Monday News: Not just UNC...


LENOIR-RHYNE GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYERS SUE UNIVERSITY OVER CENSORSHIP: One player, Laney Fox, released an audio recording of a Zoom meeting in March during which Smith said he did not want her back. Fox, who is white, later posted an angry four-page letter on Facebook accusing university President Fred Whitt of “failing Black students and athletes on this campus.” Now, the divisions within the Lutheran-affiliated university have surfaced 60 miles away in the Mecklenburg County courts as a $26 million lawsuit pitting the departing student-athletes against their former coach and school. In their complaint, the players — including Butler High graduate Michaela Dixon of Matthews — say they were either thrown off the team or pressured to quit in retaliation for their stands against racism and police violence and in support of social justice. Five of the plaintiffs are white; four are black. Fox’s dismissal, the president said at the time, resulted from “a legitimate coaching decision, and suggestions to the contrary are simply false.”

WAKE SHERIFF SAYS RUMORS OF FEDERAL INVESTIGATION ARE FALSE: Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker on Sunday addressed rumors that have been circulating about a federal investigation and sealed indictment involving his office. The rumors pertain to how federal dollars were spent by his office. WRAL News has not been able to substantiate the rumors. Baker said that the rumors were untrue, and wanted to address them because of the "damage" they can do. "There is no investigation that I know of," he said. "There's no federal investigation, there's no pending indictments that I know of concerning any monies or forfeitures." Baker said he believes the rumors are politically motivated and being spread by people who are upset that he won the 2018 election for county sheriff. "I've been dealing with this kind of stuff since the day I was elected," he said.

YES, DONALD TRUMP'S NAME IS TOXIC, EVEN IN NC: Since Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, McAllister has changed the name of the race and changed it back again, has canceled multiple times due to blowback over the name and the location, and has failed in his repeated attempts to grow the event beyond a few hundred participants. Now, even though Trump is no longer in office, McAllister and Tri at the Trump are smack-dab in the middle of their most turbulent year yet. Sponsors and beneficiaries have unexpectedly cut ties to the race in recent months, as has the company that had headed up management of the event since its inception. But what really has McAllister in panic mode is the fact that only 27 triathletes are signed up as of this week. In a normal year, he says, he’d expect about 125 to 150 people to have registered by this point, a little over 10 weeks out from race day. If Trump actually tried to run a triathlon (without a golf cart), he would keel over dead after 40 paces.

ISRAELIS HACKED THE PHONES OF JOURNALISTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS: Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners. The phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been clients of the Israeli firm, NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and largely unregulated private spyware industry, the investigation found. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism nonprofit, and Amnesty International, a human rights group, had access to the list and shared it with the news organizations, which did further research and analysis. Amnesty’s Security Lab did the forensic analyses on the smartphones. The numbers on the list are unattributed, but reporters were able to identify more than 1,000 people spanning more than 50 countries through research and interviews on four continents: several Arab royal family members, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and more than 600 politicians and government officials — including cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military and security officers. The numbers of several heads of state and prime ministers also appeared on the list. Yeesh.

RELIEF AT THE PUMP? OPEC AGREES TO INCREASE OIL PRODUCTION TO EASE PRICES: Major oil producers reached a deal on Sunday to increase production, a move that could help ease the pressure on gas prices and inflation as economies around the world recover after pandemic lockdowns. The pact by OPEC Plus, as the group is known, aims to begin pumping more oil beginning next month. It resolved a dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that had blocked an agreement earlier this month and caused oil prices to spike, briefly hitting six-year highs on July 6. Even before that, gasoline prices in the United States had been steadily rising. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States is now $3.17, according to AAA. A year ago, as pandemic lockdowns kept people close to home, gas cost just $2.18 a gallon on average. And the higher gas prices have been adding to inflation, a key measure of which climbed at the fastest pace in 13 years in June. Under the deal announced on Sunday, OPEC Plus, a group of 23 nations led by Saudi Arabia and including Russia, will increase output each month by 400,000 barrels a day, beginning in August. That will add about 2 percent to the world’s supply by the end of the year. The group accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world’s crude oil. As the world economy rapidly reopens and suppliers strain to keep up with demand, commodities, including oil, have jumped in price. OPEC Plus, for its part, has been withholding millions of barrels a day in potential oil production from the markets. Thanks. I guess...



UNC and secret donor deals

UNC has said they're going to open an investigation into how the details of a secret donor agreement with Walter Hussman, Jr. to the School of Journalism leaked.

It recently came to light that, when the alumnus pledged a $25 million donation to the school that now bears his name, the university agreed to "ensure that the core value statement as published each day in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette be displayed through a specific presentation in granite in the wall within the lobby of the UNC School of Media and Journalism within ninety (90) days of the date of the 2019 announcement," according to an email obtained by our newsgathering partners at the News&Observer.

But, given the events of the last couple of months, some faculty are expressing concern that his values do not align with those of the school.

In fact, after a virtual town hall among Hussman faculty and staff on Wednesday, the "Statement of Core Values" was scrubbed from the school's website.

First off, how does a public university receiving taxpayer funding have a "secret" donor agreement that isn't subject to some kind of public scrutiny?

Second, how does a donor to a public university get to dictate terms about statements made on behalf of a school as a condition of their donation?

Finally, with all of the UNC System schools, just what secret donor agreements are floating around out there we don't know about that include conditions like this or other restrictions that dictate speech that a school or department may make?