NEW TAX LAW COULD DEAL DEATH BLOW TO CHARITIES AND NON-PROFITS: Taxpayers claim charitable contributions, along with mortgage interest, property taxes and some other expenses, as deductions from their taxable income if they itemize and the total exceeds the standard deduction. For some people – particularly those with higher incomes – the deduction for charitable gifts has served as an important incentive for giving because it helps reduce taxes owed. Operators of some nonprofits are hopeful Congress may still act. If not, and if charitable giving drops $13 billion nationally as one economist has predicted, North Carolina charities could be expected to take a big hit. So could the people who depend on them. In the state, Heinen said, nonprofits collect and spend roughly $42.5 billion a year and employ about 10 percent of the workforce. In the Triangle, they include Duke University Medical Center and WakeMed hospitals.
GOVERNOR COOPER DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO BITTER COLD: North Carolina's governor has signed an emergency declaration to allow heating fuel to be more easily distributed during a bitter cold snap. Meanwhile, roads are being treated in South Carolina's coastal counties because of a forecast of light freezing rain. Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order loosens restrictions on drivers transporting heating fuels such as propane. It also puts in extra measures to prevent price gouging. A winter weather advisory was in effect for counties along the North and South Carolina coasts with some freezing rain possible through Friday morning. The South Carolina Department of Transportation announced that it was treating bridges in coastal areas and that it had road crews ready starting Thursday night.
STATE TO INSTALL HISTORICAL MARKER DESCRIBING THE WILMINGTON RACE RIOT IN 1898: The North Carolina government is officially recognizing what historians call the only successful coup d’etat in American history, when white supremacists overthrew the Reconstruction-era government in Wilmington in 1898. The state’s Highway Historical Marker Committee has approved a new plaque to be installed in Wilmington in 2018 near a busy intersection, which will tell people about the racist attack that left dozens dead and heralded the start of the Jim Crow era here. This isn’t the first time North Carolina has officially acknowledged the coup – which went completely unpunished. The state commissioned a report released in 2006 about the violence. But a public marker in a busy area is more likely to be seen by the public than that 464-page report.
PUTIN PENS LOVE LETTER TO TRUMP TO IMPROVE RELATIONS: In a New Year telegram to U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin says a constructive dialogue between the two nations is essential for global stability. The Kremlin said Saturday that Putin emphasized in his Seasons Greetings to Trump that Russia and the U.S. could develop a "pragmatic cooperation aimed at long-term perspective" on the basis of "equality and mutual respect." Putin noted that "the development a constructive Russian-U.S. dialogue is particularly important for strengthening strategic stability in the world and finding the optimal answers to global threats and challenges." Ties between Moscow and Washington sank to a post-Cold War low following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the allegations of its meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year.
TRUMP TELLS POST OFFICE TO CHARGE AMAZON.COM "MUCH MORE" TO SHIP ITS PRODUCTS: President Donald Trump returned to a favorite target Friday, saying that the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon.com more money to ship the millions of packages it sends around the world each year. Amazon has been a consistent recipient of Trump’s ire. He has accused the company of failing to pay “internet taxes,” though it’s never been made clear by the White House what the president means by that. In a tweet Friday, Trump said Amazon should be charged “MUCH MORE” by the post office because it’s “losing many billions of dollars a year” while it makes “Amazon richer.” Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. The Post, as well as other major media, has been labeled as “fake news” by Trump after reporting unfavorable developments during his campaign and presidency.