Monday News: Give it up already


PLANE WILL FLY OVER CHAPEL HILL WITH BANNER READING "RESTORE SILENT SAM": For the second time this month, a plane with a Confederate flag and “restore Silent Sam” banner was seen flying in North Carolina. According to a Facebook post, the flag and banner were expected to fly over Chapel Hill- near the University of North Carolina campus, Durham and Raleigh as people commemorated Veterans Day across the state. “[The plane] will be in the air for a couple of hours showing the citizens of North Carolina that all veterans matter and that those brave men who were called to serve their country deserve to be honored,” a Facebook post from the group said. The “Silent Sam” statue has been in storage since it was toppled. Chancellor Carol Folt's administration and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees have until Dec. 14 to submit a plan for the statue's future to the UNC Board of Governors.

ASBESTOS FORCES NC DMV TO MOVE OUT OF DOWNTOWN RALEIGH HEADQUARTERS: In 2007, the state determined that DMV’s buildings were no longer safe, because of asbestos and fire code violations, and DMV agreed to make minor upgrades in return for five years to come up with a permanent solution. DMV considered doing extensive renovations to its headquarters complex at a cost of about $73 million, or demolishing it and building new from scratch for about $93 million, according to a N.C. Department of Transportation report to legislators in May. Both options would involve building a new parking deck and would require the agency to lease space elsewhere for three years or more. DMV also determined that it could build a new headquarters on land the state Department of Transportation owns off Poole Road near the Beltline for an estimated $85 million. But the legislature hasn’t provided any money. Instead, the state budget approved this summer directed the agency to begin seeking leased space in Wake or surrounding counties by Aug. 1. The NCDOT report to the General Assembly estimated it would cost DMV $2.7 million to $3.7 million a year to lease headquarters space.

NC ONE OF HANDFUL OF STATES WITH VULNERABLE VOTER DATABASES: Georgia’s voter registration issues, the latest in a series of security vulnerabilities that heightened national attention on the state’s heated gubernatorial race, were first revealed days before the election by the investigative reporting web site “The gaping vulnerability found in Georgia should be sending shock waves, not just in the Georgia secretary of state’s office, but in all the other states that are using the same technology,” said Susan Greenhalgh, policy director for the National Election Defense Coalition. “The vendor left a door wide open that allows an attacker, anywhere in the world, to execute a voter suppression operation using election technology.” The vendor who installed Georgia’s computer programming has been identified as PPC Technologies, at the time a Connecticut-based firm. Cyber experts examined four states’ registration sites for McClatchy, including North Carolina and Washington, because PPC listed them along with Georgia among 15 states for whom it had performed work.

FACING RECOUNT, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR SUES TO IMPOUND VOTING MACHINES: Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for Senate, filed suit against Snipes. He's seeking a court order for law enforcement agents to impound all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots "when not in use until such time as any recounts." The suit accused Snipes of repeatedly failing to account for the number of ballots left to be counted and failing to report results regularly as required by law. The court didn't immediately respond, though the outcry from Democrats was immediate. Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, accused Scott of "using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our democracy." Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, the supervisor of elections said she didn't think her department could meet Thursday's deadline to complete that recount, throwing into question what would happen to votes there.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAD CONTACT WITH SAUDI ASSASSINATION PLOTTERS IN 2017: As for the businessmen, who had intelligence backgrounds, they saw their Iran plan both as a lucrative source of income and as a way to cripple a country that they and the Saudis considered a profound threat. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies. Both Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel are witnesses in the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, and prosecutors have asked them about their discussions with American and Saudi officials about the Iran proposal. It is unclear how this line of inquiry fits into Mr. Mueller’s broader inquiry. In 2016, a company owned by Mr. Zamel, Psy-Group, had pitched the Trump campaign on a social media manipulation plan. A spokesman for the Saudi government declined to comment, as did lawyers for both Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel.