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Judge dismisses FAA fine against small drone user
Written by JOAN LOWY, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:37

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration's only fine against a commercial drone user on the grounds that the small drone was no different than a model aircraft, a decision that appears to undermine the agency's power to keep a burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the skies.

Patrick Geraghty, a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge, said in his order dismissing the $10,000 fine that the FAA has no regulations governing model aircraft flights or for classifying model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft.

FAA officials said they were reviewing the decision and had no further comment. The agency can appeal the decision to the full five-member safety board.

The FAA levied the fine against aerial photographer Raphael Pirker for flying the small drone near the University of Virginia to make a commercial video in October 2011. Pirker appealed the fine to the safety board, which hears challenges to FAA decisions.

FAA officials have long taken the position that the agency regulates access to the national airspace, and therefore it has the power to bar drone flights, even when the drone weighs no more than a few pounds.

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On the rocks? 'Ice yachts' sail cold Hudson River
Written by MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:17

BARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Sharp winds lashed up the Hudson River as sailors launched boats onto the ice. Sails whipped furiously as the long blades slid across a white sheet that spread for miles.

Finally, a frigid winter has created excellent conditions for ice sailing on the river.

"In the blink of an eye you can get up to 30 miles an hour ... you can just feel the power of the wind filling the sails," Michael Soldati said after a bracing run across the ice. "It's just awesome. It's just you and the wind."

More than a dozen boats hit the ice last weekend on a wide stretch of river with a view of the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles north of New York City.

Many were one-person craft that skittered over the ice like so many puppies around two big dogs — the Rocket and Jack Frost. The two larger craft — each about 50 feet long — are reconditioned 19th-century ice yachts, made of heavy lumber and fitted with tall sails.

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Identities sought of 21 men killed at Pearl Harbor
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 14:41

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The remains of 21 sailors killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor and buried as unknowns should be identified and returned to their families, a group of U.S. senators said Thursday.

The sailors were aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, ripped open by as many as nine torpedoes. The ship quickly rolled and came to rest just 20 minutes after being hit. Nearly 430 men died.

The remains of 27 sailors were classified as unknown and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as The Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In 2003, historian Ray Emory of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association used military records and personnel files to tentatively identify the 27 men. Five were then definitively identified by the Central Identification Laboratory of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and their remains returned to their families.

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Russia and Crimean politicians discuss referendum
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:11

MOSCOW (AP) — The speaker for Russia's upper house of parliament says Crimea would be welcome as an "equal subject" in Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine in an upcoming referendum.

Valentina Matvienko met with the head of Crimean parliament on Friday to discuss the region's possible accession to Russia. On Thursday, the parliament of Crimea voted to move the referendum date up by two weeks, to March 16, and to include a question on joining Russia.

Russia's parliament is planning to review a bill as early as next week that would speed up Crimea's integration into Russia. Crimea would be the first territory to officially join Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Starbucks cup identifies Washington rape suspect
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 14:38

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A discarded Starbucks cup helped lead police to a rape suspect in Olympia, Wash.

The paper cup fell out of the attacker's car into a parking lot on Feb. 19 as the woman who said she was accosted fled.

The cup had a sticker with coffee information that revealed it had been bought earlier that day at a Starbucks drive-through in DuPont. Police were able to match surveillance video, leading to the arrest Tuesday of 35-year-old Bryon E. Johnston.

The Olympian reports (http://bit.ly/NBcUTc ) a judge found probable cause Wednesday to hold Johnston in jail for investigation of kidnapping and rape in the February attack and a similar attack in November on another woman abducted from an Olympia bus stop.

Johnston's defense lawyer, Paul Strophy, declined comment Wednesday.

___

Information from: The Olympian, http://www.theolympian.com


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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