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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An image of veteran farmer Alex Sutton
Courtesy Alix Blair

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.

An image of writer Margot Lee Shetterly
Aran Shetterly

From the 1940s through the 1960s, a group of elite black women mathematicians known as "human computers" helped NASA put rockets, and eventually astronauts, into space. The women began working with federal aeronautical agencies at the Langley Research Laboratory during World War II, computing endless sets of data while enduring racial segregation and discrimination of the Jim Crow South. 

Roy Cooper at a podium with his wife, addresses his supporters in Raleigh. North Carolina gubernatorial candidates Cooper and incumbent Pat McCrory are locked in a tie with their race likely heading to a recount.
Brian Batista / WUNC

Last night, North Carolinians watched as successful candidates for President, U.S. Senate, and State Supreme Court took to the podium to thank crowds of exuberant supporters in their acceptance speeches. But one race is still undecided: the race for North Carolina's governor. Only a few thousand votes separated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory from his Democratic challenger Roy Cooper. 

President-elect Donald Trump won by nearly four percentage points in North Carolina. He is seen on stage clapping at a rally.
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Voters cast their ballots and elected Donald Trump as their 45th president. Trump won by nearly four percentage points in North Carolina. North Carolinians also re-elected Republican Richard Burr to the Senate, and Democratic Judge Mike Morgan as the newest  N.C. Supreme Court Justice.

Image of Flags Outside Climate Conference
AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy

World leaders and climate change negotiators gathered in Marrakech, Morocco yesterday for the first day of a United Nations climate talks conference. Leaders are following up on last year’s historic meeting in Paris where they developed a blueprint for reducing carbon emissions and voluntarily pledged to do their part to limit the rise in global temperatures.

Donna Helen Crisp has worked as a nurse in North Carolina for more than two decades. 

She thought she knew the healthcare system inside and out until one day she went in for a routine surgery, expecting only an overnight stay, and almost died from a chain of medical errors.

The cover of Running Man, a memoir by Charlie Engle.
Scribner/2016

Charlie Engle spent much of his young adulthood chasing the next high. His addiction to drugs and alcohol nearly cost him his life.

But he eventually attained sobriety, and along the way, developed a new passion: running. He started with marathons but moved to longer distances and adventure expeditions.

In 2006, he led a team across the Sahara, a feat documented in the film, Running The Sahara. His fame drew the attention of government officials, including one determined tax agent at the IRS.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The campaign season is in the final stretch, and both presidential candidates are making last minute pleas in North Carolina. 

Polls predict a tight race, and candidates up and down the ballot are working to get out the vote. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the election. 

An image of writers Clare Beams and April Ayers Lawson
Kristi Jan Hoover/Jason Ayers

When writing a short story, an author must be swift and succinct. A short story does not allow a plot the same amount of breathing room compared to a novel. Writers April Ayers Lawson and Clare Beams welcome the immediacy inherent in a short story as they integrate intimate and engaging tales into their work.

An image of Peter Lamb and the Wolves with Maceo Parker
Peter Lamb and the Wolves

For their latest album, "Carolina Tiger Milk," Triangle-based jazz group Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited some of North Carolina's most prominent musicians.

The band's guest  lineup includes vocalist Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony, saxophonist Maceo Parker and members of the Mint Julep Jazz Band.  

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice announced it will send election monitors to watch the polls in five North Carolina counties. This comes after the state chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit alleging local election boards acted illegally when they removed the names of thousands of people from voter registration rolls in three counties within 95 days of the election.

A view of the Blue Ridge Parkway on October 11, 2016 north of Devil's Couthouse in western North Carolina.
Jennifer Mesk / http://humansofasheville.net

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau paints a complex picture of the changing demographics in western North Carolina. Carolina Public Press managing editor Frank Taylor sifted through the data to find trends in poverty, education, and employment, as well as to undercover political implications of the area's demographic makeup.

Lady Parts Justice League Graphic
Courtesy of Lady Parts Justice League

Hundreds of thousands of American women terminate pregnancies each year. But in the past decade, state governments around the country have enacted a series of laws that reproductive justice advocates argue impede women's access to safe, legal abortion.

