The State of Things

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

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.

Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  

Check out our #BackChannel series.

photo of Nikki Haley speaking at the United Nations
Julie Jacobson / AP Photo

This week marked another rift in the Trump administration, this time over imposing new sanctions on Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the president would announce those new sanctions during her appearance on Sunday talk shows. On Tuesday, a top White House official negated that comment and blamed Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” Haley shot back, saying “I don’t get confused.”

text of the sign: 'Freedom Hill: Community established here by freed blacks in 1865. Incorporated as Princeville in 1885.'
ncdcr.gov

The concept began with eight mayors from historically black towns who joined academics to preserve history, problem solve and build for the future. The 2015 project was so successful, it has expanded into the multidisciplinary Black Communities conference. Hosted by the Institute for African American Research and NCGrowth, organizer Karla Slocum is professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Institute of African American Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and organizer Mark Little is Director of NCGrowth and Executive Director at UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

the five members of kooley high posing in a parking lot
Brett Villena

North Carolina hip-hop group Kooley High is out with their new album “Never Come Down.” The acclaimed Kendrick Lamar-collaborator Patrick Douthit, better known as 9th Wonder, is executive producer for the album and one of the tracks includes Grammy-nominated artist Rapsody who was also a founding member of the group. Rapsody has since branched off for her own solo career, but she is still close with the group that helped her get her start.

photo of two women holding a marine corp photo plaque
Jay Price / American Homefront

Female veterans are nearly 2 ½ times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women, according to data from the Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program. The same data show male veterans are 18 percent more likely to kill themselves than civilian men. Why are female veterans struggling? The advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) released six recommendations on the mental health needs of women service members and veterans based on a poll of veterans in the civilian world and women on active duty.

book cover for 'dreams that can save your life,' picturing a dreaming woman and a hooded monk in the background
Findhorn Press

Dr. Larry Burk has spent much of his life practicing traditional medicine as a radiologist. But his search for solutions to his patients’ problems led him on an unexpected journey outside of traditional medicine. A graduate of Duke University, Burk co-founded the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine. He is certified in acupuncture, hypnosis, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and is committed to holistic medicine.

photo of a garden area, with several spires made of earthy material, rising about 10-15 feet into the air
Courtesy of Clearscapes

The new “Oberlin Rising” monument in Raleigh commemorates one of the first African-American communities in the city. After the Civil War, Southern land was divided into parcels and sold to former slaves, and Raleigh’s Oberlin Village was made up of several of these parcels. It was established in 1866 as one of the first freedmen communities in the city. Oberlin’s history is largely overlooked, and development has nearly erased the community from the landscape.

Author Mary Shelley’s life holds enduring intrigue. Born in 1797, Shelley was raised by famed intellectuals and trained to think in ways that stretched far beyond most women in her time, and she was undoubtedly a rebel. In her teens, Shelley took up a lover, writer Percy Shelley, who would later become her husband. Their escapades with literary friends fueled Mary Shelley’s work.

photo of a man speaking at a rally
Sam DeGrave / Asheville Citizen Times

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, conducted raids across North Carolina over the past week. ICE agents took several dozen people into custody in the Triangle area and arrested about a dozen people in Western North Carolina, according to a ICE spokesman Bryan Cox. The mayors of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham all released statements condemning the raids in their communities. An immigrant advocate group in Asheville held a rally on Saturday that drew hundreds of people downtown.

many small photos of plastic objects such as a pizza table or small bag, each photographed next to a ruler
Robin Frohardt

Mandatory recycling is law in some places around the United States, which makes people feel comfortable about their part in saving the planet. But what happens to single-use plastics, like take out containers, grocery bags, and Starbucks cup caps? They end up in the oceans, among other places.

To honor Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday, the nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives set forth to print and distribute one million copies of Douglass’ historic slave narrative. They initially had no idea how they would generate public interest. Then Donald Trump was quoted saying, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”  Suddenly Ken Morris, a descendant of Douglass and co-founder of the nonprofit, was fielding non-stop calls from the press, and his history lesson for the president went viral.

headshot of pierce freelon
Mark Maya Photography

Pierce Freelon is known to many in the Triangle for his ambitious projects and constant stream of new ideas.

If he is not performing onstage with his band The Beast, teaching about the intersection of politics and hip-hop, or heading a rap cypher in downtown Durham, he is likely leading workshops at Blackspace: a digital makerspace that offers black and brown youth the opportunity to create multimedia projects that reflect their identities.

photo of tammy hooper in the blue ridge public radio station
Amanda Magnus

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

photo of joy harjo
Karen Kuehn

Critics call Joy Harjo “the first lady of American Indian poetry.” But Harjo is more than a poet. She is also an author, musician and playwright. She is a native of Oklahoma and a member of the Mvskoke (Muscogee) Nation.

photo of leeda 'lyric' jones playing guitar onstage
Courtesy of Leeda 'Lyric' Jones

