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FACT SHEET: Increasing Investment in Rural America


WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the White House Rural Council will host the inaugural Rural Opportunity Investment Conference (ROI) to promote potential investment opportunities that exist throughout rural America. Top leaders from the business community and financial institutions, senior government officials, rural economic development experts and others from across the country, will come together to discuss ways to develop partnerships that create jobs, grow small businesses, and invest in critical rural infrastructure.

In conjunction with this event, the White House Rural Council is announcing a $10 billion dollar investment fund to promote rural economic development. This fund will continue to grow the rural economy by increasing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.

The ROI conference and the new investment fund are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to promote investment in rural America, strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, and grow the U.S. economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council in 2011, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth, invest in rural education, provide emergency services, and address health disparities.

Public-Partnerships at Work

  • Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. The U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund represents a new approach to catalyzing private investment in infrastructure projects in rural America. CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank’s initial commitment. The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital. The new fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through private sector dollars. In others, private dollars may be leveraged with and extend critical government loan and grant programs.  USDA and other agencies will help to identify rural projects in need of financing through the new fund and through other such private sources and public-private partnerships. Target investments will include rural community facilities (especially health care and educational facilities), rural water and wastewater systems, rural energy projects, rural broadband expansion efforts, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.
  • Over $150 Million Investment Funds to Grow Small Businesses, Create Jobs in Rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of an investment fund earlier this year that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new rural equity fund will facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, which will manage the new fund, and nine Farm Credit institution partners, have pledged to invest over $150 million into the new effort.   USDA programs have historically provided loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, but before the creation of the Rural Business Investment Program, many small cutting-edge businesses did not have the opportunity to obtain equity support.  With the creation and implementation of this new program, USDA is pleased to announce this first of multiple rural equity funds. USDA is currently accepting applications for additional new rural equity funds.
  • $9.9 Million to Improve Health Care Quality and Address Rural Health Disparities.  The Department of Health and Human Services continues its efforts as part of the President's Improving Rural Health Care Initiative with $5.5 million to the Delta State Rural Development Network Grant program and $4.3 million for the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement grant program.  The Delta Network program invests in each of the eight States of the Delta region to address long-standing health care disparities.  The Small Health Care Provider Quality program supports 29 grants that help rural health clinics, community health centers and small rural hospitals improve health care outcomes for rural residents with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
  • Supporting Small, Rural Businesses. Small businesses create about two out of every three jobs in the U.S. each year, and roughly half of working Americans either own or work for a small business.   Small businesses are particularly crucial to the rural economy.

    • Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. The American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative are collaborating on a multi-year partnership providing tools and solutions to help strengthen rural America. In the partnership's inaugural year, the focus will be on building greater economic security by launching a Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative together with Startup Hoyas, Georgetown's Entrepreneurship Initiative. Several opportunities will be announced for people interested in rural issues across the U.S. to actively engage with Farm Bureau and the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, including an online educational series, the first of its kind rural entrepreneurship challenge and a national summit scheduled for October 14th at Georgetown University. The White House Rural Council will partner with Farm Bureau and Global Social Enterprise Initiative to plan the national summit at Georgetown University.
    • Made in Rural America. Earlier this year, the President directed the White House Rural Council to bring together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administration Administrator Contreras-Sweet, US Trade Representative Froman, and Export-Import Bank Chairman Hochberg are leading forums in rural America this summer to highlight opportunities for rural manufactures, value added producers, and service providers to grow their businesses by expanding to international markets. The partnership will also host a “Made in Native America” forum this fall to help Native-owned businesses access export opportunities.
  • Expanding Partnerships. The Administration recognizes that effective partnerships have a catalytic impact on achieving the Administration priorities, such as increasing opportunity and economic growth in rural America. Good ideas generated by the ROI Conference will be carried forward by the following partnership networks.

    • Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The newly stood up Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) takes an innovative approach to furthering conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, and wildlife on a regional scale.  The program enables partners, using a competitive process, to propose conservation projects that will leverage federal dollars with non-profit, producer, and non-traditional investors in areas of the country with critical conservation needs. The RCPP will invest more than $1.2 billion in natural resource conservation with a goal of doubling that effort through partnership contributions over the next five years. 
    • Georgetown University Law Center's Public Private Partnership Symposium. In conjunction with the White House Rural Council's Rural Opportunity Investment Conference, the Georgetown University Law Center will introduce its inaugural Public Private Partnership Symposium. Over the coming year, the Georgetown Law will host three full-day sessions to advance the ideas and lessons discussed at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference.  By bringing together private sector leaders, government officials, and academic scholars, the symposium will broaden opportunities for partnering, provide a venue for sharing knowledge and best practices, and promote economic growth.
    • The Build America Investment Initiative.  The Administration is committed to increasing public private partnerships and collaboration on U.S. infrastructure. Just last week, the President announced the new Build America Investment Initiative, which will use executive authorities to increase the flow of private capital into transportation, water, energy and other infrastructure sectors. The ROI conference will directly inform the ongoing work of the Build America Initiative, helping federal agencies to encourage more investment into rural communities and to key rural infrastructure sectors.
    • The Rural Health Philanthropy Partnership. This partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Rural Health Policy, Grantmakers in Health and the National Rural Health Association includes more than 30 State and regional Foundations and Trusts that seek to improve health care in rural communities.  In 2015, the Partnership is undertaking a Rural Funding Challenge with HHS dedicating $5 million and seeking a matched effort from the philanthropic community.

White House Rural Council's Sustained Support for the Rural Economy

Today's announcements build on three years of sustained work by the White House Rural Council to expand opportunity in all corners of rural America. The Rural Council has over twenty policy accomplishments supporting rural America in four priority areas: quality of life, innovation, economic opportunity, and conservation. These advancements will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last. These actions include:

Increasing Capital Access for Rural Small Businesses

USDA and SBA committed to providing $175 million in microloans to small businesses in rural areas for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, in addition to new business training and counseling opportunities. To date the two agencies have supported over $85 million to rural small businesses.

Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment

On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads are partnering to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks is speeding the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nation’s broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form "US Ignite." US Ignite is creating a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today's internet.  To further leverage private-sector involvement, a three-day Application Summit was conducted this June at the headquarters of Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley.  This session made numerous connections that will strengthen rural and urban communities through innovative broadband applications.   In total, this partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.

U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools

Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration is leveraging the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool is creating virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools.  As part of the push for broadband in public schools, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investing $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America's schools and libraries — connecting 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless.  Private-sector companies have also committed more than $2 billion to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms.  The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.

Local Food, Local Places

Recognizing the role local food systems can play in regional economic development, the Administration launched Local Food, Local Places in June, 2014.  This effort, a partnership between the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Commission, provides direct technical assistance to twenty communities integrating local food production into their civic planning process.

Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses

The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.

Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred

To support the Administration's "Blueprint for a Bioeconomy," the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

Rural Jobs Accelerator

The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" links Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" allows multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, creating improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources. USDA, EDA, Delta Regional Authority, and Appalachian Regional Commission have leveraged approximately $9 million in funding, with additional technical support from various Federal agencies including Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.

Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership

The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Unprecedented Investments in Rural America

Historic Investment in Rural America

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The White House Rural Council is chaired by Secretary Vilsack, who in his role as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture has made unprecedented state-by-state investments in rural America.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture works with thousands of farmers, ranchers and others living in rural communities every day and knows that there is no limit to the economic potential of rural America. Over the past five years, USDA has made significant investments to support those in rural America who drive the rural economy forward, carry out record conservation efforts, facilitate groundbreaking research, promote new markets for rural products, and provide a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply for American families. Secretary Vilsack invites the private sector to continue building innovative partnerships that drive investments, economic growth, and prosperity.

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ONU acusa a Israel de posibles crímenes de guerra en Gaza


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Iglesias de Arizona EEUU son atacadas por satanistas


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L’Indonesia di Jokowi


di Michele Paris

La commissione elettorale dell’Indonesia ha finalmente messo fine a settimane di incertezze e scambi di accuse reciproche tra i due candidati alla guida del paese, assegnando la vittoria nelle elezioni presidenziali del 9 luglio scorso all’ex governatore di Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Il nuovo leader del più popoloso paese musulmano del pianeta ha superato l’ex generale durante la dittatura di Suharto, Prabowo Subianto, facendo trarre un sospiro di sollievo agli Stati Uniti e alla comunità internazionale degli affari.

