The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Or join our live audience for remote broadcasts from Greensboro's Triad Stage and Raleigh's Museum of Natural Sciences. And you can listen to Political Junkie Ken Rudin Fridays on the program.

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Jacob Fields, right, plays walks with his son Roan, left, in a wooded area adjacent to Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner, N.C. on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

For families with special needs children, putting kids into institutional care is often a desperate act of last resort. Many parents and caregivers prefer to keep their children at home where they can give them as much love and attention as possible, but they need help to do so. Families of children with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities are eligible for assistance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services through a portion of Medicaid called the Innovations Waiver.

A man and a woman sitting across from each other at a diner.
Courtesy of Edith Snow

North Carolina-based filmmakers Eryk Pruitt and Edith Snow have both submitted their work to film festivals plenty of times. But with their latest films, they wanted to do something different: take their work on the road, similar to a book tour.

Etaf Rum was on “the right path” according to many of her family members. She was married with children and had several degrees and a teaching job. She was doing everything right, but she felt stuck. Despite her education, Rum was living out the same pattern as her mother and many of the women of Palestinian descent that came before her. Though Rum was born in Brooklyn, her parents were born refugee camps in Palestine where they were raised by parents who spent their lives in refugee camps.

A map showing orange areas on the outskirts of Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Jaskconville and Wilmington.
Courtesy of Grady McCallie/North Carolina Conservation Network

North Carolina Conservation Network just released its first-ever “State of the Environment” report. It includes data analysis, polling and more than 100 indicators that measure the overall well-being of the environment and the people of North Carolina.

a picture of protests at a fight for $15 rally
Fight for $15

Democrats in the North Carolina House are fighting to raise the state’s minimum wage, which has been stagnant at $7.25 an hour for more than 10 years. Lawmakers argue that wages have not kept up with the cost of living: full-time minimum wage workers in North Carolina earn $15,600 annually, while the federal poverty level for a family of two is $16,910. North Carolina Rep. Susan C. Fisher (D- Buncombe) is the sponsor of one of two Democrat-led house bills which aim to raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.

 

Photo courtesy of Susan Crawford

History tends to repeat itself, and when it comes to new technology, the adage could not be more true. As with the advent of railroads and electricity, fiber optic connection holds huge promise for households and cities but is being held up and held back by companies who do not want to lose control over internet provision. While countries like Sweden, Japan and China surge ahead with fiber networks that are transforming medicine, education and city management, the U.S. lags behind and suffers from low-quality, high-cost connectivity. 

Autumn Karen

As a professional ghostwriter, Autumn Karen is usually forbidden to discuss her projects or her behind-the-scenes role in creating them. But the author of a recently-published book insisted that her name grace the cover along with his. “Mississippi Still Burning: From Hoods to Suits” (One Human Race Inc./2018) is James Stern’s incredible true story of being a black man incarcerated with Edgar Ray Killen, an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the man convicted of the 1964 triple-homicide of three civil rights activitsts. 

Andy Eversole does not like to go places without his banjo. But that does not mean he sticks close to home. His most recent recording project took him to India to capture the sounds of the subcontinent and incorporate them into his Southern-rooted banjo music. He journeyed to New Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and the Kashmir region and collaborated with musicians he met there. He discovered that Indian musicians have a penchant for playing live and that their cows and car horns do not stop for the occasion. Eversole documented the trip in a YouTube documentary

A group of sanctuary leaders
Courtesy of Tina Vasquez

New reporting from Rewire.News reveals what some are calling alarming communications between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the services arm of federal immigration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Rob Lee with his mother on his left and his father on his right.
Courtesy of Rob Lee

The Rev. Rob Lee is a descendant of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee and an advocate for social justice. Despite his family history, Lee has confronted his own white privilege and actively works towards the goal of racial equity.

a photo of Frances Mayes
Will Garin

Frances Mayes’ travels and triumphs are chronicled in her memoir “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy.” On a whim, she finds herself in Italy and purchases a villa that she must restore. Her tales were immortalized in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a loose interpretation of the memoir which earned actress Diane Lane a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Mayes.

Kindergarten students TT Askew, Alicia Garcia Elvira, Haylen Lovelace and Mercy Nelms are students in Jakeli Swimmer's Cherokee language and culture class at Robbinsville Elementary.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Marty Richardson was in high school when he started a deep dive into the history of his people:  the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe. He emerged from dusty library archives with the epiphany that his ancestors spoke Tutelo-Saponi, a language that had since nearly disappeared. 

Austin McCombie and Sarah Osborne McCombie storytelling with strings and songs about North Carolina.
Courtesy of Kendall Atwater

Chatham County was once best known for its rabbits. The wild animals were so plentiful in the region at the turn of the 20th century that thousands were shipped out as cash crops each year. This piece of forgotten North Carolina history is just one story of many that inspires the new folk duo Sarah McCombie and Austin McCombie. 

