New York, June 24 (AP/UNB) — When Viola Davis started her production company nearly a decade ago, she was determined to bring about change in Hollywood with a strategic mandate: Normalize people of color on screen.
"We're not social statements. We're not mythical creatures all the time ... you can literally put pen to paper and write a great story that includes people of color, and it could actually sell," the Oscar winner said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Now, in the era of Time's Up and #MeToo, the call for diversity on all levels has been amplified. Some actors and directors have publicly called for 50-50 inclusion riders, contractual stipulations for the diversity of a film's cast and crew. But Davis says she doesn't need a piece of paper to do the right thing, and her projects don't try to replicate diversity simply based on statistics.
"Maybe that's narcissistic of me, but I don't want to tell my daughter that because she's 12 percent of the population, she only deserves 12 percent of the pie," Davis said.
She calls her JuVee Productions a "walking metaphor" of inclusion, noting that she has people of color and members of the LGBTQ community on staff at every level.
"Women are at the forefront of just about every project," she adds.
She started JuVee Productions with her husband, Julius Tennon, in 2011 so she could have more of a voice in her own career, as well as provide more diversity on set. Before that, Davis says, she often felt left out of the conversation.
Davis spoke to the AP while promoting a documentary on diabetes, "A Touch of Sugar." The actress, who has an early form of the disease and has lost family members to it, wants to use her celebrity to help raise awareness.
"That's what I can do. I'm not a politician. I'm not a senator. I'm not in the House of Representatives. I'm not in Congress. What I am is an artist. That's how I provoke change," Davis said.
Earlier this month, she signed on to Netflix's adaptation of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," to be produced by Denzel Washington and co-starring Chadwick Boseman.
And JuVee has a slate of films on the horizon, including "Emanuel," a documentary released this month that explores life in a Charleston, South Carolina, community after a self-avowed white supremacist killed nine African Americans at a church there in 2015. The story focuses on the victims' family members, friends and community, and their efforts to heal through faith and forgiveness after the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Church. Dylann Roof was convicted of federal hate-crime and obstruction-of-religion charges and sentenced to death.
Davis also has a feature film in development, "The Personal History of Rachel Dupree," in which she stars. It is based on the Ann Weisgarber novel about a pregnant woman struggling to survive with her homesteading family in the early 1900s.
Toronto, June 24 (AP/UNB) — Lawyers for a top Huawei executive are calling on Canada's justice minister to intervene and stop a U.S. extradition request.
Lawyers for Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou asked Justice Minister David Lametti for help Monday and issued a release that says her extradition is "palpably" political. They claim that Meng isn't charged with a crime in Canada.
Canada arrested Meng at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1 at Vancouver's airport. She is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the Chinese company's business dealings in Iran.
A spokeswoman for Lametti noted the case is before the courts and declined to comment.
China has formally arrested two Canadian citizens in what is widely believed to be a move to pressure Canada into releasing Meng.
Honolulu, Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — Yesenia D'Alessandro loaded a GPS tracking app on her cellphone and trudged into a remote Hawaii forest, joining more than 100 other volunteers looking for a missing hiker.
She climbed through muddy ravines, crossed streams and faced steep drop-offs in the thick tangle of trees and ferns where her college friend Amanda Eller vanished last month.
"You have to search everywhere," said D'Alessandro, who flew in from Maryland. "You have to go down to that stream bed, even though you don't want to. She could be down there."
D'Alessandro and others gathered GPS data of the ground they covered, and organizers put it on a specialized digital map to help better understand where to look next.
The technology led volunteers to Eller, who was found next to a waterfall and survived for 17 days in the Maui forest by eating plants and drinking stream water. Her dramatic rescue shows how emerging technology helps search teams more efficiently scour the wilderness for missing people.
"It kind of led us to search outside of that high-priority area to where we actually found Amanda," her father, John Eller, said.