Al termine di un laborioso spoglio di oltre 133 milioni di schede provenienti da quasi mezzo milione di seggi elettorali, “Jokowi” ha ottenuto poco più del 53% dei consensi contro quasi il 47% del suo unico rivale. A scegliere il primo sono stati quasi 71 milioni di elettori, mentre al secondo sono andati 62,5 milioni di suffragi. Considerevole è stato il livello di astensionismo, stimato attorno al 30%.

Di fronte agli elettori indonesiani si sono presentati solo due candidati per la carica di presidente a causa dell’anti-democratica legge elettorale che consente solo ai partiti o alle coalizioni che detengono almeno il 20% dei seggi o hanno raccolto il 25% del voto popolare nelle elezioni legislative di presentare un proprio candidato. Nel voto per il rinnovo del parlamento nel mese di aprile, nessun partito aveva superato questa soglia, così che “Jokowi” e Prabowo sono stati candidati solo dopo la formazione di due nuove alleanze ad hoc.

Joko Widodo succederà così nel mese di ottobre al presidente uscente Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, il quale ha esaurito il limite massimo di due mandati previsto dalla Costituzione indonesiana. “Jokowi” è anche il primo dei cinque presidenti dell’era democratica in Indonesia a non avere ricoperto un qualche incarico ufficiale durante la dittatura di Suharto (1967-1998).

Pressoché sconosciuto alla gran parte degli indonesiani fino a pochi anni fa, il 53enne “Jokowi” aveva iniziato la sua carriera pubblica come sindaco della piccola città di Solo, nella provincia di Java centrale, ed è stato proiettato ai vertici della politica del suo paese grazie ai legami con i pezzi grossi del Partito Democratico Indonesiano di Lotta (PDI-P) della ex presidente Megawati Sukarnoputri, i quali hanno accuratamente promosso la sua immagine di politico pragmatico e di “uomo del popolo”.

L’annuncio dei risultati ufficiali non ha comunque chiuso l’accesa disputa in corso tra i due candidati, iniziata all’indomani del voto con la pubblicazione degli exit poll che avevano in gran parte indicato la vittoria di “Jokowi”. Prabowo aveva a sua volta citato un paio di istituti di ricerca che assegnavano invece a egli stesso la maggioranza dei consensi e si era perciò lanciato in pesanti accuse di brogli.

A poche ore dalla comunicazione dei risultati da parte della commissione elettorale nella giornata di martedì, Prabowo aveva addirittura minacciato di ritirare la propria candidatura per impedire l’annuncio del successo del suo avversario. Poco più tardi, l’ex generale diventato imprenditore ha fatto rientrare la minaccia ma ha comunque ritirato i suoi osservatori al conteggio e il suo staff ha fatto sapere di volere presentare un appello alla Corte Costituzionale sulla base di irregolarità riguardanti fino a 21 milioni di voti espressi in 52 mila seggi elettorali. La Corte avrà tempo fino alla metà di agosto per pronunciarsi ma la denuncia, secondo gli esperti, ha ben poche possibilità di andare a buon fine.

Dietro alla candidatura di Prabowo ci sono in particolare quelle sezioni delle élite indonesiane che si sono arricchite durante la dittatura e continuano a mantenere posizioni di rilievo nel paese del sud-est asiatico. Lo stesso Prabowo, il quale era il genero di Suharto, e il fratello, Hasim Djojohadikusumo, sono alla guida di gruppi imprenditoriali che operano in svariati settori con giri d’affari miliardari.

La combattività mostrata da Prabowo fin dalle elezioni di inizio luglio è dovuta anche all’assottigliarsi del vantaggio di “Jokowi” nelle settimane che avevano preceduto il voto. Fino al mese di maggio, infatti, i sondaggi indicavano per quest’ultimo un vantaggio superiore ai 12 punti percentuali ma, grazie anche alle maggiori risorse finanziarie di Prabowo e all’appoggio di molte importanti personalità politiche ottenuto dall’ex generale, tra cui quello del presidente uscente Yudhoyono,  la corsa aveva finito per diventare una sorta di testa a testa.

