New Mexico store selling ‘Breaking Bad’ bath salts

first_imgThe Albuquerque Journal reports that the Albuquerque-based Great Face & Body is selling a line of bath salts that look very similar to the pure meth sold on the drama show filmed in Albuquerque. The move follows a similar trend by others in Albuquerque to sell products influenced by the show. One candy store is selling “Breaking Bad” meth sugar candy and a doughnut shop is selling meth doughnuts with blue candy on top. Co-owner Keith West-Harrison says he and his partner came up with the idea last week. The “Bathing Bad” bath salts, which are used in baths and not as illegal drugs, come in 8-ounce plastic bags. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico company is selling “bad” blue, meth-looking bath salts in honor of the AMC TV show “Breaking Bad.”last_img

Colorado voter campaigns going high tech

first_imgDENVER | Colorado voter campaigns are going high tech, using smartphones, tablets and laptop computers to collect petition signatures and verify voter registration.The political group Pueblo Freedom and Rights used the technology to collect petition signatures to recall Sen. Angela Giron, a Pueblo Democrat, in a heavily Democratic-leaning district. Opponents are angry because of her support for gun bills in this year’s legislative session and successfully put a recall measure on the ballot.Political group director Victor Head said he was just taking advantage of a 4-year-old voter law that improves online voter registration.The new technology allowed the campaign to disprove the common adage among petition gatherers that a healthy number of extra signatures, sometimes double the targeted amount, are needed given that the verification process usually finds numerous invalid signatures.Head’s group submitted 13,466 signatures, only 2,181 more than the required 11,285. Only 6 percent of the signatures they turned into the secretary of state’s office to recall Giron were deemed invalid, putting the recall on the ballot.In another recall election this year, about 37 percent of the signatures gathered by organizers vying to oust Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, were ineligible, but that measure also made the ballot.On Monday, Bernie Herpin turned in his nominating petitions to the Secretary of State, taking the next step in the effort to replace Morse in the election to be held Sept. 10. Those signatures still must be verified.Colorado law requires a person to be a registered voter and live within the district for their signatures to be valid in a recall.“We were doing the secretary of state’s job before his office had to do it. We used their technology and had a good idea of what would be validated,” Head said.Five years ago, using online voter registration tools in gathering signatures would have been an aberration. Petitioners, even today, still use hard-copy voter rolls to check out the registration of an individual.But since 2009, about a dozen states, including Colorado, have implemented online voter registration laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.Republican Scott Gessler has been working on the Web site to make it easier to use on a tablet or smartphone.“The goal is to make sure Colorado remains at the forefront of technological voter innovation,” said Gessler, who credits the online system with significant increases in voter turnout and registration over the past few years.___Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.comlast_img read more

