Tag Archives: some

Lidl shares urgent recall as some food items 'contaminated' – shoppers urged do not eat

It said: “Due to a machine defect there is a risk that metal dust may have contaminated the products.

“Therefore customers are asked not to consume it.

“Instead, return the product to a Lidl store for a full refund, with or without a receipt.

“Any customers with queries or concerns can contact the Lidl Customer Services Team on the contact numbers.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Covid Brings Automation to the Workplace, Killing Some Jobs

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, a fast-food chain in Ohio, hardly seems an obvious venue for cutting-edge artificial intelligence. But the company’s drive-thrus are showcasing technology that reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the creep of automation into some workplaces.

Unable to find enough workers, Chuck Cooper, CEO of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, installed an automated voice system in many locations to take orders. The system, developed by Intel and Hi Auto, a voice recognition firm, never fails to upsell customers on fries or a drink, which Cooper says has boosted sales. At outlets with the voice system, there’s no longer a need for a person to take orders at the drive-thru window. “It also never calls in sick,” Cooper says.

Cooper says he thinks enhanced unemployment checks have kept some potential workers away, but he says concerns about exposure to Covid and difficulty getting child care because of the pandemic may also be factors. Still, he says, “There’s no way we’re going back.”

Other employers, too, are deploying automation in place of workers during the pandemic. Some restaurants and supermarkets say they cannot find enough new workers to open new locations. Many businesses are keen to rehire workers as quickly as they can, but economists say the technology will remain, replacing employees in some cases.

History suggests “automation takes place faster during recessions and sticks thereafter,” says Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT. “It should be doubly true today.” Acemoglu says companies are adopting more automation partly due to staff shortages but also because it can help with new safety measures, and to improve efficiency.

That’s true of many meat processors, which adopted technology at the start of the pandemic to enable social distancing between workers, says Jonathan Van Wyck, a partner at Boston Consulting Group. Now a labor shortage that is driving up wages is prompting one processor he works with to deploy more machines. It recently installed a camera system that uses AI algorithms to look for foreign objects, such as a stray glove in freshly cut meat; the system will replace at least one worker. “A lot of companies start with an automation process and realize there are lots of opportunities in the digital space that aren’t robotics but can move the needle on labor,” he says.

David Autor, another MIT economist who studies computerization and its impact on the labor market, believes Covid has accelerated changes that almost surely would eventually have occurred. Now they’ll no longer be considered something for “the future,” he says.

Robots get a lot of hype, but they are not yet clever enough to take over from humans in food-processing plants, kitchens, or restaurants. Still, large fast-food chains such as McDonald’s were investing in tools such as ordering kiosks and new machines to automate more aspects of cooking before the pandemic.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for the National Restaurant Association, says Covid undoubtedly accelerated this trend. He says many restaurants are using technology to reshuffle workers, part of a long-term move toward more use of automation.

“During the course of the pandemic more operators stepped up their investments in technology” that automates specific tasks, Riehle says. “The top one is ordering and payment.”

A massive shift to delivery and virtual kitchens triggered by the pandemic may mean that some restaurants and some customers will be more willing to use technology that once seemed unfamiliar. Using an app to order at a restaurant table could mean that, eventually, fewer servers will be needed.

Other industries, including retail and hotels, have also been turned upside down by the pandemic. But tracking the use of AI across the economy is difficult, because the technology cannot simply step in for workers in most cases, and because different jobs, in different industries, tend to be automatable in different ways.

Sam Ransbotham, a professor at Boston College, has been studying corporate adoption of AI during the pandemic. In a report to be released later this year, Ransbotham says he and colleagues found widespread adoption of technology in response to the pandemic. Typically, he says, this involves automating specific tasks rather than the wholesale replacement of workers.

Author: Will Knight
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic exposure for some Americans

More than half of the continental US is currently experiencing some level of drought, and about a quarter is in severe drought or worse. In recent years, the western and southwestern US has been in a seemingly continual state of reduced rainfall and snowpack. Droughts have many well-known, potentially catastrophic consequences, from crop failures to water shortages to wildfires. Yet they can also have more direct human health impacts by not only affecting how much water there is, but also the quality of that water.

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic exposure

Recent research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that droughts, particularly the prolonged kind happening in parts of the US, could increase the risk of harmful arsenic exposure for people that rely on well water.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the baseline quality of your drinking water may have been set in stone, literally. Arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant, largely because of local geology. In Maine, for instance, the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and volcanic activity came together to concentrate arsenic and other metals into cracks inside the bedrock, explains Sarah Hall, a geologist at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. From those fissures, subtle shifts in acidity, temperature, or water flow rates can draw contaminants out of the rock and into underground aquifers.

