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

Jason deBruyn, Triangle Business Journal
Triangle Business Journal

The FDA approved the first-ever drug for female sexual dysfunction. The Raleigh-based company, Sprout, is behind the libido pill.

  This morning, Valeant Pharmaceuticals announced it is buying Sprout for $1 billion. Some hail the FDA approval as a victory for gender equality but critics say the many risky side effects outweigh the benefits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield pen
frankieleon / Flickr Creative Commons

The Affordable Care Act was designed to give more access to healthcare at lower costs. But the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, has requested a rate increase of more than 34% for patients enrolled in the ACA plans.

The company says it needs the additional revenue to offset increasing costs. The request, along with increase requests from other insurers, will be considered by the North Carolina Insurance commissioner.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Seventeen GOP presidential contenders took the stage last night in a two-tiered appearance on Fox. Did the event help or hurt poll leaders Donald Trump and Jeb Bush?

Plus, the debate over Planned Parenthood funding continues on the Hill.

And Jon Stewart ends his 16-year run on The Daily Show.  

A Polished Soul

Aug 5, 2015
Image of Michael Rae Anderson
Michael Rae Anderson

Michael Rae Anderson grew up in poverty and in an abusive household. As an adolescent, he saw his peers with new cars and plenty of money earned by selling drugs.

Anderson began selling drugs and guns as a teen. A fight over drugs ended with a shooting and Anderson was charged with first-degree murder. He took a plea and served 17 years on a life sentence.

Gavel
www.stockmonkeys.com / Flickr Creative Commons

The trial of a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer in the shooting of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell is underway this week.

Wes Randall Kerrick is charged with fatally wounding Ferrell, who had been involved in a car accident and knocked on a door for help. The resident of the home told officers she believed Ferrell was a burglar. Kerrick shot Ferrell 12 times.

Image of Nnenna Freelon, who stars in 'The Clothesline Muse'
Chris Charles

Clotheslines were once a part of everyday life for most American families. Women would often gather at community clotheslines, and neighbors in high rise buildings chatted over shared clotheslines hanging between their apartments. 

The new multimedia theatrical production “The Clothesline Muse” explores the history and culture of the clothesline, and looks at what it can tell us about changing community structure and relationships.

Image of Sydney Scherr, who is a jeweler and professor now working with victims of sex trafficking.
Sydney Scherr

For many victims of sex trafficking, the struggle continues after escaping the industry. Without skills to earn a livelihood, they may turn to prostitution.

Jeweler and professor Sydney Scherr started a project to teach sustainable jewelry design to victims of sex trafficking. She leads groups of students to instruct and create designs through simple techniques so that they can earn a living. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Scherr and two students involved in the project: Ezatul Mazwe Muhammad Arif and Hanson Foong.

Wind Energy In NC

Jul 16, 2015
Wind turbines
Martin Pettitt / Flickr Creative Commons

A stretch of land that was once called “The Desert” by locals is now the site of a potential new economy in North Carolina: wind energy.

And the market for the energy produced by the wind farms already has a buyer: Amazon. Meanwhile, the legislature continues to debate environmental deregulation measures.

Image of Tommy Sowers
Duke University

Tommy Sowers served two tours in Iraq as a green beret. The Duke graduate earned a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, and he taught at West Point and at Duke.

Sowers ran as the Democratic Party's nominee for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in 2010 and later became an assistant secretary for the Veterans Affairs. He worked to help veterans gain access to benefits.

Image of sticky notes with one titled find job
www.flazingo.com / Flickr Creative Commons

New economic numbers out this month show workers in the Triangle are finding fewer jobs, and those who do have employment are making less money. 

The latest unemployment figures are the highest the Triangle has seen since August of last year. 

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

Sydney Scherr

Raleigh metalsmith and enameller Sydney Scherr traveled to Malaysia in 2009 to build the jewelry design program at Raffles College of Higher Education. Through a chance meeting with a fellow metalsmith, Scherr began to document the building of a 22-foot tall Hindu temple chariot. 

The work consists of 1,760 pounds of silver and many embellishments. The temple travels throughout communities. Scherr is the first female ever permitted to participate in the construction of such a temple.

Photo: The North Carolina seal in front of the state legislative building
Jorge Valencia

Lawmakers take up the state's budget with a month-end deadline looming. Senate leaders passed their plan this morning. It increases pay for new teachers but cuts back on teaching assistants. 

The $21 billion plan also puts Medicaid under the control of an outside agency. But the Senate plan differs greatly from the House proposal and the Governor's plan. Lawmakers need to reconcile the differences before June 30 or pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

Image of John Heinemeier
York Wilson for Faith & Leadership

The Rev. John Heinemeier says ministers should be agitators. In fact, he calls Jesus an agitator.

