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.

Pixelbay

With the advent of modern DNA tests, people can now find out their genetic makeup within days. For many the tests can help strengthen a sense of heritage and ancestry. But according to indigenous scholar Kim TallBear, a specialist in racial politics in science, the results of a DNA test do not give people a license to adopt or claim membership to a Native American community.

 

Soho Artists

Yasmin Levy is an acclaimed Israeli artist known for her twist on Sephardic songs. The musical tradition came from her father who recorded and preserved folk songs in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language that emerged in the territories of the ancient Ottoman Empire after Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492.

Cape Fear River, NC, at Raven Rock Park
Blipperman / Wikimedia Commons

This week Brunswick County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont for their involvement in discharging the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River. The lawsuit is seeking to recover the costs to the county for investigating, managing, reducing and removing the chemical.

It is one of several lawsuits against Chemours and DuPont. Last week a Leland resident filed a class action lawsuit against the two companies after she discovered GenX in her water heater.

Senior Airman Brittain Crolley / U.S. Air Force

 

The U.S. Senate has backed away from a proposal to close military bases for now, but that is not stopping some communities from planning ahead for the next round of cuts.

In Goldsboro, organizations and civic leaders are teaming up with the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to improve the base’s facilities and increase engagement with the community. The partnership is a part of strategy to improve relations with the military and bolster the efficiency of the base.
 

Ft Bragg Stories A mixed 'chalk' of U.S. and British paratroopers line up to board a C-130 transport plane for the main jump of the joint exercise.
Jay Price / North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

North Carolina is home to the largest U.S. military installation in the world by population. It employs more than 50,000 military and close to 30,000 civilians and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Darrin Zammit Lupi

Photojournalist Darrin Zammit Lupi lived and worked in Malta but assumed he would need to travel to far-flung locations to witness the big stories of his time. Then the refugee crisis unfolded in his backyard with well over one million migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to escape violence and poverty. 

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in 2011
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/EPd159

Open enrollment for health plans under the Affordable Care Act begins today.

man preparing injection
Carol E. Davis - US Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/axqcCi

The American medical system is good at providing care to people in the middle: those who need regular doctors’ visits and a few medications. But the system is inadequate for many patients with complex needs. And although they make up a tiny proportion of healthcare users, these high-need patients end up using a shockingly high percentage of health dollars.

John Coltrane
Nakadaira

John Coltrane is widely recognized as one of the most iconic and influential jazz musicians of all time. His work as a saxophonist and composer is known to the world, and it all started in North Carolina.

Public Domain / Wiki Creative Commons

Last week the federal government released thousands of files related to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
 

Courtesy of The Monti

Science and religion are often pitted against one another as opposing forces. While science is defined by clear methodologies and peer-reviewed findings, religion is at once abstract and highly personal. Yet whether or not someone is a highly-devout Hindu priest or a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, both are wielding tools in search of greater understanding. 

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Ron Hunter was born and raised in a log cabin on a sharecropping farm in the countryside near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As a kid he wanted to be a cowboy. He often donned a cowboy hat and practiced country-western songs while riding a make-believe horse. Later in life Hunter found a deep connection with the stories he can tell through the blues, and he gained recognition for his unique style.

PONCE, PUERTO RICO -  North Carolina National Guard SSG Joe Rodriguez carries donated water and MRE's for Nani Soto in a distribution center in a sports arena in the Southern town of Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico, on October 20, 2017.
Angel Valentin / For WUNC

It has been more than five weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Close to three-quarters of residents on the island are still without power. Many also still do not have access to food or safe drinking water. 

woman wearing Virtual Reality glasses
Nan Palmero / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/qJPZEL

For years North Carolina has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. This growth has had a profound impact on the state’s environment, government and economy. 

Image of Pat Mother Blues Cohen
Courtesy of Pat Cohen

Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen started singing blues tunes as a young girl to entertain her parents’ friends at their home in Edison, New Jersey. She later worked for years in the casino industry and won casino talent competitions so often that she was banned from participating. 

Cover of 'The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy'
Cambridge University Press

In the last 50 years, the wealth gap between white families and black and Latino families has more than tripled. Today the median net worth of white families is nearly 10 times that of black families, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve.The wealth gap is nothing new in the United States and has only gotten worse along racial lines. 

Jen Kirkman
Courtesy of Jen Kirkman

When Jen Kirkman started doing stand-up comedy in the late 1990s, she said she enjoyed being able to just sit on a stool and tell funny stories about her life. She has always been willing to share personal anecdotes about a range of topics, including the struggles that come with being a woman in comedy. But her storytelling is not limited to the stage. 

Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz
Insomnia Cured Here / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/5GMFkD

Magical beings on the silver screen take audiences on a journey into worlds that only exist in their imagination. They fly, cast spells, play tricks, and blur the line between the real and the fantastic. For many years Hollywood treated witchcraft and magic as mostly bad things, but over time some supernatural powers have earned a better reputation. 

Photo: UNC Board of Governors Chair Louis Bisette and UNC President Margaret Spellings
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

 The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors has been caught up in a number of controversies this year. 

Brenna Berry Photography

In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an executive order that banned homosexuals from holding jobs in the federal government or receiving a security clearance. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Take it from Seattle, having Amazon’s headquarters in your city can be a blessing. 

Courtesy of Kumarini Silva

 Kumarini Silva grew up in the midst of a violent civil war in Colombo, Sri Lanka between the government and rebel groups. She was mostly sheltered from the violence because of her father’s status as a U.N. diplomat, but her family still helped those they knew were in danger. They moved to Liberia when Silva was a teenager but had to leave after a few years after a violent conflict erupted inside the country.

Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rpL7cW

President Donald Trump’s phone call to the widow of a Green Beret killed in Niger has prompted questions about the level of respect the President displayed for the soldier’s service.

Comunicom / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rxcnE6

This year marks what would have been the 100th birthday of jazz legend Thelonious Monk. 

Courtesy of Mysti Mayhem

Growing up in a small town in the Poconos, singer-songwriter Mysti Mayhem knew her big dreams needed to find a big stage.

photo of Rapsody
FortyOnceGold

In her new album “Laila’s Wisdom,” North Carolina rapper Rapsody delivers messages about community, confidence and creative control. The Snow Hill native grew up with a big family and says the album’s title is dedicated to her grandmother and her teachings, which is also something Rapsody channels in her music. 

Paragon Properties / Northville Woods / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/81t4tA

Carolina Public Press has spent the past year investigating adult care homes across North Carolina, and it found a lack of consistency and accountability across the board in how these centers are evaluated. But when a tip led managing editor Frank Taylor to look at one particular center, he found not only shocking violations including prostitution, but also a baffling handling of the case by the state.

Courtesy of Joan Myers Brown

When Joan Myers Brown first started to study ballet in the 1930s, dance schools were segregated and opportunities for professional ballet careers for African-American dancers were nearly nonexistent. Nonetheless, she stuck with her training. 

Courtesy of Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline sold nearly four million copies of her novel “Orphan Train” (HarperCollins/2013). The book imagined the story of Vivian, a 91-year-old woman who had been shipped west to foster care as a child. 

Chips aisle in the grocery store
Pixabay

 In his 2018 budget proposal, President Donald Trump proposed a cut of more than $190 billion to SNAP  – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – in the next 10 years. 

Pages