Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols revealed Monday during a Reddit AMA that she will be involved in an upcoming NASA mission. She will be “among the first non-essential personnel to experience NASA’s newest telescope: SOFIA,” MSN reports.
“In September, I’m traveling on a NASA SOFIA flight, a second generation Airborn Observatory, which I am honored to have been invited too,” Nichols told fans before her “Ask Me Anything” began. The flight isn’t a mission into space: SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) is built into a Boeing 747, which will take off from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California according to ABCNews.
SOFIA is a second-generation airborne observatory and a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The first generation model originally flew in 1977, and Nichols was a passenger on that plane too. “SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space. It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborn observatory, back in 1977. It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from earth,” she wrote, adding, ”I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”
SOFIA was created to observe infrared energy in the universe, which enables it to study everything from star births to black holes, including nebulae, solar systems, comets, and asteroids, reports MSN.com.
“The Best Place To Be,” a new Travel Channel mini-series from Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere at Flavor Unit, is an invitation to discover the world through the eyes and access of Hollywood’s most adventurous.
Each of the four one-hour episodes of “The Best Place To Be” follow a noted personality as they share the best places to eat, drink, shop and sightsee at their favorite international destinations.
“This is a fun show that gives a true glimpse into how to really escape and explore,” says Shakim Compere of Flavor Unit. “Actors and performers are fortunate enough to travel around the globe for work and fun. But there’s always places that stay with them — these are the cities they keep going back to.”
The mini-series will premiere two episodes in April and two in May as follows:
“Rio, Fit for a Queen” – Premieres Sunday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT Queen Latifah and her friends explore Rio de Janeiro, taking mototaxis to the favelas, trying local dishes and dancing the samba. From footvolley on the beach to hunting for waterfalls in the rainforest, they discover why Rio is the best place to be.
“Anthony Anderson’s Barcelona” – Premieres Sunday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT Actor Anthony Anderson and his friend Jeff Sanchez head to Barcelona, Spain, where they catch a soccer game, check out architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece, join a St. Jordi’s Day celebration and try Spain’s traditional dishes.
Sheila Fedrick by all accounts should be considered a hero.
Fedrick, 49, a flight attendant working for Alaska Airlines, said she noticed a disheveled girl who looked to be 14-15 years old, with a well-dressed man, and something told her the scenario was wrong. So she jumped to action. Fedrick said she tried to talk to them, but the man became angry and rude.
“I left a note in one of the bathrooms,” Fedrick said. “She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help.’” Fedrick says she called the pilot and told him about the passengers. When the plane landed, police were waiting in the terminal. Fedrick was correct, the girl was a victim of sex trafficking, and now more flight attendants are being trained on how to spot them.
Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors, says since 2009 Airline Ambassadors has been working to make sure that when a trafficker flies with a victim, the flight crew is trained to spot and report them.Rivard said the protocol includes the flight attendant informing the pilot, who then informs the authorities on the ground, who are at the gate when the plane lands.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand announced that it will be releasing the Jill Scott Collection, a line of new greeting cards with design, sounds and an editorial ‘voice’ from none other than Jill Scott herself.
“The Mahogany brand is genuine, progressive and optimistic – values that are important to me and reflected in my music and poetry, and now, through my card collection,” said Jill Scott. “I was inspired by highlights within my own life – love, marriage, motherhood – in the writing behind these cards, and I am excited to be involved in a project that will give others another way to express their love to the people that matter most to them.”
The collection features 20 cards for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as cards celebrating graduation, friendship, love and support. “Ms. Scott is more than a singer, songwriter and actress – among other things, she is a busy mom and wife, like many Hallmark shoppers who cherish and celebrate the important relationships in their lives, and this card collection is a reflection of that,” said Philip Polk, Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards.
Ride-sharing technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry within the past decade with the biggest names being Uber and Lyft. Now a new platform, led by an innovative chief executive, looks to stake a claim in the global marketplace. Moovn is a ride-hailing app that is currently operating in 7 U.S. cities and has plans to rapidly expand in both western and emerging markets.
Founded by Tanzanian-born Godwin Gabriel, the mobile application also operates in 3 cities in Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. In an interview with UrbanGeekz, Gabriel talks about teaching himself to code and developing the software to launch the platform. Still, he admits his beta launch was “amateurish at best” and states, “It wasn’t until we received investor backing that I was able to hire and collaborate with a team of seasoned developers to transform the platform into what we have today.”
When asked what his biggest challenges are, he says, “The market, for the most part, is currently being dominated by Uber and Lyft with these companies enjoying the benefits of having first mover advantage with the transportation technology space. However, we’re confident that the global market remains sizable enough for all of us to fit in and play.”
In fact, operating in Africa has been a smart business strategy, particularly with the rise smartphone usage across the continent. It is also a chance to do business in markets that hadn’t been explored by big name brands. “I believe Moovn is changing lives – particularly in Africa and developing markets,” he says. “For instance, drivers earn more on our platform, are reducing idle time and are able to provide and build their communities.”