Chef Dan Barber urges a reboot of our food system

first_imgNEW YORK |At Blue Hill, his intimate, understated restaurant in Greenwich Village famous for its locally sourced ingredients — not to mention having hosted Barack and Michelle Obama on a much-publicized date night — chef and co-owner Dan Barber is featuring a Rotation Salad this week.Not the most inviting name for a dish, perhaps. But this salad epitomizes Barber’s new approach to food — not only how we prepare it, but how we farm, consume and even conceive of it.And so this particular salad includes soil-building crops: Barley, buckwheat, rye. And legumes, a natural soil fertilizer: Peas, kidney beans, peanuts. A so-called “cover crop,” meant to replenish soil — pea shoots — is used in the vinaigrette. Seed crops include benne and rapeseed.Why is all this significant? Many know Barber, who also has another well-known restaurant in leafy Westchester County, based on his own farm — Stone Barns at Blue Hill — as a key champion of the farm-to-table movement, favoring locally sourced and produced food.But now, he’s shifted his approach. In “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food,” Barber argues that the farm-to-table philosophy, while wildly and increasingly popular, is fundamentally flawed, because it’s based on cherry-picking ingredients.What we need instead, Barber says, is a cuisine based on what the land can provide — nothing more, nothing less. He argues for a nose-to-tail approach, not to one animal, but the entire farm. He recently sat down at Blue Hill with The Associated Press to explain. (The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)AP: For starters, what the heck is “The Third Plate”?Barber: It’s not a specific plate of food. You could say it’s a metaphor for a way of eating.AP: Is there a First or Second Plate?Barber: The First Plate would be that seven-ounce (or eight- or twelve-ounce) steak that becomes the paradigm of everyday dining. It’s protein-centric, with a few veggies to fill in, and maybe refined rice. The Second Plate is actually the same architecture, but you know where your ingredients are coming from a little more — hopefully you got them at the farmer’s market or they’re organic or sourced in a way that connects you to a farm or community. It’s tastier, but it’s not a way to think of our future diets.AP: But with that Second Plate, aren’t we doing everything right?Barber: Yes, but we can’t support the system. That’s becoming abundantly clear from alarming forecasts about the future of the environment, soil, water. You know, with the farm-to-table movement, we feel good about what we’re eating; we’re lulled into thinking it’s the answer. The evidence is actually saying the opposite. It’s saying that in the last 10 years, big agriculture is getting bigger.AP: A harsh assessment.Barber: It sounds hardhearted. I mean to sound hardHEADED. The recent census said that, for the first time in the history not just of this country but of the world, more than 45 percent of the money we spend on food is in the hands of one percent of the farmers.AP: How did your new philosophy emerge?Barber: About 10 years ago, I really wanted good flour in the restaurant. I met an amazing farmer named Klaas and bought his emmer wheat. The bread was jaw-droppingly delicious, and I was really proud: it was sourced locally, organically and was an ancient grain, headed for extinction.I went up to visit his farm a few years later. I was standing in the middle of his field — 1,500 to 1,800 acres — and I didn’t see any wheat! He showed me buckwheat, barley, bean crops, mustard plants and clover. He described these meticulously timed rotations of cover crops to restore lost nutrients to the soil. He’s continually rotating them, to get his soil ready for the wheat.But, what was I doing? I was supporting the wheat but not the other crops. They go into bag feed, for animals.AP: But isn’t supporting the wheat good?Barber: It’s cherry picking. At the farmers market this morning, everyone was buying asparagus, peas, and all these exciting vegetables, which are high-value crops. But it’s the rotation crops we need to be more supportive of.AP: So what else should we be eating?Barber: Buckwheat and millet, barley and rye … I could go on. How many kidney beans do you eat? Not enough. If you think back to truly sustainable ecologies, cuisines evolved from what the land could provide. French peasant cuisine. Italian cuisine. Cantonese cuisine. All the cuisines in India. When Parmesan cheese was invented in Italy, what did they do with the whey? They fed it to pigs, and made prosciutto de Parma. The pigs are fattened on the whey — that’s what makes prosciutto so delicious — but it’s a waste product of the cheese.AP: You write a lot about soil.Barber: Yes, the whole first quarter of my book. It’s hard to get through. But it all starts with soil. I fell in love with soil.AP: I’m the consumer. What’s my job?Barber: First, don’t underestimate cooking — for yourself. Also, I would support chefs who are willing to break out of the paradigm of that seven-ounce steak, and are offering menus heavy on vegetables, grains and beans.AP: Don’t you yourself offer some protein-centric plates?Barber: I’m trying to get away from it. It’s hard. But many chefs are trying to change the paradigm of the plate — because it’s boring. A seven-ounce steak or lamb loin isn’t really cooking, just heating. It’s not culinary transcendence. Not even close.That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good steak. I love it, but in proportion. So, celebrate — but do it in proportion to what the land can provide.last_img read more