A favore della candidatura di “Jokowi” era intervenuto anche il governo americano nonostante la neutralità ufficiale dichiarata dall’amministrazione Obama. Proprio in concomitanza con la pubblicazione di sondaggi preoccupanti per “Jokowi”, l’ambasciatore USA a Jakarta, Robert Blake, in un articolo del Wall Street Journal a fine giugno aveva invitato l’establishment indonesiano a indagare sulle sospette violazioni dei diritti umani commesse in passato da Prabowo.

L’insolito intervento americano era scaturito dall’apparizione, tramite lo staff di “Jokowi”, di documenti relativi ai presunti crimini di Prabowo, da tempo peraltro accusato di essere responsabile di rapimenti e torture di studenti e oppositori di Suharto in qualità di capo delle famigerate forze speciali Kopassus.

La denuncia sui generis degli Stati Uniti era giunta non tanto per ragioni di giustizia o per scrupoli particolari per i diritti umani della popolazione indonesiana ma per motivi esclusivamente di natura strategica. D’altra parte, anche nella squadra di “Jokowi” ci sono molte figure compromesse col vecchio regime, tra cui l’ex generale ed ex candidato alla presidenza Wiranto, incriminato formalmente per crimini contro l’umanità nell’ambito delle atrocità commesse dall’esercito durante il ritiro da Timor Est nel 1999.

Washington, inoltre, ha alle spalle una lunga storia di interventi in Indonesia, a cominciare proprio dall’appoggio al colpo di stato militare di Suharto che portò alla dittatura e a una durissima repressione con centinaia di migliaia di morti.

In particolare, l’amministrazione Obama temeva una presidenza Prabowo per via del marcato nazionalismo dell’ex generale, considerato con ogni probabilità non sufficientemente propenso ad aprire ulteriormente il proprio paese al capitale internazionale, né ad adottare le “riforme” economiche ritenute necessarie e soprattutto, vista l’importanza strategica di questo paese, ad allineare senza riserve l’Indonesia alla “svolta” asiatica statunitense per contrastare l’avanzata della Cina.

Il programma elettorale di Prabowo includeva infatti alcune proposte di stampo populista, come la creazione di un sistema scolastico gratuito fino all’università e un aumento sensibile del salario minimo. Lo stesso Prabowo, poi, in una recente intervista sempre al Wall Street Journal, oltre a condannare l’aggressione di Israele contro Gaza, aveva messo in guardia i suoi connazionali dalla “minaccia imperialista” che graverebbe sull’Indonesia.

Al contrario, Joko Widodo, viene ritenuto un partner più affidabile sia dagli Stati Uniti che dagli ambienti finanziari internazionali e dalle grandi multinazionali del settore estrattivo che fanno profitti in Indonesia. Come ha rivelato in un’intervista realizzata per la Reuters prima della diffusione dei risultati finali del voto ma pubblicata solo dopo l’ufficialità della sua vittoria, il neo-presidente indonesiano si concentrerà da subito su una serie di questioni che difficilmente possono essere collegate all’immagine di “uomo comune” coltivata in campagna elettorale o alla promessa di alleviare gli esorbitanti livelli di povertà del suo paese.

Per cominciare, “Jokowi” si è detto disposto a negoziare con le compagnie estrattive per porre fine allo stallo seguito al divieto, deciso dall’amministrazione Yudhoyono a gennaio, di esportare minerali non processati nel tentativo di stimolare la creazione di impianti di trasformazione in Indonesia.

L’Indonesia è uno dei maggiori esportatori del pianeta di nickel, rame, bauxite e minerali ferrosi che producono profitti enormi per una manciata di multinazionali, soprattuto americane. Una di queste, la Newmont Mining, ha recentemente fatto appello all’arbitrato internazionale contro il governo di Jakarta a causa del divieto di esportazione, licenziando migliaia di dipendenti e mantenendo chiusa una miniera di cui detiene i diritti di sfruttamento.

Gli altri due punti all’ordine del giorno del prossimo governo saranno poi la riduzione dei sussidi pubblici ai prezzi dei carburanti e, come indicato nell’elenco delle “sfide immediate” stilato mercoledì dal Financial Times, il “miglioramento del clima per gli investitori”.

