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.

St. Martin's Press

In his new novel, “Extraordinary Adventures” (St. Martin’s Press/2017), writer Daniel Wallace features the story of a middle-aged man who lives an “extra-ordinary” life. But one day, Edsel Bronfman’s mundane routine takes a turn when he receives a free weekend at a beachfront condo. But there is a catch: Bronfman must find a partner to accompany him on his trip within 79 days.


An image of veteran farmer Alex Sutton
Courtesy Alix Blair

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from November 10, 2016.

A new documentary explores the personal journey of North Carolina veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Alex Sutton. Sutton carves out a life as a farmer after three military combat tours in Iraq. But his path to healing is marked by stark contrasts between bucolic farm life with his wife and children, and the challenge of grappling with both post-traumatic stress disorder and his own post-war identity.

Bobbie O'Brien

An average of 20 military veterans commit suicide each day. While men and women killed in combat are remembered as heroes, those who take their own lives after returning home are rarely glorified. 


The Honor Was Mine: A Look Inside the Struggles of Military Veterans
Grand Harbor Press

 Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from September 7, 2016.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

President Donald Trump jets around the world on his first foreign trip while back in the U.S., the G.O.P.’s American Health Care Act is under review. The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week that claimed 23 million Americans would be left uninsured under the new plan.


Courtesy Jane Williams

In her practice as a psychologist, Jane Williams counseled people dealing with grief. She came across many patients who experienced a spontaneous thought that brought them comfort and peace. Williams collected some of their stories in a new book, "Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief." (Library Partners Press/2017).


BJ Leiderman
Paul Howey

BJ Leiderman has made a career of creating the well-known jingles for NPR shows like Morning Edition. But Leiderman has also lived a double life and spent his nights jamming in rock ‘n’ roll bands, often writing original songs.

San Diego Personal Injury Attorney / Flickr/ Creative Commons

 Earlier this week, President Trump unveiled his budget proposal for 2018. The plan cuts more than $600 billion from Medicaid in the next decade, which would affect  nearly two million enrollees in North Carolina. The budget also includes deep cuts to health research and higher education.


Steven Caras

African-American women have fought against discrimination in the ballet world for decades. Debra Austin was the first black ballerina to become a principal dancer in a major American dance company. She broke through the racial barrier, but her career was not without challenges.


St. Martin’s Press/2017

In his latest novel “The River of Kings” (St. Martin’s Press/2017), author Taylor Brown interweaves two journeys that take place 500 years apart on the wild and mysterious Altamaha River, also known as Georgia’s “Little Amazon.”

Scott Beale / Flickr/ Creative Commons

It is tough out there for biotech companies. The rewards can be big, but the time frames are long and the risks are high. Research Triangle Park-based G1 Therapeutics is the latest hope for the area’s biotech scene.

Doctors at Duke Hospital.
Duke Medecine

Medicine is becoming more and more precise. Healthcare professionals have growing access to big data, computational power and genetic sequencing and testing. Advances such as genetic screenings that rule out ineffective chemotherapy treatments are already being used clinically. Many other diseases, from high cholesterol to depression, are also on the list to potentially benefit from getting more precise interventions.

Shearsman Books

When poet Jon Thompson considers the American landscape and culture, he often finds himself scratching his head, thinking, “This is a strange place we live in.” Thompson has been reflecting on America’s unique scenery, people and passions, and this inspired him to write a collection of poems called “Strange Country” (Shearsman Books/2016).

North Carolina's newest Congressional districts are among those up for debate in Wake County Superior Court Monday and Tuesday.
NC Legislature / ncleg.net

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the North Carolina General Assembly violated the constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing two congressional districts. The decision upholds a lower-court ruling that struck down maps drawn in 2011 by a Republican-led legislature.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

 

Every year thousands of low-income students in North Carolina who achieve “superior” scores on end-of-grade tests are excluded from advanced programs, according to a recent report. The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer reported that high-achieving, low-income students are left out of advanced classes at a higher rate than their wealthier classmates with the same test scores.