Bolshoi’s new director promises the best of classical ballet

first_img In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, prima ballerina Anna Tikhomirova, warms herself during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) MOSCOW | Just a few weeks into his job, the new artistic director at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater is making only one big promise — to keep doing what he says Russia does best — classical ballet.But that doesn’t mean that the illustrious ballet company will be stuck in the past, Makhar Vaziev told The Associated Press in his first interview with a Western media outlet since starting at the Bolshoi last month.“Any young generation of dancers who come to ballet, in one way or another, they bring something new, modern,” said Vaziev. In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, dancers warm up, during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, People walk past the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise _ he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, Vladislav Lantratov, left, and Maria Alexandrova, second left, perform during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, a ballerina warms herself during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, Maxim Surov, top. perform during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, ballet master Valery Lagunov, center, watches as dancers Maria Alexandrova, left, and Vladislav Lantratov, right, performs during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, the ballet director Makhar Vaziev gestures while speaking to the Associated Press in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise _ he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet . (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) His first steps will be closely watched inside and outside the theater. The Bolshoi has a special status in Russia, where it is considered a national treasure and a symbol of Russian culture if not of Russia itself. And as a state theater, it has close links to the Kremlin.Vaziev took over after a period of scandal and bickering under his predecessor Sergei Filin, who lost much of his sight as the result of an acid attack organized by a disgruntled dancer in January 2012. The attack shocked the international ballet world and exposed infighting within the famed theater.Vaziev was brought in by the theater’s new general director, Vladimir Urin, who after months of negotiation persuaded him to leave a flourishing career in the West at Milan’s La Scala and return to Russia.Despite breaking his contract at La Scala, Vaziev says he parted on good terms with a company that he says is still very dear to him. He has been credited with reviving La Scala’s ballet company and his traditionalist repertoire was popular with Italian audiences.Still, Vaziev insists it was time for him to return home to the tradition he grew up in as a dancer. He says he brings few lessons back from his time in the West, other than being firmly convinced there is nowhere in the world that ballet is danced better than in Russia. He says the success of the Russian tradition is based on its strict school and a performance repertoire where the company dances a lot of different ballets in a fast and frequent rotation.“I know very few ballet companies in the world who are capable of dancing ballet at the highest level. Do you know why? Because if you only dance Swan Lake once a year or once every three years, I can tell you straight away — you have no chance of dancing it well. That’s just the way it is,” Vaziev told the AP.Vaziev was trained in St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky, not at the Bolshoi, and his outsider status may be a potential strength. Originally from Alagir, a small town in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, he was accepted in 1973 at age 12 to the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, then Leningrad. After graduation, he stayed on at the Mariinsky, becoming a principal dancer before taking over as ballet director in 1995, a position he held until 2008.He comes to the close-knit world of Moscow ballet without old alliances, which observers say may mean he can do what needs to be done to revive the company’s confidence.The company will be on tour in London this summer, where Vaziev says British audiences will not see obvious signs of a new regime. They will see what they came for — classical ballet from the Bolshoi.Vaziev may represent a safe pair of hands, but he is keen to counter accusations of dusty traditionalism at the Bolshoi. His company will be open to all genres of dance, he says, on pointe or not on pointe, as long as the result is world-class.And the fact that ballet is a young, athletic discipline means dancers bring a modern sensibility to the classics, a process he believes automatically refreshes the traditional repertoire.All that is needed to ensure this is honesty and openness so the dancers can work, Vaziev said in a carefully worded reference that was the closest he came to describing his solution to ridding the theater of the rivalry, corruption and infighting that apparently characterized the past few years.He says his main task is to create an environment at the Bolshoi where the most talented dancers can flourish.“You must be honest, don’t bully or humiliate anyone — and the rest is just hard work,” he says. In this photo taken on Friday, April 8, 2016, Maria Alexandrova performs during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. Just a few weeks into the top creative job at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, Makhar Vaziev is making only one big promise, he will keep doing what he says Russia does best, classical ballet. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)last_img read more

