Industry insiders report the Federal Aviation Administration will not meet a 2015 deadline set by Congress to have drones flying safely in the same airspace as commercial aircraft. The delay leaves companies in North Alabama “in limbo” and could be costing the U.S. economy 27 million dollars per day the FAA is delayed past their 2015 deadline, according to a report by The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Madison County is a hub for unmanned aircraft research and development. Several companies working on new commercial ventures say they are being forced to wait until the federal guidelines for safety are released before they can move forward on any new designs. Congress set a deadline for the FAA to create a road map for safety plans to have both unmanned and maned aircraft operating in the same airspace in order to spur integration. Some air traffic controls have testified the current air control monitoring automated system will not be able to handle the addition of unmanned aircraft to the already busy skies. The FAA has already licensed about 300 commercial UAVs, but that total is expected to increase to 30,000 by 2020.
The trial for a Florida man who shot and killed an unarmed teen in a spat over loud music began on Thursday. Michael Dunn is charged with first degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
Dunn was at a gas station the day after Thanksgiving in 2012 when he complained of heavy bass coming from the vehicle next to his. Dunn said that he asked the occupants of the other vehicle to lower the volume, and that after he saw what he thought was a gun pointed at him, he fired several rounds from his pistol into the vehicle. Officials say no weapon was found in the other vehicle. Dunn also faces three counts of attempted first degree murder for firing at the three other people in the vehicle. The case has drawn similarities to the George Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman was acquitted last year in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. Dunn, 47, is White. Davis is Black. As with the Zimmerman trial, this latest case has sparked national outrage. Protestors were outside of the courthouse earlier this week demanding justice for the slain teen. Dunn has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a rising political star who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address last week, is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations she improperly mixed campaign money and official office funds to finance a bid for a party leadership post. McMorris Rodgers won the House Republican Conference chairmanship—the fourth-highest position in the GOP leadership—after the 2012 election, beating Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. The Ethics Committee revealed its investigation on Thursday in a statement.
It acknowledging that the matter had been referred to the panel in December by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. A source close to the inquiry told CNN that a former staffer for McMorris Rodgers filed the initial complaint. According to House Rules, members are allowed to use money from personal campaign accounts and official office allowances to cover costs incurred in leadership races. But there are restrictions on mixing the two and on the types of activities that can be paid for with the funds.