Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

Image of US Capitol
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama gave his final State of the Union address last night. He outlined his vision for the coming year and detailed what he sees as the biggest challenges for the nation moving forward.

Host Frank Stasio gets a recap and analysis from Geoff Bennett, Washington reporter for Time Warner Cable News, and Political Junkie Ken Rudin.

There are more than 70,000 missing black men in North Carolina.
Nicolas Alejandro / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Young African-American men are dying and being incarcerated at higher rates than African-American women and white men and women.

2015
Credit http://christmasstockimages.com/

With the New Year’s countdown just hours away, “The State of Things” producer take a look back at some of the show highlights in 2015.

Family eating meal
Wikipedia

This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired in November 2014.

During the holiday season, perhaps more than any other part of the year, families embrace or reject traditions.

Some polls show Ted Cruz leading in Iowa, but Donald Trump continues to do well nationally.
Marc Nozell / Flickr Creative Commons

The Republican presidential candidates met again this week in their fifth debate. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is leading the field of GOP contenders in Iowa but Donald Trump is still polling strong nationally. 

The democratic candidates will meet for another debate on Saturday.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the race for the White House and other recent political news. 

Margaret Spellings
Dave DeWitt

More than 100 demonstrators interrupted the UNC Board of Governors meeting today in Chapel Hill. They were there to protest the hiring of Margaret Spellings as the new president of the UNC system. 

Today's meeting is the last for outgoing president Tom Ross, who was forced out of the position earlier this year.

Image of United States map in Lower Ninth Ward by John Rosenthal.
John Rosenthal

When photographer John Rosenthal vacationed to New Orleans in 2007, he was stunned by the condition of the Lower Ninth Ward. Contrary to the images that he had seen on television and in newspapers, he found the community to be one not in chaos but at a standstill.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Governor Pat McCrory made his re-election bid official this week as candidate filing began.

And Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump will be in Raleigh tonight to convince North Carolinians to send him to the White House.

Meanwhile, the country's 355th mass shooting this year prompts renewed debate about the political influence of the NRA. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Run, Don't Walk

Nov 24, 2015
Adele Levine used to work in physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Adele Levine

When Adele Levine decided to become a physical therapist, it wasn't because she felt a higher calling. She wanted a good job with decent hours and a comfortable wardrobe. 

After she graduated, she took a position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center--the nation's leading medical facility for amputee veterans. Her patients were some of the most severely injured in the nation's wars. Levine and her patients found camaraderie and friendship, often using dark humor to cope with their dark days.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the U.S. House passed a bill to ban all refugees from Syria until stringent background checks are conducted.

And the two leading candidates for North Carolina governor, Republican incumbent Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, both say the state needs to stop admitting Syrian refugees until the federal government provides assurances about security concerns. The debate raises new questions about the government's surveillance methods and privacy matters.

In the South, African-American and Latino coalitions are coming together to support civil rights and immigration rights.
Fibonacci Blue / Flickr Creative Commons

In the last several decades state legislatures across the South have considered measures to limit the rights and privileges of immigrant populations. In response, new coalitions have formed between traditional civil rights groups and nascent immigrant rights organizations.

These new groups have leveraged political power to affect change in states like Mississippi and Alabama.

Cash
401(K) 2012 / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent Assets and Opportunities scorecard released by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows North Carolina lagging behind other states in providing a stable financial landscape for asset building and growth.

The scorecard examined 67 factors in areas of healthcare, wealth building and financial opportunities. The shortcomings are even worse for the state's minority citizens.

NC Comicon
nccomicon.com

There was a time when comics meant thin paper booklets with drawings of superheroes. But today's comics fly beyond the page—they are multimedia experiences.

And comic conventions offer opportunities to see the latest on the intersection of traditional comics with movies, music, ebooks and video games.

A veteran is honored at Fort Rucker
Fort Rucker / Flickr Creative Commons

For many veterans of World War II and Vietnam, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts were popular social gathering places to share stories of war experiences. And they were powerful lobbying voices in the political sphere.

But across the nation, participation in these organizations has declined. Veterans groups are making new efforts to recruit younger members.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

December marks the two-year anniversary of The State of Things monthly Movies On The Radio series. Each month, Host Frank Stasio and film experts Laura Boyes and Marsha Gordon select a category and listeners submit their film picks. The tables are turning. We want to hear from you - what topic would you like to hear on Movies On The Radio? Send an email to sot@wunc.org and put "Movies" in the subject line. 

Jedediah Purdy
Duke University

Jed Purdy grew up in West Virginia and spent much of his time exploring the countryside and reading. So he was just as surprised as anyone when just a few years later his first book “For Common Things” threw him into the limelight.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law last week that restricts policies of so-called sanctuary cities and requires local law enforcement to work with immigration officials. The law also bans the use of non-governmental identification by police and other governmental agencies. 

Prison Bars
Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons

Increasing prison population means higher healthcare costs for taxpayers. In addition, the rising number of elderly people in prison means more chronic diseases with higher treatment costs.

Policymakers are considering early release as one viable option for reducing elderly populations behind bars. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Triangle Business Journal reporter Jason deBruyn about the latest. 

Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, has been tabbed as the next UNC system president.
LBJ Foundation / Flickr Creative Commons

The UNC Board of Governors makes their selection for a new university system president. 

Former U.S. Department of Education secretary Margaret Spellings is the president-elect, chosen to replace outgoing president Tom Ross who was forced to resign earlier this year. Spellings served in the George W. Bush administration.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department could implement no-go zones to prevent criminals from returning to the same areas.
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department is considering a policy that would preclude people who are arrested from returning to designated areas.

The measure is designed to reduce crime and other cities have instituted similar measures with carried successes. Opponents say the no-go zones raise constitutional concerns.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Political announcements abound. Attorney General Roy Cooper makes his gubernatorial bid official. The Democrat will face at least one primary challenger before the party’s nominee tries to unseat Governor McCrory.

Former GoTriangle leader and state legislator Deborah Ross announced her challenge for United States Senator Richard Burr's seat. She joins fellow Democrats Kevin Griffin and Chris Rey in their Senate bids. And Democratic presidential hopefuls faced off in their first debate on Tuesday.

When Ruth Reichl lost her job as 'Gourmet' editor-in-chief, she turned to, and found joy in, cooking.
Timothy Krause / Flickr Creative Commons

When Gourmet magazine, shut down six years ago this month, editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl was devastated.

The former Los Angeles Times food editor and New York Times restaurant critic did not know what to do next. Lost and uncertain about her future, Reichl returned to the one simple passion that always brought her joy: cooking. 

Rep. Mark Meadows
United States Congress

A surprise announcement by Representative Kevin McCarthy yesterday has left Republican House leadership in a bind.

McCarthy was the assumed nominee for the Speakership since John Boehner announced his resignation last month. North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows played a key role in Boehner’s departure.  

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina lawmakers passed measures in the middle of the night on Tuesday after an eight-month long session. The final push ended the longest session of the General Assembly since 2001. Among the bills crammed into the session: immigration restrictions, the $2 million transportation bond referendum and a cap on light rail spending.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

When Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the role of Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate,” he did not imagine he would become a Hollywood star.

The theater actor was certain he bombed the screen test, so imagine his surprise when he landed the role that would catapult his career to unprecedented stardom. “The Graduate” became an instant classic. 

Pages