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.

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HCC Public Information Office Biotechnology Program

The Research Triangle is dotted with life sciences research and development companies, and Big Pharma operates sizeable manufacturing facilities in surrounding counties. The industry is a big player in North Carolina’s economy. It supports high-paying jobs, and in 2016 alone, it contributed an estimated $86 billion to the state’s economy.

Bonnie Rochman

Parents today have more options to determine and influence their children’s genetic makeup than ever before. But is knowing more about one’s DNA always empowering? In the new book “The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids- and the Kids We Have” (Farrar, Straus, Grioux/2017) writer Bonnie Rochman explores the possible benefits and drawbacks to modern genetic testing.

Jeff Roffman

In June 1944, a group of Jewish prisoners performed Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” to a group of Nazi officers at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The performance was a subversive and artistic act of defiance by the Jewish prisoners. In 2008, Maestro Murry Sidlin founded The Defiant Requiem Foundation to commemorate the event. Sidlin conducts Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” alongside testimonies and footage from the concentration camps.

Courtesy Phyliss Craig-Taylor

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from February 20, 2017.

Phyliss Craig-Taylor was part of the first wave of black students to integrate public schools in Alabama. She started attending an integrated school in third grade, and it was a challenging and formative experience. White children taunted her and threw projectiles at her, and she collected each item in a cigar box. These objects later served as evidence in a lawsuit to push for stronger integration of public schools.

Copyright 2017 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.

For nearly five decades “Sesame Street” has used playful characters to teach kids about tough subjects. In recent years the show has addressed parental incarceration and divorce. This week the TV show introduced a new puppet with her own distinct challenges. Julia, who is on the autistic spectrum, does not communicate in a predictable way and struggles with sensory overload.

Leonard Rogoff

Gertrude Weil spent her life fighting for civil rights in the South. She founded the state's League of Women Voters and campaigned against lynching and segregation. She cleverly navigated the fault lines that marked politics in North Carolina in the early 20th century. In new the book, "Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South" (UNC Press/2017), Leonard Rogoff exposes the roots of Gertrude Weil's activism.

An image of Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky
Public Domain

19th-century Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky is considered one of the most popular composers in history. However the man behind ballets like “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker” had a secret that clouded his personal life. Even though he never publicly came out, Tchaikovsky was gay. His sexual identity influenced his work and may have contributed to his mysterious and sudden death.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

 Relations between the U.S. and Russia are tense this week as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Moscow on a diplomatic trip. Tillerson urged Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to pull their support from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. These talks come a week after the U.S. launched a missile strike against Syria. Meanwhile, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

www.adampiore.com/

 The great engineers of the twentieth century conquered the outside world: planes, skyscrapers and rockets. Today, some of the best engineers are looking inwards at spaces like the human body and discovering ways to fix and enhance it.

Nina Berman

Nina Berman has been capturing stories as a professional photographer since the late 1980s. She is best known for her photos capturing military culture and veteran issues in the wake of Sept. 11. She documented the militarization of American life with the collection “Homeland” and told the stories of wounded veterans in “Purple Hearts- Back from Iraq.”

photo of North Carolina State Capitol Building
Nathanial Johnson / Flickr

Two weeks after the repeal of House Bill 2, several new proposals are working their way through the General Assembly. A group of House Republicans filed a bill that aims to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina. The bill claims the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is “null and void in the state of North Carolina.”

Catherine Coleman Flowers

Lowndes County, Alabama covers more than 700 square miles in the south-central portion of the state. It is part of the Black Belt, a region with dense soil that was once the site of thriving cotton plantations. The area declined rapidly during industrialization, and the chalky, clay soil that was once the key to thriving cotton fields, became a disaster for sewage systems. To this day, large swaths of Lowndes County residents have either inadequate or no septic system, which leads to a wide range of environmental and public health issues.

Nasher Musuem of Art

 Nina Chanel Abney was drawn to art at an early age. As a kid growing up in Chicago, she stayed busy by doodling and making collages with comics in the newspaper. As she got older, her work began to take on more political themes, including racism, police brutality and the impact of social media. The exhibition “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” features about 30 of Abney’s paintings, watercolors and collages.

Jordan Green / Triad City Beat

UPDATE: According to reports from News & Record reporter Danielle Battaglia, a superior court judge has ordered the release of the police body camera footage of Jose Charles to the Greensboro City Council for viewing in a closed session.

Another violent arrest by police in Greensboro is testing North Carolina's 2016 law on the release of police body camera footage. The mother of fifteen-year-old Jose Charles says police choked her son without provocation at a Fourth of July party, and she wants the public to see the police tape of the incident. Police charged Jose Charles with attacking an officer, among other crimes. 

