July 28, 2014 in Nation/World

In brief: Professors object to limits on drones

From Wire Reports
 

WASHINGTON – Thirty university and college professors say government restrictions on the use of small drones are likely to stifle academic research.

The professors said in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration that a clarification the agency issued last month on rules model aircraft hobbyists must follow would eliminate the ability of researchers to use small unmanned aircraft on low-altitude flights over private property.

Model aircraft have increased in sophistication and capability to the point that they are virtually indistinguishable from small drones. And the price has been dropping, making them more affordable for researchers and other users.

The letter said the FAA rules would let a child operate a model aircraft but prohibit a researcher from using the same technology.

Brown meeting with Nieto, other leaders

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown travels to Mexico for three days of meetings starting today and will discuss immigration in separate sit-downs with President Enrique Pena Nieto and Central American diplomatic and religious leaders.

The governor’s office announced Sunday that Brown will meet privately with Nieto today about topics including immigration. It comes amid a trade mission aimed at increasing direct investments in California, promoting university exchanges and forming environmental partnerships to combat climate change.

Driver strikes woman at Zombie Walk

SAN DIEGO – A driver struck and seriously injured a woman while fleeing from angry members of the annual Zombie Walk held during Comic-Con, police said.

The 48-year-old driver and his family, who are all deaf, had waited for several minutes at a downtown intersection Saturday as a large crowd taking part in the walk, including some in zombie makeup, went by at around 5:30 p.m., Officer David Stafford said.

However, when small children in the car became frightened of the crowd, the driver rolled slowly forward to get through, Stafford said.

Some crowd members became angry, surrounded the car, pounded on it, climbed on it and smashed the windshield, he said.

The driver then sped up to flee and sideswiped a 64-year-old woman, who fell under the car.

“Her arm was badly scraped. It’s going to need surgery,” he said.

Some witnesses chased the car for several blocks until the driver spotted a police officer and stopped.

The driver was not arrested but the investigation continued, Stafford said.

Price of gasoline down 9 cents

CAMARILLO, Calif. – A national survey finds the average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has plummeted 9 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $3.58 – the largest drop this year.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday the decrease came despite a rise in crude-oil prices.

Lundberg said U.S. refiners, enjoying plentiful supplies, have aggressively cut wholesale prices.

Midgrade averages were $3.78, and premium averages were $3.93.

The U.S. average retail diesel price is down 4 cents per gallon, to $3.90.

Fire near Yosemite burning uncontrolled

PLYMOUTH, Calif. – Firefighters in Northern California on Sunday battled a wildfire that has destroyed 13 homes and forced hundreds of evacuations in the Sierra Nevada foothills, while a fire near Yosemite National Park destroyed one home and grew significantly overnight.

East of Sacramento, the Sand fire in the Sierra foothills has burned about 3,800 acres, roughly 6 square miles, of steep, rugged terrain in Amador and El Dorado counties since Friday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire, which has also destroyed seven outbuildings, was 50 percent contained Sunday afternoon, but it threatens hundreds of homes in the drought-stricken region, according to CalFire.

West of Yosemite National Park, a wildfire that began Saturday afternoon quadrupled in size overnight to 2,100 acres, or more than 3 square miles, and was burning out of control Sunday. The park itself remained open.


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