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N.C. officer shoots, kills Army veteran holding gun; authorities investigating

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Family members got their first look inside a Gastonia, North Carolina, home Monday after a police officer shot and killed an armed 74-year-old Army veteran inside.

Charlotte's WSOC-TV found court documents showing that firefighters forced James Allen’s door open Saturday night during a welfare check. The police chief said an officer fired his weapon after Allen pointed a gun at him.

Family members said they are devastated by what happened.

"I think that he probably thought somebody was breaking in his house or robbing him of something," said the victim’s sister, Mary Battle.

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She is in disbelief over the shooting. She said her brother, who fought in the Korean War, was recovering from heart surgery. Police said they went to the home to do a welfare check after relatives in Anson County alerted authorities there.

WSOC-TV found that the Gastonia Police Department did 531 welfare checks in 2014 alone. On Saturday night, officers came to the residence twice but could not get anyone to come to the door.

“The thing I questioned is, why make a wellness call at midnight?” neighbor Gene Clark said.

Clark told police that Allen was hard of hearing, and he had not seen him since the day before. According to a search warrant, police claim the 74-year-old approached both police and firefighters holding a gun after they made entry into his home.

That’s when Officer Josh Lefevers fired his weapon.

>> PHOTOS: Scene where officer shot, killed Army vet holding gun

“There should have been a better way to handle this. Something else could have been done,” Battle said. “I’m so mad; I’m hurt. I’m hurt.”

Court documents said police recovered three shell casings from the home, along with a .22-caliber revolver. Clark said he knows police have a right to protect themselves but also understands the family’s concerns.

“It goes both ways. I really don’t know. All I know is he was a good man,” Clark said.

Allen's family and friends are questioning whether his killing could have been avoided.

They want to know if it was necessary for police to use deadly force after they entered Allen's home and found him standing there, holding a gun.

Scott Maclatchie, a Charlotte attorney and veteran Los Angeles police officer, said that when it comes to conducting welfare checks, the law in North Carolina is clear.

“The law is very clear that a law enforcement officer may use deadly force to defend himself when they’re confronted with what appears to be an imminent threat,” Maclatchie said

It's the officer's job to use force to get inside the home if he or she has made every effort to get the person to come to the door, he said.

The State Bureau of Investigations is now looking into the killing.

Click here to read the full story.

Watch: Protesters interrupt Muslim rally in Texas

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What was supposed to be a rally at the Texas Capitol on Thursday promoting tolerance and inclusion for Muslims and their supporters was largely derailed by sustained screams from protesters loudly advocating for something quite apart from peace and love.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day was organized by Texas chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose members intended to raise awareness on issues, advocate on a number of bills and celebrate their right as Americans — and in one speaker’s case an eighth-generation Texan — to be part of the political process.

But not one of the 10 or so speakers at the hourlong event managed to finish a sentence without being heckled by a group of maybe two dozen that fanned out about 20 paces from the south steps of the statehouse. A patriotic song by the Houston Koran Academy didn’t even silence the screaming.

CAIR-TX spokeswoman Ruth Nasrullah had barely begun the program when a woman briefly commandeered the podium and attempted to claim the Capitol in the name of Jesus Christ. The woman, a native Michigander who now goes “wherever the Lord calls,” later said she was seized by “righteous anger” and felt she’d accomplished what she attempted to do Thursday morning.

“I want to inspire Americans against this and proclaim for Jesus Christ and not their god, Allah,” Christine Weick said.

Although the Texas House is in recess until next week, at least one elected official didn’t exactly put a welcome mat outside her office door for the Muslim activists. State Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, posted on Facebook that she had left an Israeli flag in her office “with instructions to staff to ask representative from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly renounce allegiance to America and our laws.”

That post prompted CAIR’s national government affairs manager to email General Counsel and House Ethics Advisor Frank Battle asking whether “White had violated any House rules in creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff?”

Many a speaker at the podium said both their and the protesters’ presence was a celebration of a robust First Amendment. One, Wardah Khalid, who writes the Young American Muslim blog for the Houston Chronicle and for the Huffington Post, said it was time for Muslims to embrace their rights and craft their own narrative of who they are.

“We as Muslim Americans will no longer sit idle as others seek to define us and our beautiful faith,” Khalid said.

A similar event at the Capitol during the last session reportedly drew zero protesters, but Rev. Ronnie Lister of Houston, who spoke in favor of the CAIR activists, said he fully expected the sound and fury he heard and saw Tuesday.

Lister’s prepared remarks — delivered in an oratorical cadence very much reminiscent of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — argued that despite attendees’ differences, the event was a gathering of equals.

“It is very important that we concentrate on what Allah has sent us here to do today,” Lister said. “It is very important to understand that the world is changing. And when things change, people get scared and they get crazy. God is in you and me and even the hecklers over there. God is in everything but evil. Allah akbar!”

Later, Lister said people of differing faiths would do well to read the holy books of other religions as a way to promote tolerance and inclusion, but he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“This is an indication of the expansion of the freedom of America,” Lister said. “America is a melting pot and Muslims are Americans who pay their taxes and must be included.”

