Trump Plans To Invite Putin For Autumn Visit, Top Spy Boss Coats Caught Off Guard

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET President Trump wants to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin for a visit to Washington this autumn, the White House said on Thursday. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump and Putin had agreed at their summit on Monday in Finland that their security staffs would have an "ongoing working-level dialogue" and as part of that, Trump told national security adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to the United States. That came as news to Director of National...

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The State of Things

“The State of Things” covers diverse issues & topics in NC. Frank Stasio talks to authors, musicians, politicians, & citizens about subjects that matter to North Carolinians.

Electricity rates will increase slightly for thousands of households in central and western North Carolina even though state regulators rejected Duke Energy's most recent rate hike request, the company said Wednesday.

The site selection committee for the Republican National Committee has chosen Charlotte as its host city for its 2020 national convention, according to multiple media reports.

The White House has announced Steven Dillingham as its nominee for the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau. If confirmed by the Senate, Dillingham will oversee an upcoming national head count that has already sparked a legal fight over a new citizenship question and cybersecurity concerns as the first U.S. census to be conducted mainly online.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has words of praise for Sarah Sanders, his successor on the podium, and says she has figured out how to please President Trump in the job in a way he struggled to do.

"I think Sarah has done a great job of making sure that she understands what the president wants," Spicer told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly in an interview on Wednesday in advance of next week's release of his book The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President.

The director of National Intelligence spoke before the Hudson Institute, a D.C.-based conservative think tank, on July 13. Transcript provided by the Hudson Institute.

Cory Vaillancourt

Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival is again underway.  In its 35th year, organizers say the folkdance festival has never been more relevant - or more necessary.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

The White House is denying that President Trump believes Russia is no longer targeting U.S. elections and other infrastructure, despite his apparent answer to a reporter's question Wednesday morning.

Asked at the start of a Cabinet meeting whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump shook his head and said "no."

Later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sought to clarify Trump's comments, saying his "no" meant that he was not taking any questions from reporters.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

A federal magistrate judge ordered Wednesday that a Russian woman charged with being a Russian agent in the United States must be jailed ahead of her trial after prosecutors said she was a flight risk.

The woman, Maria Butina, has been in regular contact with Russian intelligence, the Justice Department says, and she attempted to offer sex in exchange for a position with an organization she targeted.

The days of plastic straws are drawing shorter.

Marriott International on Wednesday became the latest big company to announce it will stop using plastic straws, saying it would remove them from its more than 6,500 properties by next July. The giant hotel chain said it will stop offering plastic stirrers, too.

Note to readers: this post uses profanity that may offend some.

Four years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile, families of the 298 victims are still waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to explain what happened.

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Arts & Performance

Eakin Howard


Brooklyn Reese is 12 years old and, when she’s healthy, she’s sort of a second mother to her younger sister and brother.

“Before I got sick, I had a lot of responsibility, because Izzy, she had trouble with math and homework, so when we got home from school, I’d help her with her homework,” she said. “And I’d take care of Jackson and give him a sippy and make him a peanut butter sandwich.”

Holly Kays


Holly Kays studied creative fiction in college and saw herself on a path to becoming a novelist.

 

“Everybody who likes to write is writing a book at some point,” she said. “Most of those books never actually wind up being written.”
 

Like most budding novelists, Kays has another job to pay her bills. Unlike most, Kays works for a sympathetic boss.

Natural Born Leaders


Mike Martinez doesn’t like talking about growing up in Union, N.J., but he will say moving to Hendersonville as an 18-year-old saved his life.

“I was getting in trouble in ways I don’t necessarily want to talk about, but I was not headed on a good path,” he said. “I’m not even sure I’d be alive if I lived in New Jersey.”

UNC-Asheville


Jeb Hedgecock didn’t intend to devote his senior year at UNC-Asheville to someone else’s sculptural project. But that someone else was the acclaimed conceptual artist Mel Chin, so Hedgecock figured he might learn more by helping a master realize his vision.

“It’s a completely different thing investing yourself into something you want to into something you don’t necessarily want to but need to,” Hedgecock said.