Madeline Gray

 For Zelda Lockhart, writing is part of the healing process. She used her experience writing her own novel and leading writing workshops for other women to create a guide on writing for closure. Her new book “The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript: Turning Life’s Wounds Into the Gift of Literary Fiction, Memoir or Poetry" (Lavenson Press Studios/2017) encourages self-expression of multiple genres to create healing for authors and the characters they create.

AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE, INC.

Acclaimed dancer and choreographer Chuck Davis died earlier this month at the age of 80. Davis was considered America’s master of African dance. He formed the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in the 1960s and later built the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham.

The North Carolina Legislative Building
Dave Crosby / flickr

 

A 3 a.m. vote at the state legislature last week resulted in the sudden transfer of $1 million from education, nutrition and cultural programs to pilot programs combating opioid addiction. The money was taken exclusively from districts represented by Democrats.

An image of the musical trio KING
Alex King

About six years ago, twin sisters Paris and Amber Strother decided to team up with their friend Anita Bias to form the musical group KING. Little did they know the trio would soon cross paths with Prince and eventually receive a Grammy nomination. 

MIDDLE WEST MANAGEMENT

Phil Cook has become a fixture in the Triangle music scene since moving to North Carolina from Wisconsin more than a decade ago. His love for collaboration means he has lent his writing, production, and multi-instrumental skills to countless projects.

Flickr Creative Commons

A noncompete agreement is designed to prevent an employee from leaving his or her employer to work for a competitor. For decades, many companies required senior management to sign those agreements to protect information about the inner workings of their organizations. However, noncompete agreements are becoming more common down the economic ladder, barring blue-collar workers’ mobility and bargaining power in the workplace.

www.pulitzer.org / Gigi Kaesar

When it comes to relations between the United States and Russia, it can be hard to tease out the politics from the personalities. Sovietologist and political scientist William Taubman has made this task into something of a specialty. He has studied Russian language, politics and culture for 50 years, and  is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the biography, "Khrushchev: The Man and his Era" (W.W. Norton & Co./2003).

Courtesy CERN

In a cavern 100 meters below the surface of the earth, physicists are constructing the universe – theoretically at least. Physicist Kate Shaw is a researcher studying CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. She works specifically on the 7,000 ton ATLAS detector that is investigating fundamental particles. 

Terry McCombs / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the Youth Justice Project shows that public school students in North Carolina lost 1 million days to school suspensions in the 2015-2016 school year. According to the report, the rate of short-term school suspensions is increasing, and disproportionately affects African-American students, boys, and students with disabilities.

Charlie Thompson / www.homeplaceunderfire.org

In the 1980s, rising interest rates, decreased farm prices, and misguided federal policies led to a crisis that hit farmers across the nation. Many farmers were either forced to sell their properties or driven to foreclose.

Ted Richardson/Winston-Salem Journal

Darryl Hunt was exonerated in 2004 after serving almost 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In the years that followed his release, Hunt became known as a champion for racial justice. His story was featured in the widely-viewed HBO documentary “The Trials of Darryl Hunt.”

Chris Pizzello / AP Images

In the new Netflix series “Dear White People,” conversations about racism on a college campus take center stage. The story features members of the Black Student Union at a fictional Ivy League college called Winchester University, where the main character hosts a socially-conscious radio show. The series has received praise for featuring nuanced stories of students of color, and backlash by some who consider the show racist.

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Sno Shuu / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will not review North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law. 

Justin Ashley

Justin Ashley was a star teacher at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte. In 2013 he won state awards naming him “Teacher of the Year” in history and social studies. But his personal life was falling apart. Ashley says he had $100 in his bank account and a worsening prescription drug addiction.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The White House is reeling after the president fired James Comey as FBI director earlier this week. The Trump administration said Comey tarnished the FBI’s reputation by mishandling its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, many Democrats suspect a cover-up and are calling for a special prosecutor into the investigation of Trump’s campaign aides’ ties to Russia.

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