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Is Time Running Out for the National Debt Clock in New York City?

A question from China about the United States Navy and Marine Corps. And music by Eric Benet. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week:

We listen to a new album from singer songwriter Eric Benet …

Answer a listener question about the difference between the United States Navy and Marine services …

But first, is time running out for the National Debt Clock in New York City?


US Debt Clock


There are several so-called debt clocks in cities around the United States. These devices record the increasing amount of money that the United States owes. The most famous National Debt Clock is in New York City (pictured). But, as the debt grows, time runs short for the debt clock. It now needs some extra spaces for numbers. Barbara Klein has our story.


We will start with the clock itself. It hangs on a wall at 1133 Sixth Avenue in the famous area of Manhattan called Times Square. It electronically shows the estimated dollar total of national debt as it increases each second. The clock also shows another dollar amount that represents "Your Family Share" of the national debt. The numbers in both lines are bright red. They continuously change as the debt grows.

A successful land and property investor and developer named Seymour Durst created the National Debt Clock in nineteen eighty-nine.

At the time, the United States national debt was two-point-seven trillion dollars. Mister Durst was horrified by that amount. He wanted Americans to pay attention to the debt and what it meant to them personally. So he had the clock made and placed on a building he owned.

Seymour Durst died in nineteen ninety-five. His family continues to own and operate the clock.

Last month, the United States national debt hit ten trillion dollars. That is a one followed by thirteen zeroes. But, the debt clock was created with only thirteen spaces for numbers. Mister Durst's son, Douglas, said his father never would have imagined the debt going as high as ten trillion.

Workers solved the problem temporarily by placing a non-digital dollar sign in the same space as the number one. But, the Durst family plans to add two more permanent number spaces by early next year. The family says it also hopes to make some other improvements to the way the clock looks.

The United States national debt currently is about ten-point-two trillion dollars. The new clock will be able to record a debt in the quadrillions. But Americans hope it does not have to!


US Navy and Marines


Our listener question this week comes from China. Bin Li wants to know the difference between the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

The United States Navy is the branch of the armed forces that is responsible for naval operations. The American Navy currently has over three hundred thirty thousand workers on active duty.

The Marine Corps is technically part of the Department of the Navy, but it operates as a separate branch of the military. The Corps is made up of about one hundred ninety-six thousand active duty Marines. Its motto is "Semper Fidelis" which means "always faithful" in Latin. The official colors of the Marine Corps are red and gold. The Navy's colors are blue and gold.

The Marines and Navy have a closer relationship than other branches of the military. This relationship is important because the Navy gives transport, operational and combat support to place Marine Corps units in battle. The Navy and Marine Corps share a common naval culture as well as many traditions.

Marines and Navy members can be commissioned as officers through Officer Candidates School, the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps or the United States Naval Academy. Marines receive training at the Basic School at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. One saying among Marines is that "every Marine is a rifleman." This means that all Marines receive infantry training no matter what their later role will be.

The Navy operates aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and submarines. It has bases and ports of call on the east and west coasts of the United States as well as several other countries. These include Spain, Japan and Australia.

The highest officer of the Marines is the commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway. He is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and reports to the secretary of the Navy. The highest naval officer is the chief of naval operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, who is also on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Marine Corps has several other interesting duties. The Marine Corps Band is called "The President's Own." It performs at official gatherings held by the American president. Marines also guard American embassies and other diplomatic buildings around the world. Marines even guard presidential homes including Camp David near Washington, D.C. Naval officers also help to operate Camp David.


Eric Benet


Singer and songwriter Eric Benet released his first album, "True to Myself," in nineteen ninety-six. Music critics and fans welcomed the honesty and emotion in his songs. He recently released his fourth album. Steve Ember has more.


Eric Benet writes songs that are both emotional and meaningful. He says the songs are about his personal experiences, but they are situations many others can relate to.

His new album, "Love and Life," deals with his current feelings of peace, happiness and love. Listen as he sings his new hit song "You're the Only One."


Eric Benet says someday he would like to work with famous artists including Al Green and Stevie Wonder. But on his new album he sings with someone who is even more important to him, his sixteen year old daughter, India. She is a backup singer on her father's new album. Here is "Still I Believe."


For the first time Eric Benet was given full creative control of his album by his record company. He wrote songs that show influences of the music he grew up listening to -- rhythm and blues, gospel and jazz.

We leave you with another song from Eric Benet's new album "Love and Life." This is "Love, Patience and Time."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Lawan Davis, Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer.

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Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.