Apr 9, 2019

Administration awards almost $1 billion in contracts for border wall

Construction worker build a secondary border wall in February in Otay Mesa, California. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

The Defense Department said Tuesday it has awarded $976 million in contracts to two companies for construction related to President Trump's long-sought border wall along the southern border with a completion date expected for October 2020.

Details: The agency said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a $789 million contract was given to SLSCO Ltd., a company based in Galveston, Texas, for "border replacement wall construction" in Santa Teresa, New Mexico located in the El Paso sector of the border. Montana-based Barnard Construction Co. Inc. was awarded a $187 million contract for the "design-bid-build construction project for primary pedestrian wall replacement" in Yuma, Arizona. CNN reported that funds for the contracts are from the $1 billion the Pentagon recently said it has shifted from other military construction projects to build part of the barrier.

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Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.