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.

photo of leeda 'lyric' jones playing guitar onstage
Courtesy of Leeda 'Lyric' Jones

Leeda “Lyric” Jones honed her skills as a writer, singer and performer busking on the streets of downtown Asheville. At first hesitant to play for strangers, she quickly realized her original lyrics and soulful style helped her forge connections with those who needed it the most.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Asheville city police face potential budget cuts a month after body camera footage of an officer beating a black pedestrian was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The beating prompted outrage and led to the arrest of the former officer who beat the pedestrian and the firing of City Manager Gary Jackson. Blue Ridge Public Radio News Director Matt Bush speaks with host Frank Stasio about the latest updates from the story.

photo of a young man wearing a varsity jacket with the letters 'mdtmt' on the back
Courtesy of Keynon Lake

Many know Bennie Lake as one of the original Harlem Globetrotters who traveled the world entertaining audiences with their comedy and athleticism. But for his son Keynon, Bennie was a role model of what a man should be: an engaged citizen with a commitment to helping young people through his career as a social worker.

photo of the airbnb website, with pictures of rooms for rent
www.airbnb.com/a/Asheville

The Asheville City Council voted to severely restrict tourist rentals in Asheville earlier this year. The new rules state that rentals that had city permits before the vote can stay in business.

photo of vegetables displayed at a farmers market
USDA

The Trump administration wants to see a 20 percent cut over 10 years to SNAP, the food stamp program that helps feed 42 million Americans each year. Funding for SNAP is provided through the Federal Farm Bill, which will soon be under debate in Washington. The current bill is set to expire this fall.

close up photo of people exchanging rings during a wedding ceremony
Pixabay/Creative Commons

There was a time during slavery when black women could not legally marry. Yet, throughout history the single black woman has been vilified.

book cover for 'chasing space.' leland melvin poses for an official portrait in astronaut's gear, but with two big dogs licking his face.
Harper Collins

Leland Melvin’s path to a career at NASA is unconventional to say the least. As a teenager he got a scholarship to play football at the University of Richmond and later signed as a wide receiver to the Detroit Lions. He never played during the regular season  due to an injury, but he did not lose energy to pursue his passions.

photo of tom perez speaking at a microphone, an american flag in the background
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez took the helm of the Democratic National Committee in early 2017 when its reputation was in tatters. The Clinton-Sanders primary created a rift in the party, which was further devastated by the Russian email hacking scandal and big losses in the 2016 election.

photo of cecile richards speaking at a podium at the women's march
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

Most people know Cecile Richards as the fearless head of Planned Parenthood. But long before she was fighting Republican senators in Congress or pro-life demonstrators, she was finding ways to “make trouble.”

photo of David Crane speaking at a podium
Ken Harper

In the 1990s, officials founded five criminal tribunals to seek international justice: four temporary bodies in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, and the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. The first four were put in place to handle specific civil war crimes. Since then, the issue of international criminal justice has faded.

photo of Erin Byrd
Courtesy of Erin Byrd

Activist Erin Byrd grew up moving from one military base to the next – from Virginia to Texas to South Korea to Texas to Germany and back to the U.S. again. Throughout her childhood, Byrd witnessed military families get free dental care, free health care and reduced-price groceries. The government supplied these basic services to the military population, and she wondered why the whole country did not have the same benefits.

photo of scott pruitt
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Creative Commons

This week President Donald Trump announced he wanted an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the fight against ISIS in Syria. In a news conference with Baltic leaders Trump said the U.S. was “very successful against ISIS.” The president has since pulled back on an urgent removal plan, and instead instructed the military to withdraw from the conflict within a few months.

photo of Kim Pevia
Courtesy of Women AdvaNCe

A record number of women are running for public office this year for positions ranging from state legislators to governors and members of Congress. Whether or not they will be elected still remains uncertain, but their attempts could counteract staggering statistics: for every one woman who holds office as a governor, member of congress or state legislator in the United States today, there are three men, according to analysis from The Washington Post.

photo of sarah shook and her band
John Gessner / Bloodshot Records

Chapel Hill-artist Sarah Shook did not follow an obvious path to country music. She grew up in a conservative Christian household, listened primarily to religious music and only discovered country greats like Wanda Jackson and Buck Owens in her 20s. She was also painfully shy as a kid, so when she first took the stage in early adulthood, it was a shock to her own mother.

photo of Chris Hickman conversing with other officers, johnnie rush is handcuffed in the background
City of Asheville

Asheville resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush was walking home from work on Aug. 24, 2017 when he was stopped by police for jaywalking. Rush felt he was being harassed and ran away to avoid arrest. Bodycam video of the incident was leaked to the Asheville Citizen Times in February 2018, and it went viral. 

photo of an orchestra rehearsal
Courtesy of Peter Askim

April 4, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King was shot on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. The Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra of North Carolina State University will honor this anniversary in their upcoming program, “The Dream Is Alive: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.” All of the music included in the event was written by African-American composers.

