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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.

Lunch Links

The quick and dirty lunch links for the day.

LGBTQ issues — The shifting tide:

Entertainment — On diversity… and lack thereof:

Going to space:

Days of future past?

“As all Americans, we need to be vigilant for whatever liberties and rights we have. If you take those away from someone else, you’re taking it away from yourself too.”

— Jim Matsuoka, former internee at the Manzanar detention/prison camp during the 1940s.

“You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again.”

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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Rep. Marcus Brandon, a key proponent of private school voucher legislation that made it through the General Assembly last summer, told NC Policy Watch that private Christian schools adopting policies that discriminate against gay students should not receive any taxpayer funds.

“I don’t believe they should get one dollar of taxpayer money,” said Brandon, a democratic lawmaker from Guilford County, in reaction to the news that Myrtle Grove Christian School in Wilmington just adopted a policy that excludes gay students and students from gay families from enrolling or continuing to attend their school. Read More

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You know things have taken a turn for a worse already under conservative control of the UNC system when the pro-discrimination forces on the religious right are happy with one of the first, major, high-profile decisions.

According to NC Values Coalition director Tami Fitzgerald, the Board’s decision to force LGBT kids back into same-sex living arrangements where they can be more easily bullied once again has brought “sanity to the university housing environment.’

Got that? God forbid that some gay 19 year-old boy might be able to room with a straight co-ed! As the WRAL story notes, more than 100 colleges around the country provide for a gender-neutral housing option (an option that former Chancellor Holden Thorp — a person who has actually interacted with a few modern college students — said was vital to protect the safety of some kids).    

But never mind that now; the sex-obesessed religious right (the same troubled group that fought against laws to protect bullied LGBT kids in the K-12 system for years) is still committed to returning North Carolina to the 1950′s — whatever the cost.