NC CONSERVATIVES BELIEVE IT WAS ANTIFA WHO BROKE INTO CAPITOL: One argued it wasn’t supporters of President Donald Trump behind the insurrection, but instead members of Antifa in disguise “to make Trump look bad.” Others repeated one of the talking points from one of the personalities on Fox News: What about the Black Lives Matter protests that devolved into looting in some cities over the summer? One referenced Trump’s social media. “I think everyone knows at some level the vast majority of the protesters in DC this week were peaceful and played no part in the storming of the Capitol,” Edwards wrote. “Unfortunately, the entire Republican Party will be tainted unless we effectively separate ourselves from that faction who were allowed to tag along the Trump movement in the party." (They didn't tag along you nitwit. They led, you followed.)
GOVERNOR COOPER WILL BE SWORN IN TODAY IN SCALED-DOWN INAUGURATION: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and other recently elected statewide officials are taking their oaths in person at a small televised ceremony that's a substitute for conventional festivities canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Council of State planned to participate in Saturday's inauguration on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. The event isn't open to the public. The surge in coronavirus cases caused state officials to forgo the traditional large open-air inauguration and parade. Those events also were scrapped four years ago due to a winter storm. Saturday’s musical entertainment and Cooper’s address kicking off his second term will be prerecorded. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler won't attend due to COVID-related concerns. Footage of Troxler taking his oath earlier will be aired.
VACCINE ROLLOUT VARIES PER COUNTY, FRUSTRATING MANY ELDERLY IN NC: “I think people are so excited, and they want information, and the information is maybe not coming out as quickly as the vaccinations are rolling out in some communities,” said Heather Burkhardt, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group North Carolina Coalition on Aging. “Vaccines are just coming fast and differently in different communities. It’s a little bit fragmented at this point.” Some are giving vaccines by appointment. Others are administering doses by walk-ins or drive-throughs. Counties that are still vaccinating health care workers in Phase 1a plan to begin inoculating older residents next week. At a press conference Wednesday, state Health Secretary Mandy Cohen acknowledged the pace of vaccinations has varied county-by-county. “Some are doing terrific and are running fast,” she said. “Others need support.” Cohen encouraged people 75 and older to call their county health department or hospital for information on how to secure vaccines. She added people with lingering questions should go to the state’s vaccine website or call the health department's hotline (1-877-490-6642) for more details.
TWITTER (FINALLY) PERMANENTLY BANS TRUMP FROM ITS PLATFORM: “It took blood and glass in the halls of Congress — and a change in the political winds — for the most powerful tech companies in the world to recognize, at the last possible moment, the profound threat of Donald Trump,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a longtime critic of tech company policies. Twitter cited two Trump tweets. One stated that the 75 million who voted for him were “American Patriots” who will “not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” He then announced he would not go to Biden’s swearing-in ceremony later this month. In a blog post, the company said the two messages violated its policy against glorification of violence since they “could inspire others to replicate violent acts” that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. According to Twitter, his second tweet could be read by followers as an encouragement to commit violence during the inauguration, which “would be a ‘safe,’ target as he will not be attending.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Trump appeared to try to defy Twitter’s ban by using @POTUS, and later his @TeamTrump campaign account, both of which were suspended. “We will not be SILENCED!” @POTUS tweeted before it was taken down. The president also charged that in a statement. Twitter’s punishment is the harshest judgment the site has at its disposal. It appeared to be the first time the company had taken such an action since instituting a broad policy around world leaders last year, illustrating the slow shift in Silicon Valley as the country’s most popular, prominent platforms grew more comfortable in taking on Trump.
BIDEN IS SET TO PUSH SUBSTANTIAL STIMULUS PACKAGE THROUGH CONGRESS: On a day the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, ending a seven-month streak of growth after the country’s plunge into recession in the spring, Mr. Biden said there was “a dire, dire need to act now.” He pledged to move rapidly once he becomes president to push a stimulus package through Congress to provide relief to struggling individuals, small businesses, students, local governments and schools. “It is necessary to spend the money now,” he said, apparently referring to his entire batch of economic plans, including both immediate aid and a larger bill that includes infrastructure spending. “The answer is yes, it will be in the trillions of dollars.” The Biden team is also preparing a wave of economic actions that will not require congressional approval. Mr. Biden’s aides said on Friday that the president-elect would direct the Education Department to extend a pause on student loan payments that was initially issued under Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden called on Congress on Friday to take “prompt action” to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. He also pledged to ramp up efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which is now claiming 4,000 lives each day — more than those who perished during the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Biden’s team said the president-elect would immediately provide more vaccines to states when he takes office, breaking sharply from Mr. Trump’s practice of holding back some shots for second doses.