The State of Things

 

The issues, personalities and places of North Carolina right to you, every day in your podcast feed. Hosted by Frank Stasio and Anita Rao. Listen and subscribe on Google PlayApple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Tweet us @state_of_things and see more show content on Facebook and Instagram.

 

blue and orange light in the sky at night over a metal tower
Antonin Rémond

In 2011, U.S. and Russian leaders signed an updated strategic arms reduction treaty. Unless that agreement, New START, is renewed before February, the two largest nuclear arsenals will be unconstrained for the first time since the height of the Cold War. 

Musician Javier Montano sitting on a wooden bench in a white shirt, black pants and black cowboy hat
Davinci Raleigh

Hurricane Dorian swept away Javier Montano’s dream of winning the nationally televised talent competition “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento.” After the storm cancelled his flight to California, Montano had to recalibrate his expectations. 

Andrea Lingle with four children
Andrea Lingle

How do you heal from losing a child before getting the chance to meet them? The answer to this question is told in the painful experiences of 1 in 100 pregnancies affected by stillbirth each year in the United States. The loss can feel isolating. The grief can lie underneath the surface even on good days. For some people, the best medicine is in sharing their story.

a girl standing outside a straw-roofed bakery with two gryphons
Geneva Bowers

Geneva Bowers grew up watching animé television shows like “Sailor Moon” into the wee hours of the morning. The interest bled into another of her hobbies, drawing, and she began creating her own cartoon characters. As she honed her drawing skills, she noticed several patterns: Her characters were always thin, and they were always white.

A large brick industrial building with a Tyson sign on the side
Jacob Biba / Carolina Public Press

Nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities and childcare centers are required to report information about coronavirus outbreaks to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The state agency then shares that information publicly in its regularly-updated COVID-19 dashboard, which includes details about the specific facilities in which the outbreaks are happening and how many people have tested positive for the virus.

But the agency does not publish similar data about meat processing facilities, even though they have been a hot spot for the virus. 

The 2020 Census is beset with challenges. COVID-19 led to cuts in outreach and information campaigns, as well as pushed back the process of door-to-door census-taker visits. As a result, North Carolina and several other states across the country are set for historic lows in population reporting. 

UNC Facilities

Students are beginning to arrive back on campuses across the UNC System, and workers are concerned for their own safety amid early accounts of inconsistent mask-wearing and large social gatherings on campuses.

a green lawn on the campus of St. Augustine's University
St. Augustine's University

A new study shows that healthy food options are limited in the communities around each of the state’s 10 historically Black colleges and universities.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official stands with his back to the camera as someone is led away by other officials.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Sheriffs in North Carolina are signing new agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the new Warrant Service Officer program, local law enforcement officials can serve federal administrative warrants and transfer detainees into ICE custody.

 

A class photo of fifth graders from the late 60s in front of the U.S. flag. There is an even split of Black and white students, mostly grouped in clumps. In the front row, four girls have their legs crossed.
Courtesy of Janet Perez

How do visually impaired students learn best in a virtual classroom? That is Janet Perez’s job to figure out this year. She is the instructional and assistive technology facilitator at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. Though she is sighted, Perez has plenty of feedback for web designers to make online learning more accessible (including some flaws on WUNC’s website). 

Flickr/Phil Roeder

What insight do the polls hold less than 90 days away from the November elections? North Carolina has remained a bright purple target in the Electoral College and has received increased attention from presidential candidates in the 21st century. Former Vice President Joe Biden currently holds the lead in the Old North State, with four percentage points over President Donald Trump in a CBS Battleground Tracker Poll published on Aug. 2.

A film poster with a man and a woman in a passionate embrace
Armando Seguso // Heritage Auctions

Our next Movies on the Radio hits close to home. This month, we will discuss how the South gets portrayed in film. Whether it is Mississippi in the 1930s in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” or the Louisiana bayou in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” we will explore how the big screen takes on the South’s history, symbols, caricatures and critiques. And as conversations about systemic racism across the country evolve, what context do we need to give to “Gone With the Wind”?

N.A.H. Addresses COVID-19 Inequities With Community-Driven Solutions

Aug 6, 2020
Bahby Banks stands behind the letters N-A-H
Bahby Banks

Public health expert Bahby Banks has been hearing about COVID-19 since before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic back in March. 

