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.

Gerry Dincher / Flickr Creative Commons

There is plenty of debate over whether an algae bloom, or chemicals, or a combination of the two led to the devastating fish kill on White Lake in Bladen County, NC. What is clear, is more than 100,000 fish of various species, including hearty largemouth bass, floated up to the surface and washed ashore starting in May.

Courtesy of the estate of Ernie Barnes

He was raised in “the bottoms” section of Durham, but Ernie Barnes would leave the Triangle to become one of the most recognizable black artists of the time. Anyone who has ever seen the opening credits of the sitcom “Good Times,” has seen the art of Ernie Barnes.

Julie Scott / Wikimedia Commons

Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room” is a textbook example of a cult movie. It made less than $2000 when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2003, got terrible reviews, and is dubbed by some the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Yet years later it became a huge hit.

Chris Gunn / NASA/GFSC

The number of women in STEM is growing, but large barriers remain. A new study shows that experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace have a long-term, negative impact on women faculty in sciences, engineering and medicine and diminish both their scientific productivity and opportunities for advancement.

Courtesy of Sarah Delia / WFAE

During the summer of 2015, a Charlotte woman was sexually assaulted by a stranger. She believes she knows who her attacker is, but for the past three years she has struggled to find justice. A year ago, she took her story to WFAE, the NPR affiliate in Charlotte, and they decided to turn her journey into a podcast.

Rozalind MacPhail playing flute in front of a movie being shown.
Courtesy of Tom Cochrane

Canadian multi-instrumentalist Rozalind MacPhail fell in love with Wilmington when she was stationed there for an artist residency as part of the Cucalorus Festival. She was inspired to create an audiovisual project featuring short films about why people feel connected to the city.

Wikimedia Commons

Late last month more than 50 people in Brooklyn were hospitalized after what law enforcement believes was exposure to synthetic marijuana. The issue hit closer to home this month after a story broke that a Durham County resident experienced severe bleeding presumably from the same thing.

Image of cartoon man standing in mountains on poster from documentary 'Fenn's Searchers'
Courtesy Matt Maisano

When Forrest Fenn was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decided to give away some of his wealth in an unconventional way. Fenn is a collector, and he buried his gold, rare coins, and gems in a treasure chest and left a riddle leading to its location.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

For James Roy Gorham, growing up in the small farming community of Falkland, NC was full of tough lessons, and he learned many of them from his father.

Courtesy of Vann McCoy

  Vann McCoy grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and like the fictional town it inspired, some folks who lived there were happy learning what they needed to know to make a living. But from a young age, McCoy was on a search for something different.

 

President Donald Trump Walks with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
Evan Vucci / AP Photo

This week President Donald Trump attended a historic summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump surprised South Korea and some officials at the Pentagon when he announced the U.S. would stop military exercises with South Korea.

a photo of Nyla McFadden and Dion Chavis wearing matching t-shirts
courtesy of Dion Chavis

While working for Wake County, Derrick Byrd was sent on a mission to find parenting resources for men. Not only were the options limited, he noticed a resistance to developing programs specifically for fathers. This was the genesis of the North Carolina Fatherhood Conference.

Organist Doug Largent (left) makes his return to WUNC today on the State of Things, accompanied by Grant Osborne on harmonica (center), and Nick Baglio on drums (right).
Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

  Doug Largent spent a decade in jazz clubs playing the bass. In 2009, he followed a new dream and taught himself the organ. The Doug Largent Trio was born.

Courtesy of Franco Ordoñez

In an attempt to regulate unaccompanied children who cross the border, the Trump administration is considering detaining them in tent cities. In an exclusive by Franco Ordoñez of McClatchy, there are reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is scouting locations at military bases in Texas that will house up to 5,000 migrant children.

Courtesy of Omid Safi

As a prominent Islamic scholar, Omid Safi has written often in defense of the breadth and nuance of Islam. But for his latest book, Safi hones in on the idea of love, and how mystic Islamic poets interpreted the theme.