Leeda “Lyric” Jones honed her skills as a writer, singer and performer busking on the streets of downtown Asheville. At first hesitant to play for strangers, she quickly realized her original lyrics and soulful style helped her forge connections with those who needed it the most.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Asheville city police face potential budget cuts a month after body camera footage of an officer beating a black pedestrian was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The beating prompted outrage and led to the arrest of the former officer who beat the pedestrian and the firing of City Manager Gary Jackson. Blue Ridge Public Radio News Director Matt Bush speaks with host Frank Stasio about the latest updates from the story.

photo of a young man wearing a varsity jacket with the letters 'mdtmt' on the back
Courtesy of Keynon Lake

Many know Bennie Lake as one of the original Harlem Globetrotters who traveled the world entertaining audiences with their comedy and athleticism. But for his son Keynon, Bennie was a role model of what a man should be: an engaged citizen with a commitment to helping young people through his career as a social worker.

photo of the airbnb website, with pictures of rooms for rent
www.airbnb.com/a/Asheville

The Asheville City Council voted to severely restrict tourist rentals in Asheville earlier this year. The new rules state that rentals that had city permits before the vote can stay in business.

photo of vegetables displayed at a farmers market
USDA

The Trump administration wants to see a 20 percent cut over 10 years to SNAP, the food stamp program that helps feed 42 million Americans each year. Funding for SNAP is provided through the Federal Farm Bill, which will soon be under debate in Washington. The current bill is set to expire this fall.

close up photo of people exchanging rings during a wedding ceremony
Pixabay/Creative Commons

There was a time during slavery when black women could not legally marry. Yet, throughout history the single black woman has been vilified.

book cover for 'chasing space.' leland melvin poses for an official portrait in astronaut's gear, but with two big dogs licking his face.
Harper Collins

Leland Melvin’s path to a career at NASA is unconventional to say the least. As a teenager he got a scholarship to play football at the University of Richmond and later signed as a wide receiver to the Detroit Lions. He never played during the regular season  due to an injury, but he did not lose energy to pursue his passions.

photo of tom perez speaking at a microphone, an american flag in the background
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez took the helm of the Democratic National Committee in early 2017 when its reputation was in tatters. The Clinton-Sanders primary created a rift in the party, which was further devastated by the Russian email hacking scandal and big losses in the 2016 election.

photo of cecile richards speaking at a podium at the women's march
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

Most people know Cecile Richards as the fearless head of Planned Parenthood. But long before she was fighting Republican senators in Congress or pro-life demonstrators, she was finding ways to “make trouble.”

photo of David Crane speaking at a podium
Ken Harper

In the 1990s, officials founded five criminal tribunals to seek international justice: four temporary bodies in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, and the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. The first four were put in place to handle specific civil war crimes. Since then, the issue of international criminal justice has faded.

photo of Erin Byrd
Courtesy of Erin Byrd

Activist Erin Byrd grew up moving from one military base to the next – from Virginia to Texas to South Korea to Texas to Germany and back to the U.S. again. Throughout her childhood, Byrd witnessed military families get free dental care, free health care and reduced-price groceries. The government supplied these basic services to the military population, and she wondered why the whole country did not have the same benefits.

photo of scott pruitt
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Creative Commons

This week President Donald Trump announced he wanted an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the fight against ISIS in Syria. In a news conference with Baltic leaders Trump said the U.S. was “very successful against ISIS.” The president has since pulled back on an urgent removal plan, and instead instructed the military to withdraw from the conflict within a few months.

photo of Kim Pevia
Courtesy of Women AdvaNCe

A record number of women are running for public office this year for positions ranging from state legislators to governors and members of Congress. Whether or not they will be elected still remains uncertain, but their attempts could counteract staggering statistics: for every one woman who holds office as a governor, member of congress or state legislator in the United States today, there are three men, according to analysis from The Washington Post.

photo of sarah shook and her band
John Gessner / Bloodshot Records

Chapel Hill-artist Sarah Shook did not follow an obvious path to country music. She grew up in a conservative Christian household, listened primarily to religious music and only discovered country greats like Wanda Jackson and Buck Owens in her 20s. She was also painfully shy as a kid, so when she first took the stage in early adulthood, it was a shock to her own mother.

photo of Chris Hickman conversing with other officers, johnnie rush is handcuffed in the background
City of Asheville

Asheville resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush was walking home from work on Aug. 24, 2017 when he was stopped by police for jaywalking. Rush felt he was being harassed and ran away to avoid arrest. Bodycam video of the incident was leaked to the Asheville Citizen Times in February 2018, and it went viral. 

photo of an orchestra rehearsal
Courtesy of Peter Askim

April 4, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King was shot on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. The Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra of North Carolina State University will honor this anniversary in their upcoming program, “The Dream Is Alive: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.” All of the music included in the event was written by African-American composers.

photo of a man with a shotgun standing in a small boat with several dead nutria (large rodents).
Courtesy of Quinn Costello

They weigh 20 pounds, have bright orange buck teeth, and look like a cross between a beaver and a rat. The nutria is an invasive rodent that has become a scourge on ecosystems in Louisiana and elsewhere. In the new documentary “Rodents of Unusual Size,” filmmakers track how nutria first arrived in Louisiana and follow the work of hunters who kill the rodents for money and to protect the environment.

Pages