La fine dei sussidi che alleggeriscono parzialmente i conti delle famiglie più povere nei paesi “emergenti” sono ormai da tempo nel mirino delle rispettive classi dirigenti e degli organi finanziari internazionali come il Fondo Monetario e la Banca Mondiale. In Indonesia, questa voce di spesa ammonta a un quinto del bilancio dello stato e viene considerata uno spreco inutile di denaro dalle élite economiche e finanziarie. Sia Yudhoyono che Megawati, presidente dal 2001 al 2004, avevano in passato provato a tagliare i sussidi, scatenando però proteste popolari tra le classi più disagiate.

La creazione di un ambiente più favorevole all’afflusso di capitale straniero, infine, non rappresenta altro che una liquidazione delle regolamentazioni e dei vincoli che limitano l’ingresso degli investitori in Indonesia.

Queste e altre decisioni “difficili” metteranno subito alla prova il nuovo presidente, almeno secondo i commenti dei media ufficiali, visto che la crescita economica indonesiana continua ad essere aggiustata al ribasso e le compagnie internazionali alla ricerca di manodopera a bassissimo costo da sfruttare liberamente mostrano di preferire altre destinazioni in Asia sud-orientale.

Inevitabilmente, politiche simili provocheranno però un intensificarsi delle tensioni sociali e dovranno inoltre essere implementate in un panorama politico frammentato e senza una chiara maggioranza. Il PDI-P di “Jokowi”, infatti, fa parte di una coalizione con altri tre partiti che in parlamento controlla complessivamente appena il 37% dei seggi.

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Matrimoni gay: il caso Bologna


di Rosa Ana De Santis

Il sindaco di Bologna, Merola, non teme il Viminale e inaugura un precedente giuridico importantissimo sul caso dei matrimoni omosessuali. Dal 15 settembre, come scrive l’agenzia di stampa Dire, sarà possibile registrare e recepire il matrimonio di omosessuali avvenuto all’estero. Si tratta di una mossa che vuole aggirare e soprattutto denunciare le inadempienze della legislazione nazionale, nell’auspicio che il Parlamento senta l’urgenza di adeguarsi a norme di civiltà che in molti Paesi Europei sono vigenti.

Il caso è analogo alla legge sul fine vita e alla possibilità di far nascere dei testamenti biologici privati da depositare presso i notai, in attesa che una legge dello Stato possa avere un legittimo e ufficiale battesimo. E assomiglia al caso dei registri in vigore presso i Municipi di Roma Capitale per le coppie di fatto abbandonate dalla norma sui DICO rimasta una scatola vuota.

Bologna non è quindi la prima città a battezzare questa pratica e rispecchia un trend del Paese che è quello di sovvertire lo status quo che nasce dal timore di scardinare la legge e di lanciarla su nuovi fronti di bioetica, spingendo  dal “basso” le istanze che arrivano dalle famiglie e dai cittadini e da chi vive sulla propria pelle nuove e diverse modalità di vita sentimentale e privata.

Analogo il caso avvenuto per la legge 40 svuotata di senso dai ricorsi in tribunale di moltissime coppie italiane alla ricerca di un figlio e penalizzate da una legge ricca di veti e censure e lesiva della salute della donna. Ad oggi quella legge è sul banco degli imputati e il Ministro Lorenzin è sceso in campo parlando addirittura del dogma etico dell’eterologa.

Numerosi spunti quindi ci dicono che la strada ufficializzata a Palazzo d’Accursio porterà i suoi frutti, confermando un metodo che forse è anche il più giusto. Dare la parola direttamente ai cittadini e al loro vissuto sulla materia etica, educando le Istituzioni a legiferare senza ricorrere a facili e comode operazioni dall’alto e a freddo è forse la ricetta giusta per un Paese che per corredo genetico patisce il cambiamento.

Se pure arrivasse uno stop dal Viminale, la decisione avrebbe un effetto fortissimo sull’opinione pubblica e questo forse sortirebbe in ogni caso effetti positivi in merito al dibattito e alla sensibilità sul tema dell’omosessualità. Diventerebbe complicato dover educare all’inclusione della differenza, perorare la diffusione di pubblicità progresso contro l’omofobia e impedire parallelamente a due persone dello stesso sesso che scelgono di essere uniti sentimentalmente di avere gli stessi diritti e gli stessi doveri di due eterosessuali.

