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Good to Know…Week of August 15, 2011

Could Unspent Stimulus Money Be Used to Fend Off a New Recession?
The nation’s top economists are already giving odds on a double-dip recession. The Federal Reserve has only a few bullets left in its gun. And Congress seems politically paralyzed to come up with any new infrastructure or tax-cut plan that would fire up the economy.

To read this article, go to: Propublica.org

USPS Aims to Cut a Third of Workforce
The U.S. Postal Service is planning to cut 220,000 employees–roughly a third of its workforce, and half of those through layoffs–by 2015.

To read this article, to go: FederalTimes.com

New CNN Poll: Majority Want Tax Increase for Wealthy and deep spending cuts
Washington (CNN)–Most Americans want a special congressional committee tasked with drafting a long-term solution to the nation’s mounting federal deficits to include tax hikes for the wealthy and businesses and deep cuts in domestic spending, according to a new national survey.

To read this article, go to: CNN.com

A Brief History of S&P’s State Credit Ratings
Last week, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the federal government’s AAA credit rating. While Washington had never experienced the sting of a downgrade before, California, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey are all too familiar with the feeling, as this Stateline look at the past ten years of S&P state credit ratings actions shows.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Debt Deal May Not be as Rough on States as Initially Feared
For states, the federal agreement to raise the debt ceiling has inspired confusion and consternation in equal parts. State officials knew that cuts in federal aid were coming their way, but when the deal was struck August 1, they had little sense of how deep the reductions would be and which programs they’d cover.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

New Rules and Old Plants May Strain Summer Energy Supplies
Washington, DC–As 58 million people across 13 states sweated through the third day of a heat wave last month, power demand in North America’s largest regional grid jurisdiction hit a record high. And yet there was no shortage, no rolling blackout and no brownout in an area that stretches from Maryland to Chicago.

To read this article, go to: NYTimes.com

Social Security Told to Improve Online Services
Given the number of people Social Security Administration (SSA) services reach and the increase in their use of online options, the agency should develop a stronger long-term plan for online customer self-service, a federal auditor said.

To read this article, go to: InformationWeek.com


Rising Restrictions on Religion
The kinds of social hostilities that recently erupted in violence in Norway have been rising across Europe, a new report by the Pew Forum shows. Social hostilities involving religion have risen substantially in a number of European countries, including Sweden, Denmark and the U.K. The report also looks at government restrictions on religious beliefs and practices around the world.

To read this article, go to: PEWResearch.org


7.2 million: Growth of Mexican-American Population
In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals. This new trend–true of all Hispanic-American populations–means in contrast with the previous two decades, births have overtaken immigration as the main driver of the dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population.

To read this article, go to: PEWResearch.org

Pakistan May Be Standing in Way of Polio’s Eradication
Several Pakistani news outlets today are dissecting a troubling finding from the U.N. Children’s Fund: the 63 cases of polio diagnosed in the country so far this year are nearly double the 36 detected during the same period last year.

To read this article, go to: TheAtlanticWire.com

Energy Dept. Panel to Endorse Fracking
A key Energy Department advisory panel will issue a qualified endorsement of shale gas exploration Thursday, saying that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can continue safely as long as companies disclose more about their practices and monitor their environmental impact.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

EPA, USDA Outline Plan to Help Rural Water Systems
The federal government is stepping in to help cash-strapped local governments improve rural water systems.

To read this article, go to: WSJ.com

UN to Assad: Military Force on Civilians Must Stop
United Nations–The U.N. chief told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday that he was alarmed by the escalating violence in Syria and demanded that Assad stop deploying the military against civilians.

To read this article, go to: Trust.org

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