Lucinda Devlin

For more than 40 years, photographer Lucinda Devlin has captured unique scenes across the country. Her images are social commentaries on things like the death penalty and agribusiness. The exhibit "Lucinda Devlin: Sightlines" spans Devlin's career and features 83 of her photographs.

www.abigaildowd.com

After working in city politics, and running an art school, Abigail Dowd needed a change. She packed up her great-grandfather’s guitar and took off to Florence, Italy, to Ireland, and later to Maine, to spend some time reconnecting with herself and her music. The trip turned into an eight-year journey.

Image of scholar William (Sandy) Darity
Duke University Sanford School School of Public Policy

Why are some people rich and others poor? Answering this elusive question has been the lifelong work of economist William (Sandy) Darity. Darity was an observant child, and from an early age he picked up on how wealth disparities divide communities. 

Max Cooper Photography

Thirty years ago Chapel Hill Town Council member Joe Herzenberg made history when he became the first openly gay elected official in the South. Today there are 13 openly-LGBTQ individuals serving in elected office in North Carolina. The social and political climate in the state has evolved dramatically in three decades, but many argue that the heated debate around House Bill 2 shows that LGBTQ issues are still politically divisive.

The Mountain Faith Band

For more than 15 years, the Mountain Faith Band has performed Americana and bluegrass across the country. The group mostly consists of the McMahan family from Sylva, North Carolina. Members of the family grew up playing bluegrass while they worked together in their dad’s tire shop. Today the group is well known for their 2015 appearance on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

The founder of the private security firm Blackwater was allegedly involved in a secret meeting with a confidante to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

jessamynstanley.com

 Jessamyn Stanley did not like yoga when she first started. Stanley’s first yoga class ended with her lying in a heap, overcome with nausea. But the body positivity advocate found her way back the mat years later and started sharing her journey with yoga on social media. Her honest posts on Instagram and Tumblr made Stanley a social media star.

Harper Collins Publishers

In her debut novel “No One Is Coming To Save Us” (Ecco/2017) Stephanie Powell Watts tells the story of an African-American family living in small-town North Carolina. The book features a young man named J.J. Ferguson who returned to his hometown to impress his high school sweetheart. Watts channels the literary classic “The Great Gatsby” as well as her experiences growing up Lenoir, N.C.

Tabacus: The Magazine of the British Tabulating Company, August 1958.

In the 1940s, Great Britain led the world in electronic computing. They were responsible for developing the world’s first digital electronic programmable computer; it helped crack enemy codes to aid the Allies in winning World War II. Three decades later, Great Britain’s computing industry was nearly extinct.  

slim, white-haired Abby Abinanti stands looking serious on a misty hill
Courtesy of Anne Makepeace

In Native American communities, poverty, drugs and the school-to-prison pipeline mean few second chances for those who commit crimes.

Two tribal judges in California are taking a different approach: Abby Abinanti and Claudette White are using restorative justice techniques to rehabilitate offenders and keep families together.
 

Flor and Armando house
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

When Ella was 12 years old, she spent three days in the desert with her mother and brother on a journey to come to the United States. When she finally arrived, she remembers jumping into her father's arms at the border.

An image of doctoral student A.D. Carson
Ken Scar

Hip-hop music has long been revered for showcasing nuanced messages about marginalized communities. Nas’ 1994 debut studio album “Illmatic” is praised as a seminal, lyrical portrayal of life in New York City. Meanwhile, Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade” was heralded for its powerful messages about black feminism. Works like these achieved large commercial success, but what happens when hip-hop extends beyond the airwaves and into the academy? 

Laura Pellicer

For close to two decades, Richard Joyner fought to get away from the farms of Pitt County, North Carolina. He grew up in a family of sharecroppers and repeatedly witnessed racial and economic injustices. His family was never properly compensated for their labor, and his father was treated poorly by white land owners.

Later in his life, Joyner became the pastor for the small 300-person community of Conetoe, North Carolina. Within one year, 30 of his congregants died from health-related illnesses. He decided to return to farming to grow healthy food for his community.

North Carolina State Capitol, Raleigh.
Jim Bowen / Flickr

The replacement bill for House Bill 2 has been signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper called House Bill 142 a compromise between state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. 

Usman Dadi

The Pakistani ensemble Sounds of Kolachi blends South Asian melodies with western classical compositions, jazz arrangements and more. Host Frank Stasio talks with Ahsan Bari, co-founder of the group, about the band’s origins and influences.

St. Martin's Press

In 1995, Lisa Dickey set out on what she thought would be a once in a lifetime trip. Along with photographer Gary Matoso, the writer headed to a lighthouse at the border of Russia and North Korea, and then voyaged inland for more than 5,000 miles. Along the way, they met a broad spectrum of Russians and spent time getting to know a few standout characters, including a farmer, members of an isolated Jewish community, and a rap star.

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