Tonight: Should The Government Keep Its Hands Off Our Lunch?


This week, the national media reported that presidential candidate Jeb Bush is spitting mad that the National Institutes of Health has awarded $2 million in grants to develop a video game that aims to show parents how to effectively get their kids to eat (and like!) healthy foods. He calls it a waste of scarce resources. The game’s developer has angered political conservatives for years, receiving threats and hate mail and sparking pending federal legislation that would prevent the government from funding games that teach “food parenting practices.”

What does this have to do with Philadelphia? Well, everything, if you consider that the National Constitution Center is coincidentally hosting a panel tonight at 6:30 pm called “Should the Government Regulate What We Eat?” It’s part of the center’s new feature exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet.” And while this week’s partisan controversy deals more with funding than regulation, the issue is a) sure to come up tonight; and b) part of a broader conversation that has people like Sarah Palin mocking Michelle Obama for her anti-childhood obesity initiatives and bringing sugar cookies to a Bucks County school fundraiser immediately after calling Pennsylvania a “nanny state run amok” for proposing to limit the sugary treats served at public school holiday parties.

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Richard Gere to Honor Absent Dalai Lama at Liberty Medal Ceremony

The Dalai Lama was supposed to come to Philadelphia at the end of this month to receive the National Constitution Center‘s 2015 Liberty Medal. A few weeks before his arrival, however, we got the bummer news that the 80-year-old spiritual leader had to cancel to fulfill a doctor’s orders to rest up for a few weeks.

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Dalai Lama Cancels Trip to Philadelphia

Philadelphia was supposed to play host to another holy leader this fall, when the Dalai Lama came to town to accept the 2015 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center (NCC). It was announced over the weekend, however, that the 80-year-old spiritual leader has canceled his trip to the U.S. after he was advised by a doctor to lay low and rest over the next several weeks.

The cancellation was confirmed by a statement on His Holiness’s website:

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Finally, Hard Facts About the Dalai Lama’s Visit to Philly

Unlike the frenzy surrounding Pope Francis’s appearance this month, the vibe around the Dalai Lama’s visit October 26 and 27 is distinctly chill. So everybody can just stand down and no need for prep-the-bunker Pope-is-coming-to-visit provision shopping. In fact, His Holiness’s visit is so chill that many of the logistical details of his visit — he will receive the National Constitution Center’s 2015 Liberty Medal — are still being worked out. Vince Stango, chief operating officer of the National Constitution Center remarks that even the lawn ceremony, from 5-6 pm on October 26, “will be understated, reverential, but without a lot of splash.”

This seems to fit with the humble manner of His Holiness, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday while attending the Glastonbury Music Festival in England. (Singer Patti Smith led the crowds in the birthday song for him, after which he gave her a big hug).

The Dalai Lama will be traveling to Philadelphia with an entourage of about eight or nine people. The State Department coordinates his security with the Philadelphia Police, but he’s known for traveling about rather discreetly. According to Tony Boris, president of the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, “He doesn’t have a Popemobile type of vehicle.” He will be staying at an undisclosed hotel somewhere in Center City.

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Cultural Alliance Hosts Free Old City Museum Crawl for Teens

Tomorrow afternoon, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance‘s STAMP program, an initiative to get young people out to Philly’s cultural attractions, will host an Old City museum crawl for area teens aged 14-19.

The day starts at the National Constitution Center (NCC) at 3:30 pm. From there, teens can venture out to explore participating museums in the vicinity, which include the African American Museum, National Liberty Museum, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia History Museum and Independence Visitor Center.

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PHOTOS: Original Gay Pioneers Tour “Speaking Out for Equality”

This morning, the National Constitution Center, William Way Community Center, and the DMH Fund hosted a very touching private tour of their exhibit “Speaking Out for Equality” for several of the original “gay pioneers,” John James, Paul Kuntzler, Randy Wicker, and Ada Bello. William Way’s Executive Director Chris Bartlett provided a curated walk through of the moving collection at the Constitution Center, while James, Kuntzler, and Wicker gave insightful comments about the exhibit. We were there to capture some of the really wonderful moments of the event.

PHOTOS: Our Night Out at the National Constitution Center

The rain came down in sheets yesterday starting around 5 pm, but, as if Glinda the Good Witch was overlooking the National Constitution Center, the storm ceased at the start of last evening’s Our Night Out and held off until, ironically, the end of the event. The break in the weather certainly helped produce a robust crowd to support the William Way Community Center and Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. Guests were treated to lots of tasty nibbles, plus free admission to Speaking Out for Equality. We were on hand to capture some of the evening’s festivities.

Decision Day Rally Planned at National Constitution Center

The Greater Philadelphia HRC, along with other local LGBT service organizations, are planning a Decision Day Rally at the National Constitution Center in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue their decision on marriage equality. The rally will take place on whichever day the Supreme Court issues their ruling: It could be this Thursday, Friday, or Monday.

The tentative agenda is as follows:

Approximately 10 am: Decision handed down

12 pm to 1 pm: Light snacks, review of opinion, media coverage, large screen Twitter feed

12 pm to 5 pm: Free admission to Speaking OUT for Equality

5 pm to 7 pm: Decision Day Rally on National Constitution Center lawn and (possibly) the lawn between Arch and Market Streets

Those who wish to follow and/or Tweet about the verdict and the rally are encouraged to use hashtag #DecisionDay.

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