In anticipation of his U.S. visit that starts today, the good people at the Sierra Club have distributed a collection of some of the statements on climate change from Pope Francis in his May 2015 encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home.” If only he could get the Koch Bothers and the countless public officials they control to read and listen.

Pope Francis arrives in Washington today, bringing approval ratings that are the envy of every politician. While the capital seems hopelessly divided, Americans are united in support of Francis’s leadership. This is cause for hope.

Below are some key quotes from the Pope’s Encyclical on climate change that may be of use. Many of these have not gotten wide exposure — this trip will help ensure the Pope’s views are more widely known.

Climate Change is “One of the Principal Challenges Facing Humanity”:

Chapter One, Section I, 25:

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Fossil Fuels must be Substituted with Renewable Energy:

Chapter One, Section I, 26:

“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.” Read More


As Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress writes in a new post, there is good reason to be very, very worried.

Less than a year from now, Roe v. Wade could be all-but-dead. Employers, health providers, and pharmacists could gain sweeping new power to impose their religious views on women who use birth control. And elected lawmakers could even be stripped of their power to correct Supreme Court decisions that read religious objectors’ rights too expansively. Simply put, the Supreme Court term that begins next month is likely to do more to determine how much control women have over their own bodies than any term since the justices decided Roe v. Wade.
(Emphasis supplied).

Click here to read the entire disturbing story.


In case you missed it, be sure to check out reporter Bruce Siceloff’s story in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which he explores the behind-closed-doors decision of unnamed state lawmakers to deep six the Triangle’s developing plans for a traffic-busting light rail system.

Siceloff quotes one of the legislature’s longest-serving and most influential conservative lawmakers, Rep. Paul Stam on Wake County as professing not to know the origins of the provision.

To which all a body can say in response is “give us a break.” Stam is either remarkably inept at his job or being remarkably dishonest. That something so important to his home county could be inserted without his knowledge or participation simply defies logic.

Speaking of inept, Governor McCrory comes off once again as utterly incompetent in the story — blasting the provision that he himself signed into law.

The bottom line: As is noted in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, the light rail killer is just the latest in a long line of recent anti-environmental provisions rammed through the General Assembly by conservative legislators and their buddies in the polluter lobby. Perhaps even more importantly, however, it is also a classic example of corrupt, secretive and unaccountable government at its worst.

You’d think a group of ideologues so cocksure of their twisted ideology as the current legislative leadership is would at least have the courage to stand beside their actions.

Sadly and quite pathetically, this is not the case.


Good news from the folks at ACLU of North Carolina:

RALEIGH – The Wake County Board of Commissioners today voted to add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to those protected by the county’s employment nondiscrimination policies. The measure, approved as part of a consent agenda, ensures that county employees cannot be discriminated against for their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

“We applaud the Wake County commissioners for joining the growing list of county and city governments that have expanded workplace protections in the interest of fairness and equality,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “Everyone deserves a fair chance at employment and advancement in the workplace, and no one should ever lose their job because of who they are or who they love. Employers know that part of attracting and retaining the best employees is offering a workplace that is fair, where qualified individuals are not discriminated against based on characteristics unrelated to the job. The sad reality is, despite overwhelming public support for protecting LGBT workers in North Carolina, it is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation in much of our state. We urge the General Assembly and other local governments across the state to pass comprehensive employment protections for LGBT workers.”

A 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 71% of North Carolina voters believe employers should not be able to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation.

State municipalities that have adopted LGBT nondiscrimination policies include Buncombe, Durham, and Mecklenburg Counties, and the cities of Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, High Point and Raleigh.

Stand by for some troubled souls on the right to tell us that barring discrimination somehow limits their “religious freedom.”


Jerry Williamson of Watauga Watch is on the money today with a biting attack on the widely reported decision of the powers that be in Raleigh to move up the 2016 state primary to March:

As Willimason notes:

“This week in Raleigh, the General Assembly will very likely move up the 2016 primary elections  to the Ides of March — for all offices, from the White House to the Courthouse.

Meaning, primarily, that challengers to incumbents will have far less time to make their case, whether they’re challenging a sitting (squatting?) county commissioner or a posturing U.S. Senator.”

Chris Fitzsimon also highlighted this shift in last week’s “Follies” column:

“It’s a huge advantage for incumbents. Potential primary opponents will have little time to get campaigns organized and to raise money.

Given the absurdly gerrymandered districts, the only threat to many state lawmakers comes in the primaries. Moving up the election reduces that threat.

It’s also worth noting that the sure to be unpopular expansion of the sales tax base to services like car repairs, appliance installation, and clothing alterations takes effect in March so many voters won’t realize they are paying more for basic services until the primary is over.

No wonder they are moving it up.”

What both men might have also noted is the simple absurdity of selecting candidates for an election almost eight months (1/3 of the term or many of the offices impacted) prior to the election. Several years ago, when litigation forced a delay, things actually went quite well with a September primary. We would do well to try that again.