WUNC News

Stories, features and more by WUNC News Staff.  Also, features  and commentary not by any one reporter.

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Sate of the ReUnion
Sate of the ReUnion

The first week of January (Jan 2-6), we'll have a week of special programs in place of SOT. It'll be State of the Re:Union, hosted by Al Letson.Jan 2 (noon & 9pm)

The Bronx-Still Rising from the Ashes

The Bronx has long been a symbol of America's failings. It's still the poorest urban congressional district in the nation, and for many who live in New York's other boroughs, the Bronx is usually a place to avoid. But despite the area's troubles, some have stayed and put down roots, intent on surviving and making their borough better. This episode looks at the hold-outs and the dreamers who've committed their lives to building community in the Bronx.

Orange County and UNC Chapel Hill are working together to make productive use of a landfill gas. Methane originates from the decomposition of organic materials such as food. The collaboration will collect methane from the county's landfill and use it to produce electricity using a generator at UNC. Ray DuBose is the director of UNC Energy Services. He says projects like these are not without precedent.

A judge has ruled that Durham novelist Michael Peterson will get a new trial in his wife's 2001 death. Judge Orlando Hudson ruled Wednesday that former State Bureau of Investigation agent Duane Deaver misled the court about the bloodstain evidence at the 2003 trial in which Peterson was convicted of murder in the death of Kathleen Peterson, who was found at the bottom of a bloody staircase. The SBI fired Deaver in January after an independent audit found he misreported, mishandled or exaggerated forensic evidence in 34 criminal cases.

Injured pelican
Toni O'Neil

Dead and injured pelicans are washing up on North Carolina shores. Around 20 dead birds were found on North Topsail Beach earlier this month. Many had severely broken wings.

Researchers from NC State and UNC Chapel Hill are working on an improved blueprint for the Internet. The project is part of the National Science Foundation’s effort on “Future Internet Architecture.”  The team in North Carolina is focused on making more choices available to end-users. Ilia Baldine is a senior researcher at UNC.

WUNC's Youth Radio Club on the job
David Brower

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  To celebrate, we check in with WUNC’s new Youth Radio Club. It’s a group of 7th and 8th graders from the Durham Nativity School. The club was formed as a part of WUNC’s American Graduate Project. Each Friday after school, the students take the bus over to our studios to learn a little about what it takes to produce a public radio news piece. Thanksgiving is on their minds this week.

Fans of sustainable farming are meeting in Durham this weekend. The 26th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference seeks to address the growing demand for local and organic food. Fred Broadwell is with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. He says one hot trend is permaculture. It uses observations of nature to design self-sufficient ecosystems.

The North Carolina Museum of History will open its biggest exhibit to date on Saturday. "The Story of North Carolina" includes re-created environments to help visitors transport back in time. For example, they can step inside an early twentieth century textile mill and feel the floor shake from operating machinery. RaeLana Poteat helps curate the exhibit at the Museum of History.

Archaeologists preparing to dive.
N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources

At the bottom of Beaufort Inlet sits an eight-foot cannon that once fired from the decks of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s been there since the ship sank in 1718, and the famous pirate Blackbeard was captured. A crew of archaeologists heads out to bring the cannon to the surface today. Mark Wilde-Ramsing is the director of the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck project and an underwater archaeologist with the state. He joined WUNC's Eric Hodge to talk about the project.

Chatham County Commissioners have accepted a bid to rebuild the historic courthouse in downtown Pittsboro. The courthouse was damaged by a fire in March of last year. The project will cost 4.4 million dollars. Project manager Brian Stevens says the courthouse will maintain its historic charm and character.

A panel of three judges has found two North Carolina men innocent of a murder to which they had once pleaded guilty.

The judges announced their decision Thursday in Asheville after nearly two weeks of testimony in the cases of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxsin.

Both men had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Walter Bowman of Fairview at his home in 2000. They claimed they agreed to the pleas to avoid the possibility of getting the death penalty or spending life behind bars.

North Carolina will vacate all 16 victories from the 2008 and 2009 football seasons following an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct. The university issued a response Monday to the NCAA's notice of allegations. It says three scholarships will be cut for the next three years and the football program will be on probation for the next two years as part of self-imposed penalties. UNC will pay a $50,000 fine, but did not impose a postseason ban. The school still has to appear before the NCAA infractions committee in October.

A proposal under consideration by state officials may help protect Haw River and surrounding areas. The plan involves reclassifying a portion of the river in and around Guilford County. This aims to preserve existing water resources by limiting development. Jason Martin heads planning in nearby Alamance County. He says the river’s status as an emergency water supply led to the push for reclassification.

President Barack Obama spoke to thousands of people on the North Carolina State Campus this afternoon. The president is promoting his 450-billion dollar jobs bill. He told the crowd the bill would provide money for important infrastructure projects.

President Obama:  "In North Carolina alone there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be prepared. Four of them are near here, on the belt-line. Why would we wait to act until another bridge falls?"

