Tuesday News: Tip of the iceberg?


NC CHARTER SCHOOL UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD: One of North Carolina’s oldest charter schools is closing amid a criminal investigation into whether state funding was fraudulently received. “In March of 2021, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into allegations that Bridges Academy charter school fraudulently obtained excess funding from the state of North Carolina,” Anjanette Grube, a SBI spokeswoman, said in an email Monday. “The investigation remains ongoing. No additional information is available at this time.” Charter schools are taxpayer funded schools that are exempt from some of the rules that traditional public schools must follow. There are 200 charter schools open statewide this year.

ASHEBORO SCHOOL GIVES HS DIPLOMA TO GRADUATE WHO WORE FLAG: A North Carolina high school graduate now has his diploma, after a social media uproar over the Mexican flag he wore over his gown. Ever Lopez, 18, walked out of Asheboro High School on Monday with the diploma in his hands and showed it to a small gathering of people, news outlets reported. Supporters of Lopez gathered at the school on Monday, while unmarked Asheboro police cars were parked nearby in response to the threats. WFMY reported police also stepped up patrols around the high school and in the principal's neighborhood. The family held a news conference and then went inside to speak with school administrators before Lopez emerged with his diploma. Lopez said that while he appreciated the support, the threats against the principal should end.

RALLY FOR "3RD RECONSTRUCTION" TO COMBAT POVERTY IN RALEIGH YESTERDAY: Activists and supporters from progressive groups held a rally in downtown Raleigh Monday, demanding that North Carolina’s members of the U.S. House sign onto a resolution calling on Congress to enact a series of progressive priorities aimed at cutting poverty nationwide. The crowd of approximately 70 people gathered at Nash Square around noon, where a handful of speakers talked about the need to urgently address issues like stagnating wages, high health care costs and systemic racism. In front of a backdrop of supporters holding signs declaring “healthcare is a human right” and “denying healthcare is violence,” the speakers called on North Carolina’s congressional delegation to support their movement for a “Third Reconstruction” to uplift impoverished Americans. The civil rights movement is sometimes referred to as a second Reconstruction, with parallels to the original post-slavery Reconstruction in which the federal government tried to force the South to provide equality for Black Americans. Later this month, the national Poor People’s Campaign will hold a follow-up rally in Raleigh that will feature Barber. That gathering, at Halifax Mall on June 21 at 5:30 p.m., will launch a yearlong campaign leading up to a march on Washington in June 2022.

REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS WHO CUT OFF UNEMPLOYMENT ARE PERSONALLY PROFITING FROM THE MOVE: Justice didn’t need to look far for examples of companies struggling to hire workers. The storied West Virginia resort he owns, the Greenbrier, has been looking for dozens of new employees in recent weeks and until recently had received far fewer applications than normal. But after Justice announced his decision, that started to change, said Kathy Miller, vice president of human resources at the luxury hotel. Republican governors in 25 states are in the midst of a giant economic experiment, ceasing enhanced jobless aid for an estimated 4 million people, arguing that the generous benefits are dissuading people from going back to work. But a number of these governors have personal connections to businesses that are trying to find workers and could benefit from the policy change, according to a Washington Post review of financial disclosures from state elected officials. In New Hampshire, the governor’s family invests in a large resort that has many employees. In North Dakota, the governor sits on the board of a family agricultural business that is seeking to fill numerous jobs, including posts for truck drivers and technicians. Mississippi’s governor is a shareholder in his father’s air conditioning and supply firm. These are among the many governors who have taken steps to cut expanded jobless aid in recent weeks. And in NC, Senator Chuck Edwards owns several McDonald's restaurants, so it's not a coincidence he was the primary sponsor of the bill to discontinue Federal unemployment benefits here.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT STINGS RUSSIAN HACKERS WHO SHUT DOWN COLONIAL PIPELINE: The Justice Department said on Monday that it had seized much of the ransom that a major U.S. pipeline operator had paid last month to a Russian hacking collective, turning the tables on the hackers by reaching into a digital wallet to snatch back millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Investigators in recent weeks traced 75 Bitcoins worth more than $4 million that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the hackers as the attack shut down its computer systems, prompting fuel shortages, a spike in gasoline prices and chaos at airlines. Federal investigators tracked the ransom as it moved through a maze of at least 23 different electronic accounts belonging to DarkSide, the hacking group, before landing in one that a federal judge allowed them to break into, according to law enforcement officials and court documents. “The sophisticated use of technology to hold businesses and even whole cities hostage for profit is decidedly a 21st-century challenge, but the old adage ‘follow the money’ still applies,” Lisa O. Monaco, the deputy attorney general, said at the news conference at the Justice Department. Law enforcement officials highlighted the seizure in an effort to warn cybercriminals that the United States planned to take aim at their profits, which are often gained through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It was also intended to encourage victims of ransomware attacks — which occur every eight minutes, on average — to notify the authorities to help recover ransoms. For years, victims have opted to quietly pay cybercriminals, calculating that the payment would be cheaper than rebuilding data and services. Though the F.B.I. discourages ransom payments, they are legal and even tax deductible. But the payments — which collectively total billions of dollars — have funded and emboldened ransomware groups.