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Food labelIf you’re getting ready to pop open a cup of yogurt or a can of soup for lunch today, be sure to take note of the nutrition label as it’s about to get a smidge more relevant and informative in the near future thanks to a new Food and Drug Administration directive and some helpful advocacy from First Lady Michelle Obama.  And, of course, it probably won’t be long before the denizens of the Pope Empire inform us that this is all a matter of big government quashing the “freedom” of unfettered markets.

And speaking of “free” markets, the right wing is — amazingly enough — weighing in again of late to inform us that not only is raising the minimum wage a terrible idea, but so, indeed, is the VERY IDEA of minimum wage laws. First it was the John Locke Foundation in this essay last week and then, yesterday, it was state House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

And speaking of the U.S. Senate, here’s a doozy: Read More

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Gay prideOne of the most amazing developments in recent public policy debates has been the emergence of so much common ground between so-called Christian conservatives and the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Who would have guessed that just a few decades after Ronald Reagan sought to confront the leaders in the Kremlin over what he called their “evil empire,” that his and their successors would find so much to share?

There’s the mutual devotion to unfettered plutocratic capitalism, the shared belief that environmentalists should be generally ignored, the common desire to link church and state and, perhaps most famously of late, the fact that both parties are willing to do whatever it takes to marginalize and discriminate against the LGBT community.

This strange mutual admiration society has arguably reached new heights in recent weeks with the largely successful Sochi Olympic games in which Putin emerged stronger than ever and the rise of a new wave of Putinist anti-gay proposals in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Happily, however, the whole bizarre and disturbing union suffered a big setback yesterday when Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona bowed to widespread national pressure (the owners of the NFL, for instance, made it clear they’d take back the 2015 Super Bowl from Phoenix if she signed it) and vetoed a proposal that would have permitted discrimination against gays in the name of “religious freedom.”

Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for American Putinism, but given the Russian leader’s relative youth and vast fossil fuels-based wealth (and the passion that so many misguided Americans still bring to the cause of social reaction), we’re probably not out of the woods yet.

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Blue CrossWe’ve often given Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina a hard time down through the years here at The Pulse, but today the insurance giant deserves credit for admitting it screwed up and taking action to correct its recent error of cancelling polices of same-sex couples.

According to BCBSNC boss Brad Wilson: “We should have more thoughtfully considered this decision, with full appreciation of the impact it would have on same-sex married couples and domestic partners. We’re sorry we failed to do so.”

Good for Wilson and BCBSNC. You can read the company’s entire statement by clicking here.

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Same-sex adoptionSame-sex adoption2

NC Policy Watch, the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina are proud to host a very special Crucial Conversation — “Parents in life, strangers on paper: How North Carolina laws barring second-parent adoption and marriage for same-sex couples jeopardize families and their children.”

Featuring Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation; Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina; and parents Chantelle Fisher-Borne, Shawn Long and Craig Johnson, plaintiffs in Fisher-Borne v. Smith, a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s bans on second-parent adoption and marriage for same-sex couples on behalf of six North Carolina families.

When: Tuesday, December 3 at 12:00 p.m. – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here for parking info.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

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Buddy Collins

According to an announcement released earlier today, Gov. McCrory has appointed A.L. “Buddy” Collins of Forsyth County to a two-year term on the state Task Force on Safer Schools. According to the release:  “The task force will provide guidance to the Center for Safer Schools and consider future policy and legislative action that is needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.”

The selection of Collins (pictured at left in an image taken from the website of the advocacy group Equality NC) comes as a bit of a surprise given the controversy that swirled around his original nomination to the Board of Education. That nomination, of course, was opposed vehemently by human rights advocates — particularly folks in the LGBT community — because of Collins’ repeated past clashes with advocates over proposed rules to protect LGBT children from bullying while serving on the Forsyth County Board of Education.

That controversy led Equality NC to detail a list of half-dozen objectionable acts by Collins and to call for Gov. McCrory to reconsider Collins’ nomination — an act he apparently never took.

Today’s appointment is rendered all the more interesting (and even ironic) by the fact that the Governor’s new “comprehensive plan” to make schools safer specifically mentions bullying at least 30 times.