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Sun. Headlines: US Recognizes Gay Marriage In NC; Fire Scare At Airport

The federal government is recognizing gay marriage in six more states – including North Carolina - extending federal benefits to those couples.   The other states are: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, West Virginia and Wyoming.   Saturday's announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder brings the total number of states with federal recognition of same-sex marriage to 32, plus the District of Columbia.  Couples married in these states will qualify for a range of federal benefits, including Social Security and veterans' benefits.

Holder said the Justice Department also has determined it can legally recognize gay marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin after federal courts declared state marriage bans unconstitutional. Subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those unions, but Holder says the federal government will recognize the marriages.

POLICE OFFICER FIRES AT SUSPECT 

A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer shot at a suspect early Sunday, after police were called to investigate a group of men in a car driving around firing shots in the neighborhood. Police were called to Beatties Ford Road, in Northwest Charlotte at 1:09 AM.  Officers located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop in the 2500 block of Beatties Ford. As officers approached the car, a passenger armed with a shotgun got out. Officer Joseph Meloni fired at the man, who fled on foot.  He couldn’t be found and officers don’t know if he was wounded. But police captured the driver, and were interviewing him overnight at police headquarters. Police are investigating both the officer shooting and the suspects drive-by shootings in the neighborhood. Officer Meloni is on administrative leave during the investigation.

FIRE SCARE AT CHARLOTTE AIRPORT

There was a fire scare at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Saturday afternoon. It turned out to be an electrical problem with a moving walkway, but it was quickly brought under control.  An airport spokeswoman said firefighters dealt with the electrical problem between Concourses D and E. A limited evacuation took place, but the airport remained open. The Charlotte Observer reports that six people were treated at the scene and released.  31 flights were delayed on the ground for up to an hour during the incident.

HILLARY CLINTON VISITS CHARLOTTE FOR KAY HAGAN

Former Secretary of State of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging North Carolina Democrats to work to re-elect Sen. Kay Hagan in a race that will help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.   Clinton headlined a rally Saturday in Charlotte with Hagan, who is locked in a tight re-election campaign against GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis.  Clinton says the race will come down to turnout and asked Hagan supporters to take people to the polls.   The GOP has long listed North Carolina as a top target to help win back the Senate.  The campaign is considered the most expensive in the country when spending by Hagan, Tillis and outside groups is taken into account. The Center for Responsive Politics says the combined amount has now reached almost $90 million.

NCDOT SAYS OUTER LOOP COMPLETION DELAYED

The last 5.7-mile stretch of the Charlotte Out Loop won’t be ready until spring, the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced Friday. The DOT and its contractor had expected to be done by December 31st. But the work is still continuing and the coming cold weather will delay paving until spring, the DOT said. When it’s done, it will complete the loop around Charlotte, connecting the final stretch between I-85 in northeast charlotte with I-77 in north Charlotte.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS RAISE CANNON FROM BLACKBEARD'S SHIP

State officials say that archaeologists have raised a 600-pound cannon from the wreck of the ship belonging to famed pirate Blackbeard.    A news release from the State Department of Cultural resources says the 6-foot cannon was recovered Friday from the Queen Anne's Revenge ship near Beaufort Inlet off the North Carolina coast.   Project director John Morris says the recovery of the cannon was difficult because it was attached to a mass of iron, marine life and sand.     The recovery was made by dive technicians operating from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries research vessel Shell Point.   A total of 23 cannons have been recovered from the site since it was discovered in 1996.