The State of Things

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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, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Front pages of the News and Observer
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

For the majority of libel claims, the case never goes before a jury. However, in cases where the libel claim goes through to trial, juries tend to give big awards, something the Raleigh News & Observer found out this week when a jury delivered a verdict that could run north of $6 million.

Headshot of Roy Cooper
Courtesy of Roy Cooper

With the election less than three weeks away, the national spotlight is on North Carolina as a key swing state in this election. The latest polls in the governor’s race show incumbent Governor Pat McCrory head-to-head with democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Apprentice House

As a child growing up in Bristol, Virginia, writer Christine Hale says she was an unintended hostage to her parents’ abusive marriage and her  family’s dysfunction. When her second marriage ended in a bitter divorce she stumbled upon Tibetan Buddhism as a path toward making sense of her life. Her new memoir, “A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations,” (Apprentice House Press/2016) weaves together memories from her journey toward acceptance.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battled it out on the podium earlier this week in their third and final debate of the season. It was the first time a Fox News anchor moderated a presidential debate.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Ken Rudin, the political junkie, about the candidates’ debate strategies and about their comedic spar at an annual charity roast. 

Political pins show off the name and campaign slogans of former US Congressman Nick Galifiniakis.
Courtesy Ken Rudin

The son of two Greek immigrants, Nick Galifianakis was a surprising pick for politics in 1960s North Carolina. "Pick Nick", a new book by former UNC history professor John Semonche, published by Tidal Press, takes an intimate look into Galifianakis’s rise to political prominence, first as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly and later as a United States Congressman.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Semonche and Galifianakis about his political legacy and the infamous battle against former US Senator Jesse Helms.​

Kooley High

The Raleigh-based hip-hop group Kooley High started nearly a decade ago after its members had spent years trading rhymes with each other on campus at North Carolina State University.  In 2004, some of Kooley High's members started a hip-hop club on campus called "H2O" and helped spark a grassroots rap scene in the city.  

Princeville, Hurricane Matthew, Flooding
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

The town of Princeville, North Carolina was established by freed slaves after the Civil War, and it is the oldest town incorporated by African-Americans in the United States. Hurricane Matthew put the town underwater, but leaders there are vowing to rebuild and reclaim the historical place. Members of the National Guard are pumping millions of gallons of water back into the Tar River while residents wait to see if anything is salvageable. 

Judge Mike Morgan, a candidate in the N.C. Supreme Court race, standing by an American flag.
Courtesy Mike Morgan

The race for a seat in the North Carolina Supreme Court is one of many down-ballot races that may not be top of mind for most North Carolinians. However, this year’s race carries the potential for a significant political shift.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan, a registered Democrat, says the N.C. Supreme Court is becoming increasingly politicized. He is fighting to win the seat of incumbent Justice Bob Edmunds, a registered Republican. 

Breaking The Jemima Code

Oct 20, 2016
University of Texas Press

For more than 100 years, the dominant image of an African-American cook was that of Aunt Jemima. Her face appeared on pancake boxes and syrup bottles and carried a message implying that African-American cooks were uneducated, poor, and always working under the direction of white women.

Vianney Le Caer / AP

The highly-anticipated film "The Birth of a Nation" tells the story of a slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831.

Headshot of N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds.
Courtesy of Justice Bob Edmunds

Down-ballot races in North Carolina do not generally conjure the hearty debate and civic attention of higher profile elections. But this year, the race for a seat on North Carolina's Supreme Court may also carry a significant ideological shift.

An image from Bright's series '#1960Now' that explores the parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the current  #BlackLivesMatter movement today.
Sheila Pree Bright

Photographer Sheila Pree Bright first picked up a camera in search of a means of personal expression. After her first public exhibit, it was clear that not only did she have a gift for making beautiful images, but her work also sparked thoughtful and unexpected conversations about race, politics, and justice. Bright first came into the national spotlight with the series “Suburbia,” which explored black suburban life in Atlanta.

Eric Loewen

America’s reliance on fossil fuels is contributing to global warming, posing a threat to the future of the planet. Much of the discussion around mitigating climate change centers on sources like solar and wind power, while nuclear power is often left out of the conversation. Fear about safety and expense have hindered the development of nuclear power as a sustainable energy source for the United States, but Eric Loewen hopes to change that perception.

