NC STATE UNIVERSITY ABRUPTLY CLOSES CHINA-FUNDED CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE: NCSU Provost Warwick Arden said the primary reason for the closure was to better align the university’s China and Asia programs with the rest of the university’s global strategy. But he added, “we’re certainly aware of the concerns that are circulating around Confucius Institutes.” The shuttering comes at a time of more intense scrutiny of the more than 100 Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses, and pressure from U.S. political leaders who say the centers pose a danger. In February, FBI director Christopher Wray told the Senate intelligence committee that the FBI was “watching warily” Confucius Institutes, according to a report by McClatchy. He warned of Chinese operatives infiltrating college campuses and “a level of naiveté” by academics in the U.S., according to the report. “They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have, which we all revere,” Wray said, according to the McClatchy story. “But they’re taking advantage of it.”
NO HOLIDAY FOR NC FARMERS STRUGGLING TO OVERCOME HURRICANE LOSSES: Hurricane Florence caused an estimated $2.4 billion in damages to the state's agriculture business. Corn, tobacco and soybeans took the biggest hits. Kent Revels, in Fuquay-Varina, grows soybeans and tobacco. “If a farmer, if he’s really got it in his blood and it’s really what he wants to do, he does not give up easy,” Revels said. He said any farmer with a salvageable soybean crop would have been in the fields on Thanksgiving. Revels lost more than $500,000 in his tobacco crop after Florence hit North Carolina. As the sun shone on his soybeans, he realized it's something to be thankful for. The reality is it'll be just drop in the bucket. “Soybeans, no, they won’t even come close,” Revels said. “I mean, it’ll help. It’ll help pay some bills, but it won’t come close to what we lost in the storm.”
TRUMP'S THANKSGIVING PHONE CALL TO DEPLOYED MILITARY A SELF-CENTERED DISGRACE: The call was a uniquely Trump blend of boasting, peppered questions and off-the-cuff observations as his comments veered from venting about slights to praising troops — “You really are our heroes,” he said — as club waiters worked to set Thanksgiving dinner tables on the outdoor terrace behind him. “I hope that you’ll take solace in knowing that all of the American families you hold so close to your heart are all doing well,” he said. “The nation’s doing well economically, better than anybody in the world.” He later told reporters “nobody’s done more for the military than me.” Indeed, asked what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving, Trump cited his “great family,” as well as himself. “I made a tremendous difference in this country,” he said. “This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office and you wouldn’t believe it and when you see it, we’ve gotten so much stronger people don’t even believe it.”
SURVIVORS OF CALIFORNIA FIRE SERVED BITTERSWEET THANKSGIVING MEAL AT CHICO: People who lost their homes in the deadly fire that destroyed Paradise are filling their plates with turkey and pie at a community Thanksgiving meal. Patty Rough says she and her husband Chuck would normally host their family at their home in Paradise. But on Thursday, she instead gathered her son, daughter, future son-in-law and two grandchildren at California State University, Chico, where 15,000 meals were being served. Rough teared up as she called the holiday "bittersweet." Rain is hampering teams searching for remains of people in rubble left by the devastating fire that destroyed Paradise. Richard Ventura of Orange County's FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team said Thursday the rainy, windy, cold conditions are making the search process "miserable." His team has 27 people involved in the effort.
MURDEROUS SAUDI CROWN PRINCE MAY BE ANGLING TO BUILD NUCLEAR WEAPONS: The 33-year-old heir to the Saudi throne had been overseeing a negotiation with the Energy Department and the State Department to get the United States to sell designs for nuclear power plants to the kingdom. The deal was worth upward of $80 billion, depending on how many plants Saudi Arabia decided to build. But there is a hitch: Saudi Arabia insists on producing its own nuclear fuel, even though it could buy it more cheaply abroad, according to American and Saudi officials familiar with the negotiations. That raised concerns in Washington that the Saudis could divert their fuel into a covert weapons project — exactly what the United States and its allies feared Iran was doing before it reached the 2015 nuclear accord, which President Trump has since abandoned. Prince Mohammed set off alarms when he declared earlier this year, in the midst of the negotiation, that if Iran, Saudi Arabia’s fiercest rival, “developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”