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a.MKE The List: Obama's Summer Jobs+ Program & Creativity Heals & Turner Hall Ballroom: Today’s Top Stories

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The Nation’s Labor Department reports that the number of people looking for unemployment benefits fell further last week…dropping by 15,000, which is ending the year on a three-month decline while pointing to a stronger job market in 2012.

Wisconsin’s Democratic Party says it won’t be releasing any more updates on the recall signature count of Governor Walker that is of course until the deadline on January 17th. The last update was on December 15th when organizers said they were 90 % of the way there with 507,000 signatures, but their goal is to gain 720,000 signatures. The party is setting a deadline of next Tuesday for petitions by mail.

Some Packers fans have had their jerseys for years…others got them for the Superbowl last year or maybe you just got one for Christmas. At any rate, Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still the top selling jersey according to the National Football League. Basically from April 1st through the end of 2011, Rodgers sold the most and Clay Matthews followed closely behind in second place.

Yesterday President Obama announced a summer jobs program that aims to employ 250,000 young people. The program called “SummerJobs+” will have commitments from private-sector employers, federal agencies and nonprofits. Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc. is expected to participate and is committed to creating at least 20 new positions. Obama said, “America’s youth can’t wait for congress to act” when it comes to the American Jobs Act, so “this is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

Governor Walker along with the “Read to Lead Task Force” are pushing for improving reading achievement in Wisconsin. A recent report from the state education task force is recommending all schools implement early literacy screenings for kindergarten students and that potential teachers need to pass a more rigorous reading test before getting their licenses. Since the 90’s, Wisconsin’s average reading score has fallen while the national average has risen.

Tonight you can find “Creativity Heals” at Turner Hall Ballroom from 5-11 p.m. There will be live music, art, theater, dance and spoken word. The event is aimed at raising awareness about the role creativity and the arts have in helping and educating the community about mental health and well-being. All proceeds go to community based, advocacy group, NAMI of Greater Milwaukee.