Paint it forward: sending positive vibes on painted rocks

first_img This undated photo provided by Wendy Gallacher shows a selection of painted kindness rocks in Fayette County, Ga., which are part of the local Fayette Rocks Kindness Project. (Wendy Gallacher via AP) When Leslie Hall came across a rock painted with the words “Kind Soul,” she had just finished a chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. The rock, which she found in a grocery store parking lot, offered some comfort. It was a random act of kindness that made her smile.A few days later, when she found a second rock bearing the message, “You are loved,” it had an even bigger impact. This undated photo provided by Wendy Gallacher shows painted kindness rocks in Fayette County, Ga., part of the local Fayette Rocks Kindness Project. (Wendy Gallacher via AP) This undated photo provided by Megan Murphy shows Murphy holding a painted rock at Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, Mass. The rock was part of The Kindness Rocks Project. (Denise Barker/Megan Murphy via AP) This undated photo provided by Megan Murphy shows an inspiration garden of painted rocks taken at Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, Mass., as part of The Kindness Rocks Project. (Denise Barker/Megan Murphy via AP) In this May 12, 2017 photo provided by Leslie Hall, Hall holds a painted rock at her home in Cape Cod, Mass., that she found while fighting breast cancer. When she came across the rock bearing the message, “You are loved,” it had a big impact. “It reminded me that I am loved and I am a good person and I will get through this,” said Hall. “It also helped me see all the kindness around me _ all the good that my caregivers and doctors had shown me. It reminded me of the times when strangers who noticed my bald head or scarf gave me a hug.” (Leslie Hall via AP) “It reminded me that I am loved and I am a good person and I will get through this,” said Hall, who lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “It also helped me see all the kindness around me — all the good that my caregivers and doctors had shown me. It reminded me of the times when strangers who noticed my bald head or scarf gave me a hug.”Hall was inspired. She decided to start painting rocks in hopes of spreading kindness to others. She found it therapeutic. She reached out to Megan Murphy, a fellow Cape Cod resident and founder of The Kindness Rocks Project.For years, Murphy had walked the beach looking for heart-shaped rocks and pieces of beach glass. When she found them, she considered it a sign that her deceased parents were watching over her. A few years ago, she started writing messages on rocks and leaving them on the beach because she noticed other people who seemed to be searching for a message or sign. She wrote positive messages, inspirational quotes and song lyrics on the rocks.“I thought about, what’s the message that I would want to find?” she said. “I used anything that would spark something.”Later, she added hashtags on the rocks directing people to a website and Facebook page explaining that the rocks are intended to spread joy and goodwill. “It’s a simple way to put good out there. It builds community,” Murphy said. “People feel good when they’re doing it. It’s just this magical thing.”She and her followers began organizing rock-painting parties, and leaving rocks in parks, on sidewalks and at parking lots. They have created “rock gardens” containing dozens of rocks that are there for the taking. Not every rock is painted with a saying. Some have drawings of flowers, happy faces or other feel-good images.Murphy’s efforts have inspired hundreds of people in other cities and states to paint rocks and create Facebook pages encouraging kindness. Similar efforts seem to have sprung up in other parts of the country as well.Wendy Gallacher started Fayette Rocks after learning about painted rocks from relatives in Lakeland, Florida. Her community outside of Atlanta was quick to embrace the project. “It’s basically community service, doing something good for other people,” she said. “One rock can change the way your day is going.”Peachtree City public information office Betsy Tyler worked with Gallacher to create a rock garden near a series of city trails. Locals routinely post about how finding the rocks brightened their day, she said.“As negative as things have gotten nationally, it never hurts to have this spark of kindness,” Tyler said.Rock projects help people feel more connected, said Charity Blair, who started one in Jefferson City, Missouri. Her Facebook following quickly jumped from 200 to 13,000.Spearheading the effort also has helped Blair become more confident and involved in the community. Despite anxiety issues, she routinely speaks to crowds and shares her story. “It’s been a pretty amazing journey,” she said.Hall, who has been cancer-free for more than a year, credits the rock-painting project with helping her fight the disease, and she’s still amazed by its impact. Recently, while adding rocks to a garden, she was approached by a woman who asked if she could take one because the wording on it spoke to her. “She said, ‘My husband died two weeks ago and I feel like it’s a message from him,’” Hall said.Moments later, another woman came by and selected a rock. She told Hall the rock’s message, “Stars can’t shine without darkness,” was something she wanted to share with a sick friend.Time and again, the rocks seem to convey the right message to the right person, Blair said.“Sometimes you find the perfect rock at the perfect time with the perfect message,” Blair said. “It just lets you know everything is going to be OK.”Online: www.thekindnessrocksproject.comlast_img read more

