WASHINGTON - The US Army plans to deploy two specialized task forces to the Pacific capable of conducting information, electronic, cyber and missile operations against Beijing, a Pentagon official said on Friday. The task forces were slated to deploy over the next two years, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at an event in Washington. “The Army is reinvigorating our presence and disposition in the Pacific,” McCarty said, because “China will emerge as America’s strategic threat.” The units, called Multi-Domain Task Forces, would help neutralize some capabilities China and Russia already possess. The units would potentially be equipped with long range precision weapons, hypersonic missiles, precision strike missiles, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities, McCarthy said, without citing any locations. Having “the U.S. Army, with modernized weaponry” in the region “changes the calculus and creates dilemmas for potential adversaries,” McCarthy said. “China has been miniaturizing the global commons,” he said, referring to China’s fortification of small islands in the South China Sea. “Nothing comes close to the effects of boots on the ground, standing shoulder to shoulder with our counterparts, huddled over plans, or walking through jungles together,” he added.

California budget plan aids teachers, those in US illegally

CALIFORNIA - California’s governor revealed a spending plan on Friday that puts a new tax on vaping, gives $20,000 to teachers who commit to working in high-needs schools and gives taxpayer-funded health benefits to older adults living in the country illegally. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $222 billion proposed state budget increases spending by 2.3% or about $5 billion, but it also would boost state reserves to $21 billion in case of an economic downturn. In addition, the state would get $107 billion from the federal government for various programs. Newsom detailed his proposal for nearly three hours on Friday, lauding California’s growing reserves and bountiful surpluses while criticizing the Trump administration for not believing “in fiscal discipline” or “living within their means.” “We are worried about the next generation. They, seemingly, are not,” Newsom said. While Newsom’s budget showcased the state’s political independence from the Trump administration, it also highlighted California’s continuing financial dependence on the federal government. California needs federal approval to continue taxing the companies that manage the state’s Medicaid program — money that Newsom needs to extend popular sales tax exemptions on diapers and tampons. Also, state officials warned a host of proposed federal rule changes could cost the state up to $10 billion in funding.

“The things they are contemplating would be a very, very big deal for the state,” said Keely Martin Bosler, director of the California Department of Finance. “These kind of changes could pull that much money out of the state.”

That quandary will require balancing from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is one of Trump’s loudest critics and frequently engages with him on his preferred platform: Twitter.

Newsom showed few signs of softening his approach on Friday, calling Trump a bully who attacks California’s immigrant communities.