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. 

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The Republican presidential field has thinned with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains and will try to keep up the momentum follwing his second-place finish in New Hampshire.
Alex Hanson / Flickr Creative Commons

The race for the White House heats up as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made their choices. Several candidates, including Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina , dropped out after poor showings in the first two contests. And in North Carolina, the March 15 primary is in flux because of a court ruling declaring two congressional districts unconstitutional. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in national and state politics.

What Is In A Kiss?

Feb 10, 2016
A new multimedia installation in Raleigh looks at the intimacy of the kiss on public display.
Prayitno / Flickr Creative Commons

When Thomas Edison put the first kiss on film at his Black Maria studio in 1896, it was nothing short of scandalous. The 23-second, silent, black and white footage put the intimate on public display. A new interactive multimedia project in Raleigh explores the intimacy of the kiss by inviting members of the public to have their kisses filmed in the same style as that first infamous lip-locking. Raleigh's Flanders Gallery hosts the installation, Public Displays , on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m ....

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal appellate court declared North Carolina's 1st and 12th Congressional Districts unconstitutional because they were gerrymandered on race. The court ordered legislators to redraw the districts within two weeks. The ruling puts many issues surrounding the March 15 primary, including early voting and absentee ballots, in question. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

US Embassy Canada / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar energy.

But the recent elimination of some tax credits and the possibility of solar permitting may slow the growth of solar energy in the state. And the Department of Environmental Quality is considering a change to the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards that could affect renewable energy production in the state.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC environment reporter Dave DeWitt about the latest.

North Carolina is considering changes to state health insurance plans that would eliminate the 80/20 plans.
TaxRebate.org.uk / Flickr Creative Commons

The Board of Trustees that manages the state health insurance plans for government employees is considering major changes to the state health plan . T he board is considering proposed elimination of the 80/20 plan. The measure is in response to a legislative order to reduce costs for the more than 690,000 employees and retirees who receive health benefits through the state. Host Frank Stasio talks with WRAL’s Mark Binker about the latest.

Donald Trump made news by skipping the GOP Fox News debate, instead holding his own event in Des Moines.
Marc Nozell / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are just a few days away , and presidential candidates are making their final pushes before the primary season begins. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump did not attend the Fox News debate last night and instead hosted his own event in Des Moines. How did his absence affect the debate? And campaign finance data from 2015 has started rolling in. Who leads the money race? Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal trial over North Carolina’s new voting requirements began yesterday in Winston-Salem. The key issue is the photo identification requirement passed by the North Carolina legislature that’s set to go into effect during the March primary. Republican leaders say the measure is designed to prevent voter fraud. Opponents, including the state’s NAACP chapter, argue that the law effectively disenfranchises minority voters. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about...

Polls show Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican race ahead of the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1.
Ninian Reid / Flickr Creative Commons

The Iowa caucuses are less than a week away and early voting for North Carolina’s primary starts in just more than a month. Campaigns are heating up, but how are voters responding? And are North Carolinians more or less politically engaged this cycle than in previous years? Host Frank Stasio talks with Jarvis Hall , political science professor at North Carolina Central University; Steve Greene , political science professor at North Carolina State University; Tom Jensen , director of Public...

Snow Scene
Billy Wilson (thebillywilson.com) via Flickr

Many regions of the Old North State are blanketed in snow today. As North Carolinians dig out from the storm, we dug back through the archives for these five snow day finds:

Val Kerry / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama has repeatedly called for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but this month marks 14 years since the first detainees landed on Cuban shores. Several detainees have participated in hunger strikes in protest of their imprisonment. A federal judge has ordered the release of videos showing guards force-feeding detainees but the government has until Friday to appeal the ruling. Host Frank Stasio talks with VICE News reporter Jason Leopold about the latest. And a video...

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina primary is just two months from today and the campaigns are in full swing. Republican hopefuls met in another presidential debate last night in South Carolina and Democratic contenders face-off on Sunday. The President's State of the Union address could affect the race for the White House. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the debates, the President’s address and the latest in political news.

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 . He also gets reaction from members of the North Carolina congressional delegation including: Rep. G.K. Butterfield , D-1 st ; Rep. Renee Ellmers , R-2 nd ;...

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. One and a half million black men are missin g from everyday life , according to a New York Times report . More than 70,000 black men are missing in North Carolina. Their disappearance from society is the product of many structural and policy issues. Host Frank Stasio talks with Mark Anthony Neal , professor of...

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. Assistant News Director Laura Lee talks about some of the work she produced this year including a conversation with Hodding Carter III about the intersection of media and national security; a chat with writer and professor Jedediah Purdy ; a segment on the building of a massive Hindu temple chariot ; an NPR investigation about nursing injuries ; and a...

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. "Holiday traditions" is one of the themes explored by The Monti, a North Carolina storytelling organization and two storytellers are featured in this program: The Monti scorekeeper known as "Hippo Guy" shares his story about the blending of his family's religious traditions, and his children's reactions. And Tiffany Lopez...

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. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC education reporter Jess Clark , who was at the meeting.

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. He began documenting the small and intimate details of everyday living in the neighborhood that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. His work is featured in a new book, “ After: The Silence of the Lower 9 th Ward ” (Safe Harbor Books...

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 355 th 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. Host...

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...

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. Host Frank Stasio talks with Hana Brown , sociology professor at Wake Forest University, and Jennifer Jones ,...

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. Host Frank Stasio talks with the Corporation's Carl Rist ; Christopher Gergen , CEO of Forward Impact; and...

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. Host Frank Stasio talks with NC Comicon organizer and animator Tommy Lee Edwards and My Chemical Romance musician and comics artist Gerard Way .

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. Host Frank Stasio talks with KUOW military reporter Patricia Murphy and WUNC military reporter Jay Price. Their...

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