And it’s not just Maine. In many parts of New England, the Midwest, and the Southwest arsenic levels above the 10 parts per billion (ppb) federal level are particularly common—posing an especially big problem for families that rely on well water, which can be contaminated without homeowners knowing it.

Arsenic exposure can cause a litany of health issues, including bladder and lung cancers, heart problems, lung infections, immune system depression, and cognitive decline in children, says Bruce Stanton, a molecular physiologist at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in New Hampshire.

Municipal water supplies are routinely tested, monitored, and treated for contaminants including arsenic, says Taehyun Roh, an environmental health epidemiologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. “But in the case of private wells,” he says, “there is no regulation.” Cities, towns, and counties that provide public water are legally required by the Safe Drinking Water Act to make sure their supply meets federal standards. Although there are many documented cases of municipal governments failing in their duty to provide clean, safe water (Roh references Flint, Michigan), the more than 43 million people relying on private wells in the US aren’t protected by federal standards at all. Domestic well water testing and treatment is entirely the responsibility of the individual landowner.

Between 1.5 and 2.9 million people in the US are currently drinking from wells with arsenic concentrations above the federal limit of 10 parts per billion, according to one 2017 estimate from USGS. That number could rise to more than four million during periods of drought, according to a January 2021 USGS study.

The recent research, based on computer models, estimates that drought could increase arsenic levels in wells by an average of 10 percent. “Which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you take that over the whole country, that impact is actually pretty large,” says Melissa Lombard, lead study author and USGS hydrologist based in Pembroke, New Hampshire. Though she also cautions that her study is the first of its kind and the model is “in its infancy,” says Joseph Ayotte, another USGS hydrologist and study coauthor.

The study offers a couple of explanations for why droughts might increase the risk of arsenic exposure through well water in some areas. During droughts, groundwater levels decrease. This change in volume can cause shifts in water chemistry, like increased acidity. Because metals leaching out of rock is a chemical reaction, changes in water chemistry can speed up the process. Less groundwater also means contaminants already present in the water become more concentrated. So, even if a drought doesn’t change the total amount of dissolved arsenic in a well, every glass of water from that well may contain more.

The USGS research also partially accounted for human responses to drought that might lead to increased exposure in certain regions. During periods of extended drought in California, for instance, surface water is limited and more water is pumped from underground to meet the state’s needs, says Rich Pauloo, a hydrologist studying the issue. Overpumping can cause the land itself to sink, in the process squeezing natural arsenic out of clays and into groundwater used for drinking, according to a 2018 study published in Nature Communications.

Lombard’s study model was based on previously observed drought conditions, but climate change is projected to continue to increase the number and intensity of droughts worldwide.  “By the end of the 21st century, people living under extreme and exceptional drought could more than double,” says Yadu Pokhrel, an environmental engineer at Michigan State University. This means arsenic contamination could become even more rampant in a changing climate.

Further, adverse health effects from arsenic can pop up even at levels of exposure lower than the allowable 10 ppb federal limit, emphasize both Roh and Stanton. “Many scientists think it’s not enough,” Roh says. In one 2017 study in Iowa, he found a correlation between arsenic exposure levels as low as 2.07 ppb and increased prostate cancer risk.

On top of the health risks, arsenic is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it impossible to detect without a test until symptoms show up. “It’s not like if you ate a bad clam and that night, you know you ate the bad clam,” says Stanton.

All that undetected exposure adds up and can lead to later-in-life effects, like cancer, he says, even long after someone is no longer drinking contaminated water. Research he’s done in mice and fish also suggests arsenic exposure may have epigenetic effects, which can permanently alter how the genes encoded in our DNA are expressed.

As scary as the health issues might sound though, arsenic in well water is a largely solvable problem. In many cases, all it takes is awareness of the issue, testing, and the resources for remediation. States in high risk areas like Maine, Michigan, and New Mexico have county and state programs that help provide low-cost or free arsenic tests.  Well owners can also pay for private well testing from accredited labs, although these tests can cost upwards of $ 100. Most states recommend re-testing every three to five years. If you live in a high-risk region and your well tests near the federal limit, though, Hall says you should consider arsenic testing twice per year, as levels can vary seasonally.

Depending on how high your levels are, says Stanton, a simple water filter pitcher could resolve the issue. In his house, “even the dog gets the filtered water.” Although, he adds, high arsenic concentrations—far above the 10 ppb federal limit—can exceed a faucet or pitcher filter’s capacity, and require expensive reverse osmosis systems that can cost thousands. According to Stanton, the preventative cost of reducing exposure is worth it. He references “horror stories of people who are in and out of the hospital multiple times” or become chronically ill and end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

“You worry about people with low incomes who simply can’t afford it,” says Stanton. People living in rural areas reliant on well water are more likely to be living in poverty, with less disposable income, than those in denser areas on public water. “This has to do with environmental justice,” he adds.

