Nation briefly, Sept. 18

Space Force would cost $13B over 5 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Creating a Space Force as a separate military service, as proposed by President Donald Trump, would cost an estimated $12.9 billion in its first five years, according to a detailed Air Force plan for how to go about it.

This is the first publicly available cost estimate. When the White House announced plans to establish a Space Force in August, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan declined to give a figure but said it would be in “the billions.”

The Air Force’s estimate is contained in a Sept. 14 memo from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who proposed the Pentagon ask Congress for the authority and money to establish a Space Force headquarters in 2020.

“The President has clearly communicated his desire for a military department for space,” she wrote. “Strategic competition with Russia and China is the focus of our approach.”

Creation of Space Force as a separate military service will require congressional action. The administration is expected to submit proposed legislation early next year authorizing the establishment of a Space Force.

A copy of the Air Force memo was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The memo says the first-year cost of a Space Force would be $3.3 billion, and the cost over five years would be an estimated $12.9 billion.

In an indication of the complexities of creating a new military service, the Air Force says the proposed U.S. Space Force would be a separate department organized under a civilian secretary appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, along with an undersecretary, four assistant secretaries, a chief lawyer, an inspector general and a legislative liaison. A four-star general would serve as chief of staff.

The proposal said the missions of Space Force would include missile defense. More broadly, it would be “responsible for the preparation of forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war.”

In June, Trump directed the Pentagon to create a “separate but equal” space force. In August, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the administration will work with Congress to come up with a workable approach. The last time the U.S. created a new military service was in 1947 when the Air Force was established as an independent service.

Man who walked near Old Faithful ticketed

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials have ticketed a man caught on video wandering close to Old Faithful geyser, where he risked burns from the boiling-hot water that erupts every hour or so.

The man’s actions between eruptions startled a crowd of a couple hundred people at the park’s most famous attraction. At one point, he lay on the ground near the gurgling hole.

“A bunch of the crowd thought he was going to jump. We didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Ashley Lemanski of Harbor Beach, Michigan, who shot video Friday.

The man appeared to urinate on the geyser while a park ranger repeatedly yelled at him to get to safety. Rangers caught up with him after he eventually walked back onto nearby boardwalks, Lemanski said.

Rangers cited him with walking off the boardwalks in a thermal area, Yellowstone spokesman Neal Herbert said Monday. Herbert didn’t have the man’s identity.

Just like Yellowstone’s wildlife and majestic scenery, tourists behaving badly have become a target for cameras. A man captured on video harassing a bison in Yellowstone in August was sentenced to over four months in jail for the incident and other drunken behavior in nearby Grand Teton National Park.

Driving lesson ends with car in pool

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. (AP) — A driving lesson went off the deep end in Maryland when authorities say the car jumped a curb, crashed through a fence and landed in a swimming pool.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer told The Washington Post the driver and passenger were uninjured Saturday, albeit soaking wet. He said the occupants were a man and a woman in their 50s or 60s, but it’s unclear who was behind the wheel when the drive turned into a dive.

He said one was teaching the other to drive that afternoon.

The car landed in the North Creek Community Center Pool, which was closed for the season.

Piringer said the man and woman were standing poolside, having extricated themselves, by the time rescuers arrived.

Globe pulled from bear cub’s head

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) — A bear cub in Wisconsin had a Winnie the Pooh moment, but it wasn’t a honey pot that got stuck on its head. It was a hard plastic globe.

Authorities rescued the cub Sunday after a passer-by spotted it near Balsam Lake with the mother bear nearby.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office used a squad car to keep the mother away while authorities and two bear hunters worked on the globe as the cub was contained in a net.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Brent Waak said the thick globe resisted pliers, tin snips and pruning shears. It finally slipped off after bolt cutters were used.

The sheriff’s office posted a photo of the rescue on its Facebook page.

Waak says it’s unknown where the cub got the apparently ornamental globe.

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