More U.S. teams are turning to the technology that combines cellphone GPS with digital maps detailing cliffs, caves, waterways and other hard-to-search terrain. It helps manage the work of large numbers of volunteers.
The system showed when Hawaii searchers had covered a 2-mile (3-kilometer) radius around Eller's car. After that, searchers sent a helicopter farther into the forest, where they spotted the 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor.
"We never would have pushed out if we hadn't searched the reasonable area first. There's no reason to start reaching further and further out of the box if we hadn't completely searched the box," said Chris Berquist, a volunteer search leader.
David Kovar, advocacy director for the nonprofit National Association for Search and Rescue, said most search and rescue teams use digital maps. That could mean anything from basic Google Maps to specialized software called SARTopo, which California search and rescue experts used to advise Maui volunteers from afar.
Search organizers in Hawaii asked volunteers to download a $3.99 app called GPS Tracks, which draws lines on a map showing where a user has walked.
GPS data revealed that searchers were covering the same areas repeatedly as heavy foliage or natural barriers like cliffs blocked their path, Berquist said. Organizers started dropping digital pins on volunteers' maps to give them targets, pushing volunteers to cover more ground and making the search more accurate.
When searchers ran into cliffs or pools of water, Berquist had them place digital pins on their maps. Organizers then sent drone pilots or rappelling experts to the cliffs and divers to the water.
Organizers fed the GPS data to the California team, which used SARTopo to overlay it on topographical maps, allowing everyone to see what areas had already been searched and what still needed to be checked.
Matt Jacobs, a California software engineer and search volunteer, developed SARTopo more than eight years ago after noticing teams struggling to match details on wilderness maps drawn by different agencies.
What started as a hobby project has grown in popularity in the past couple of years to become Jacobs' full-time job. Search and rescue teams from Oregon to North Carolina have started using it.
Searchers used it in March as 100 volunteers fanned out in a Northern California forest, eventually finding 8-year-old Leia Carrico and her 5-year-old sister, Caroline, who got lost near their home.
Last month, teams used it to help locate a 67-year-old hiker who had veered off a trail in a state park north of San Francisco. A California Highway Patrol airplane using an infrared camera spotted the man.
SARTopo also is becoming available as a cellphone app, which will make it even easier to directly connect the GPS data with digital maps so searchers can view them wherever they are.
Government officials are looking at adopting new technology, including in Hawaii. Most large searches are done by volunteers because many places don't do enough of them to keep official teams on staff.
Maui firefighters used hand-drawn maps as they looked for Eller over the first three days of her going missing. That's because the trail system in the Makawao Forest Reserve where she got lost doesn't appear on Google Maps. County officials also overlaid aerial searches onto a satellite map.
Yatsushiro said the Maui Fire Department would adopt similar technology used by volunteers — who kept the search going after the first three days — if firefighters found it helpful after studying available options.
Mike St. John, volunteer leader of the search and rescue unit at the Marin County Sheriff's Office in California, said GPS tracking of where people have looked is "really critical."
"It's about using GPS maps and utilizing GPS to make sure you're hitting your assignment," said St. John, who was among those in California advising the Maui team.
St. John said his search and rescue experts are not set up to offer the same type of help to others that they gave to Maui but are trying to figure out how to do that in the future.
Berquist, the Hawaii search leader, visited California this week to talk with St. John about how Marin County's volunteer program works. He aims to set up something similar back in Maui.
After technology helped find Eller, her father is donating software and other equipment to Berquist's team, developing a search and rescue app and giving $10,000 to support Hawaii searches and rescues.
"We saw a huge need. And we feel so lucky with everything everybody did for us, so we're looking to give back," John Eller said.
Dhaka, Jun 24 (UNB) -Uber Elevate, the aerial arm of rideshare service Uber, last week announced that it will start a fast food delivery by drone test service later this summer in San Diego, reports the TECHNEWSWORLD.