An archival photo of Phyllis Schlafly
Wikimedia Commons

Suffragists first introduced what became the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to Congress in 1923. The amendment would guarantee equal legal rights for all citizens, regardless of sex.

Michael Kasino

The American Issues Initiative’s new documentary “Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook,” wants to alarm people. It shows the myriad tactics that states, including North Carolina, used to suppress citizens’ right to vote leading up to and during the 2016 election.

“Many people don’t understand that a whole series of laws have been passed in over 20 states with the intent, and effect, of making it more difficult to vote,” says Mac Heller, co-executive producer on the film.

"Lassie Come Home" / MGM

Something in your eye? It’s not your fault, some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. On this installment of Movies on the Radio, The State of Things heard from listeners about the films that got the tears flowing.   

Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

On April 15, 2018, a tornado plowed through east Greensboro damaging more than 1,000 buildings and leaving more than 20,000 households without power. One man died as a result of the event after a tree fell onto his moving car. One year later, many of the once-displaced residents have found their way back home, but three schools remain closed.

A photo of a black hole.
Event Horizon Telescope / Creative Commons http://bit.ly/2V1EgIv

The rallying cry of fake news has seeped into the world of science. Some politicians and pundits — like Donald Trump — call climate change a hoax, and a number of individuals loudly oppose the evidence behind vaccines.

a photo of Belle Boggs
Barbara Tyroler

What happens when an atheist poet decides to direct a school for Christian writers? That question begins Belle Boggs’ debut novel, “The Gulf” (Graywolf Press/2019).

North Carolina Republican lawmakers could soon reach their first legislative showdown with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper since his party increased House and Senate seat totals during the last elections.

Courtesy of Nadia Orton

When Nadia Orton’s kidneys were failing, she sent letters to friends and relatives in the hopes that someone could be a donor or help defray the cost. Orton’s great-aunt Philgradore responded with money from her church. So a few years later, when Aunt Phil asked on her deathbed that her family not be forgotten, Orton knew she had to find a way to honor her ancestors. The problem was that she didn’t know who they were, or where to find them.

Annette Brown / EPK TV

Hollywood loves to feed us stories of good friendships and happy endings. At first glance, "The Best of Enemies" seems to fit that mold. The film tells the story of civil rights advocate Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis. The pair vehemently hated each other yet managed to gain respect for one another as they argued opposite sides of the school integration debate. Author Osha Gray Davidson, who wrote the book upon which the movie was based, explains how their story goes much deeper than an improbable friendship to examine the complex constructions of race and class in Southern society. 

Jorge Gonzalez

Tyrannosaurus Rex is one of the most beloved dinosaurs in American popular culture. But the tyrant king’s background was never entirely clear. A 70 million-year gap in the fossil record had left scientists wondering where the bone-crushing creature came from and how it rose to dominance. A new discovery by researchers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University is helping paleontologists answer that question. 

Graham Nash is best known as a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer, songwriter and musician. A co-founder of the British pop group The Hollies, Nash went on to form a little group called Crosby, Stills & Nash. Both groups would get him inducted into the Hall of Fame, but his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and later, Young, became the voice of a generation. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1969 with huge success in the U.S. and their legacy would include songs that remain part of American culture.

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security

Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady is the latest to step down from the Department of Homeland Security. The week began with the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary.

Courtesy of Kelly Baker

Most people think of white supremacy and racialized hate groups as being organized around beliefs. But author Kelly Baker points to their important use of things.

In her essay “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” she reveals how the Klan appropriated Protestant imagery and objects to brand themselves, recruit members and attempt to gain legitimacy. She says the white supremacists’ use of the white robe, fiery cross and even the American flag was an attempt at making their beliefs more tangible — and more performative.

Courtesy of Zachary Stauffer

Naval aviator Lt. Wes Van Dorn signed up to pilot MH-53E helicopters — big, heavy single-rotor aircraft — with assurances he’d be home on most days to have dinner with his family and tuck his son into bed at night.

But as the Greensboro native soon discovered, maintenance and supply issues often kept the choppers grounded, and maintainers and pilots like him at work. In 2014, Van Dorn was killed in a training exercise off the coast of Virginia along with two sailors, leaving his wife Nicole and two young boys behind.

child doctor
Alex Prolmos / Flickr / Creative Commons

North Carolina House Republicans touted a bill on Tuesday that would expand health coverage to more uninsured adults who make too much to qualify for Medicaid. 

Wendell Potter
Courtesy of Wendell Potter

Wendell Potter spent two decades in senior positions at major health insurance companies before he became a whistleblower. A crisis of conscience sprung up while he was publicly praising policies that he knew were contributing to the rising number of uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S.

Coal fired power plant
eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr, Creative Commons

The state Department of Environmental Quality ordered Duke Energy to excavate six coal ash ponds last week. Duke wanted to leave the ash in place and cover it, which is a much cheaper solution. The energy company estimates it will cost an additional $4 to $5 billion to clean up these six sites.

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