The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

Donald and Melania Trump take a tour of the Forbidden City while visiting Beijing, China as part of their five-country trip through Asia.
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

President Donald Trump has returned from his five-country tour of Asia. He characterized the trip as a “tremendous success,” but political analysts say his exuberance does not align with the political accomplishments. 

Judge Roy Moore is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women who say he tried to date them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. 

Tim Fain playing violin
Courtesy of Tim Fain

 Violinist Tim Fain is a classically-trained musician, but his talents extend far beyond a classical repertoire. 

In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 file photo, Native people from Fiji sit in the convention center during the opening of the COP 23 Fiji UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Martin Meissner / AP Photo

Nearly 200 countries are wrapping up the annual U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany this week.

 Pastor Mack Wolford’s rattlesnake slithers around his neck at an outdoor service, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
Test of Faith, Lauren Pond

Serpent handling is a religious practice where individuals hold and wear poisonous snakes during worship services to prove their faith in God.

President Harry Truman with his wife, Bess.
National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/bzswcq

In “The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good” (Bloomsbury/2017), historian David Goldfield examines the baby boomer generation and argues that more than anything, the opportunities provided to them by the federal government created the conditions for unprecedented confidence and success. 

Robot from French technology summit
École polytechnique - J.Barande / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/UBfMcH

Despite the enduring narrative in pop culture of an impending apocalyptic robot-takeover, humans decided a while back to keep moving forward with plans to imbue intelligence into machines. 

Main building at UNCG, 1893
Gove, Anna M. (Anna Maria), 1867-1948 / UA2.1 Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906

The institution that would become the University of North Carolina at Greensboro opened its doors in 1892 to 198 young women. Today more than 20,000 students attend class, conduct research, play sports and live in 30 residence halls on a 210-acre campus. 

Robert Shetterly and 'Americans Who Tell the Truth'

Ella Baker spent decades fighting for civil rights and promoting grassroots activism. 

The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Carmen Bliss. The Greensboro-based singer-songwriter combines rhythm and blues compositions with lyrical narratives. Listen to her perform the song "Around" below.

 

 

Kenneth Wainstein, lead investigator into academic irregularities at UNC Chapel Hill, holds a copy of his findings following a special joint meeting of the UNC Board of Governors.
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s accreditor is looking into recently disclosed statements made by the university to the NCAA. 

Child at computer.
Kevin Jarrett / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/igWhB9

Thousands of North Carolina students attend virtual charter schools. The program began in 2015 as a pilot project, and the flexible format is a boon for students pursuing some professional careers, like athletics. 

John Carroll Whitener
Courtesy of John Carroll Whitener

 John Carroll Whitener could have easily avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War. He could have truthfully checked the box marked “yes” on the military form that asked new recruits if they had homosexual tendencies. But doing so would have meant admitting a truth he was not ready to accept and facing the consequences of a future that did not include his family and church.

Vi Lyles
Skip Foreman / AP Photo

Democrats claimed big wins across the country in this week’s elections. Meanwhile, a series of mayoral races took place in North Carolina. 

Cover of Hue 1968
Courtesy of Mark Bowden / Atlantic Monthly Press/2017

Almost 50 years after the epic battle that changed the course of the Vietnam War, author Mark Bowden visited the city of Hue to piece together what happened. 

Zen Reyes, aka ZenSoFly
Courtesy of Zen Reyes / ZenSoFly

Growing up, Zen Reyes thought she would establish a career in the fashion industry. She spent some time studying fashion in New York City and figured she might become a designer one day. But eventually a different passion came calling and Reyes began producing and recording her own music under the name ZenSoFly. 

Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, evening gown
Courtesy of NC Art Museum

In 1958, African-American women donned designer dresses and walked the runway for the first Ebony Fashion Fair. 

The charity fashion show was the brainchild of Ebony Magazine co-publisher Eunice Johnson and it showed African-American women as rich and successful. The fair ran for 50 years, and in that time it continued to be a space where African-American women could re-imagine their role in American society and reclaim their beauty.

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies continue to try to gain influence with medical providers.
AP

North Carolina's doctor offices are awash in pharmaceutical and medical device industry cash. These financial relationships are starting to raise questions about prescribing habits and other conflicts of interest.

Already, some large pharmaceutical companies have paid millions to settle allegations of kickback schemes, and watchdog groups are asking questions about deep relationships between some doctors and drug and medical device companies.

Courtesy of Indigo Cox

Indigo Cox read many excellent academic books on women's reproductive health. But as a physician herself, and one who performs abortions, she wanted a book that told a story from both sides. 

infant sleeping
Andrés Nieto Porras / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Doctors at fertility clinics often recommend women test their ovarian reserve to see how many eggs they have left. While the test can show how long a woman has before menopause, it was also commonly used to evaluate women’s likelihood of naturally conceiving. 

One of the handmade whirligigs at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
Courtesy of Henry Walston / Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum

When Vollis Simpson began constructing his mammoth whirligigs out of spare machine parts, old paint and highway signs, he did not set out to create an artistic legacy. 

John Cleese
Courtesy of DPAC / DPAC

John Cleese is undoubtedly a comedy legend. Among his many credits: he is a founding-member of Monty Python, co-creator and star of the sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” and he wrote and co-starred in the film “A Fish Called Wanda.” Cleese recently toured the U.S. and Canada with his one man show “Last Time To See Me Before I Die.” 

Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan speaks as his wife Ghazala listens during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

 Khizr Khan stepped onstage and into the public eye at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He says he was compelled to talk after then candidate Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. 

David Jay Photography

For many years U.S. Navy Officer Jerri Bell swallowed the story that when it came to military service, women were only involved in support roles. It was not until she started researching for a book on women’s military history that she realized the common narrative was false: women had been actively involved in combat since the American revolution. 

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi has become less and less comfortable viewing the world through the prisms of sex or gender. 

Ron Stacker Thompson
Courtesy of UNC School of the Arts

Ron Stacker Thompson knew from a young age that he wanted to be a teacher. He grew up in Chicago, excelled in school, and loved his time in the classroom. He attended Illinois State University and went on to try his hand at teaching. But his work as a drama teacher quickly led to another career on stage.

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Robert Mueller’s team handed down their first indictments this week in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates turned themselves into the FBI and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released their tax bill Thursday with hopes to pass it through before the end of year. And federal judges reviewing North Carolina’s legislative district maps have ordered an independent “special master” to draw new lines.

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.

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