Delivery destinations won't be houses or apartment buildings, however, but instead will be "designated safe landing zones," according to reports.
Those landing zones could include the roof of a parked Uber vehicle in one scenario. An Uber courier would receive the package and hand-deliver it to the consumer.
McDonald's is one of Uber's partners, and it has been developing special packaging to keep food hot and intact during the aerial portion of a delivery.
Look, Up in the Sky…
When Uber Elevate's drone delivery actually would take flight has been up in the air for some time. The Federal Aviation Administration only granted its approval last week. The FAA has designated San Diego as one of the 10 U.S. locations for the testing of commercial drone service.
The southern California city has become a hotbed of drone research, partially due to the military presence there, but also thanks to weather that is reliably sunny and calm, ideal drone flying conditions.
Yet even when Uber Elevate is able to get its drone program off the ground later this summer, it likely won't maintain its air supremacy for long.
Walmart reportedly has filed more drone patent applications than Amazon for the second year in a row. However, Wing Aviation, which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet, in April announced that it also has received certification from the FAA to begin delivering small packages in two rural Virginia communities near Blacksburg.
It's a Drone
Given that drones will be subject to many restrictions -- no flying over densely populated areas, for example -- it's not clear what advantages they offer over other delivery methods. However, delivery could be just one part of the role drones play in the near future.
"Drones are for real in key areas of the supply chain -- checking inventory levels in huge distribution centers, flying manufacturing lines to determine when new parts are needed on the line, inspecting far flung facilities and pipelines," said Ted Stank, faculty director and professor of logistics at the University of Tennessee Global Supply Chain Institute.
"It is coming -- otherwise Amazon, Walmart, Uber, Google, etc., would not be pushing it so hard," he told TechNewsWorld.
"Still, I just don't see it happening soon. There are too many legislative and regulatory issues to work through before it can scale to any kind of volume," Stank added. "For the short term, I think more of a novelty in terms of last mile delivery of products."
Even as drones are tested in San Diego and Blacksburg, another potential use in the near term is the delivery of medical items in areas that are difficult to reach by car or even on foot.
"There may be some application for extremely high-value products or highly perishable ones, or having to get to very difficult-to-reach locations," said Stank.
U.S. startup Zipline already is utilizing drones to make blood deliveries to remote hospitals and aid stations in Rwanda, for example.
"Using drone technology for humanitarian and commercial purposes as opposed to just recreational ones is inevitable; there is just too much potential to ignore," said James R. Bailey, professor of leadership at the George Washington University School of Business.
"To human welfare, imagine delivering a vasodilator to someone suffering an angina episode in half the time it would take an ambulance to arrive," he told TechNewsWorld.
The same could hold true for the delivery of food and supplies to an isolated village after a tsunami or other disaster, explained Bailey. "Such applications will enjoy widespread support."
Clearing the Air
However, there are a number of issues and challenges that need to be overcome before drones will be making routine deliveries of Big Macs and Amazon boxes.
"First, how does the drone access an order effectively and efficiently? Can it do it automated, or does someone have to load it, at cost?" pondered Stank.
Then there is the issue of liability.
"What if the drone crashes," Stank continued, "or what if someone shoots it down to steal the order, which people have jokingly called 'skeet shooting for prizes'?"
For those reasons and others, "the flight path to commercial application will be more turbulent," suggested Bailey.
"Anything can be hacked these days, including the signals flowing to drones, and the drones could be downed for the hell of it -- hijacked for theft or cargo tainted," he added.
"Mischievous boys could launch their own squad for aerial assaults, or just throw rocks," Bailey noted. "Such roguery could cause more chaos than malware. Public patience for business pursuits will be short and the legal ramifications tall."
Coming In for a Landing
There are other issues as well, such as where drones could land. As noted, Uber Elevate is opting to have designated landing zones, such as on the cars of vehicles marked with QR codes. However, that might not be practical for all deliveries.
