Monday News: Turning hope into despair

PRIVATE NC DRUG REHAB CLINICS ACCUSED OF FORCED UNPAID LABOR OF PATIENTS: Attorney General Josh Stein and other state officials are investigating a drug and alcohol rehab center that faces allegations of forced labor, abuse, fraud and more. The North Carolina company operates clinics near Asheville and Raleigh. The investigation comes on the heels of an article about the rehab company that was published by Reveal, a nonprofit news website run by the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to that report, a company called Recovery Connections Community put its patients to work for free in adult care homes, charging the homes for their labor but not paying the patients for their work. Some of the patients told Reveal they worked 16-hour days for no pay and also received little to no training before going to work in those sensitive medical environments.

LAWYERS FOR SMITHFIELD WANT TO QUASH EVIDENCE AND TESTIMONY USED IN PREVIOUS LAWSUIT: Evidence presented at the first trial "was inflammatory, resulting in punitive awards for each plaintiff over twenty times larger than permitted by North Carolina law," said Mark Anderson, an attorney representing Smithfield's Murphy-Brown division. To prevent that from happening again, U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt "should exclude all evidence of either Murphy-Brown or its parent companies' financial condition." WH Group, which bought Smithfield Foods in 2013, generated $22 billion in revenues last year, the company reported in March. Like the financial resources available to change its North Carolina hog growing operations, jurors should not be told about decades of complaints executives heard unless and until the jury decides neighbors were harmed and should be compensated, company attorneys said in court filings. Only then should jurors be told more about Smithfield's record as they consider whether to punish the company, Anderson wrote in a court filing.

HIGHER ED BOLO: KOCH BROTHERS DRAMATICALLY INCREASE FUNDING FOR COLLEGES: Tax records show the conservative Charles Koch Foundation is dramatically increasing its donations to colleges and universities at a time when its philanthropy is facing increasing scrutiny. An Associated Press review of the foundation's most recent tax records shows the foundation gave nearly $49 million to more than 250 colleges across the U.S. in 2016. That's a 47 percent increase over 2015. The foundation's John Hardin says the increases stem from the fact that the foundation's philanthropy is becoming more well-known and professors are increasingly approaching them with proposals. Increasingly, though, faculty and students are questioning whether the Koch Foundation's philanthropy comes with strings attached that inhibit academic independence.

YES, NO, MAYBE: TRUMP FLIPS AGAIN, SAYS NORTH KOREA SUMMIT GOOD IDEA: President Donald Trump said Sunday a U.S. team was in North Korea to plan a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, raising expectations that the on-off-on meeting would indeed take place. The State Department said earlier that a team was in Panmunjom, which straddles the border inside the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, separating the North and South Korea. One can cross the border simply by stepping across a painted line, but moving beyond several footsteps into the North at Panmunjom would be rare for U.S. officials. Trump withdrew from a planned June 12 Singapore summit with Kim last Thursday, but quickly announced that it could get back on track. His tweet Sunday afternoon, which offered praise for the longtime U.S. adversary, was the latest signal that his concerns about the North's stance toward the summit had been allayed.

TRUMP LAWYER GIULIANI APOPLECTIC OVER NOT BEING BRIEFED ON CLASSIFIED INFORMATION: Donald Trump’s lawyer again questioned the legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election as a possible interview of Trump by the special counsel. “We’re more convinced as we see it that this is a rigged investigation,” Rudy Giuliani said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Nation.” Asked if he sees the investigation as legitimate, Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team in mid-April, replied: “Not any more. I don’t. I did when it came in.” Giuliani is seeking a readout of the classified information Justice Department officials shared with lawmakers Thursday about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russian meddling. Trump has made an unsubstantiated claim that an informant who contacted advisers to his 2016 campaign was a political “spy.” “It should be very easy to brief us,” Giuliani said. “The White House has every right to know, the president has every right to know as commander-in-chief.”