Chinese scientist told US Nobelist about gene-edited babies

first_img FILE – In this July 19, 2007 file photo, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Craig Mello, front, acknowledges applause from members of the Massachusetts House and Senate on the floor of the House Chamber at the Statehouse in Boston. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Chinese scientist He Jiankui told Mello about the gene-edited babies in April 2018, months before the claim became public. Mello objected to the experiment and remained an adviser to He’s biotech company for eight more months before resigning. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, speaks during the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong, where he made his first public comments about his claim to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show He told Nobel laureate Craig Mello about the gene-edited babies in April 2018, months before the claim became public. Mello objected to the experiment and remained an adviser to He’s biotech company for eight more months before resigning. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File) 1 of 3 FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2006, file photo, Craig C. Mello, left, receives the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the Nobel Prize award ceremony in the Concert Hall of Stockholm, Sweden. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Chinese scientist He Jiankui told Mello about the gene-edited babies in April 2018, months before the claim became public. Mello objected to the experiment and remained an adviser to He’s biotech company for eight more months before resigning. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP, File) Long before the claim of the world’s first gene-edited babies became public, Chinese researcher He Jiankui shared the news with a U.S. Nobel laureate who objected to the experiment yet remained an adviser to He’s biotech company.The revelation that another prominent scientist knew of the work, which was widely condemned when it was revealed, comes as scientists debate whether and how to alert troubling research, and the need for clearer guidelines.Emails obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request show that Nobel Prize winner Craig Mello of the University of Massachusetts learned about the pregnancy last April from He in a message titled “Success!”“I’m glad for you, but I’d rather not be kept in the loop on this,” Mello replied. “You are risking the health of the child you are editing … I just don’t see why you are doing this. I wish your patient the best of luck for a healthy pregnancy.”Mello stayed on as a scientific adviser for He’s Direct Genomics company for eight more months, until December, just after news of the births became public and drew international scorn. The Chinese scientist’s gene-editing work was not a company experiment. He tried to alter the genes of twin girls to help them resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.Several U.S. researchers knew or strongly suspected He was considering trying embryo gene editing, and his disclosure to Mello in April is notable because it specified the pregnancy had been achieved, and came on the day He himself said he learned of it.Editing embryos intended for a pregnancy is not allowed in the U.S. and many other places because of the risk of harming other genes and concerns that these DNA changes can be passed to future generations. But there’s no certain way to stop a rogue scientist from experimenting, no matter what rules are in place, because the gene-editing technology is cheap and easy to use.It’s not clear how someone would have raised concerns about He’s project, said University of Wisconsin bioethicist Alta Charo, who was one of the leaders of the Hong Kong gene-editing conference where He gave details of the experiment. He’s work has not been published in a scientific journal.University of Minnesota bioethicist Leigh Turner said the lack of action by scientists who learned of He’s intentions indicates a broader culture of silence. “There seems to have been multiple lost opportunities,” Turner said.Last week, China’s state media reported that He could face consequences after investigators determined he acted alone and fabricated an ethics review by others. The Xinhua report said the twins and people involved in a second, ongoing pregnancy with a gene-edited embryo will remain under medical observation with regular visits supervised by government health departments. Efforts to reach He were unsuccessful.Mello declined requests for an interview. In statements provided through his university, Mello said he had no idea He was “personally interested” in human gene editing or had the means to pull it off, and that their discussions were “hypothetical and broad.” Mello repeated his disapproval of He’s project and said he resigned from Direct Genomics’ scientific advisory board because he felt that a company led by He could no longer be effective.Mello said he started on the board in October 2017, and said he didn’t accept compensation for the role. A representative for his university said faculty members are allowed to serve on scientific advisory boards. Mello is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also supports AP’s Health & Science Department. Mello’s work with Direct Genomics was not as an HHMI representative, according to the university and an email from an HHMI lawyer to He.According to a statement Mello’s university provided, He approached Mello during a break at a company meeting in November 2017 to talk about the possibility of using the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to prevent HIV infection from parent to child. The statement said Mello said he had no idea of He’s intention to try this himself.After the meeting, emails show that Mello connected He to a colleague for advice on “pediatric HIV transmission risks for a therapy he is contemplating.”Infectious disease expert Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga replied that she looked forward to talking. She did not respond to requests for an interview. The university released a statement saying that Luzuriaga and He had a brief phone call, and that she was not aware the advice she was providing could be for He’s work on gene-edited embryos.In April, He emailed Mello: “Good News … the pregnancy is confirmed!” He asked Mello to keep the news confidential.Mello, who won a Nobel in 2006 for genetics research, expressed concern about health risks.“I think you are taking a big risk and I do not want anyone to think that I approve of what you are doing,” he wrote. “I’m sorry I cannot be more supportive of this effort, I know you mean well.”The emails show Mello attended another Direct Genomics meeting in China in November, about a week before the Hong Kong conference where He made his claim public.Mello’s statement said he resigned from the company’s scientific advisory board on Dec. 6.Follow Candice Choi at @candicechoi and Marilynn Marchione at @MMarchioneAPThe Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.last_img read more

