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Good to Know…November 7, 2011

ELECTIONS
Interactive: A State-by-State Look at Voter ID Laws for 2012 Elections
When Mississippi decides on Initiative 27 next week, voters will determine whether or not they’ll have to show photo identification the next time they go to the polls. The election on Nov. 8 will be the final act of what has been a dramatic year for voter ID laws.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election
Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.

To read this article, go to: PewResearch.org


JOBS

Fewer Seek Unemployment Aid, Hopeful Sign for Jobs
Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a hopeful sign that the job market might be picking up.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, the lowest level in five weeks. It’s only the third time since April that applications have fallen below 400,000.

To read this article, go to: Governing.com

America’s Growing Income Gap, by the Numbers
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently released a much-discussed study showing that over the past three decades the income of the highest-paid Americans has soared while the income of others has grown much more modestly. Here’s a rundown of some statistics illustrating the growing income gap.

To read this article, go to: ProPublica.org

Half of Young Professionals Value Facebook Access, Smartphone Options Over Salary: Report
For a whole new generation of tech-savvy young professionals, having access to social media or the right smartphone in the workplace is at times more important than earning a higher salary. For businesses, that means adapting to this change in priorities rather than resisting it—if the Mad Men-era job force expected noon whiskeys and female secretaries, then our modern-day equivalent demands Facebook and iPhones.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

POVERTY
Pockets of Poverty Grow in the United States
The problem of poverty became more acute in many U.S. neighborhoods in the Midwest and South over the last decade, threatening schools, safety and public health, while raising costs for local governments, according to a study released on Thursday.

To read this article, go to: UK.Reuters.com

HOUSING
Flaws Jeopardize New Attempt to Help Homeowners
Banking regulators this week launched the government’s latest attempt to help troubled homeowners–the Independent Foreclosure Review–victimized by big banks. But early indications are that this program, like earlier efforts, has fundamental flaws.

To read this article, go to: ProPublica.org

U.S. Housing Market
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate in a year during the last quarter, yet the housing market continues to stall, leaving millions of homes that are worth less than the mortgages on them. Brookings experts examine the disparate impact of the mortgage crisis around the country, and whether a new Obama administration initiative to expand refinancing assistance will help improve the housing market.

To read this analyses, go to: Brookings.edu

WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan Transition is on Track, Senior General Says
Despite stubbornly high levels of attrition, illiteracy and criminality among Afghan security forces, a top American general involved in training them said NATO has made substantial progress in crafting an Afghan national army and police organization capable of providing much needed security.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

PUBLIC WORKFORCE
House Panel Approves Bill to Shrink Federal Workforce
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would reduce the federal workforce through attrition by 10 percent over the next three years.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

Meet GOVERNING’s 2011 Public Officials of the Year
Every year since 1994, GOVERNING has honored individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment by naming them Public Officials of the Year. Elected, appointed and career officials from any branch of state or local government are eligible. Our readers are invited to nominate individuals who have had a notable positive impact on their department or agency, community or state.

To read this article, go to: Governing.com

GSA Inaugurates Updated Telework Policy
The General Services Administration on Monday put into effect what is viewed as a model for governmentwide telework policy, updating guidance for managers from one that presumed employees cannot telecommute to one that presumes they can.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

EDUCATION
Rise in Student Debt More Modest than Anticipated
With an average debt load of $25,250, the class of 2010 had a a 5 percent increase in student indebtedness from the previous year, in line with increases in recent years, according to a report by the Project on Student Debt, part of the Institute for College Access and Success, a non-profit that works to increase access to higher education.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

In Texas, Proposition 6 would tap trust fund for more education dollars
For years, Rob Orr has found something puzzling about the massive trust fund Texas has set aside to help fund its K-12 schools. As the endowment kept growing in value–at $25 billion, the fund is by far the nation’s largest of its kind–the annual payout to schools has remained relatively flat.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

COURTS
Supreme Court Examines Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony
Supreme Court justices on Wednesday challenged the notion that testimony from arguably unreliable eyewitnesses should be specially scrutinized at trial because of how it can lead to wrongful convictions.

To read this article, go to: USATODAY.com

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT
UN: Failure to Reduce Environmental Risks will set Back Human Development
The 2011 Human Development report, from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), concludes that problems such as worsening droughts in sub-Saharan Africa and rising sea levels that could engulf countries like Bangladesh, could send food prices soaring by up to 50% and reverse efforts to provide access to clean water, sanitation and energy to billions of people.

To read this article, go to: Guardian.com

NONPROFITS
11 Website Design Best Practices for Nonprofits
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the newly released book Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits. These best practices serve as a foundation for upgrading your website to be compatible with the Social Web.

To read this article, go to: LinkedIn.com

INTERESTING…
ND Farmers Push for Constitutional Right to Farm
North Dakota Farm Bureau President Eric Aasmundstad said the goal is to protect the future of the state’s agriculture industry before groups such as The Humane Society push through stricter farm animal welfare rules and other measures. Farmers say rules that increase their costs also push up the price of food in grocery stores.

To read this article, go to: NPR.org

Bottles to Bridges: Making Infrastructure from Recycled Plastic
Welsh company Vertech recently led the construction of Europe’s first 100 percent recycled plastic bridge. The roughly 90-foot bridge, which spans the River Tweed at Easter Dawyck in Peeblesshire, Scotland, was made out of 50 tons of waste plastic from end-of-life vehicle recycling and everyday plastic bottles.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

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