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:

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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.

Courtesy Sonorous Road Productions

Raleigh Little Theatre’s “Women And War” series aims to bring audiences into the minds and experiences of women in the military community. From Vietnam-era nurses who volunteered with the Red Cross, to modern-day spouses dealing with repeated deployments and a fighter pilot who finds herself grounded by a pregnancy, the plays highlight narratives of war that often go unheard.

Courtesy of The Artist

Durham-based musician Kamara Thomas knew she wanted to be an artist at a young age. But she grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household that frowned upon artistic expression.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The North Carolina Senate released their $22.9 billion spending plan earlier this week. The budget has significant implications for the state’s education system. It shifts how teacher raises are allocated and proposes a $600 million increase in education spending.

Flickr Creative Commons

Mission Health, a hospital system in Western North Carolina, announced this week that it would close its maternity ward at Angel Hospital in Franklin, North Carolina. The hospital serves a mostly low-income, rural population. Mission Health said it cut the hospital’s labor and delivery services to remain solvent in the face of low reimbursement rates.

Hector Emanuel, special to ProPublica

Case Farms chicken company produces nearly one billion pounds of meat each year. It supplies food for customers including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Boar’s Head, and the U.S. government. Yet a new report shows it is a business built on the backs of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants. And its factories are some of the most dangerous workplaces in America.

Courtesy Monica Berra/ Soul City

Like many utopian societies, Soul City was a dream that was doomed to fail. It was the brainchild of civil rights leader Floyd McKissick who wanted to build a haven of racial equality for nearly 20,000 people. Construction for the project began in the Piedmont region of North Carolina in the 1970s, but constant bureaucratic battles led to its demise.

Southerners on New Ground

Many families will not be able to celebrate Mother’s Day together this weekend due to barriers in the criminal justice system. In the United States, nearly 80 percent of women in jail are mothers, and most of those women are also single parents, according to a 2016 report from the Vera Institute of Justice. 

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