Pioneering medical drone program takes off in North Carolina

first_imgRALEIGH, N.C. | A pioneering use of drones to fly blood samples across a North Carolina hospital campus launched Tuesday in the latest move to expand their roles in business and health care.The short trips between WakeMed buildings in Raleigh mark the first time the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed regular commercial flights of drones carrying products, according to UPS and drone company Matternet, which partnered with the hospital on the program.In this March 2019 photo provided by UPS, a drone operator handles a drone used for carrying medical specimens at a landing area at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C. UPS, Matternet and WakeMed announced a program on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, to use drones for commercial flights of blood samples and other medical specimens at the North Carolina hospital campus. (UPS via AP)“This is a turning point, and it’s an historic moment because this is the first FAA-sanctioned use of a (drone) for routine revenue-generating flights,” Bala Ganesh, vice president of UPS’ advanced technology group, said in an interview before the announcement.The FAA confirmed in a statement Monday that it hadn’t previously allowed drones to make routine commercial package deliveries, known as revenue flights. Others have flown drone deliveries as part of smaller-scale tests or demonstrations.The WakeMed program will start by flying patients’ medical samples one-third of a mile from a medical park to the main hospital building for lab testing at least six times a day five days a week, Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos said in an interview. Vials of blood or other specimens will be loaded into a secure box and carried to a drone launching pad, where they will be fastened to the aircraft and flown to another building. He said the flights will technically be within sight of operators on either end of the route, and they are authorized to fly above people.The aim is to cut down on the time it takes to transport the time-sensitive samples typically driven on the ground.“This is going to bring tremendous benefit to health care,” he said in an interview. “Health care is one of these domains of commercial activity where being fast really matters.”The announcement doesn’t mean routine physical checkups this year or next will feature unmanned aircraft whizzing into your internist’s office to speed along your cholesterol results, experts say.But the North Carolina program could expand to flying miles-long routes between Raleigh-area WakeMed buildings in the coming months, Raptopoulos said. He also said medical specimen flights could start at one or two more hospitals in other cities later in 2019.North Carolina is one of nine sites participating in the FAA’s pilot program to accelerate integrating drones for new uses ranging from utility inspections to insurance claims. The test sites get leeway trying new innovations while working closely with the federal officials in charge of regulating the drones.At other program test sites, drone operators recently delivered ice pops to doorsteps in a Virginia neighborhood, and officials in Reno, Nevada, are in early testing of a program to deliver defibrillators to people having health emergencies.The Nevada defibrillator project has so far been testing at a rural site and hasn’t begun home deliveries, said Rebecca Venis, the city’s communications director. The approval process for drone flights of medical devices or supplies is complex because they may contain hazardous materials.“It’s different than dropping a package,” she said.Mark Blanks, the director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, also said the approval to fly commercial drones can be a significant achievement.“It’s not a safety piece; it’s an economic licensing portion,” he said.Colin Snow of the drone research firm Skylogic said it remains to be seen how cost-effective medical drone deliveries will be. He said regulatory hurdles and the significant costs of establishing the programs could hinder their wide rollout across the country.“It just goes down to the old adage: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” he said. “They’re cool, headline-making tests. But when you get down to … the economics of logistics, that’s a different matter.”last_img read more

Huawei unveils phone system that could replace Android

first_imgIn this image from video released by Huawei, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, speaks during a news conference in Dongguan, China, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Huawei unveiled a smartphone operating system that it said can replace Google’s Android, adding to the Chinese tech giant’s efforts to insulate itself against U.S. sanctions. The announcement of HarmonyOS highlights the growing ability of Huawei, the No. 2 global smartphone brand and biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers, to create technology and reduce its reliance on American vendors. (Huawei via AP)BEIJING | Huawei on Friday unveiled a smartphone operating system that it said can replace Google’s Android, adding to the Chinese tech giant’s efforts to insulate itself against U.S. sanctions.The announcement of HarmonyOS highlights the growing ability of Huawei, the No. 2 global smartphone brand and biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers, to create technology and reduce its reliance on American vendors.U.S. curbs imposed in May threatened Huawei’s smartphone sales by limiting access to Android and blocking Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., from supporting music and other services based on the system.Huawei Technologies Ltd. wants to keep using Android, Richard Yu, CEO of its consumer device unit, said at a conference for software developers in the southern city of Dongguan.“However, if we cannot use it in the future we can immediately switch to HarmonyOS,” Yu said. He said that could be done in as little as two days if needed.Huawei, China’s first global tech brand, is at the center of a battle between Washington and Beijing over the ruling Communist Party’s ambitions to develop companies that can compete in robotics and other fields.The Trump administration says Beijing’s efforts are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology. Washington and other trading partners say the Chinese campaign violates its free-trade obligations.Washington has labeled Huawei a security threat, an accusation the company denies. Some officials also see the rise of Huawei and other Chinese tech competitors as a potential threat to U.S. industrial leadership.Huawei spends about $12 billion a year on U.S. semiconductor chips and other components. The company said the U.S. export curbs might cut its projected sales by $30 billion over two years.Since then, authorities have said vendors will be allowed to supply technology that is available from other sources. That came after American technology suppliers warned they would be hurt by the loss of one of their biggest customers.Huawei also has developed its own chipsets for low-end smartphones and servers, though it still needs U.S. vendors for its most advanced products.Yu said Huawei’s first device using HarmonyOS would be released Saturday under its Honor brand.Huawei, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, reported earlier its smartphone shipments rose 24% in the first half of 2019 over a year ago to 118 million.“We could have done better, but due to the challenges we face in the international market, our shipments dropped a bit,” Yu said.Huawei reported that sales in the six months through June rose 23.2% over a year earlier to $58.3 billion. That was up from 2018 growth of 19.5%, but Chairman Liang Hua warned Huawei will “face difficulties” in the second half.Liang said then that Huawei was reviewing its product lineup to make sure it could fill orders without U.S. components if necessary.On Friday, Yu said HarmonyOS is designed to operate on PCs and tablet computers as well as smartphones, allowing users to integrate music and other functions across multiple devices.HarmonyOS will be open source to allow outside developers to contribute to its development, Yu said.“We want to build a global operating system, so it will not be used by Huawei alone,” he said.last_img read more

