Report further details Trump’s push for favored company to get wall contract

The report says that finding out one day in March 2019 that Fisher Sand and Gravel wasn’t in the running, Trump “exploded into a tirade,” the report said. Completely ignoring advice that the shit he was pulling was highly inappropriate, “pressure continued” against officials, including “a handwritten note from the president, an email from his personal secretary and calls from his son-in-law, Jared Kushner,” 60 Minutes continued. “Fisher Sand and Gravel was awarded the single largest border wall contract, $1.3 billion.”

Adding to this mess, because there’s always more mess when it comes to this administration: since being awarded with massive federal funding, engineering experts have said that some of the private wall that Fisher Sand and Gravel infamously built with funding from the “We Build the Wall” scam that has now resulted in the arrest of former Trump official Steve Bannon is basically on the verge of collapse in the Rio Grande.

Jeremy Schwartz and Perla Trevizo reported for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune that one report found “concrete cracking, construction flaws and what the firm concluded was likely substandard construction material below the fence’s foundation.” On a project not even a year old in completion. A University of Texas at El Paso engineering professor who reviewed that report told Schwartz and Trevizo that “[i]t seems like they are cutting corners everywhere.”

“Company president Tommy Fisher, a frequent guest on Fox News, had called the Rio Grande fence the ‘Lamborghini’ of border walls,” Schwartz and Trevizo wrote. “It’s not a Lamborghini, it’s a $500 used car,” the engineering professor continued. Who’s paying for that lemon? We are!

“Fisher Sand and Gravel has a checkered past,” 60 Minutes continued. “In 2009, the company admitted to tax fraud. They’ve racked up thousands of environmental and safety violations in six states, and almost $2 million in fines.” It’s the kind of shit that House Committee on Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson said could have ruled the company out of any federal consideration. “But they weren’t,” he told 60 Minutes. “The president made no bones about his support for Fisher. And—and guess what? Fisher got the contract. It speaks for itself.”

Frank Sharry, executive director immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice, said that “Trump’s wall and this scandal captures so much of what’s wrong with his presidency. It’s a stupid idea anchored in white grievance and rank racism,” he said. “He promised that Mexico would pay for the wall when U.S. taxpayers are paying, which, in light of yesterday’s New York Times revelations that Trump doesn’t really pay taxes means he’s not even contributing to this project as a taxpayer. Meanwhile, he continues to lie at his rallies that Mexico is paying for it. They are not. … The border wall epitomizes Trump’s presidency: built on racism, corruption, lies, scandal and incompetence, it’s falling apart before our very eyes.”

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Lionel Messi cuts off contract renewal talks with Barcelona

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his contract with the club and is ready to leave the Catalans when his current deal expires in 2021, according to a report by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Friday.

The report said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussing renewing his last deal with the club, which was signed in 2017, but that he no longer wishes to stay at the Camp Nou.

The report added that Messi is angry about leaked media reports that appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club, such as the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde, and that he is frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality.

The Argentine’s representatives and Barcelona did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Messi, who turned 33 last month, scored his 700th career goal on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid, but the milestone strike ended in disappointment as Barca drew the game 2-2 in the latest blow to their bid to retain the Spanish title.

Barca trail Real Madrid by four points in the title race with five games remaining after Real beat Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.

Previously known for his shy personality off the pitch, Messi has become more vocal in his criticism of the club in the last year.

In January he hit out at sporting director Eric Abidal, who he said had implied players had led to Valverde being sacked.

In a February interview with newspaper Mundo Deportivo, he declared the team was not good enough to win this season’s Champions League.

Then in April, he criticized the board for implying players were not willing to accept a pay-cut to help the team’s financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Verizon will finally sell you TV without a contract

The company is eliminating bundles and contracts, Verizon announced Thursday. Instead, it will sell its Fios TV and internet services separately. Long-term contracts are also being trashed in favor of charging customers month-to-month. That is similar to how streaming services charge customers.
Verizon (VZ) is calling the new offers “Mix and Match on Fios.” There are now three internet packages and five Fios TV packages. Notably, Verizon will continue selling Google’s YouTube TV for $49.99 per month as a TV option under an agreement the two companies signed last year. A home telephone package will also be sold for $20 per month.

The new bundle-free packages offer more price transparency for customers, Verizon claims.

“Customers are tired of having to buy a bundle with services they don’t want to get the best rates, and then discover that those rates didn’t include extra fees and surcharges,” said Frank Boulben, Verizon’s senior vice president of marketing, in statement.

But not all surcharges are going away: Verizon will continue charging a $15 monthly fee for routers in some of its internet packages and a $12 set-top monthly fee in most of its Fios TV packages. But other fees it previously charged, including for regional sports networks, will now be included in the total Fios TV price.

Verizon, like its competitors such as Comcast (CMCSA), has been stung by customers ditching high-priced cable packages for streaming services. Verizon lost nearly 70,000 video subscribers in its most recent earnings report. However it did add 30,000 internet subscribers.

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