National briefs: Airfares increase 4th year in row

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NEW YORK -- The price to board an airliner in the United States has risen for the fourth straight year, making it increasingly expensive to fly almost anywhere.

The average domestic round-trip ticket, including tax, reached $363.42 last year, up more than $7 from the prior year, according to an Associated Press analysis of travel data collected from millions of flights throughout the country.

The 2 percent increase outpaced inflation, which stood at 1.5 percent.

Airfares have risen nearly 12 percent since their low in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, when adjusted for inflation, the analysis showed.

Drone authority flap

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sharply criticized congressional appropriators Thursday for secretly slipping language into the omnibus spending bill that preserves the CIA's role in lethal counterterrorism operations.

Mr. McCain was responding to a report in Thursday's Washington Post that revealed that Congress is on the verge of blocking President Barack Obama's plan to shift control of the U.S. drone campaign from the CIA to the Defense Department.

Google Glass traffic case

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego traffic court threw out a citation Thursday against a woman believed to be the first motorist in the country ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass computer-in-eyeglass device.

Commissioner John Blair ruled that Cecilia Abadie was not guilty because she had been cited under a code that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was in operation, which the officer did not provide.

The device in a type of glass-wear frame features a thumbnail-size transparent display above the right eye.

Wildfire spurs evacuation

GLENDORA, Calif. -- Campfire embers fanned by gusty winds blew up Thursday into a fast-moving wildfire that forced nearly 2,000 people from their homes in the dangerously dry foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles before its growth was stopped at 1,700 acres.

Officials said five homes were destroyed and 17 structures, including some homes, were damaged.

Three men in their 20s were arrested on suspicion of recklessly starting the blaze by tossing paper into a campfire in the Angeles National Forest, just north of Glendora.

Slain socialite case

WASHINGTON -- An eccentric German man who pretended to be an Iraqi army general and often boasted of his political and diplomatic connections was convicted Thursday of killing his 91-year-old socialite and journalist wife.

A jury found Albrecht Muth, 49, guilty of first-degree murder in the August 2011 beating and strangulation death of German writer Viola Drath, who was found dead in their row home in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

Bankruptcy plan set back

DETROIT -- A federal judge on Thursday rejected a deal that Detroit had negotiated to help it move forward in bankruptcy, but he did offer some hope, saying the city could borrow $120 million it says it urgently needs to provide services to its residents.

Judge Steven Rhodes of U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruled that Detroit could not proceed with a plan to pay $165 million to two big banks to extricate itself from some long-term financial contracts that have been costing the bankrupt city tens of millions of dollars a year.


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