Maximum wind gusts during Hurricane Irene
National Weather Service Raleigh

Summary:

NC Emergency Management - news and emergency information

State Emergency Hotline:  1-888-835-9966

National Hurricane Center - latest forecast information

Federal Emergency Management Agency

American Red Cross

American Red Cross Safe and Well - List yourself as OK and search for loved ones

NCDOT - Road information

Quake Felt in NC

Aug 23, 2011

People across North Carolina felt the 5.9-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia.

Mitch Easter is a legend in the world of alternative music. He was a founding member of Let's Active, produced the first REM recordings back in the early 80s and has since helped scores of young bands hone their sound. One of the guitars used in those original REM recording sessions was among half-dozen instruments stolen from Easter's home in Winston Salem. 

Will McInerney, Kane Smego, Mohammad Moussa, and Sameer Abdel-Khalek spent the last two months traveling, writing, interviewing, and photographing the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Now they're back.  And be sure to visit their blog.

We check in one more time with the poets we've been following as they travel in Egypt and Tunisia this summer. Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek have been in North Africa for the past two months. They come home next week. Their final few days overseas happens to coincide with the start of the holy month or Ramadan. That's what inspired this latest Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

Texting 911 in Durham

Aug 3, 2011

Emergency Dispatch services in Durham County can now receive text messages. Verizon subscribers in distress in Durham can now send an text message to 9-1-1. The six month trial is a joint venture between the wireless company and the county. The capability was installed at no charge to taxpayers. Jim Soukup of the Durham Police Department says the trial opens the door for the integration of sophisticated mobile phone technology.

Durham Police Department vehicle
Durham Police Department

The Durham Police have a new reminder for residents about the dangers of driving drunk. It looks like a police car in the front and a taxi cab in the back. The car tells drunk drivers they can choose their ride- either a taxi or a police car. Decals on the hood give information warning about the monetary cost of getting a DUI. Durham County Assistant Chief Lee Russ says the 'franken-car' will be parked outside of nightlife spots. He hopes that people will think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.

The poets we've been following this summer are in Tunisia right now. This weekend Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are travelling from their homebase in Tunis to more rural areas to get a different perspective on the Arab Summer. Before they left, they met a young woman named Ayya. She inspired this latest Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

UNC-Chapel Hill has named Everett Withers as its new interim head football coach. Withers is a long-serving assistant and takes over for Butch Davis, who was fired by the university late Wednesday. Also this week, UNC's athletic director Dick Baddour announced he will be stepping down early.  education reporter Dave DeWitt sits down with David Brower to talk about the changes at Carolina.

Sameer Abdel-khalek

The three young poets we're following on Morning Edition this summer are continuing their Poetic Portraits of a Revolution project in Tunisia after their sojourn in Egypt. Much of the world's attention is focused elsewhere now. But Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are finding that, as in Egypt, the Tunisian revolution is not over.

NC Zoo Looks to Expand

Jul 22, 2011
NC Zoo
NC Zoo

North Carolina Zoo leaders are looking at new ways to generate revenue. In recent years the state budget has had less and less money for the zoo. Public money accounts for about 60 percent of their budget. The remainder comes from park sales and private donations. The zoo is currently one of two state-owned zoos in the United States. Traditionally a trip to the zoo in Asheboro has been a day trip for families. Officials want to change that by adding additional attractions such as a water park, an Asian continent exhibit or a hotel. Zoo Director David Jones says the zoo needs to evolve to survive.

Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdel-khalek

The three young poets we're following this summer left Egypt this week. Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa, Kane Smego and photographer Sameer Abdel-khalek are moving on to Tunisia as a part of the project Poetic Portraits of a Revolution. Before moving out of their apartment in Cairo, they sent us this poetic reflection on their final days in Egypt.

EPA officials are working to clean up tractor trailers containing barrels filled with chemicals on a residential property in Rocky Mount. The owner of the property said the trailers had been there since he inherited the land from his father. When crews arrived on-site they reported strong chemical odors and a trailer was leaking black material. Kenneth Rhame of the EPA says they have determined the air around the site is not contaminated, but soil contamination is still a worry.

Sameer Abdel-khalek
Sameer Abdel-khalek

The Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa has turned to summer. The revolution is still being sorted out in the streets of Cairo. In the days leading up the the Fourth of July here in the states, the poets we've been following Fridays on Morning Edition witnessed a demonstration turned riot in Tahrir Square. Kane Smego, Will McInerney, Mohammad Moussa and Sameer Abdel-khalek sent us this Poetic Portrait of a Revolution.

Two Pint-sized former patients cut the ribbon on a new unit in the Newborn Critical Care Center at The North Carolina Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill today. A crowd of parents, children and staff were present for the opening of 'Pod G.' It adds 10 beds and brings the center's capacity to 58 beds. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Chapel Hill admits premature and ill babies from other hospitals in the state which are not equipped to deal with them. Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Alan Stiles says the addition will take pressure off the unit.

Researchers are surveying protected marine species along the east coast. They're documenting the birds, fish, and mammals that live in and around the ocean. The survey is entering its second year and will not be completed until 2014. Shelley Dawicki of The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says very little is known about the distribution and density of marine life deep in the ocean.

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