Review: A night gone very wrong in ‘The Lovebirds’

first_imgThis image released by Netflix shows Issa Rae as Leilani, right, and Kumail Nanjiana as Jibran in a scene from “The Lovebirds.” (Skip Bolen/Netflix via AP)” The Lovebirds ” stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are two of the most exiting voices working in film and television today, as actors, writers and creators. Rae’s “Insecure” and Nanjiani’s “The Big Sick” are both vibrant, stimulating and fresh and rooted deeply in the diversity of their own experiences. So it’s at least notable that this film, a dark, night-goes-wrong comedy that seems very much in each of their wheelhouses, was not created or written by either. And at times, you kind of wish it had been.As it is, “The Lovebirds” feels a little too familiar and a little too safe, like all the edges have been smoothed out. Perhaps that’s because it was originally a studio film that was supposed to open in theaters nationwide. But the shutdown changed the course of things and now all you need is a Netflix account to see it opening day. And it’s a fine movie to spend 86 minutes watching from the comfort of your own home. There are some amusing twists, turns and wardrobe changes as the night gets weirder and more dangerous for this ordinary couple who thought they were just headed to a dinner party.Directed by Michael Showalter (who also was behind the camera for “The Big Sick”), “The Lovebirds” starts out like a rom-com — a one night stand turns into an all-day hang for Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) as they futilely try to resist the connection. But cut to four years later and all the lovey-dovey excitement of that first day has turned into bickering and resentment. The way this particular fight spirals out of control, from light jabbing to full-on insults, is almost uncomfortably relatable and precise for a comedy this broad. It’s no wonder they break up on the drive to their friend’s party.But that turns out to be the least of their problems when a collision with a biker (who dies, but not because of them) sets off a series of increasingly odd events. They flee the scene after a pair of obnoxious hipsters starts assuming things about why they’re standing over the body of a dead man and continue making poor decisions (including Leilani keeping her sky-high stilettos on for almost half the movie). In an attempt to clear their names, they accidentally get wrapped up in a bizarre New Orleans underworld of murderous henchmen, a sadistic politician’s wife and some unlucky frat guys. It’s a little bit “After Hours” meets “Game Night” with a dash of “Eyes Wide Shut” — but that might be overselling it.Their hijinks are all a bit too random to fully get on board with the journey, and if you stop for a moment to actually think about what is happening and why, the whole thing might just unravel before you. Rae and Nanjiani make the ride fun enough with their easy chemistry and silly, wide-eyed panic at everything they’re witnessing. Still, “The Lovebirds” lacks the singularity of its stars’ other noteworthy roles.You could do a lot worse for a Friday night watch, though and will surely get a few chuckles out of it. And don’t worry, Leilani does find a pair of sneakers eventually.“The Lovebirds,” a Netflix release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for sexual content, language throughout and some violence.” Running time: 86 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.MPAA Definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires an accompany parent or adult guardian.Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrlast_img read more

Caddy appreciation

first_imgPattaya Country Club – the friendly club! On Christmas Eve, 15 members and guests of Pattaya Country Club had a round of golf at the course.  Nothing unusual in that you might say.  Well maybe it was a little different as once the players got on the green it was the job of the caddies to putt-out!  The number of putts was recorded for each caddy on every hole – there were a number of single putts and some 4 putts – that did not matter, it was a fun day. The caddies were allowed – and all 15 came – into the clubhouse on this special occasion to share some food and drink with their golfing partners and they looked just amazing.  At the presentation, Pottsy aka Campbell Potts, the members organizer, discarded all the stableford scores and the prizes were awarded to all the caddies according to the number of putts, and every caddy got a prize.Caddies and players join together for food & drink on the terrace of the Pattaya Country Club clubhouse.Pottsy expressed appreciation to the PCC Manager Jinny Poonchi for allowing once again this unusual competition and for the caddies to join with the players in the clubhouse.last_img read more