Courtesy of Hari Jones

Historian Hari Jones says there were no losers in the Civil War. Instead the war formed a more perfect union by securing freedom for millions of Americans.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

While incarcerated it is a constitutional right for inmates to receive medical care. But what happens when inmates are released and no longer have access to health services? The reality is they often go without medication or treatment. Considering prisons have become the largest mental healthcare providers in America, it is in the interest of public safety to remedy that gap in coverage.

a picture of Southernmost, Silas House's new novel
Courtesy of Silas House

In his latest novel, Silas House examines what it is like to fundamentally disagree with the people you love. “Southernmost” (Algonquin Books/2018) centers on an evangelical preacher, Asher Sharp, who takes in two gay men after a devastating flood in their small Tennessee town.

Prescription pills
Wikpedia

A bill in the North Carolina General Assembly would allow law enforcement to have access to a statewide database of prescribed controlled substances. This is the latest move by the legislature to help curb the opioid epidemic in North Carolina.

State Superintendent of Public Schools Mark Johnson
NC Public Schools

The North Carolina Supreme Court released a ruling Friday over who is in charge of running the state’s public schools: the State Schools Superintendent or the State Board of Education. After the decision was unveiled, both sides claimed victory.

A floating home on the Fontana Lake in North Carolina.
Tim Robison, courtesy of Our State Magazine

In its first season, the “Away Message” podcast from Our State Magazine focused on remote places in the state. For its newly-released second season, the podcast explores lost or forgotten stories in North Carolina’s history.

Courtesy of Dr. Steve Chaney

Can a healthy diet be high in meat protein and low in carbohydrates? Are diet sodas really healthier? Is the gluten-free diet the answer to health problems?

Courtesy of Nicole Zelniker

For Maia Dery, sitting still has never been much of an option. Her teacher had her sit out in the halls to not disturb other students, and as soon as she had her precious drivers license, Dery routinely skipped school to escape to Duke Forest. As Dery says, she never did well in boxes.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

  Last June, The Wilmington Star News broke news that the toxic chemical GenX was found in drinking water from the Cape Fear River.  Long before their investigative series was published, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) knew about the elevated levels of GenX.  Once the news of tainted water spread through the state, so did fears and concerns from residents, government officials and environmental groups.

A picture from the play 'The Lost Colony.'
Courtesy of Andrew Lawler

In 1587, more than 100 men, women, and children traveled to the New World from England to found a colony on Roanoke Island. The colony’s governor went back to England later that year to get more supplies and returned in 1590. But by then, the colonists were gone.

Courtesy of Shervin Lainez

Bette Smith sang in her church choir and for a while church music was all she knew. She wasn't allowed to listen to secular music. Smith was raised Seventh-day Adventist, and her father encouraged solely religious music at home and in church where he directed the choir. But the family lived in a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn, where the sounds of the South were too hard to avoid.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper unveiled his first budget proposal on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at Durham Technical Community College.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the latest state budget Wednesday, claiming the spending plan does not do enough to support teachers. But is Cooper’s budget plan fiscally sound? The legislature’s nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division says his proposed budget would rack up a nearly $500 million deficit by 2020.

Courtesy of Sara Wood / Southern Mix

The Asian-American population in North Carolina has exploded in the past few decades. A 2016 study shows that from 2000-2010, the Asian-American population in the state grew by 85 percent, which was the third-fastest growth rate in the country. But who exactly makes up this growing population? What are their stories and traditions, and how are they changing the face of North Carolina?

book cover of 'The Source' by author Martin Doyle
Courtesy Martin Doyle

The history of rivers in America is a story of control, or at least an attempt at control. Early on, waterways determined where and how European settlers would live. Later, in the industrial age, humans would begin to exert their control over the rivers. Through massive projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority, Americans turned long rivers into a series of reservoirs and water into money-making energy. But in the process, they also drastically changed the ecosystems around the rivers.

Several hands of different colors raised.
John LeMasney / Creative commons

A controversial charter school bill passed in the General Assembly on Wednesday. The bill would allow four municipalities outside Charlotte to run their own charter schools.

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