The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

Jung Yeon-je / AP Photo

Families of U.S. troops who went missing during the Korean War gathered in Washington D.C. last weekend with a renewed sense of optimism. 

Jay Price / WUNC

Each summer, teens from diverse backgrounds pitch, report and produce radio stories for the WUNC Youth Reporting Institute

Courtesy of Keith Dannemiller

What does home mean, and how does the idea of home change over time? Mexico City-based photographer Keith Dannemiller explored these questions during a month-long residency at the Eyes on Main Street program based in Wilson, North Carolina. 

Sylvia Freeman

Jaki Shelton Green spent her childhood with her nose in a book knowing there was a great big world that awaited her. A native of Orange County, North Carolina, Green was a fidgety child and her grandmother’s solution was to give her a writing pad. This simple gesture meant to keep her still in church, blossomed into a lifelong journey. 

Dana Verkouteren / AP Photo

Republicans declared victory in the Ohio special election even though thousands of provisional ballots have yet to be counted. What do the results mean for the November elections? Though these tight races may signal a blue wave, there’s also a pink wave with women breaking a record for the number of gubernatorial primary wins.

Courtesy of David Joy / Putnam

  

Who are you willing to die for? That question is at the center of a new Appalachian noir novel set in western North Carolina, where author David Joy has lived his entire life.

Courtesy of Eric Hirsh

Eric Hirsh’s parents met at a conservatory, so music was a staple in their home. Like many children, he began music lessons at a young age. But how many take jazz piano at the tender age of eight? Jazz would become his love. 

Image of pipeline path
U.S. Energy Information Administration / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal judges rejected two key permits Monday in a move that may impede construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile project to transport natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina by way of Virginia. 

Courtesy of Frank R. Baumgartner / Cambridge University Press

20 million people are pulled over annually in traffic stops throughout the United States, according to The Stanford Open Policing Project. New data shows a disproportionate number of those motorists in North Carolina are black. The findings come from a comprehensive analysis of every traffic stop in the state from 2002 to 2016. 

Courtesy of Amy Laura Hall / Duke University Press

Julian of Norwich is considered to be the first woman to write a book in English. Her text “Revelations of Divine Love” written in the late 1300s to early 1400s presents a vision of God that came to her on what she thought was her deathbed. And her version of God is different from what the Catholic Church preached at the time. Instead of a doctrine of strict hierarchy and fear, Julian’s God preached love, joy and equality for all. 

HSUS
HSUS

Last week a federal jury awarded more than $470 million to six neighbors of a hog farm operation in Pender County, North Carolina following a nuisance lawsuit. The neighbors said the farm produced smells, noise, flies and pests. 

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Four of the six constitutional amendments state Republican legislators want on the fall ballot now face a legal battle. 

An artist piece next to a science piece
Courtesy of Casey Lindberg and Ariana Eily / Duke University Rubenstein Arts Center

Popular stereotypes of artists and scientists are starkly different. While the scientist is brainy, analytical and often donning a white lab coat, the artist is inexact, eccentric, and creative. But the overlap between these two disciplines is far greater than what stereotypes may lead people to believe. A new exhibit on view at the Duke Rubenstein Arts Center explores the intersection of art and science and what happens when the two are in conversation with one another.

Photo Susanna Barbee

Journalist and author Holly Kays calls herself a “place writer” – someone who anchors her work in vivid details about a particular corner of the world. In her debut novel “Shadows Of Flowers (The Smoky Mountain News/2017),” Kays takes readers to a small town in Wyoming that sits among vast and isolated wilderness. 

Courtesy of Cathy Williams / Duke Lemur Center

The vast majority of lemur species are under threat, according to a new review from a group of international conservationists. The group convened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found that of 111 known species and subspecies of lemur, 105 of them, or 95 percent, face a high risk of extinction. 

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Stateline’s annual legislative review analyzes how political trends affect policy questions in legislatures around the country. This year’s findings examine decisions about Medicaid expansion, the impact of the #MeToo movement on policy and behavior, the changing power of unions, gun control legislation in the wake of the Las Vegas and Parkland shootings, and the ongoing fight over sanctuary cities and immigration policy. 