I costumi sociali e le regole cambieranno, anche questa volta, prima che nel Palazzo si trovi l’alleanza giusta per la votazione che non scontenta nessuno. La corsa verso il progressismo rischia di diventare quella con Papa Francesco.

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Even After Open Enrollment, Activity Remains Unexpectedly High on Federal Health Insurance Exchange


by Charles Ornstein

This story was co-published with NPR’s “Shots” blog.

For months, journalists and politicians fixated on the number of people signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. It turned out that more than 5 million people signed up using by April 19, the end of the open-enrollment period.

But perhaps more surprising is that, according to federal data released Wednesday to ProPublica, there have been nearly 1 million transactions on the exchange since then. People are allowed to sign up and switch plans after certain life events, such as job changes, moves, the birth of a baby, marriages and divorces.

The volume of these transactions was a jolt even for those who have watched the rollout of the ACA most closely.

“That’s higher than I would have expected,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “There are a lot of people who qualify for special enrollment, but my assumption has been that few of them would actually sign up.”

Federal Insurance Exchange Activity, By Month

Even though open enrollment has ended, enrollment and plan changes continue on the federal health insurance exchange, which covers 36 states.

 Before enrollment deadline
 After enrollment deadline

Note: This data covers health insurance transactions on the federal exchange through July 15. It includes both new enrollments, cancellations and plan changes. The open enrollment cycle drew to a close on April 19.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

The impact of the new numbers isn’t clear because the Obama administration has not released details of how many consumers failed to pay their premiums and thus were dropped by their health plans. All told, between the federal exchange and 14 state exchanges, more than 8 million people signed up for coverage. A big question is whether new members will offset attrition.

ProPublica requested data on the number of daily enrollment transactions on the federal exchange last year under the Freedom of Information Act because the Obama administration had declined to release this information, a key barometer of the exchange’s performance, to the public. The administration also has not put out any data on the exchange’s activity since the open enrollment period ended.

The data shows so-called “834″ transactions, which insurance companies and the government use to enroll new members, change a member’s enrollment status, or disenroll members. The data covers the 36 states using the federal exchange, which include Texas, Florida, Illinois, Georgia and Michigan.

When rolled out last fall, insurance companies complained that the information in the 834s was replete with errors, creating a crisis at the back-end of the system.

Between April 20 and July 15, the federal government reported sending 960,000 “834″ transactions to insurance companies (each report can cover more than one person in the same family). That includes 153,940 for the rest of April, 317,964 in May, 338,017 in June and 150,728 in the first 15 days of July. The daily rate has been fairly stable over this period.

It was not immediately clear how many of the records involved plan changes or cancellations and how many were for new enrollments.

An insurance industry official estimated that less than half of the transactions are new enrollments. The rest are changes: When an existing member makes a change to his or her policy, two 834s are created — one terminating the old plan and one opening the new one.

Charles Gaba, who runs the website that tracks enrollment numbers, estimates that between 6,000 and 7,000 people have signed up for coverage each day on the federal exchange after the official enrollment period ended. Gaba’s predictions were remarkably accurate during the open enrollment period.

“That doesn’t account for attrition. That doesn’t mean that they paid,” Gaba said. “That’s been based on limited data from a half dozen of the smaller exchanges, extrapolated out nationally.”

The federal data obtained by ProPublica confirm some other facts about the rollout of, which was hobbled initially by technical problems. The slowest day was Oct. 18, when no 834 transactions were sent. That was followed by Oct. 1, the day the website launched, when a grand total of six records were sent to insurers.

By contrast, the busiest day was March 31, the official end of open enrollment, when 202,626 “834″ reports were sent to insurers. The entire last week in March was busy.

About 86 percent of those who signed up for coverage on the federal exchange were eligible to receive government subsidies to help lower their monthly premiums. Those subsidies are being challenged by lawsuits in federal court contending they aren’t allowed by the Affordable Care Act.

Two federal appeals courts came to conflicting decisions Tuesday on the permissibility of the subsidies (one said yes; the other no). They will remain in effect as the cases proceed in the courts, the Obama administration said.

