Beltway Confidential

10 lowlights of the week

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Beltway Confidential,Commentary Writer

Death on the home front

1| Tragic week for Marines

The details: Ten Marines died this week in the United States -- seven in a training accident in Nevada, and then three when one Marine murdered two others at Quantico before taking his own life.

'Third World experience'

2| Obamacare boss gets nervous

The details: Henry Chao, who is overseeing the development of the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, has a bad feeling. "Let's just make sure it's not a Third World experience," he said while discussing the implementation of the law recently.

Proliferation

3| China to bulk up Pakistani nuclear program

The details: China has agreed to help Pakistan build a third nuclear reactor and develop a new warhead for the country's nuclear weapons program, despite international agreements to the contrary, according to U.S. intelligence.

North Korea threatens regional U.S. bases

4| Guam, Okinawa eyed

The details: After threatening a pre-emptive strike on the United States -- for which it lacks the technology -- North Korea warned that it has "precision target tools" that can reach U.S. bases at Guam and Okinawa.

Uncle Sam's $62 million question

5| Where is the money?

The details: Ten years after authorizing a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, former president and supreme allied commander during World War II, ground has yet to be broken on the project and lawmakers don't know how $62 million was spent.

'Improperly out of service'

6| Ambulance crews MIA

The details: Three D.C. ambulance crews were "improperly out of service" and failed to respond to an emergency call for injured District police Officer Sean Hickman, according to an internal investigation. One of the ambulances was less than two miles from the accident scene.

Minimum wage

7| $11.75 an hour proposed

The details: D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wants to jack up the city's minimum wage to $11.75 an hour, $3.50 more than the current level. The new rate would only apply to large retailers -- which are also the most likely to hire unemployed D.C. residents.

Camera cash

8| Exceeding expectations

The details: Montgomery County officials are salivating at the thought of raising $14.6 million from their speed camera program next year, a 7 percent increase year over year. Police estimate their robocops will surpass the $13.6 million in revenue they were expected to raise this year.

If you build it ...

9| They won't come

The details: After Fairfax County spent $11.3 million to build the new Wolf Trap Fire Station on Route 7, County Executive Ed Long wants to delay opening and staffing the new station until next year to save $4.2 million.

Hug ban

10| Grandparents: Hands off!

The details: Maryland's St. Mary's County forbids any adults except a child's parents from hugging them in its public elementary schools. Grandparents, aunts, uncles or other nonparental caregivers who drop off and pick up children after school are included in the hug ban.

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