How San Antonio’s Worst Cops Get Their Jobs Back

“Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior, Reason reported in March 2019 that his employment was fully restored.

Luckhurst was able to rejoin the force following an arbitration hearing required by the collective bargaining agreement the San Antonio Police Officers Association has with the city. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst, and the arbitration panel ruled in Luckhurst’s favor.

The San Antonio Current reported this week that Luckhurst’s story is not an exception to the rule. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration. Only 13 firings were upheld in that entire time.”

An NYPD Cop Was Sentenced to a Day in Jail for a Lie That Nearly Doomed a Man to 15 Years in Prison

“one day in jail plus probation for a lie that nearly cost a man 15 years of his life. Contrast that with the fate of low-income people trapped behind bars because of expensive pre-trial bail. Though the law considers them innocent until proven guilty, they often spend far more time in jail than Bergmann while waiting for their day in court. In one infamous case, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island without a trial because his bail was set at an unaffordable $3,000.”

The 2020s Will Be the Decade of Deficit Doomsday

“After piling up trillions of dollars in deficit spending during the last recession, the federal government took some modest steps towards reducing that red ink during the middle years of the 2010s. But after Republicans took full control in 2017, spending skyrocketed and the deficit inflated again.

Since Trump was inaugurated, Washington has added $4.7 trillion to the national debt—almost entirely the result of a gigantic spending binge, but with a small assist from the 2017 tax cuts, which reduced revenues without offsetting spending cuts.”

“”Debt threatens our economic health and hinders our ability to make important investments in our future. If we want to tackle big issues like climate change, student debt or national security, then we shouldn’t saddle ourselves with growing interest costs.””

“Compare all this with early 2001, at the end of the second-longest economic expansion in history. The federal government was running a surplus. The national debt was falling and amounted to only 31 percent of GDP. That’s what you’d expect to see now, since deficits typically fall when the economy is growing and grow when the economy is rotten.

Indeed, since the end of World War II, the U.S. has seen deficits greater than 4 percent of GDP only in years when the country was either deep in the throes of a serious recession or emerging from one.”

“If we’re running a trillion-dollar deficit in the good years, what happens when the next downturn occurs?”

“The Trump administration and current crop of Republicans in Congress have made the problem worse than it already was. Some of them—like former deficit hawk Mick Mulvaney and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who made his name in Congress as the GOP’s budget-maker—deserve special ignominy for abandoning their fiscal conservatism when it was most needed. Trump came into office promising to eliminate the national debt in eight years, and that’s even more of a joke now than it was then.

Meanwhile, Democrats’ aversion to spending reductions and their refusal even to consider changes to entitlement programs—the biggest driver of the national debt—are equally large obstacles to any meaningful attempt at fixing this mess. The party’s progressive wing is pushing for Medicare for All and expanding Social Security benefits, while elevating economic theories that say we should ignore the deficit.”

Escalation Breeds Escalation, in Iran and Beyond

“Washington’s bipartisan military-first approach to foreign affairs broadcasts to bad actors worldwide that U.S. intervention is always at hand and that a nuclear arsenal is the only sure deterrence against it.

North Korea has affirmed this logic explicitly. “History proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsiders’ aggression,” a state-run media editorial declared in January 2016. Neither Iraq’s Saddam Hussein nor Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, both deposed and killed with U.S. involvement, could “escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord,” the editorial continued. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is visibly determined not to follow in their footsteps.

For all its imperfections, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—better known as the “Iran deal”—presented an opportunity to break this pattern. Unfortunately, that opportunity is gone following Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018. After the Soleimani strike, Tehran announced its own exit from the plan and, with that, its intent to proceed with nuclear research and development at will.”

More Holes in the ‘Imminent Threat’ Story on Soleimani

“NBC is reporting that President Donald Trump was mulling the hit on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago, with war hawks such as John Bolton urging him to go for it. This further erodes the administration’s claim that the assassination was done to stop an “imminent” attack on U.S. lives.

“According to five current and senior administration officials,” NBC reports, Trump gave the order in June 2019, “with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani.” Trump said that signoff would come if any Americans were killed, their sources said, which “explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq.” That proxy attack killed a U.S. contractor.”

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly and repeatedly attributed it not to retribution but to an alleged imminent threat to dozens (sometimes “hundreds”) of American lives.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly and repeatedly attributed it not to retribution but to an alleged imminent threat to dozens (sometimes “hundreds”) of American lives.”

“Yesterday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Face the Nation that he knew of no “specific evidence” to support the claim that Iran was planning embassy attacks.”

“”The administration didn’t present evidence to Congress regarding even one embassy. The four embassies claim seems to be totally made up. And they have never presented evidence of imminence—a necessary condition to act without congressional approval—with respect to any of this.””

The abandoned asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border

“The primary driver of this crisis is that President Donald Trump’s policies are sending thousands of migrants back to Mexico, where there isn’t enough safe, temporary housing in which they can stay.
In 2018, US Customs and Border Protection officials started limiting the number of asylum seekers it processes at ports of entry each day. Those waiting had to do so in Mexico, where migrant shelters are at capacity. Many have been forced to sleep on the streets. The amount of names on lists of those waiting to be processed exceeded 26,000 in August.

Once they are processed, though, they may quickly be returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). More than 56,000 migrants have been sent back to await decisions on their US asylum applications.”

Trump finally has his Space Force — and it will make orbital security its priority

“the Space Force will now become the sixth branch of the US armed services. It is the first new service since the creation of the US Air Force in 1947.

The Space Force won’t be built from the ground up, however; it will be created largely by reshuffling the military’s organizational chart.

It will function as a part of the Air Force, supporting the newly promoted US Space Command, and will ultimately be overseen by the secretary of the Air Force, according to military officials. However, the day-to-day operations of the Space Force will be handled by a chief of space operations who will have a seat on the nation’s top body of military advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

“the White House faced a military that was not in favor of a Space Force — a former Navy secretary said it was “a solution in search of a problem,” and then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters last summer: “The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart.”

In a sort of compromise, rather than delivering on the administration’s initial grandiose vision for space dominance, Congress attempted to answer both the White House and Pentagon’s concerns.

“Part of the argument for Space Force was that space was kind of getting lost within the Air Force, with its focus on air dominance,” Kaitlyn Johnson, an associate fellow and associate director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Verge.

The Space Force, then, will focus just on space — and on countering Russia and China there — as the Trump administration wanted. But, in response to military concerns, it will not add a completely new structure to the Pentagon, housed as it is in the Air Force. (Its leaders will, however, have the authority to make operational and training decisions without consulting the Air Force.)”

“”The function of Space Command, or USSPACECOM, differs from Space Force. As a unified combatant command, USSPACECOM is responsible for space warfighting. The organization decides how to utilize the domain of space in the best interests of national security, whether that’s providing space-based communications capabilities for troops overseas or surveilling certain portions of the globe. The Space Force, on the other hand, is responsible for “operating, training, and equipping” all of the space assets that USSPACECOM needs. That entails acquiring the right surveillance or communications satellites, getting them into space, and training people to operate those vehicles.””