Rev. Heinemeier spent more than five decades stirring things up and serving congregants in inner-city New York, Boston and Baltimore. He helped integrate churches in the 60s and 70s, bringing together Latino and African-American congregations. He also worked to develop the Nehemiah strategy for housing. He now serves as an Episcopal Minister in Oxford, N.C. 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina legislature voted to override a veto by Governor McCrory. The move puts a measure into law that allows magistrates who disagree with same-sex marriage to opt out of performing marriages.

And Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks out against voting restrictions like the one’s passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. Republican leaders push back, saying voting regulation is a state issue. 

Solar Panels
Strata Solar

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering legislation to limit the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Proponents say tax incentives and government mandates for renewable energy are crucial to continued growth in revenue and jobs. 

  Several large companies like Google and Facebook have urged the legislature not to roll back the measures. Opponents say solar businesses costs the state more than they generates and taxpayers end up footing the bill. 

Image of "Soon," the latest collection of short stories written by Pam Durban, a creative writing professor at UNC.
University of South Carolina Press

The characters of Pam Durban’s short stories face a variety of challenges on different fronts - grief, identity, interpersonal relationships.

But the common thread that binds them all is storytelling. Durban’s latest collection of short stories is Soon (University of South Carolina Press/2015).  

Host Frank Stasio talks with Durban, professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Image of the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jmturner

The legislature considers controversial measures on gun regulations and magistrates performing same-sex marriages.

And Governor Pat McCrory says he will sign a bill that increases the waiting period for an abortion, a move that contradicts his campaign promise. 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina General Assembly gets a veto from Governor McCrory on their measure to exempt some magistrates from performing marriages. And the Patriot Act is set to expire this weekend.

Image of Shana Tucker, who created the musical genre Chamber Soul to reflect a mix of classical and jazz training with influences from 80s and 90s pop and world music.
Lei Rivera Photography

For many jazz or classical performers, the workplace is one of formality. But for cellist and singer Shana Tucker, the workplace last year was a zany mix of painted and costumed characters. Tucker literally joined the circus. The self-described “ChamberSoul” musician performs nightly with Cirque de Soleil’s '

Couple leaving courthouse after gay marriage
Wikipedia

 

  House lawmakers passed a Senate bill today to allow local magistrates to refuse to perform marriages. The measure passed 66-44 after debate that centered on religious freedom arguments. The bill comes after several magistrates resigned in protest over same-sex marriages.

The measure will head to Governor McCrory's desk and he has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. 

In the Senate, legislators consider a bill to extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

Edward Snowden
Wikipedia

 

In 2013, former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden released classified documents. His action prompted outrage; supporters hailed him as a hero while opponents called him a traitor and a criminal. A new book, After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age, (St. Martin’s Press/2015) examines the national security landscape in the two years since Snowden’s actions.

Wells
wikimedia

  A superior court judge in Wake County today halted fracking in the state. The court order prohibits the Mining and Energy Commission from accepting or processing fracking permits. The decision is a temporary legal victory for environmental groups across the state.Meanwhile, at the legislature, House representatives are preparing to debate a $22.2 billion spending plan. The initial proposal includes more money for teachers, state employees and incentives. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporters Dave Dewitt and Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

Grand Power K100
Wikipedia

A bill in the North Carolina House could change gun regulations in the state. Proponents say the measure would give more consistency to licensing. Opponents, including some law enforcement agencies, say the changes would allow private sellers to skip registration processes. Also in the headlines: yesterday, in federal court, Duke Energy pleaded guilty over charges stemming from the 2014 coal ash spill. The deal means the company will pay $102 million in fines and restitution. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporters Jorge Valencia and Dave Dewitt about the latest.

Missing Men
Pixabay

As a teenager in Maryland, Dwayne Betts showed promise. The high school student made the honor roll and demonstrated sharp wit.

But Betts grew up in an environment not conducive to success. He recalls three of his classmates being killed. Others went to prison.

“The expectation wasn’t necessarily that we would go to prison,” Betts said. “But we lived in a climate and an environment in which these things were happening every day and nobody was confronting what it meant.”

Airplane!
Wikipedia

From silent film to slapstick comedy, humor has been a staple of the silver screen since the dawn of modern cinema. Listeners share their favorite funny scenes from a wide range of movies from “Young Frankenstein” to “Airplane." Host Frank Stasio talks with North Carolina Museum of Art film curator Laura Boyes and North Carolina State University film professor Marsha Gordon about the funniest moments in film.

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