Gabriel has an impressive track record climbing the ranks of corporate America. He also has an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Stepping out in faith as a tech entrepreneur, he quickly realized that he had to differentiate his brand to create a competitive transportation technology platform.
Moovn sets itself apart from most ride-sharing applications because it allows the rider to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance, instead of only being able to request one for immediate service. It also allows different vehicle options depending upon local modes of transportation, such as motorcycles and tricycles in developing economies. Other unique features include the movement of products and services from the marketplace to the consumer and the ability to enable businesses to keep track of their transport logistics.
Andrew Colom, 33, and David Alade, 29, ditched jobs in real estate and banking to start Century Partners, a development firm aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods in the Motor City. The duo also uses the biz to help Detroit’s Black residents build wealth.
What inspired you both to move to Detroit?
Andrew Colom: About five years ago, when I was a real estate developer in Mississippi, I was raking leaves in front of a house before showing it. I was listening to an audio book, Arc of Justice, about Ossian Sweet (a Black Detroit home owner acquitted of murder after he defended his new home against a White mob in 1925). I was thinking about the stories of people who were struggling during the Great Migration, and it sort of inspired me. So I took a trip up here about four years ago and drove around and fell in love with it. I went to David and said, “Detroit is where it’s at. We’ve got to invest.” He said, “You’re crazy.”
David Alade: As a banker at Credit Suisse in New York City, I covered the Big Three auto companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler. All I ever heard was negative stuff about Detroit. Andrew’s talking about artists and potential, and all I’m hearing is crime and violence and abandonment and bankrupt auto companies. About two years ago, I started thinking that it wasn’t my dream to stay in banking. I’ve seen so much inequity in the world, and it’s all tied to wealth disparity. And whatever I wanted to do next, I knew it had to be somewhere in that area.
Colom: We buy historic, abandoned homes and let neighbors invest in the rehabilitation of those homes and recoup their investment from the fund consisting of rent paid by new neighbors. Investors can also sell their homes to Century for cash and inclusion in the investment pool.
Why was it important for Black residents to be involved financially in the rehabilitation process?
Colom: Detroit is a city where there was such high African-American ownership of homes. That got us thinking about bringing neighborhoods back.
Alade: Mrs. Cox, a Black woman who has lived here for 50 years, will talk to you for hours upon hours about the history of Detroit. Within the context of White flight from the neighborhoods, we have a chance to reinvigorate diversity. Ultimately, we can help bring wealth back to the communities that deserve it the most. People who stuck with Detroit through the depths of crisis are really looking forward to seeing how it looks on the other side when home values go up and neighborhoods are vibrant again and abandonment is gone.
Colom: We want to make the Atkinson Historic District, a historically Black neighborhood that has been dormant, active again. They used neighborhood associations to keep Blacks out. What if we use neighborhood associations to build Black wealth?
Earlier this year, home-rental site Airbnb came under heavy scrutiny after black users of the platform took to social media to describe the discrimination they faced. Most noted that after renters saw their photos, which were included in the booking request, they were denied accommodations. The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack popped up on Twitter and went viral. The company needed to do some serious soul-searching.
“Our mission is to allow people to belong anywhere … and that this issue, the issue of racial bias [or] discrimination on the platform, was a big problem and antithetical to our actual mission,” Christopher Lehane, head of global policy and public affairs for Airbnb, told The Root. “We needed to address this, but to be able to address it, we needed to understand it, consult with the experts [and] listen to people who’ve been on the front line for decades to help us … understand what the challenge was and then, from there, what we can do.”
That aha moment led the company to tap powerhouses such as formerU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder, along with Laura W. Murphy—former director of the ACLU Legislative Office, who currently serves as a senior adviser to Airbnb—launched a review into the company’s practices with the intention of confronting and dealing with explicit and implicit discrimination and bias.
“What Airbnb made clear from the beginning is that they didn’t want to simply follow the law … but to do that which would exceed what was legally required,” Holder told The Root. “Change comes when you have tough, honest conversations, which I think Airbnb has done; when you have genuine self-reflection, which I think they have engaged in; and when you come up with proposals for bold action.”
Holder, along with civil rights attorney John Relman and Airbnb staffers, spoke with civil rights leaders for input and ideas about policy changes to address the problems and also to position the company to deal with any future grievances.
“The first time I spoke to the executives at Airbnb, there was a palpable demonstration to be willing to have these uncomfortable but absolutely necessary conversations about how these issues arose … and I thought they were interested in solving the problem and not just responding to public criticism,” Holder said.
On Thursday the company is releasing a report detailing its findings and how it plans to remedy the issues that the victims of discrimination have faced. In doing so, Airbnb acknowledges its own lack of workforce diversity, saying that it plans to create a “new comprehensive plan to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.” According to the report, some 9.64 percent of all its U.S.-based employees come from underrepresented communities. The company hopes to increase that number to 11 percent by the end of 2017.
Part of that plan includes implementing the “Diversity Rule,” which mandates that all vacant senior positions at the company include candidates from underrepresented backgrounds before any hiring is permitted to go forward.