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Good to Know…Week of October 3, 2011


HEALTH CARE
Surveys: Health Insurance Costs Shifted to Workers, Even as Premiums Surge
In 2011, for the first time, half of workers at small firms with individual policies faced annual deductibles of $1,000 or more. In 2006, that figure was 16 percent. At large firms, the share has grown from 6 percent to 22 percent over the same five years.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

Challenges to Federal Health Law Escalate
On Wednesday (September 28) the U.S. Department of Justice, along with 26 states and a small-business group, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule as quickly as possible on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, making a decision nearly certain by next summer.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Hospitals Push Age Hike for Medicare
As the deficit reduction supercommittee hunts for $1.5 trillion in additional savings, US hospital executives are so worried about having their payments cut that they plan to start lobbying Congress next week to shift the burden onto their elderly patients – specifically by raising the age of eligibility for Medicare.

To read this article, go to: BostonGlobe.com

TECHNOLOGY
Einstein was wrong? Fire up the Falcon!
Basically, Einstein’s theory of special relativity states, among other things, that nothing can move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, which is 299,792,458 meters per second.

But recently, something did. At least we think it did. Although it has yet to be verified, the data looks pretty clear-cut.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

How Data Wizardry Can Revive America’s Cities
Advanced software analytics is coming of age in many local governments, where city managers and capital planners are using the technology to model solutions to perplexing problems, such as determining the optimum time to repair aging highway infrastructure or showing the impact of air pollution on the costs of public health.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

CYBER-SECURITY
Cyber Attacks on U.S. Utilities, Industries Rising
U.S. utilities and industries face a rising number of cyber break-ins by attackers using more sophisticated methods, a senior Homeland Security Department official said during the government’s first media tour of secretive defense labs intended to protect the nation’s power grid, water systems and other vulnerable infrastructure.

To read this article, go to: ChicagoTribune.com

The Security Singularity: When Humans are the Biggest Problem
The security singularity could be defined as the point at which the ability of humans to interfere with information systems makes them a bigger cybersecurity threat than technology. And it might already be upon us.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com


STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Judge Allows Key Immigration Provisions to Go into Effect
A federal judge in Birmingham ruled Wednesday that key provisions of the Alabama’s immigration law can go into effect, finding that the U.S. Justice Depart­ment did not meet requirements for an injunction in major areas.

To read this article, go to: MontgomeryAdvertiser.com

Wyoming has Healthiest State Budget
Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia, Texas and Alaska had the largest “total funds surpluses” during the 2000s, the study by State Budget Solutions concludes. By contrast, the states with the biggest “total funds deficits” during that time were Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, Hawaii and California.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

States Putting Hopes in ‘Bottoms Up’ to Help the Bottom Line
With cities across the country facing their fifth straight year of declining revenues and states cutting services and laying off workers, raising money from people who enjoy a cocktail is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

To read this article, go to: NYTimes.com

WORKFORCE
Local, State Government Worker Salaries Trail Private Sector
Local and state government workers’ salaries still lag behind the private sector, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for State and Local Government Excellence (CSLGE). And, while retirement benefits do much to close the compensation gap, government workers still lag behind the private sector in total compensation, according to CSLGE’s “Comparing Compensation: State-Local Versus Private Sector Workers.”

To read this article, go to: AmericanCityandCounty.com

Honeymoon is Short-lived for New Feds
Federal agencies are going to have to work a little bit harder to keep employees excited and engaged beyond the first few years after they are hired–what observers call the honeymoon period.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

Lawmakers Again Seek to Cut Federal Workforce through Attrition
Lawmakers in both chambers have introduced legislation that aims to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015 through attrition.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Feds Try Fast-tracking Energy Transmission Approvals — Again
In Montana, where powerful winds fly down the Rocky Mountains and whip across the plains, wind power could be a boom industry.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

EDUCATION
Colleges Moving as a Group to Cloud and Mobile Services, Survey Finds
More community colleges are offering Web-based coursework, delivering services to mobile devices and are moving IT systems to the cloud in order to cope with reduced budgets and increased enrollments, a new survey has found.

To read this article, go to: GovTech.com

SOCIAL MEDIA
Candid Images, Useful Information: The UN’s Social Media Plan
In this exclusive interview, Groves, who works in the U.N. Department of Public Information’s strategic communications division, shares how social media allows the multilateral organization to minimize resources while carrying out global campaigns. She argues that an organization should have a dedicated, full-time staff to manage its social media efforts.

To read this article, go to: Devex.com

Congress Still a Bit Short on Social Media Savvy
Eight of every 10 members of Congress are on Facebook and Twitter, but social media experts say lawmakers should be more interactive in using online communication tools to reach out to young people, one of their most elusive constituent groups.

To read this article, go to: AJC.com

CENSUS
Hispanics Fuel US White Population Growth
In a twist to notions of race identity, new 2010 census figures show an unexpected reason behind a renewed growth in the U.S. white population: more Hispanics listing themselves as white in the once-a-decade government count.

To read this article, go to: al.com


PAKISTAN

Guide to the Latest on Pakistan’s Terror Ties
The evidence and allegations of those connections have been coming so quickly it’s been hard to keep track of it all. What exactly are the United States’ claims? What proof does it have, and which groups does it suspect the ISI has collaborated with? Here’s our breakdown of the basics.

To read this article, go to: ProPublica.org

INTERESTING…
Now, Where Was I? 6 Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Distractions
According to the New York Times, we consume three times more information today than we did in 1960. In fact, we are being interrupted 11 times an hour, according to Basex Research, and these interruptions are taking an hour and a half out of our workday, according to a recent uSamp survey. The cost? More $10,000 per employee per year, according to the same survey.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

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