An image 'Black Righteous Space' by Hank Willis Thomas
Hank WIllis Thomas

For Hank Willis Thomas, a good photograph is an image that sticks with somebody long after they first see it. As a photographer and conceptual artist, Thomas uses images to critique cultural perceptions about race, gender and class. 

Cover image for Death Faire
Courtesy of Tami Schwerin

Death and spirits are part of conversations this week more than most other times of the year. On Monday, many donned costumes of ghosts and goblins to celebrate Halloween, and yesterday others around the world gathered for festivals and celebrations to mark the first day of El Dia de Los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that honors the dead. But talking about death and dying is usually more taboo. While everyone experiences grief, illness, and death, these experiences are often kept private, discussed only with close friends and families.

Cover Image from ‘Resisting Arrest Poems To Stretch The Sky,’ a new anthology of poetry about police aggression against people of color.
Jacar Press

Does a smile help defend against potential police aggression? What is a mother’s role in protecting her child from a dangerous situation? A new collection of poems, “Resisting Arrest Poems to Stretch the Sky” (Jacar Press/2016), explores these questions through the work of more than 70 writers.
 

Affordable Care Act enrollment has increased in North Carolina.
U.S. Health and Human Services

Beginning this week, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians will again shop for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Entering 2017, however, shoppers in this state will see fewer options than in previous years.

Political Junkie Ken Rudin
Ken Rudin

Early voting is underway in North Carolina and predictions for which party is leading the state have already emerged. Meanwhile both parties continue actively campaigning in swing states including North Carolina. Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump, is raising a red flag concerning what he says is a rigged election and both parties have turned Trump’s ‘nasty woman’ comment into a rallying cry.
 

Screenshot from the 1961 cult film 'Hercules in the Haunted World' showing a male character hovering over a woman laying on a slab
SPA CINEMATOGRAFICA

It’s a battle oft overlooked by the history books, but North Carolina Opera is paying tribute to the epic battle between Hercules and vampires in their new live-film event.
 

Image of chicago alderman
Courtesy of Michael Karlik

With fewer than 15 days until the election, it is nearly impossible to avoid conversations about politics. While some Americans may be tempted to unplug their televisions until it is all over, comedian Michael Karlik is doing exactly the opposite. Michael Karlik is a Colorado-based writer who is actively seeking out conversations about civics and government from every corner of America.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

Incumbent Governor Pat McCrory spent 14 years as the mayor of the state's largest city, Charlotte, before making a run at the governor's mansion. He lost his 2008 bid but won the gubernatorial race in 2012. Four years later, he faces a tight battle with democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper. Campaign issues include House Bill 2, voter identification, the state of the economy and body cameras. Host Frank Stasio talks with Governor Pat McCrory about his priorities and his re-election bid.  

A new exhibit at The Carrack Modern Art Museum in Durham features works from three generations of the Belans family. It includes photography by the late Herbert A. Belans reinterpreted and repurposed by his granddaughter, photographer and artist Leah Sobsey.  Linda Belans, Leah’s mother and Herbert’s daughter, links the works with her poetry. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Leah Sobsey and Linda Belans about how an inheritance of old film negatives turned into a multi-generational family art collaboration.

An image of former state senator Josh Stein
Public Doman

Democrat Josh Stein and Republican Buck Newton are vying for the open seat left by Attorney General Roy Cooper who stepped down to run for governor.

A gif image of a timelapse of host Frank Stasio's right underarm microbes grown at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' Genomics & Microbiology Research Lab.
Courtesy Julie Horvath

They live in every nook and cranny of your body, from your belly button to your armpits. A new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences explores the secret world of human microbes. Host Frank Stasio speaks with biologists Julie Horvath and Rob Dunn about the implications of microbial diversity for human health, and about Frank’s own armpit ecosystem.
 

Black On Black

Oct 25, 2016
Saba Taj

Artists of color share their thoughts on race and identity in a new exhibit at Raleigh’s Visual Art Exchange called “Black on Black.” A range of community programming expands the artist’s ideas beyond the gallery walls with educational events about music, film, justice, dance and preserving family history.

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