Shrinking of Military Unprecedented, says Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox

After years of growth in defense spending following the attacks of 9/11, and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military’s budget is being cut back. Yet the question of whether and how to cut military spending remains hotly debated in Washington. Aging infrastructure, changing strategic needs, and rapidly rising personnel costs are all competing for the attention of budget planners at the Pentagon, in Congress, and at the White House.

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Piloting POTUS Across DC and Around the World

Marine Corp. Captain Charlene Thoreen poses in front of a helicopter.

In the latest installment of DC Gigs we meet Marine Corps Captain Charlene Thoreen based in Quantico, Virginia. If you live around the Washington region you’ve probably seen her before, flying overhead in the black and white helicopters used to carry the President. Marines call the helicopters “white tops.” The rest of us call them Marine One.

Thoreen says her job is never the same, and that’s part of the appeal. The HMX1 squadron is the largest in the Marine Corps, with about eighty pilots. That’s because they support the President wherever he is in the world, and as Thoreen explains, there’s more to that than you might think. For example, HMX has to disassemble the helicopters to transport them overseas, and it takes several days to get them back together again.

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Immigrants Fear it Will Get Harder to Send Money Home

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Somali-American women at a fundraiser in Falls Church, Virginia. The proceeds will be sent to Somalia via a money transfer service, as the other option is to fly there with cash. There are no banks in Somalia.

A remittance may be the most common financial transaction you’ve never heard of. That’s what it’s called when an immigrant sends money to someone living in another country. More than a million immigrants call the D.C. region home, and the Inter-American Development Bank estimates 90% have made one of these money transfers. Last year, global remittances were valued at $530 billion.

While using a money transfer service is just as legal as using an ATM, because it involves cross border transactions to places like Somalia, there’s a perception of risk. That’s led some banks in the US and Europe to close the accounts of remittance companies, which in effect shuts them down.

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The new dentist’s office has aromatherapy, puppies, and Botox

From the Marketplace Morning Report

About 50 million Americans say they’re scared of the dentist. Wikipedia has an entry for “dental fear.” There’s even a professional scale for measuring that anxiety. However, music and a foot massage may go a long way toward luring fearful patients into the dental chair. At least, that’s the bet being made at so-called dental spas, which are cropping up all over the world.

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