The next time that the general public can sign up for coverage through the exchanges is from November 15 to February 15, 2015.

Click here to download the data (Excel or CSV) released to ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read our previous coverage of the Affordable Care Act and share your story.

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Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate



Jeffrey Martin Baran, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2015, vice William D. Magwood, IV, resigning.

Stephen G. Burns, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the term of five years expiring June 30, 2019, vice George Apostolakis, term expired.

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Remarks by the President at DCCC Luncheon — CA


Private Residence
Los Altos Hills, California

12:00 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Oh, no need to stand again.  Sit down.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

Well, there are two reasons I’m here.  Number one, it’s really nice.  (Laughter.)  The weather is good.  It’s pretty — it’s gorgeous.  The second reason is George and Judy’s granddaughter and me, we’ve just got a connection.  (Laughter.)  She is adorable.  There she is.  (Laughter and applause.)  Look how happy she is to be with the President.  (Laughter and applause.)  I may take her with me.  (Laughter.)  She is gorgeous. 

A couple of people I want to thank.  Obviously, George and Judy, we want to thank them not only for their incredible hospitality, but for the amazing support that they provided to so many important causes through the years.  It’s wonderful to see somebody who has really lived out the American Dream, remembers it, and wants to give back.  And so please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

One of my favorite people, even if I did not entirely depend on her for all kinds of stuff — she is somebody who combines grace and intelligence and toughness with deep and abiding compassion.  And she has just been a remarkable partner to me throughout my presidency, and George is exactly right, I need her back as Speaker of the House — Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)

Nancy could not do what she does unless she has good partners in Congress.  And one of the best partners she could ever hope for is your own Congresswoman, who not only represents this district but is a leader on issues across the board and has been a great friend — Anna Eshoo.  Thank you for all the work, Anna, on this.  (Applause.)

And then we’ve got a couple of candidates who are here.  Michael Eggman is here.  Where is Michael?  There he is.  (Applause.)  And Amanda Renteria — there she is — Renteria.  (Applause.)  Two outstanding candidates and part of what it is that we’re just trying to build here and across the country.

I’ve got so many friends, so many people who have supported me for so long.  As I look back, I realize how many of you have pictures of me with no gray hair.  (Laughter.)  You’re chronicling the slow deterioration of Barack Obama.  But as a consequence, one of my main functions here today is just to say thank you because you guys have been incredibly supportive in everything that we’ve done at every stage.  Many of you supported me back when I was running for the U.S. Senate, when nobody could pronounce my name, and then helped to mobilize an amazing movement back in 2008, and it continued until today.

So because I know so many of you so well, I’m not going to speak long at the top.  What I want to do is spend most of the time in a conversation with you.  Let me just make a couple of observations. 

Number one, as George alluded to, when we came into office we were going through the worst economy since the Great Depression.  In fact, the contraction was actually larger by some measures than the Great Depression.   In part because of the incredible resilience of the American people, but in part because we actually put some smart policies in place, the record over the last five years is some pretty remarkable progress. 

There’s almost no economic measure by which we are not better off today than we were when I came into office — that 52 straight months of job growth; 10 million jobs created; this past year, the biggest drop in unemployment in 30 years.  Unemployment now is lower than it was before Lehman’s.  We’ve seen the deficit cut by more than half.  Millions of people have health care that didn’t have it before and health care inflation is the lowest that it’s been in 50 years.  The stock market, obviously, has more than recovered and that’s important for Wall Street but, more importantly, it’s important for Main Street.  People whose 401(k)s had collapsed have built up some sense of retirement security once again.

When I came into office, investors around the world thought that China was the top place to do business.  Today they think that America is the top place to do business — in part because of the fact that we’ve recovered faster than most industrialized nations and come further; in part because some of the energy policies that we’ve put in place means that for the first time in over 20 years we’re now producing more oil than we import.  We doubled clean energy, tripled the amount of wind energy that we produce, increased by 10 times the amount of solar energy that we’re producing, and we have reduced carbon pollution by the largest factor of any industrialized nation.  High school dropout rates have gone down; college attendance is up. 

