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Good to Know…Week of August 1, 2011


FEDERAL DEFAULT
Debt Deal Reached; Major Cuts Coming
President Obama announced Sunday night a hard-fought deal with congressional Republicans to slash the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion over 10 years and lift the nation’s debt-ceiling limit to avoid a catastrophic default. The pact includes no tax increases sought by the president.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

How a Federal Default Would Hit States
If the federal government begins defaulting on its obligations next week, it will clearly have some impact on states. The question nobody knows the answer to is: How much? A lot would depend on how the U.S. Treasury decides to prioritize its payments, as this analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center makes clear. In some scenarios, programs that states rely heavily on federal dollars for, such as Medicaid, food stamps or welfare, could get short shrift. In other scenarios, economic damage could ripple out through states if federal employees don’t get paid, veterans don’t receive benefits or retirees don’t see Social Security checks.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

TRANSPORTATION
Mapnificent Visualizes the Boundaries of Public Transportation
No more blaming being late on the subway. An online mapping tool lets you see exactly how far you can get on public transportation in a given amount of time.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

ENVIRONMENT
Gulf Oil Spill Victims Weary of Wait for Payouts
NEW ORLEANS–Robert Campo once believed the TV commercials by oil giant BP that promised to “make it right” and compensate those along the Gulf Coast who lost work during last year’s disastrous oil spill.

More than a year after the spill ruined his oyster beds, however, Campo is still waiting for what he believes is full payment. The $20 billion fund created by BP to compensate those ruined by the spill has offered him less than one-third of what he requested. He’s still waiting to hear why.

To read this article, go to: USAToday.com

EPA Unveils Massive Restoration Plan for Chesapeake Bay
The Environmental Protection Agency established an aggressive “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday, spelling out steps that six states and the District must take by 2025 to put the troubled estuary on the path to recovery.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

EPA Unveils Air-Quality Rules for Natural-Gas Fracking
The Obama administration on Thursday proposed the first national air standards for gas wells that are drilled using a controversial practice known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

To read this article, go to: WSJ.com

POLITICS
Americans Elect seeks to upend primary system
Reporting from Washington—County registrar offices across California on Thursday will begin receiving the product of an audacious enterprise–nearly 1.6 million signatures collected by Americans Elect, a group attempting to ride exasperation with the nation’s political leaders into a place on the ballot in all 50 states by 2012.

To read this article, go to: LATimes.com

Does Twitter Make Our Politics More Partisan?
The ease of communication flowing on Twitter can be a force for good. But it also seems to be exacerbating our political polarization.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

TECHNOLOGY
Army Wants Smart Phones, Apps to be Standard Issue
The Army wants a few good smart phones. It also wants tablet computers and any other handheld electronics that can help soldiers perform with more efficiency on and off the battlefield.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

HOUSEHOLD WEALTH
Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics
The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

To read this article, go to: PEWResearch.org


TELEWORK

New WH Memo Outlines Telework Security Guidelines
A senior Obama administration official is reminding federal agencies that they must comply with security guidelines while implementing the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.

To read this article, go to: FCW.com

FAA
Wait, Parts of the FAA Have Been Shut Down? We Explain.
While lawmakers deadlock over long-term deficit reduction plans tied to the raising of the debt ceiling, one federal agency—the Federal Aviation Administration—has been in partial shutdown for nearly a week. The issue has largely been overshadowed by the debt debate, but as the New York Times notes, it’s another example of our current legislative dysfunction that’s had real consequences.

To read this article, go to: ProPublica.org

MEDICAID
Medicaid Explained: How a ‘Blended Rate’ Would Work
If Democrats and Republicans in Washington ever come together on a deal to cut trillions of dollars from the federal budget, it almost certainly would require changes to Medicaid, the state-run health care program for the poor that consumes about 8 percent of the federal budget.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

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