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Frozen foodBaby, it’s cold outside! Another blast of polar air has settled into the eastern half of the country and appears likely to stick around for a while.  WRAL.com forecasts little relief over the next week and sports geek tongues are starting to wag about the possibility of the first truly frigid Super Bowl (which is scheduled in New Jersey for Groundhog’s Day). The website nflweather.com (yes, there really is such a site!) says it’s too early to offer a prediction, but other sites (e.g. Accuweather) are already publicly predicting tolerable temps.

And speaking of weather, rest assured that climate change deniers are — as they always do — seizing on the current cold snap as “evidence” that the planet really isn’t warming. If only that were the case. The scientists at NOAA tell us that 2013 tied as the fourth hottest year on record.

Yet another interesting take on the weather comes from conservative Illinois congressional candidate Susanne Atanus. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Atanus went all Pat Robertson the other day during an interview with the paper — telling the editors that “she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized abortions.”

Meanwhile, speaking of troubled souls plagued by certifiably insane ideas, check out “The Year in Homophobia” over on the website Right Wing Watch. Read More

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I, for one, am glad it’s Friday and I’m betting Aldona Wos feels the same way.

Wos, the state’s Health and Human Services, had a blockbuster week with more reporting over the weekend about federal threats to halt food stamps administrative funding, a day-long hearing Tuesday spent answering tough questions at the legislature, and a group of doctors filing what they hope to be a class-action lawsuit yesterday over delayed Medicaid payments to providers around the state.

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As 2013 fast recedes in the rear-view mirror, many of us would like to think that the worst of the Koch brothers/Tea Party/conservative theocracy wackiness is over. Unfortunately, there is ample reason to believe that 2014 will be even more of a knockdown, drag-out political battle. Here are just a few reminders as to why this is the case and why caring and thoughtful people will need to bring their “A games” in the coming year to push back  successfully:

Big, dark money - Dan Besse, editor of the excellent N.C. League of Conservation Voters blog, provides a link this morning to a story in Scientific American from over the holidays that highlights a new Drexel University study about who funds the climate change-denial movement. Surprise! The bucks aren’t coming from the grassroots.

Asheville: facing abolition? As was reported several times in 2013, one of the General Assembly’s most conservative ideologues, Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County, has been waging a nonstop war with the city of Asheville for some time — whether it’s taking away the city’s water system or its airport. Now, comes word from Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle that Moffitt may want to go a lot further.

Standing fast in favor of discrimination – Another discouraging story from over the holidays came from the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which is doubling-down in support of discrimination against LGBT kids and families. Read More

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For Lunch Links today, I’ll highlight an oddball assortment of articles that have gotten my attention in recent days.

Here’s a fascinating story from Fast Company about a former librarian in Pennsylvania who, for 35 years, archived television news program as part of a one-woman mission to document the day’s events. Her cache of 140,000 video cassettes of major, and minor, news events are being digitized and eventually will be available to the public.

A little closer to home in North Carolina, state Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican, is refusing to apologize for his tweet over the weekend comparing the Affordable Care Act to atrocities committed by Nazis and terrorists.

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mandelaIt’s a dreary day in the state capital (and, presumably, throughout most of the Old North State), so here are a few stories to help inspire you to fight back against the darkness:

In addition to lots of information about the rapidly improving health of the Affordable Care Act, the good people at the Kaiser Family Foundation have a nice tribute to the late, great Nelson Mandela today on the front page of the organization’s website that explains the interesting connections between the Foundation and Mandela.

Also, in case you missed it, Think Progress ran a story last week that listed the “Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About” – including his strong opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq and his belief that freedom from poverty ought to be a fundamental human right.

Meanwhile, there will be a North Carolina tribute to Mandela this coming Saturday at First Baptist Church in Raleigh. Click here for more information.

And speaking of fighting back, Read More