photo of a man with a shotgun standing in a small boat with several dead nutria (large rodents).
Courtesy of Quinn Costello

They weigh 20 pounds, have bright orange buck teeth, and look like a cross between a beaver and a rat. The nutria is an invasive rodent that has become a scourge on ecosystems in Louisiana and elsewhere. In the new documentary “Rodents of Unusual Size,” filmmakers track how nutria first arrived in Louisiana and follow the work of hunters who kill the rodents for money and to protect the environment.

photo of a person operating a tractor in a tobacco field
Larry Lamb / Flickr Creative Commons

Weeks ago Donald Trump announced a tariff on steel that will impact China. In response, China plans to increase tariffs on several popular American exports including pork. Veteran Winston-Salem Journal reporter Richard Craver believes both countries will pay the price. From North Carolina beer brewers to major construction companies, local business are concerned, but there may also be some winners when the smoke clears. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the local impact of the steel tariff.

photo of a young person in a mouth-covering mask in front of a closed theater. the sign says 'all theatres closed until further notice at request of mayor.'
Courtesy of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

2018 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of a flu pandemic that killed 50 to 100 million people and infected hundreds of millions around the world. Host Frank Stasio talks to James Leloudis, a history professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, about why the 1918 influenza was so deadly, and what impact it had on public health.

book cover picturing a women jumping into the ocean
Crown Publishing

Women of a certain age are frequently treated like the best moments of their lives are over.  But that is not the case for the protagonists in Frances Mayes’ novels, or Mayes herself. She was a professor and little-known poet until the release of “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Broadway Books/1997) which catapulted her career. Mayes was well into her 50s at the time, and still lit with her own personal fire and passion, she has continued to send her characters on a journey to find the success that eluded them in their youth.

Remington's corporate headquarters in Madison, North Carolina.
Keri Brown / WFDD

One of the oldest gun manufacturers in the country has filed for bankruptcy. Remington Outdoor Company, based in Madison, North Carolina, has racked up nearly a billion dollars of debt and faced several lawsuits, including one moving through the courts related to the use of its AR-15-style weapon in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Actors Carlos Alcala, Sarita Ocón, Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Samuel Ray Gates, and Alex Givens pose by a brick wall in a promo picture for the play 'Leaving Eden'
HuthPhoto / Courtesy Playmakers Repertory Company

What does it feel like to be excluded? Minority communities in North Carolina have experienced economic and political exclusion at various points throughout history, and the new Playmakers Repertory Company production “Leaving Eden” brings that familiar story to light.

Photo of Edna Lewis smiling
John T. Hill

Edna Lewis changed the perception of Southern food in American culture with her cookbook, “The Taste of Country Cooking” (Knopf/1976). She touted the use of fresh, local ingredients before the farm-to-table movement began. But many people know very little about the chef and cookbook author, despite her many contributions to food culture.

photo of John Hedley holding his book Saddle Up.
John Hedley

On his desk sits a bumper sticker that reads “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” For John Hedley this statement is personal, not political. He vividly remembers coming home from Vietnam to angry crowds who branded him and his fellow service members “potheads, murderers and nutjobs.” His solution? Showing first-hand support for the next generation of soldiers.

Aerial image of Lake Lure, North Carolina
David Dugan / Creative Commons

Lake Lure is high on Hollywood’s call list. The small town in Rutherford County has been the site for blockbuster movies including the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing.” But the community is now facing a critical situation. The dam that makes Lake Lure the idyllic spot that it is, is in urgent need of repairs that may cost up to $5 million.

a photo of astronaut Mae Jemison in her suit holding her helmet.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

Marie Curie is a double-Nobel Prize winning scientist and often the first name mentioned when the topic of women in science comes up.  Neuroscientist-turned-designer Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya admits even she struggled to think of female scientists beyond Marie Curie, but there are plenty of women the history books forgot about.

photo of Emily Musolino and her guitar
Courtesy of Emily Musolino

Emily Musolino is more than a singer-songwriter. She is the owner and operator of Blue Moose Studios in Durham. She is invested in creating a collective for female artists, and she has had her own share of struggles, including growing up LGBT in North Carolina and bouts of alcoholism. She brings all of this into her music.

photo of john bolton speaking at a podium
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Former President Jimmy Carter called John Bolton a “war-like” figure who has advocated for attacks against Iraq, Iran and a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. He considers Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser “a disaster for our country.”

 

photo of the entrance to the 12 x 12 exhibit, detailing the artists and their work
Courtesy of SECCA

Music is the first thing visitors experience at the 12X12 exhibition at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. They hear one note played over and over again. This singular sound sets the tone for “12X12: 12 Artists from the 12th State,” an exhibition that brings together a group of artists from various backgrounds and artistic practices with one thing in common: North Carolina.

photo of three men playing horns for a huge crowd
Courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world to sell the American way of life. This initiative took place in the 1950s, during segregation and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Jazz was gaining popularity on the international stage partly because of a Voice of America program hosted by Willis Conover, and partly because jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, played international tours.

Pages