"Zipline literally parachutes the blood products onto hospital roofs in Rwanda, but that won't work for most consumer goods," said Stank.
Then there is the issue of returns, or even stolen packages on the ground.
"Certainly, information technology [including] video camera feeds can address many of these issues, but can it be done at low cost ? And can it be scaled for anything other than to make a cool impression and YouTube video?" questioned Stank.
"There are a lot of supply chain-related applications for drones that do not require last mile delivery of products. I could foresee possible uses in ensuring compliance of Uber drivers in the passenger business, location and ID of shipments for Uber Freight, and any kind of role that requires visibility into parts of the supply chain that have typically been difficult to gain access to," he added.
More Than Crowded Airspace
Another consideration is where exactly drone delivery could take flight. Some cutting-edge technologies -- notably autonomous vehicles -- seem poised for a rollout in urban markets, but as there are restrictions for flying over densely populated areas, cities such as New York and San Francisco don't seem like ideal candidates for drones.
Thus drone delivery and self-driving cars aren't likely to be complementary, and yet both technologies are being developed by the same companies. Then there is the issue of developing competition to provide quick and easy food delivery.
"Uber's business model seems off. They already have countless drivers eager to swing by a McDonald's to pick you up some burgers," said Bailey.
"Grubhub and others do too, and delivery time in the food industry is in preparation as much as anything else -- think about your last Chinese or pizza delivery," he added.
"I get Amazon's vision for drones, as Amazon has a comparatively small number of distribution centers," Bailey pointed out.
"Thus, their drones can return to the same origination for another pickup, but there are thousands of restaurants in any urban area, and the margins on food are already razor thin, while the cost of a drone fleet will raise prices above consumers' sensitive purchase point," he explained.
"Is it scalable and affordable? And can regulatory and legal issues be resolved?" wondered Stank.
For many of those reasons it is more likely that drones could fill a void in rural rather than urban markets.
"To make a delivery to a rural location is very expensive -- there is no density of demand and distances can be long, both increasing the cost of sending a driver in a vehicle to a rural location to deliver one order very costly. Thus sending a drone makes a lot of sense," said Stank.
"In addition, since the drone will not be transiting through populated areas for the most part, the legal and regulatory issues, as well as the challenges of safe operation, should be far less than in an urban area," he noted.
All of these points could be a moot, as the final decision on where drones can make delivery rests with the FAA.
"Although some testing sites have been approved, the Federal Aviation Authority won't be granting business licenses anytime in the near future," said Bailey. "The U.S. has among the safest national air spaces on the planet. They're not going to compromise that for one hour delivery of a Big Mac."
Dhaka, June 23 (UNB) - Bacteria living on the skin of frogs could protect them against a deadly virus, according to research, reports BBC.
The work by scientists at the University of Exeter and Zoological Society of London could help save species such as the European common frog from being wiped out by a disease.
Amphibians have been hit particularly hard by changes in the natural world.
Up to 40% of species are close to dying out due to factors such as pathogens, habitat loss and climate change.
The British scientists looked at how common frogs are coping with ranavirus, which can kill a large number of frogs in a short time in UK ponds.
They found a link between outbreaks of the disease and the make-up of bacteria on the frogs' skin in different populations across southern England.
This gives the first demonstration that in the wild there is a correlation between populations that get disease and populations that remain disease-free, and the mix of bacteria on the skin, said Dr Lewis Campbell from the University of Exeter.
"It's a silver bullet against the virus, potentially," he said.
The researchers hope the work could help save the frog species most often seen in UK ponds.
There is growing evidence that skin bacteria may protect amphibians from chytrid fungus, another deadly frog disease which is common around the world.
Cocktails of so-called friendly bacteria are being developed that might help protect frog species.
"Our work suggests that given enough effort and research, similar probiotic therapies may be effective against ranavirus," said Dr Xavier Harrison also from the University of Exeter.
The research is published in the journal, Frontiers in Microbiology.