Image of Reginald Newberne, a former North Carolina State Trooper, against a brick wall.
Laura Pellicer

A former North Carolina State trooper won a $3.75 million verdict in a long-running whistleblower case. State trooper Reginald Newberne claims that in 2000, a fellow officer told Newberne he injured his hand while punching a teen suspect. Newberne says he was hesitant about filling out an official report, but he later offered a detailed account of the incident to his superiors. Newberne was subsequently fired from his position in the Highway Patrol for a violation of the “truthfulness directive”.

NC Jazz Musicians Host Reunion Shows

Oct 14, 2016
Black and white photo of renowned jazz singer Nnenna Freelon.
Chris Charles

Jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, and jazz guitarist Scott Sawyer, cut their teeth performing as a duo in listening rooms, bars, and even hotel lobbies back in the 1980s. Over the past decades, their individual careers have taken off, bringing them Grammy nominations and leading to collaborations with artists around the world. Both artists settled in the Triangle and are now pillars of the jazz scene in the state.

Flooding along NC 211 near Lumberton make roads impassable on Monday, October 10, 2016.
Jay Price / WUNC

The sun may be shining, but rivers are still cresting in eastern North Carolina as a result of the prolonged rainfall from Hurricane Matthew. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jay Price who is in eastern North Carolina for an update on the damage.  Plus, Rob Young, professor of coastal geology and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, discusses the shortcomings of federal flood policy and the method of categorizing storms that fails to adequately warn of the kind of danger eastern North Carolinians face.

LEARN NC, UNC School of Education.

Photographer Jon Crispin spent five years shooting a collection of more than 400 suitcases discovered in an attic at the Willard Psychiatric Center in upstate New York. The intimate portraits are widely acclaimed for adding a layer of humanity to patients who might otherwise only be remembered by their hollow medical records.

Headshot of Eric Fair, a former interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Amy Cramer

In 2004, photographs capturing extreme abuse of detainees at the American-controlled Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were released to the public, sparking a humanitarian outcry. That same year, Eric Fair was working as an interrogator at the prison. Fair's new memoir, "Consequence" (Henry Holt/2016) is an unflinching look back at his time at Abu Ghraib and the mental and physical pain he inflicted on detainees as part of military-sanctioned interrogations.

Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. The prolific musician is the first Nobel winner to have forged a career primarily as a singer-songwriter. What's more, he's also the first American to have won the prize in more than two decades. Not since novelist Toni Morrison won in 1993 has an American claimed the prize.

An image of folk singer Leadbelly
Public Domain

Rock music has roots in many different musical forms. It is shaped by the blues and jazz. Meanwhile, the narratives in rock songs can be traced back to English ballads.

Courtesy of Perfecta Visuals

What happens when women get up on stage dressed to the nines and are judged not for their beauty, but for their strength? Groups of women around the country have been exploring just that with competitive arm wrestling leagues. Two of these leagues are based in North Carolina, the League of Upper Extremity Wrestling Women in Durham (LUEWWD) and the Greensboro Arm Wrestling League (GRAWL).

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Roy Cooper, left, and North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory participate in a live televised debate at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

With his back against the political ropes, Governor Pat McCrory was ready for a fight on Tuesday night. The Republican incumbent looked energized, confident, and threw jabs, hooks and overhand rights at his challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Recap of Greensboro Excessive Force Case

Oct 11, 2016
Greensboro Police Department

Guilford County prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against a white officer who aggressively attacked a black man. Greensboro City Council members repeatedly called for prosecutors to review the initial investigation. Dejuan Yourse was on his mother's front porch when he was punched in the face, wrestled to the ground, and subsequently arrested by Officer Travis Cole.  

When Children Become Consumers

Oct 11, 2016
Courtesy of the Lois Lenski Collection of Early American Children's Literature, UNC-Greensboro

Within minutes of watching weekend morning cartoons, viewers see a range of commercials targeting children. Social scientists have long been outspoken about the effect these kind of advertisements can have on children’s psyche and development. 

Image of Dan River Girls
Dan River Girls

Each of the Winston-Salem sisters Fiona, Ellie and Jessie Burdette started taking music lessons at five years old. When the youngest sister, Jessie, turned 7, the three decided that it was time to combine their musical talents and form a band--the Dan River Girls. Their music ranges from traditional bluegrass to pop-rock. They released their first album last year and continue to play at venues and festivals around the state.