In New England, scientists, community members, and advocacy groups have come together to try to tackle issues of well testing and remediation access. Jane Disney, director of the community environmental health laboratory at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine co-runs a community citizen science project with Stanton’s Dartmouth lab. The project, titled “All About Arsenic—Data to Action” enlists middle and high school students in testing their families’ wells for arsenic, covering the cost of testing, while simultaneously teaching the students data literacy skills and creating a platform for youth advocacy.

So far, the project has collected more than 3,000 water samples from around the state and worked with more than 20 schools. Students from the project have recently teamed up with Defend Our Health, an environmental health advocacy organization based in Portland, Maine. The group is campaigning to expand testing resources across multiple states, mandate landlords disclose well testing information, and strengthen Maine’s drinking water standards. In Texas, Roh is in the early stages of a similar community testing program, which adds urine and toenail sample collection along with tap water testing. These biological samples can show if participants actually have detectable arsenic levels in their bodies. In exchange for participating, Roh says, people will receive a water filter to put on their tap.

Hopefully, increased awareness, research, and testing leads to change and resilience in the face of current and future droughts—but it will take persistence. In her work studying arsenic in well water, Hall says she’s encountered some resistance to the idea of testing and treatment. “There’s this idyllic version of rural life where it’s like, ‘oh, we’re living off the land and drinking our water.’” People imagine that water to be as pure and natural as the bucolic landscape, but ultimately, Hall cautions, “there’s nothing [natural] about drilling 100 to 600 foot well into rock and sucking water out of it.”

Author: Lauren Leffer
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Novel Drug Approved by FDA for Some Bile Duct Cancers

A novel drug, infigratinib (Truseltiq), is now available in the United States for adults with previously treated unresectable bile duct cancer harboring a fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) fusion or other rearrangement.

The agent is an orally administered, ATP-competitive tyrosine kinase inhibitor of FGFR.

It was granted an accelerated approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the basis of response rate data from a single arm, open label phase 2 trial, dubbed CBGJ398X2204. This trial involved 108 patients with locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma — including 107 with stage IV disease, the FDA noted in a press release.

These types of bile duct cancers, which affect about 20,000 people in the United States and European Union each year, are aggressive and often diagnosed in later stages when treatment options are limited and prognosis is poor. The median 5-year survival rate is 9%, the drug’s maker, BridgeBio Pharma affiliate QED Therapeutics, and its partner, Helsinn Group, noted in their joint press release.

The FDA also approved the FoundationOne comprehensive diagnostic (CDx) genomic profiling test as the registrational companion CDx device for identifying patients with FGFR2 fusion or other rearrangement who might benefit from treatment with infigratinib.

FoundationOne CDx is a comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) test for solid tumors, currently approved as a CDx test for 26 unique therapies. It is the only tissue-based CGP test approved as a companion diagnostic test for infigratinib, according to the device maker, Foundation Medicine

Details of Infigratinib Results

Patients enrolled in CBGJ398X2204 received infigratinib at a once-daily dose of 125 mg for 21 consecutive days followed by 7 days off therapy, in 28-day cycles until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

The overall response rate was 23%. One patient experienced complete response and 24 had partial response.

The duration of response was 5 months, and in eight of the 23 responders the response was maintained for 6 months or more.

The study results were reported at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium by lead investigator Milind Javle, MD, professor of gastrointestinal medical oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Adverse reactions occurring in at least 20% of patients included hyperphosphatemia, increased creatinine, nail toxicity, stomatitis, dry eye, fatigue, alopecia, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome, arthralgia, dysgeusia, constipation, abdominal pain, dry mouth, eyelash changes, diarrhea, dry skin, decreased appetite, blurred vision, and vomiting.

“Serious risks include hyperphosphatemia and retinal pigment epithelial detachment and monitoring for these adverse reactions during treatment is recommended,” the FDA notes in its press release, adding that “[c]ontinued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s).”

In addition to the pivotal second-line trial of infigratinib for bile duct cancer, QED Therapeutics is also enrolling patients in the phase 3 PROOF trial comparing the agent with gemcitabine plus cisplatin in the first-line setting.

Enrollment is also ongoing in trials looking at infigratinib for bladder and urinary tract cancers and achondroplasia.

The company has also launched ForgingBridges, a “comprehensive patient support program designed specifically to provide education, access and affordability resources for patients during their TRUSELTIQ journey.”

Sharon Worcester is an award-winning reporter for MDedge News, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Why some bees and wasps are more likely to sting you

It might seem like every flying insect in your garden is out to sting you, but the reality is much less terrifying.

