Monday News: Confederacy of dunces


ACTIVISTS RALLY IN HILLSBOROUGH AGAINST RACISM AND VIOLENCE: Saturday’s rally — held by the Hate-Free Schools Coalition, local NAACP chapters, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence and other groups — was a culmination of a week of national mourning, after two mass shootings in the U.S. A local conflict also was on their minds, one that involved Hillsborough business owner Matthew Shepherd and pro-Confederate demonstrators. Hillsborough has been a target for pro-Confederate protests for the past few years after Orange County officials took steps to limit Confederate flags and symbols in the area. And late last month, after encountering a pro-Confederate demonstration near his chocolate shop, Matthew’s Chocolate’s, Shepherd put out a sign that read: “Burn a Rebel Flag… Get a Free Chocolate!” The sign went viral after three Confederate flag bearers stood behind it and posted it to social media. Shepherd later received death threats.

STATE DENIES LICENSE FOR MIGRANT DETENTION CENTER AWARDED FEDERAL CONTRACT: New Horizon didn't even apply for this license, which the federal government says is required, until WRAL News started asking questions about the grant, which the company won in April. That reporting revealed that the state had shut down a much smaller New Horizon group home in 2018, making it impossible for them to get this new license without a successful appeal. A decision on that appeal remained pending Friday afternoon with the state Office of Administrative Hearings. An attempt to reach an attorney for New Horizons Friday wasn't immediately successful, but she has said before that state regulators made significant errors when they shut down the company's Lumber Bridge group home last year, citing 28 violations. Because of these alleged violations, the state Department of Health and Human Services' denial of this new license was all but assured. In fact it's dated July 31, the same day WRAL published a lengthy report on the grant and the state's license review.

TRUMP BACKS CONSPIRACY THEORY THAT CLINTONS HAD EPSTEIN KILLED: President Donald Trump used his Twitter account Saturday to spread a baseless conspiracy theory about the death of Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy and politically connected financier who had been facing multiple charges of sex trafficking involving underage girls. Trump’s own Justice Department announced that Epstein, who was being held in a federal corrections facility, died by “apparent suicide.” But Trump appeared to disregard his administration’s statement, instead retweeting a message from conservative actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams, who suggested that Epstein’s death might be tied to former president Bill Clinton. Williams also questioned how Epstein could have died by suicide if he had been on suicide watch. Asked about Trump’s retweet, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” that the president “just wants everything to be investigated.” She also criticized those who she said are “trying to connect the president to this monster from years ago where they are seen dancing in the video,” a reference to a recently resurfaced NBC News video of Trump and Epstein partying together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in 1992.

AT LEAST 5 DEAD AFTER RUSSIAN NUCLEAR MISSILE ACCIDENT: Thursday’s accident happened offshore of the Nenoksa Missile Test Site and was followed by what nearby local officials initially reported was a spike in radiation in the atmosphere. Late Sunday night, officials at a research institute that had employed five of the scientists who died confirmed for the first time that a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment in the White Sea, and that the authorities were investigating the cause. Vyacheslav Solovyov, the scientific director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, said in a video interview with a local newspaper that the institute had been studying “small-scale sources of energy with the use of fissile materials.” But United States intelligence officials have said they suspect the blast involved a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall. That is a cruise missile that Mr. Putin has boasted can reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor, eliminating the usual distance limitations of conventionally fueled missiles.

PROTESTORS SHUT DOWN HONG KONG AIRPORT, ELICITING THREATS FROM BEIJING: One of the world's busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal Monday afternoon. Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement that the demonstration "seriously disrupted" airport operations. Hong Kong has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into police conduct, with both the protesters and police adopting ever-more extreme tactics. In Beijing, the Cabinet's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office issued a statement saying the situation in Hong Kong was "beginning to show the sprouts of terrorism" and constituted an "existential threat" to the population of Hong Kong.