a wall, don’t worry about it,” Trump told a cheering crowd of his supporters. “We’re building a wall. We’re building the wall. In fact, it’s going to start soon.”

Cost estimates vary

The Customs and Border Protection agency, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, did not indicate where the initial phase of construction will begin.

Trump has said the wall will cost $12 billion, while Republican leaders in Congress have pegged its cost 20 percent higher than that. An internal Homeland Security report forecast the total cost could be as much as $21.6 billion.

Since the earliest stages of his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico as a way to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He has assured Americans that Mexico would pay for the wall — a claim denied repeatedly by Mexico’s elected leaders — and the issue has soured relations between the two countries.

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Relations with Mexico sour

The White House has said Trump has a “buffet of options” to make Mexico to pay for the wall, including imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico. Critics have said that scenario would mean American consumers actually would be paying for the wall.

The border barrier primarily would be aimed at stopping illegal immigrants from entering the United States. However, many Mexicans regard the idea of a wall as an insult, and authorities on both sides of the international border have predicted that rough terrain and large stretches of private property straddling the border could make building the wall a long, complicated project.(VOA)

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Survey Reveals That 50% of Americans Do Not Know Who Owns WhatsApp

A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube

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WhatsApp rolls out Picture-in-Picture mode for Android users. Pixabay

It may sound bizarre but nearly 50 per cent of Americans who have used WhatsApp in the last six months have no idea who owns the popular mobile messaging platform.

According to a survey by DuckDuckGo, the US-based privacy-protecting search engine, just over half of US citizens (50.42 per cent) do not know WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.

“We randomly selected 1,297 US adults (not just DuckDuckGo users) who are collectively demographically similar to the general population of US adults and surveyed them on August 16, 2018.

“Half of those who used WhatsApp in the past six months weren’t aware that Facebook owns WhatsApp,” said the survey.

The findings also showed that nearly 60 per cent of those who used Waze in the past six months didn’t know that Google owns Waze.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

Waze is a popular GPS navigation software. It works on smartphones and tablet computers that have GPS support.

“This means that a majority of Americans who are using WhatsApp and/or Waze are doing so without realising that all of their information, whether it be routes, travel time, messages, photos, or location data, is privy to Facebook (for WhatsApp) and Google (for Waze),” said the survey.

According to the survey, the lack of awareness over Facebook and Google’s reach is even more alarming as more and more Americans are looking to take control of their privacy online.

Also Read- Apple Watch Series 4: Tech Review

A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube.

Facebook in 2014 acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Both WhatsApp co-founders – Brian Acton and Jan Koum – have quit Facebook over data privacy and Facebook’s plans to monetise WhatsApp. (IANS)