'The Hobbit' continues to top box office
LOS ANGELES - "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" continues to rule them all at the box office, staying on top for a third-straight week and capping a record-setting $10.8 billion year in moviegoing.
The Warner Bros. fantasy epic from director Peter Jackson, based on the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novel, made nearly $33 million over the weekend, raising its take to $686.7 million worldwide and $222.7 million domestically.
Two big holiday movies also had strong openings: Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti-Western-blaxploitation mash-up "Django Unchained" took in $30.7 million; and the sweeping "Les Miserables," based on the Victor Hugo novel of strife and uprising in 19th century France, garnered $28 million.
Comedian Katt Williams arrested in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES - Katt Williams, the comedian who has repeatedly found himself on the wrong side of the law, is out on bail after being arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of child endangerment and possession of a stolen gun. Police Officer Norma Eisenman said Williams was taken into custody Friday after the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services did a welfare check at his home. Authorities found more than one firearm, one of which had been reported stolen.
The 41-year-old was arrested earlier this month on a felony warrant related to a police chase. In November, he was accused of hitting a man on the head with a bottle during a fight.
Police target gangs with checkpoints
SAN JUAN - Police in a south Texas town are targeting gang members with roadside checkpoints, raising questions of profiling and unreasonable searches.
San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez told The McAllen Monitor that vehicles are stopped at the checkpoints and those inside checked for violations regarding insurance, seat belts and driver's licenses. Gonzalez said nearly all gang members are willing to announce their gang affiliation. They are asked to voluntarily allow officers to photograph their gang tattoos, and their information is added to a state gang database.
Joseph Martin, a lawyer with the South Texas Civil Rights Project, says the checkpoints raise constitutional questions about unreasonable searches and seizures.
Petition group hopes to ban red-light cameras
IOWA CITY - A group of Iowa City residents is gathering signatures on a petition to ban the use of traffic cameras and drones in their hometown.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports the group has collected between 500 and 1,000 signatures since October and hopes to get 10,000 signatures by April 1 to put their proposal on the ballot.
9 killed in tour bus crash
PENDLETON - A tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and several hundred feet down a steep embankment Sunday, killing nine people and injuring more than 20 others, authorities said.
The Associated Press