One of artist Dean Allison's glass busts.
Courtesy of Dean Allison

Alongside the wide-sweeping social and political upheaval of the 1960s, a new form of glass art was born that gave artists more freedom to explore political and artistic ideas. While glass had long been available to artists, new technology developed in 1962 allowed them to work with it in smaller studio spaces, which paved the way for artists to take glass art in a new direction. 

Courtesy Jesse Hamilton McCoy II

Jesse Hamilton McCoy II was raised by a single mother in low-income neighborhoods in Vance and Durham Counties. Growing up in the late 1980s and 1990s, he witnessed the drug epidemic firsthand and remembers not being able to trust some adults in the community because of their addiction. 

Touchstone Pictures

Good cinema takes you out of your living room and transports you miles, eons, and even worlds away. And like a good book, the best films can leave you with a deep desire to meet those characters, or even live life for a day in their magical worlds. Think about living out supernatural fantasies within the walls of Hogwarts, hunting an elusive jaguar shark alongside your quirky buddies in a Wes Anderson film, or dodging bullets as a super-human cybercriminal in “The Matrix.”

 

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

On Thursday, State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey submitted his resignation. His resignation will go into effect in September, six months before his term as chair was set to end. This move comes after State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson shared his reorganization of the State Department of Public Instruction. 

courtesy of Rodrigo Dorfman

Many cultures mark the end of childhood with a rite of passage. And for many Latinas, the transition from girlhood to womanhood often includes a giant party – the quinceanera. A growing number of Mexican families in the Triangle are keeping that tradition alive despite how costly these lavish events can be for low-wage workers. And for the teenagers being feted, the whole experience can make them feel both connected to their heritage and extended family, and like helpless victims of their mothers’ projections. 

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi began classical violin training at around seven-years-old. After a brief stint as a metalhead in high school, Ishibashi tried his hand at electrical engineering at Cornell University, but found himself dedicating more time to his rock band than his textbooks. He ended up graduating from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in film scoring. 

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Public hearings on environmental issues are often publicized in the back of the newspaper and roundly ignored. But amidst alarm over GenX and other contaminants in the Cape Fear River, Columbus County residents showed up in droves to two public meetings on the proposed use of methyl bromide in a local logging operation. 

Courtesy of Deondra Rose

Many people credit the feminist movement with the striking shift in gender dynamics in the United States over the second half of the 20th century. Women earn college degrees at higher rates than men, and they have also made large political and socioeconomic strides. 

Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

The word “rosé” may conjure up memories of cheap wine from boxes or bottles with screw caps. It used to be sweet, cheap and often passed over by serious wine drinkers. Today, rosé has become as much a lifestyle as it is a wine. Perhaps it’s the vibrant pink color or the change in the way rosé is produced, either way millennials are devoted to the beverage, creating hashtags, blogs and even playlists dedicated to the rosé experience. 

The state was in the heat of the trial of John Edwards when an unexpected ray of sunshine appeared – Rambo. He’s the Maltese-Yorkie mix who took his morning walk  past the news crews camped outside the courthouse. While the Edwards case played out inside, Rambo and his momager Courtney were outside building friendships with the press. Rambo got his first TV interview on WFMY, where he was deemed the unofficial mascot of the trial. 

Emre Tazegul / AP Photo

Last week, North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson was moved from a jail in Turkey to house arrest until his trial continues in October. Brunson has spent 23 years in Turkey raising a family and serving as an evangelical minister. 

Sarah's grandmother, Pattie Anne Watkins, at age 16 in 1941
Courtesy of Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson wasn’t interested in history or her ancestry until she inherited a box of her late grandmother’s diaries from the 1940s, when she was in her late teens. Reading those diaries gave her a different perspective on “Grammy” and helped Simpson realize the similarities between the two of them, especially when she went back and read her own teen journals. 

Courtesy Sönke Johnsen

Sönke Johnsen was always driven by art. As a youth he captured documentary photos on the streets of Pittsburgh and developed them in a homemade dark room. Later he practiced and taught modern dance. But Johnsen's pursuit of artistic awe led him on a surprising path toward biology. Today, as a professor of biology at Duke University, he plunges thousands of feet under the sea, discovering mysterious marine animals that hide in plain sight. He has won multiple awards for his scientific writing, teaching, and mentorship.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

House Republicans on Wednesday filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The lawmakers, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), say Rosenstein has withheld documents from Congress and has mishandled his job overseeing the special counsel investigation. The move demonstrates a widening division within the GOP on the handling of the probe into President Trump.

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