Ultime da Washington DC

(dal Washington Post)

FAA rules might allow thousands of business drones

February 15 at 11:23 AM
Thousands of businesses could receive clearance to fly drones two years from now under proposed rules that the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled Sunday, a landmark step that will make automated flight more commonplace in the nation’s skies.
Meanwhile, the White House on Sunday issued presidential directive that will require federal agencies for the first time to publicly disclose where they fly drones in the United States and what they do with the torrents of data collected from aerial surveillance.
Together, the FAA regulations and the White House order provide some basic rules of the sky that will govern who can fly drones in the United States and under what conditions, while attempting to prevent aviation disasters and unrestrained government surveillance.
The FAA’s draft rules would make it relatively simple for real estate agents, aerial photographers, police departments, farmers and anyone else to fly small drones for work purposes. Operators would need to pass a written proficiency test, register the drone and pay about $200 in fees — but would not have to obtain a regular pilot’s license or demonstrate their flying skills.
The long-awaited regulations — the FAA had been drawing them up for several years — are expected to lead to a revolution in commercial aviation. But they must first undergo a lengthy period of public review and comment that is projected to take at least until early 2017. Once the rules are finalized, the FAA estimates that more than 7,000 businesses will obtain drone permits within three years.

‘Honey, the Washington Monument’s shrunk!’ But not by much.

February 16 at 9:31 AM
The Washington Monument has shrunk.
After 130 years of wind, rain and snow, countless lightning strikes and an earthquake, the rugged obelisk on the Mall has finally given in to the elements.
But not by much.
The latest whiz-bang, high-tech measurements have found that despite being shaken, rattled and seared, the monument erected in honor of the country’s first president has shrunk by three-eighths of an inch.
About the width of a pencil.

In D.C., fears of chaos grow as legal pot nears

February 15 at 6:06 PM
The District of Columbia could soon earn a new nickname: the Wild West of marijuana.
In 10 days, a voter-approved initiative to legalize marijuana will take effect, D.C. officials say. Residents and visitors old enough to drink a beer will be able to possess enough pot to roll 100 joints. They will be able to carry it, share it, smoke it and grow it.
But it’s entirely unclear how anyone will obtain it. Unlike the four states where voters have approved recreational pot use, the District government has been barred from establishing rules governing how marijuana will be sold. It was prohibited from doing so by Congress, which has jurisdiction over the city.
In December, after voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to legalize pot use, opponents in Congress tried to upend the result by blocking any new rules establishing legal ways to sell it, protections for those caught purchasing it or taxes to cover its social costs.
D.C. officials say that Congress’s action did not halt the initiative, but it did set the city up for potential chaos. Barring ­last-minute federal intervention, the District’s attorney general said that pot will become legal as early as Feb. 26 without any regulations in place to govern a new marketplace that is likely to explode into view.