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Good to Know…Week of August 22, 2011


ECONOMY AND BUDGET
U.S. Still AAA Nation, Says Credit-Rater Fitch
Notably, the rater also assigned a stable outlook on that rating over the long term, setting itself apart as relatively optimistic about the nation’s overall fiscal picture.

To read this article, go to: TheHill.com

Economic Myths: We Separate Fact From Fiction
With the recent Iowa straw poll and President Obama’s bus tour, Americans are hearing a cacophony of arguments about the wobbly economy. The federal stimulus package passed in 2009 was either a deficit-busting failure full of wasteful projects or an unparalleled rescue that would have been more successful if it had only been bigger.

To read this article, go to: ProPublica.org

OMB Directs Agencies to Cut 2013 Budgets
The Obama administration is directing federal agencies to submit fiscal 2013 budget requests that are at least 10 percent below their current appropriation level.

To read this article, go to: GovExec.com

More Voters Worry Government Will Not Do Enough to Help Economy
On the heels of the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, unhappiness with the debt ceiling debates and more unemployment and housing woes, more voters than ever worry that the federal government will not do enough to help the economy.

To read this article, go to: RasmussenReports.com


WORK FORCE

Cities Give Same-Sex Couples Benefits
As more states legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, a growing number of local governments are extending or considering extending benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. For cash-strapped governments, the cost of the additional employee benefits can be a point of contention, but it is just one of several factors city and county officials consider when deciding whether to offer benefits to same-sex couples.

To read this article, go to: AmericanCityandCounty.com

Workers’ Comp Systems Getting Stricter
Montana has long had a workers’ comp problem. Its labor force is injured far more frequently and at greater expense to employers than is typical around the country. Part of that stems from the jobs people do in Montana–drilling for oil and working in mines. But part of it has been the system itself.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Obama Orders Agencies to Improve Diversity of Their Workforces
Within 90 days, the Office of Personnel Management and Office of Management and Budget will issue a governmentwide strategic plan for improving workplace diversity, focusing on recruitment, hiring, promotion, retention, professional development, and training policies and practices. That four-year plan will highlight strategies agencies can use to remove barriers to equal employment opportunities.

To read this article, go to: FederalTimes.com


IMMIGRATION

U.S. Alters Policy on Deporting Immigrants
In a surprise announcement, the Obama administration said it will review the deportation cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants and might allow many of them to stay in the U.S., a decision that angered immigration hard-liners and pleased Hispanic advocacy groups.

To read this article, go to: WSJ.com

U.S. Will Focus on Deporting Criminals
The Obama administration declared yesterday that it would grant an indefinite reprieve to an estimated thousands of immigrants facing deportation, allowing them to stay and work legally so officials can more quickly deport convicted criminals and other serious cases.

To read this article, go to: Boston.com

Religious Leaders File Statements in Court Opposing Alabama Immigration Law
Religious leaders from around the state have filed statements in federal court expressing their concern that Alabama’s new immigration law would interfere with the practice of their religion and Christian mandates to minister to all people.

To read this article, go to: AL.com

Colleges Ask Proof of Legal Residency
So far only one out of the more than 10,000 students granted preliminary acceptance were barred from enrolling because the student is an illegal immigrant.

To read this article, go to: AJC.com

WELFARE
In Hard Times, Welfare Cases Drop in Some States
Monday marks 15 years since President Clinton signed an overhaul of the nation’s welfare system into law. The president said the measure wasn’t perfect, but provided a historic opportunity to fix a system that didn’t work.

To read this article, go to: NPR.org

EDUCATION
Women See Value and Benefits of College; Men Lag on Both Fronts, Survey Finds
Half of all women who have graduated from a four-year college give the U.S. higher education system excellent or good marks for the value it provides given the money spent by students and their families; only 37% of male graduates agree.

To read this article, go to: PEWResearch.org

ACT Scores Up, More U.S. Students Ready for College
The class of 2011 showed small gains in ACT scores, according to a new report, but America still has a long way to go before all high school graduates are prepared for college or a career.

To read this article, go to: CSMonitor.com

HEALTH CARE
Health Law is Dealt Blow by a Court on Mandate
The provision in President Obama’s health care law requiring Americans to buy health insurance or face tax penalties was ruled unconstitutional on Friday by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.

To read this article, go to: NYTimes.com

A New Plan To Mutate HIV Out Of Existence
Instead of simply blocking HIV from replicating, a new drug in trial stages causes it to mutate. If it works, it could eventually fully eliminate HIV in people who have the disease, freeing them from a lifetime of drugs.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

Medicaid Offering Bigger Drug Discounts than Medicare
Governors have complained repeatedly in recent months that spiraling Medicaid costs are crushing their budgets. But there’s good news on at least one line item in the $370 billion program–prescription drug discounts are getting more generous.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

CHILD WELFARE
National Child Welfare Survey Examines Recession
A national study on child well-being to be published Wednesday found Nevada had the highest rate of children whose parents are unemployed and underemployed. The state is also home to the most children affected by foreclosures–13 percent of all Silver State babies, toddlers and teenagers have been kicked out of their homes because of an unpaid mortgage, the study found.

To read this article, go to: FoxNews.com

TECHNOLOGY
Virtual USA: How Geospatial Tech is Changing Government
Every once in a while, a technology comes along that can fundamentally transform the way governments work–and work with one another. According to participants in recently concluded pilot projects of Virtual USA, the program’s technologies are doing just that. Virtual USA is the Homeland Security Department’s effort to coordinate development and integration of geospatial tools at all levels of government.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

Amazon Launches Cloud Services For Government
According to Amazon, the new offering, Amazon Web Services GovCloud, will meet a host of strict regulatory requirements specific to government. It’s designed to meet moderate security control levels under the Federal Information Security Management Act and to meet FIPS 140-2, a federal cryptography standard.

To read this article, go to: InformationWeek.com

DARPA at Work on Satellite-free Navigation System
The U.S. military’s weapons and communications systems rely on global positioning data to determine their locations. But satellite navigation systems are becoming more susceptible to jamming during a conflict.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

Protective Services Risk Assessment System Fails, GAO Says
The Federal Protective Service’s new risk assessment information system is millions of dollars over budget, two years behind schedule and despite corrective efforts is not functional, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

To read this article, go to: FCW.com

TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Deadlock Worries States
When federal lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next month, one of their first assignments will be the normally routine task of finding money for better roads and rails. But given Congress’ recent track record of letting seemingly mundane matters build to a crisis, transportation experts are keeping a wary eye on Washington.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org


U.N. NEWS

U.N. Atom Body Wants Wider Nuclear Safety Checks
The U.N. atomic agency would carry out international safety checks of ten percent of the world’s reactor units over a three-year period, under a draft action plan to prevent any repeat of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

To read this article, go to: Reuters.com

CLIMATE CHANGE
U.S. Cities Prepare to Adapt to Climate Change
While some members of Congress debate the scientific validity of climate change, these U.S. cities are going beyond efforts to mitigate it with lower greenhouse gas emissions. They’re at the forefront of an emerging trend: adaptation.

To read this article, go to: USAToday.com

INTERESTING…
Your Next Home Will Be A Robot
Your next home may be more rammed with servos, sensors, and wireless than the average android. Bonus: As well as being more sci-fi, it will save you energy and money. The home automation field is about to explode.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

Only 3% of What You Buy is Made In China, But It’s the Most Important 3%
When we outsourced manufacturing to China and Japan and Taiwan, we may have lost something far more important than low-wage jobs. We may have lost the ability to innovate and grow.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

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