Past Features

November 9, 2017

Trump wall media reports
not helpful?

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NY Times -- November 8, 2017    
Eight Ways to Build a Border Wall
....Any barrier must be able to withstand at least 30 minutes of force from a “sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery-operated impact tools, battery-operated cutting tools, oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools,” according to the instructions for the prototypes.
    Some “other than concrete” prototypes incorporate steel, which can be relatively easy to cut with a torch, while pure concrete is not. A hollow steel pipe whose walls are half an inch thick could easily be cut in less than an hour, according to Michael D. Engelhardt, professor of structural engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
    Steel is also malleable. Mr. Engelhardt said that a small hydraulic arm (similar to the “Jaws of Life” used to pry open a crumpled car) could easily be used to make an opening in such a wall: “The equipment is small (could likely fit in a backpack), inexpensive, widely available and can generate many tons of force.”
    “Steel can rust really quickly,” said Curtis Patterson, a structural engineer based in San Diego who visited the prototypes with a team of Times journalists. He pointed to several rust spots that had already appeared on one of the prototypes, less than a month after construction.
    But some envision the mixed-material walls as having more technological capabilities. They might be called smart walls: walls that incorporate radar, acoustics and other types of surveillance embedded in the infrastructure. One of the contractors bidding on the wall is ELTA North America, an Israeli defense contractor that specializes in radar and communication equipment. [...]
    Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, the chief executive of Penna Group, which has contracted with the government before but whose prototype bid was rejected, said: “A see-through border wall allows them to know when they are facing threats on the other side, which Border Patrol has long preferred on their wish list. They didn't want a solid wall. Going through was never the real threat. The real threat is going over or under.”

Glenn Spencer -- November 9, 2017
Smart Reporting Needed
    President Trump says he wants a see-through wall, yet the New York Times wastes its reader's time explaining how a solid concrete barrier must withstand penetration for at least 30 minutes.
    More time is wasted explaining how it is possible to use a torch, or “Jaws of Life" to defeat a steel wall. Allow me to help the Times.
    Trump's wall will be see-though. It will also be smart. It will know if people are getting too close, and if they are trying to defeat it.
    The U.S. Border Patrol can reach any spot where a wall might be built within a very few minutes, if need be. If they observe someone attacking federal property, they would be within their rights to stop them --- including sending sprays of tear gas through the openings.
    The Times should, however, spend some time explaining how radar can be incorporated into a wall that sits right on the border --- I can't. If we look at the radar on the Integrated Fixed Towers that are presently being installed near the border, the housing, like all radar protective covering, is probably made of a dielectric plastic material that is easily penetrated with a small caliber bullet --- so forget about smart radar walls.
    Let us hope the NY Times will begin reporting on “smart walls” with smart reporters.