And when you put all this together — manufacturing stronger than any time since the 1990s; an auto industry that was on the verge of collapse now fully recovered and stronger than ever and producing cars that not only people want to buy but also are slated to double fuel efficiency by the next decade — it’s no wonder then that a lot of people outside of the United States would say we’ve got the best cards out there.  There’s no country that wouldn’t gladly trade places with us in terms of our strategic position.  And part of that is also because we continue to have a culture of innovation and dynamism that Silicon Valley represents better than anyplace else on Earth.

And yet, there’s a lot of anxiety out there.  And there’s anxiety for a couple of reasons.  Number one, for all the progress that we’ve made, there’s a 20, 30-year trend that has not changed, and that is that more and more, productivity, corporate profits, the benefits of innovation accrue to folks at the very top.  And the middle class and folks striving to get into the middle class, they’re stuck.  They feel like they’re treading water.  They feel as if, no matter how hard they work, they can’t get ahead, and, more worrisome, they’re concerned that their kids are not going to be able to get ahead.

And the second concern people have is it feels as if Washington doesn’t work and doesn’t listen to people and isn’t paying attention to them.  And those two things are related. 

There are specific policies we could put in place that we know would make life easier for people out there who are working hard on behalf of their families and trying to do the right thing.  We know that if we had a sensible policy of rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our ports, a smart grid — that all of that would spur on growth, put people to work right away; we’d have lower unemployment, and we’d be setting the stage for economic growth for decades to come. 

We know that if we invest in early childhood education, every dollar we put in we get $7 back in terms of kids doing better in school, less likely to drop out, less likely to end up in prison, less likely to be unemployed.  We know that.

We know that 28 million people would be helped if we raise the minimum wage so that it’s comparable to what it was 20 years ago.  We know that if we helped working families deal with issues like child care that that would be an enormous burden lifted off them.  We know that if women who are in the workforce aren’t getting paid less than men for doing the same job, that’s not just good for the women, it’s good for entire families because, as Anna and Nancy often remind us, when women succeed, America succeeds.  (Applause.)  And by the way, as the child of a single mom, you don’t have to convince me on that. 

So we know what works.  This is not a technical problem.  We have some big technical issues:  What are the — what’s the next big energy breakthrough that’s going to allow us to fully contain the dangers of climate change?  How do we make sure that all the innovation and productivity that is taking place and generated in places like this translate into more jobs and not more layoffs? 
There’s some big, technical, economic issues, scientific issues that we have to address.  But if we just took some common-sense steps, this country would grow faster, more people would be working, more families would be better off. 

And the reason we don’t do it is because politics doesn’t work in Washington.  And the reason politics does not work in WashingtonI want to be clear — is not because both parties are in the tank.  It’s not because everybody who goes to Congress is solely self-interested.  The reason it doesn’t work right now is because we have one party that has no agenda other than making government not work; whose primary function, primary purpose right now, if you distill their ideology, comes down to saying no to any efforts to help ordinary families get ahead.  Some of it is ideologically-driven.  Some of it is driven by pure political calculation — because what they know is if government is not working, people get cynical; and if people get cynical they do not vote; and if people do not vote that advantages them. 

And so I hope the reason that you’re here today is because you want to get something done.  And in order to get something done, we have to reverse that cycle.  We have to break this cycle of gridlock and cynicism.  And there’s a real simply way to do it:  It’s making sure that people who are serious about governing are in power. 

And I say that not as a strict partisan.  Yes, I am a Democrat and I’m a proud Democrat.  But my favorite President is the first Republican President from my home state of Illinois, a guy name Abraham Lincoln.  And there has been throughout our history contributions by both parties to advance the common good. I’d love nothing more than a loyal and rational opposition.  But that’s not what we have right now, and as a consequence we’re going to need change.  And to bring about change, we’re going to need you. 

So I’ll just close by saying that Democrats have a lot of good qualities.  We do have a congenital defect, and that is we do not vote during midterm elections.  But I need everybody here to have as great a sense of urgency about these midterms as you had about my election in 2008, or my election in 2012.  Because as much as I can do as President of the United States, I cannot do it alone.  I need partners.  I need help.  And that help comes in the form of having Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and having Anna as somebody who’s in the majority.  So I hope all of you get to work. 

With that, let me take some questions.  (Applause.)

12:13 P.M. PDT

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