“This is nothing,” Lister said of the protesters. “Their anger and hate will not allow them to use their minds.”

Muslim Day at the Texas Capitol, 01.29.15

Mother calls in to live news program to scold sons

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In a live broadcast, the mother of two brothers arguing on C-SPAN's Washington Journal surprised everyone by calling into the show.

“Oh God, it’s Mom,” Dallas Woodhouse said, as soon as the woman identified as “Joy” began speaking.

In the two minute call, the mother surprised her sons, Dallas and Brad Woodhouse, and pleaded with them to end the political arguing before they visit her at Christmas.  Dallas is a Republican and Brad is a Democrat.

“I’m hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas. I would really like a peaceful Christmas,” Joy said.

Read more about the exchange here

Rick Perry surrenders to authorities

Update 5:25 p.m.: Gov. Rick Perry emerged from the Travis County criminal justice center about 15 minutes after he arrived.

“As required by law, I reported to the county authorities a few minutes ago,” he said, adding that sheriff’s deputies showed “great professionalism.”

“It is our system of constitutional checks and balances that is being challenged here today,” he said to more than 100 supporters. “It is a chilling restraint on the right of free speech.”

“This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve at the courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box,” he said to loud cheers.

“We will prevail. We will prevail. And we’ll prevail because the rule of law will prevail.”

He said he would continue to carry out his duties as governor. “I will not be distracted by these baseless political charges,” he said.

Update 5:15 p.m.: Gov. Rick Perry arrived at the Travis County criminal justice center shortly after 5 p.m. to surrender to authorities and be fingerprinted and his mug shot taken.

Wearing a dark blue suit, white dress shirt and light blue tie, he confidently strode to a podium outside the courthouse to cheering supporters and proclaimed: “I’m here today because I believe in the rule of law. And I’m here today because I did the right thing. I’m going to enter the courthouse with my head held high knowing the actions I took were not only lawful and legal but right.”

“If I had to do so, I would veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit again,” he said.

“This issue is far bigger than me. It’s about the rule of law,” he said, interrupted by cheers. “This indictment is nothing short of an attack of the constitutional powers of the office of governor.”

“I will not allow this attack on our system of government to stand. I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail.”

He then turned and walked into the courthouse in downtown Austin, trailed by television cameras and to chants of, “Perry, Perry!”

Update 3 p.m.: Gov. Rick Perry plans to arrive at the Travis County Jail at 5 p.m. Tuesday for “processing,” the governor’s office said.

Perry will have his mug shot taken and be fingerprinted, the same as any criminal defendant.

He is expected to speak before and after entering the building.

“This is a complete waste of time and money,” Perry’s lead lawyer Tony Buzbee told CNN.

Earlier: Texas Gov. Rick Perry could turn himself in late today, although neither law enforcement officials nor his office are confirming any plans.

A Perry spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny Perry will be booked into the Travis County Jail at 4:45 p.m. today, despite numerous reports that he intends to do so.

Meanwhile, reporters are lining the streets of the criminal justice complex, awaiting Perry’s possible arrival.

Perry supporters also are conducting a rally at 5 p.m. today outside the criminal justice center, according to a Facebook page.

Perry was indicted Friday on two felony charges — abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant — stemming from his efforts to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign following her drunken driving arrest.

The judge assigned to the case, Senior District Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio, signed a personal recognizance bond for Perry, meaning that he will be released after paying a $20 administrative fee after surrendering.

Perry’s initial court date is scheduled for Friday, but Perry doesn’t have to be present. Perry, who is considering a second run for the White House, is scheduled on Friday to be in New Hampshire, the nation’s first primary.

Report: George Clooney may run for governor of California

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Is George Clooney planning to follow in Arnold Schwarzenegger's footsteps?

According to the Sunday Mirror, Clooney's friends – who were not identified in the article – said the star may run for governor of California in 2018.

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Democrats want Clooney, 53, to run for office in 2018, the Mirror says. The actor, a political activist focused on Darfur, has several political contacts, including President Barack Obama.

“George is hugely popular with the Democrats, and where better a place to put him than as the governor of California, the home of Hollywood?" a friend told the Mirror.

Clooney plans to wed human-rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in September, according to People magazine.

Would you vote for George Clooney? Weigh in by voting in our poll.

Swank! George H.W. Bush and his colorful socks

Utah town forgets to hold elections - again

Just before what would have been Election Day earlier this month, a new city employee in charge of overseeing the voting in the Wasatch County mountain town of Wallsburg, Utah, realized he had forgotten to deal with it. By the time he did realize, it was too late to organize a vote in time for the Nov. 5 deadline.

"Wallsburg never advertised or prepared for an election this year, so no one signed up," Wasatch County Clerk Brent Titcomb told the Salt Lake Tribune. "They're going to have to appoint the current mayor and council for two more years and they'll advertise and have people elected [in 2015]."

The director of the state elections office, Mark Thomas, said that's the same thing that happened two years ago; the mayor and council members were automatically reappointed for two years when the 2011 election was overlooked.

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