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In case you missed our Crucial Conversation this past Tuesday, here’s the video of the event: (Enjoy!)

2014 is here and, for now, North Carolina government remains stubbornly in the tea party camp. Are voters happy about this? What do they think about the current state of affairs and the politicians running the show? What’s likely to happen this May? How about this November?

And what’s on the state policy agenda for the coming months? Are conservatives wrapping up their agenda or just getting started?

Tom Jensen is the Director of the nationally recognized polling firm, Public Policy Polling and oversees its day-to-day operations. During his time at PPP, he has been a frequent guest for television and radio stations across the region and has been called on for expert analysis by publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report. He writes PPP’s blog and Twitter account in addition to crafting the content for most of its surveys.

Chris Fitzsimon is the Director of NC Policy Watch and North Carolina’s leading progressive media personality. Chris is a veteran journalist and nonprofit leader whose daily commentaries are heard on radio and read online throughout North Carolina.

Lunch Links

For your Wednesday lunch today-

Science:

  • Bill Nye, my childhood science mentor via PBS, debated Ken Ham last night on the science of evolution vs. creationism. Ham is the president of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where the debate took place and was livestreamed. Um, yeah. Mashable has a recap here.
  • You can also watch the debate on youtube, embeded below.

  • We have our own share of science-deniers here in the Tar Heel state… The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences denied to show a documentary Shored Up, about the impacts of climate change on places like our lovely Outer Banks, also one of my personal favorite places in the world… But hey, you can still catch it tonight at NCSU or tomorrow at Full Frame Theatre in Durham. More here from WRAL.
  • Trailer below.

Health and Technology:

  • Rumor has it Apple hired an expert on sleep research, Dr. Roy J.E.M. Raymann, onto its team developing the ‘iWatch’ project. So I guess you better watch out cause soon Santa will not be the only one who sees you when you’re sleeping. More here from The Telegraph.
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2013 saw a much needed discussion about race in many spheres of American. Particularly popular in the latter half of the year was the discussion of race in feminism a la #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which also led to other discussions such as who counts as a woman of color and Asian American feminism (#NotYourAsianSidekick). And it’s a discussion that continues and reaches all parts of the country, including our own Tar Heel state.

None of this discourse might seem particularly new, but in a way, this discussion, among others regarding issues of race in America, is more needed than ever. Especially when we realize that America in general overestimates how diverse our country really is.
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WRAL reports that a same-sex couple Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor exchanged vows Saturday in a ceremony at Fort Bragg. While it wasn’t a wedding (prohibited by Amendment One), hope may yet to come soon, if the trend from New Mexico and Utah continues to the Tar Heel state.

Only a few days ago, New Mexico became the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriages.

Utah soon followed suit, with a federal judge ruling against a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Thinkprogress has a breakdown of how the judge systematically tore down many of the arguments against marriage equality.

The events in Utah prompted one couple to get married an hour after the law was struck down. And dozens of couples soon did likewise.

Here in North Carolina, as NC Policy Watch has covered in a previous Crucial Conversation event, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of six couples seeking marriage equality and second-parent adoption rights, challenging the state’s constitutional ban.

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When we look back at 2013, it’s not exactly something to write home about with things like restrictive voter id laws, refusal to expand Medicaid, and well, just a lot of stuff happening to public education that’s too many to list

But have hope. If Time’s 2013 Person of the Year is any indication of shifting attitudes, we may soon to see a landscape that’s less on the ideological/doctrinal “policing” and more on the doing and service for the common good.

And in fact, the folks over at Think Progress makes the the case that 2013 is to be the best year in human history yet.

And Race Forward doesn’t disagree that there are victories in 2013 to celebrate:

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No question that there continue to be social inequalities throughout the U.S. and the world, but people in general are more aware about it. Even though in media and advertising, for example, portrayal of women has created “destructive” ideals, there’s also been examples of advertising that at least tries to address problems of gender inequality.

And the GOP itself has recognized the importance of reaching out to minority groups such as the Asian American community, a rapidly growing electorate in Florida, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina.

So all in all, things aren’t too bad. They could be worse. If these folks can forget their troubles for a second in their lives, I’m sure we’ll be able to carry on and work towards an even better 2014.

And… I’m not sure how this fits with anything, but I thought this cover of TLC’s “Waterfalls” was kind of cool:

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