CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO RAVAGE NC, POSITIVE TESTING RATE 10%: At least 674,637 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 8,083 have died since March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 6,911 new COVID-19 cases, down from 7,986 reported the day before. Sixty-seven additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Sunday. At least 3,862 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Sunday. As of Friday, the latest date for which data are available, 10% of coronavirus tests came back positive. Health officials say the number should be about 5% to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
BAR OWNERS CRY FOUL AFTER HAVING LIQUOR LICENSES PULLED BY STATE: The state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission confirmed that it canceled about 124 licenses for nonpayment on Jan. 4. Spokesman Jeff Strickland said that is standard procedure when license renewal fees aren't paid, that there's no penalty to later renew a lapsed license and that the commission will work with bars that want to reopen to "make that as seamless as possible." Strickland also said the businesses could not have opened without paying for their permit and that "these should be businesses that were not open at the time anyway.” But for bar owners, it's one more slap in the face from a state government that has kept them shut down or under severe restrictions for most of a year over social distancing concerns. “They have not been clear nor fair in how they’ve done this," Erwytt Franks, who owns the Hawg Pen in Raleigh, said Friday.
WALKER AND ROBINSON PLAY TO AN ANTI-ABORTION CROWD IN RALEIGH: He was introduced by former North Carolina congressman Mark Walker, who has said he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2022. “It’s not enough to preach to the choir,” Walker said. “We have to take this message of individual liberty and pro-life to new places and new communities.” Robinson highlighted his openness to share his Christian faith as an elected official to the crowd. “I get a lot of pushback,” Robinson said. “A lot of folks that tell me, ‘You know, you need to ease up on whole religious thing.’ You know, that’s too bad. You don’t want to hear about my faith? You don’t want to hear about me.” The crowd, about half of whom were wearing masks, cheered. He criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and said the term “a woman’s right to choose” is a term to hide “an egregious act.” “We will not silently go into the night,” Robinson said. “It’s what they want. It’s what they expect.”
TRUMP WORKING ON A SLEW OF PARDONS, POSSIBLY INCLUDING HIMSELF AND FAMILY: President Trump is preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office, decisions that are expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans. Trump met Sunday with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and other aides for a significant amount of the day to review a long list of pardon requests and discuss lingering questions about their appeals, according to the multiple people briefed on the meeting. The president was personally engaged with the details of specific cases, one person said. In the past week, Trump has been particularly consumed with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides and himself, said the people familiar with discussions. Trump has told advisers for weeks that he wants to be liberal with pardons before leaving office. Aides have said the ability to grant clemency is a perk of the job Trump has particularly relished because the Constitution hands the power to the president alone. But the president’s review of pardon candidates had been delayed by the intensifying dysfunction inside the White House since the November election and Trump’s intense focus on trying to challenge and the undermine the results, according to people familiar with the discussions.
RIGHT-WING INSURRECTIONISTS ARE LYING LOW, FOR NOW: The nation’s militarized streets on Sunday were a remarkable spectacle as police and National Guard officers faced off with promised right-wing protests that, at least on Sunday, were reduced to a whimper. Protesters in some states could be counted on one hand. In Denver, where public offices were boarded up and police officers perched on rooftops, the smattering of Trump supporters who showed up to the State Capitol wondered whether they had come on the wrong day. “I was expecting more than me,” said Larry Woodall, 59, who wore a Trump 2020 face mask. “I feel like I’m the lone wolf.” A reporter in Lincoln, Neb., counted two protesters marching around the State Capitol, one armed and the other carrying a homemade sign. Outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol there were so few protesters that reporters lined up on the sidewalk to interview a man who gave his name only as Alex and wore a sweatshirt that said “Fraud 2020.” Reporters then turned to a man named Eddie who was selling “Biden is not my president” T-shirts but who left soon after for lack of customers. In Salem, Ore., fewer than a dozen men dressed in military-style clothing marched onto the grounds of a park across the street from the State Capitol, waving flags. One held a sign made with marker on white posterboard: “Disarm the Government!” it said. At the Texas Capitol, pro-Trump protesters gathered as officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety patrolled the grounds and guarded the entrance to the nearby Governor’s Mansion. Daniel Hunter, a 34-year-old handyman, drove down from Waco on Sunday, he said, to ensure that no one assaulted the Capitol. “If they do, I’ll get in front of them,” he said. “Storming the Capitol isn’t civilized behavior.”