Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Wednesday

posted by Justice & Drew - 

1. Construction begins on border wall prototypes

 Fox 9: The federal government said Tuesday that contractors began building eight prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico, hitting a milestone toward a key campaign pledge. Construction in San Diego began three months behind schedule after those who didn't win contracts protested. The building process will last about 30 days.

The agency may pick several winners, or none. It said in a news release that the prototypes "will inform future design standards, which will likely continue to evolve to meet the U.S. Border Patrol's requirements."

Each prototype will be up to 30 feet high (9 meters high) and 30 feet long. Bidding documents say four of the prototypes are to be solid concrete and four are to be made of "other materials." Trump said Friday that the wall should be see-through, appearing to cast doubt on the concrete designs.

2. Roy Moore defeats Trump-backed Luther Strange in Alabama Senate runoff

Fox News: Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was projected to soundly defeat Sen. Luther Strange in Tuesday's Senate primary runoff, overcoming heavy GOP establishment support for the incumbent, including from President Trump himself.

The hard-fought Alabama runoff battle had pitted Trump against some of his most loyal supporters including former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and a slew of House conservatives who all backed Moore. Despite his outsider image, Moore seemed to have the edge over Strange from the start.

With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Moore led Strange by 55 percent to 45 percent, a margin of more than 41,000 votes. State officials estimated a low turnout of between 12 and 15 percent of eligible voters. The crowd at Moore's election party broke into loud applause as media outlets called the race. Bannon took the stage to introduce Moore as supporters waving flags cheered Tuesday night.

Moore told the crowd, "We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress.”

Bannon declared Moore's win a victory for Trump, despite the president's support for Strange. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Alabama to make the case for the incumbent in the final week of the race.

3. Security Company at U.S. Bank Stadium Fired After Investigation

Channel 5: The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority officially announced the decision Tuesday. Two other companies will take over security operations. Those are G4S Secure Solutions, which has an office in St. Paul, and St. Louis-based Whelan Security.

The move comes with the Vikings scheduled to host the Detroit Lions in a home game Sunday. In a statement, the team said it reviewed the investigation's results and supports the change. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Board of Private Detectives and Professional Agency Services voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon not to renew the previous company’s license.

An investigation found Monterrey employees were providing security without proper training and without proper background checks having been conducted before hiring, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. This comes after reports state and federal investigators have been looking into allegations the company falsified government documents and hired people with criminal convictions. There have also been allegations some employees with felony records did not receive proper security clearance.

4. I-35W in Minneapolis to shut down this weekend despite Vikings, Twins, Gophers, marathon

Star Tribune: The Minnesota Department of Transportation will shut down both directions of Interstate I-35W between the Crosstown and downtown Minneapolis Friday night through Monday morning on a weekend that features Sunday’s big 26.2-mile race between the downtowns along with a Sunday Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium, Twins games Friday through Sunday at Target Field and a University of Minnesota football game Saturday at the U. The Wild play at the X in St. Paul Friday night.

Sporting events aside, the freeway already handles about 200,000 vehicles a day and the large events will bring even more traffic to the city. All that extra traffic will have to spread out on alternate routes meaning drivers will be on endurance test of their own.

“There is no real good time to close a major interstate, but it’s usually easier to do it on a weekend rather than during the week,” said MnDOT spokeswoman Denise Workoff.

On most weekends, that might be true, but there might not be a worse weekend to shut down the busiest freeway in the metro area. On Sunday alone, more than 10,000 runners and thousands of their supporters, more than 60,000 Vikings fans and another 20,000 to 30,000 Twins fans will be streaming into downtown all within a few hours of each other with a major artery leading into town on the disabled list.

MnDOT says it was aware of the events calendar, but is moving head with the closure. MnDOT is closing the freeway to move utilities and prepare for demolition of the Franklin Avenue bridge, which will bring another I-35W closure next weekend.

5. Twitter experiments with doubling character limit to 280

The Hill: Twitter is experimenting with doubling the number of characters users can include in a single tweet, the company announced on Tuesday. Some users will be able to write messages with 280 characters, double the normal 140-character limit, as the social media site considers whether to launch the feature more widely.

“This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence!” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a single tweet — something that would have been impossible before the limit was doubled to 280.

The company said in a blog post that it had noticed that users who speak certain languages are more impacted by the character limit than others. About 9 percent of tweets in English hit 140 characters, compared with just 0.4 percent of Japanese tweets, according to Twitter’s product manager Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara, a senior software engineer.

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too,” the blog post reads. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.”

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