Man sits on the left, sharing food with woman sitting on the right as part of the Netflix show 'Indian Matchmaking'
Netflix

In the new Netflix docuseries, “Indian Matchmaking,” affluent Indian singles look for love and marriage with the help of a professional matchmaker. Based on criteria they provide, clients are matched with ostensibly compatible dates, but they soon find that the goal of marriage is more difficult to attain that they had hoped — even with a matchmaker who consults biological data profiles, astrologers and face readers. 

Back To School In NC: Keeping COVID-19 Out Of Classrooms

Aug 5, 2020
The words 'Back to School In North Carolina: A Statewide Special' over lockers.
Brooke Bust-Webber/WUNC

Families across North Carolina are preparing to start a new school year in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Most public school students are starting school online, but each school district around the state is doing things a little bit differently under guidelines released by Gov. Roy Cooper in July.

An empty rocking chair on a porch.
Public Domain

Nursing homes have weathered more than 100 outbreaks of COVID-19 in North Carolina. More than 40% of the state’s deaths from the virus are from residents at those facilities. Some of those facilities are state-run nursing homes for veterans, and there is now scrutiny over government accountability amidst ongoing outbreaks.

A Graham storefront featuring works of art.
Renee' Russell

Businesses across North Carolina boarded up windows and storefronts in recent months amid ongoing protests against the police killing of George Floyd. For artists in cities like Asheville, Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro, these plywood panels were blank canvases, ripe for colorful street murals and visual statements of protest. These works of public art help communities and artists visualize what work still needs to be done to amplify Black voices — in the art world and beyond.

Carrie Knowles in front of a microphone
Courtesy of Carrie Knowles

Writing has been a central part of Carrie Knowles’ life since she was a young girl. She pursued creative writing as her major in college, even though it went against her father’s wishes.

Wallpaper Flare

Gun violence is back on the rise in North Carolina and around the country. After a lull during the stay-at-home orders, shootings surged over recent weeks. 

Football field at UNC-Chapel Hill
Flickr / William Yeung

The Atlantic Coast Conference Board of Directors voted to push back the start of their fall college sports to Sept. 10 and implement new rules to keep student athletes and coaching staff safe. But is that enough to prevent outbreaks? And if sports are canceled, what does that mean for the future of athletics departments — and for the student athletes?

Herpetologist Nick Massimo holding a snake, with his son on the left
Nick Massimo

Free time from quarantine has given way to more wandering in backyards, and sometimes people encounter a critter that scares them. That is where Nick Massimo comes in. 

North Carolina Public School bus.
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Over half of the students enrolled in North Carolina public schools will be starting their school year at home this fall. Gov. Roy Cooper announced earlier this month that public schools can open through a Plan B or hybrid model, with some in-home and some face-to-face instruction, or with a Plan C model, with remote-only instruction. 

Stethoscope lying on papers with a pen in background
Pxhere

Organizations publish ranked lists of the country’s best hospitals every year in an effort to guide patients to high-quality care. One of the most visible, U.S. News and World, released their 2020-21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll on Tuesday.

Four people standing under the words' Black AF'
Carolina Waves

Lena Jackson, Tagem, 2FLY KNG and Jooselord join verses about the systemic violence against Black bodies in “Black AF,” a raw black-and-white lyric video released by Carolina Waves.

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.

Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Orrin Pilkey was sounding the alarm about climate change and sea level rise long before the topics were part of public consciousness. As an early whistleblower, his work was not always well received, but he pressed on and has authored and edited dozens of books about the environment in the past few decades. His latest book, co-authored with his son Keith, takes a look at some of the unexpected ways climate-related sea level rise will affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the United States.

Image of Harper Lee at a desk.
Donald Uhrbrock / The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

What lessons can the now-deceased Harper Lee teach a modern-day investigative journalist? Writer Casey Cep retraced Lee’s footsteps to a small town in Alabama to find out. She reopened a 1970s murder case that Lee had once obsessively followed: a rural preacher named Reverend Willie Maxwell who was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money.

Absentee voter ballot envelope
Flickr / Nadya Peek

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many North Carolina voters are choosing to cast their ballot via mail. Over 90,000 North Carolinians have requested a mail-in absentee ballot so far, nearly five times as many requests as this time in 2016. 

Lightner and his mom.
Courtesy of Kai Lightner

The climbing started with baby gates and wooden balconies. As a kid, professional rock climber Kai Lightner had a lot of energy and a love for scrambling up anything he could find. 

Waynesville police car.
Smoky Mountain News

The price of local law enforcement is coming under increased scrutiny amidst nationwide calls to defund or abolish the police. Smoky Mountain News took a deep dive into the implications and possibilities for reallocating funding for law enforcement in four counties in Western North Carolina. 

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