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.


Curt Schilling—a standout pitcher who belonged to three World Series championship teams before becoming an ESPN analyst—has cancer, he announced Wednesday. The retired Major League Baseball player did not specify what type of cancer he had or his prognosis, only that “I’ve recently been diagnosed.” After rising up the Boston Red Sox minor league ranks, Schilling broke into the Major Leagues with Baltimore in 1988. He went on to star with the Philadelphia Phillies before ascending another level in his career upon joining the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.

This isn’t the Schilling family’s first brush with cancer. His wife, Shonda, went public—even inviting cameras in to capture her fifth and final surgery—in the early 2000s with her fight with malignant melanoma. She afterward created the Shade Foundation of America, a group geared toward educating children about skin cancer and prevention.


A 15-year-old girl is credited with saving her six siblings from a Thursday apartment fire. Even though the fire destroyed everything in the apartment located just east of downtown, the family is thankful everyone made it out OK, thanks to the quick thinking of the oldest child. “I wasn’t thinking about anything but my brothers and getting them out of the house,” said Emoni Williamson. “We were in the house all relaxed. The next thing we knew we were smelling smoke. I just took all my brothers out of the house and ran to my grandma’s house,” she said. The fire started just before noon Thursday inside a unit at the Parker Square Apartment complex, located in the 1600 block of Mary Lou Williams Drive, which is near the intersection of Ninth Street and Woodland Avenue. It damaged two units. The Red Cross said they’ll be providing housing, food and clothing for the 11 children and three adults from the two families who are now homeless after Thursday’s fire. Firefighters are still investigating how the blaze started.

New York

Justin Bieber and his father allegedly refused a pilot’s warning to stop smoking pot during a flight from Canada to New Jersey on Friday, according to a law enforcement source. Marijuana smoke was allegedly so strong in the jet’s cabin that flight crew members put on oxygen masks because they were concerned they might inhale so much it would cause them to test positive for drug use, said the source. Bieber and his entourage of 10 were granted re-entry into the United States after a search of the chartered plane by federal officials, who said they detected an odor of marijuana after it landed at Teterboro Airport, a law enforcement official told CNN. A number of federal agents from Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they detected the odor, which prompted the search by drug-sniffing dogs, the source said. No sign of drugs were detected and no illegal substances were found, a law enforcement source told CNN last week.


Customers used to buying cigarettes at their local CVS pharmacy will have to look elsewhere this fall. The nation’s No. 2 pharmacy chain announced this week that it plans to stop selling tobacco products at its stores by October 1. “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. National efforts have been ongoing to reduce the use of tobacco products. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell from 42 percent in 1965 to 19 percent in 2011. With more than 7,600 stores nationwide, CVS Caremark is making the move despite an estimated $2 billion annual loss from tobacco shoppers. The Rhode Island-based company also announced plans for a national smoking cessation program to be launched this spring. President Barack Obama lauded the decision, saying in statement that the move is a “powerful example” that will “help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs.” CVS reported $123 billion in revenue in 2012.

Compiled by Juliana Norwood and Robert Gillard