There is a huge diversity of bees and wasps out there—all fall under the scientific order of Hymenoptera, which also includes ants and the less familiar sawflies. Bees are technically one subgroup of the diversity of wasps (in a square/rectangle sort of way). 

Within this dizzying array of insects, it’s true that lots of them can’t sting—but it’s probably not the ones that you think. And among those that can sting, only a small minority are responsible for the bulk of human stinging encounters.

What is an insect sting?

Among the bees and wasps that can sting, venom is a unifier. “They all have venom, but the compositions are wildly different,” says Emily Sadler, an entomologist at Utah State University who studies stingers. When a bee or wasp stings, it’s not just the physical poke causing the pain. In fact, in a 2018 study, Sadler found no relationship between an insect’s stinger size and the pain associated with the sting. She also found an inverse relationship between stinger length and venom toxicity—the shorter the stinger, the more toxic the venom.

Stinging Hymenoptera make and store their venom in glands in their abdomens. If you’ve ever been stung by a honey bee, you may have seen this venom sac left behind with the stinger, like a little flag on a pole. When a honey bee loses its stinger, the venom sac stays attached for up to 10 minutes, continuing to pump more venom into a sting site until it dries up. 

Landing a sting on animals with thick fur or feathers is tough, notes Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwest Biological Institute in Tucson, Arizona who studies stinging hymenoptera (in part by experiencing their stings firsthand!) and is author of the book The Sting of the Wild. Getting in as much venom as possible with every sting boosts the chances of successful defense. In addition, an abandoned honey bee stinger gives off a scent that can help direct other bees to the same vulnerable spot. Schmidt describes the smell as “a cross between fingernail polish and a ripe banana.”

Insects that can’t sting

Only female Hymenoptera of any species are capable of stinging. That’s because stingers are modified ovipositors, the organ used to lay eggs. In lieu of stingers, male bees and wasps have their own, sex-specific, non-venemous genitalia. 

Many species of bees and wasps also don’t have useable stingers to begin with, male or female 

There are hundreds of species of stingless bees, or Meliponini, living in tropical or subtropical areas of the world. Meliponini have very reduced stingers that can’t be used defensively. To make up for it, they have other tactics: they can bite, and they do—hard! Meliponini have powerful mandibles and their bites pack a punch.

Aside from Meliponini, there are some other solitary bees, like miner bees, that also have very reduced stingers, but for the most part the bee species you probably encounter in daily life are capable of stinging.

Most wasp species, on the other hand, can’t sting. Wasps fall broadly into two categories: stingers and parasitic. Parasitic (or parasitoid) wasps rely on host organisms to complete their life cycle, and in the process usually kill their hosts. These are wasps whose ovipositors are modified to deposit eggs inside living plants, insects, or other organisms. Once inside a host, the wasp eggs hatch and the larvae devour their host organism from the inside out. These parasitic wasps don’t stick their ovipositors in humans, with very few exceptions (absolutely none parasitize humans), and many are so small you could confuse them with gnats.

Most Hymenoptera fall into this parasitic group, says Schmidt. So technically most wasps aren’t a stinging threat to us.

Ichneumonid wasps are one type of parasitic wasp. They may look scary, with their long ovipositors, but they’re only a real nightmare if you’re a host organism (which, again, humans aren’t).

Which insects are most likely to sting you? 

To understand why some bees and wasps are less likely to sting than others—even if they have the capacity—you have to understand why bees and wasps sting in the first place. Hymenoptera can either be social or solitary. Social bees and wasps that live in colonies are much more likely to sting in defense of a hive or nest than their solitary counterparts.

Honey bees, yellow jackets, and paper wasps are the most common bee and wasp sting offenders in the US by far, says Schmidt. “The reason that they’re so effective at stinging is because they have a nest, and a nest can’t run,” he adds. 

But even social bees and wasps foraging far from their nests are unlikely to put their lives on the line when fleeing danger is an easier option. Stinging as defense costs energy. It’s time away from foraging or hunting, says Sadler, “and then venom, right? They use venom that they’d then have to produce [again].” 

Beyond just the energetic costs, stinging can also cost bees and wasps their lives. “If they go and sting something, there’s a chance of a fight, and they could die,” Sadler explains. An animal stung is liable to swat in response, and crush the offending bee or wasp. And, for a subset of stingers, death isn’t just a risk, but a guarantee.

[Related: How to Avoid Being Stung By a Wasp]

Honey bees’ stingers get stuck in their victim’s flesh on backwards barbs, and pull out of the insect’s body, ultimately killing it. And honey bees aren’t alone. “Most people think a wasp can’t lose a stinger,” says Schmidt, but he explains that there are multiple groups of social wasps in the tropics that do.  It may seem counterintuitive that any animal would use a defensive tactic likely to lead to its own death, but for social bees and wasps, the motivation is clear: protect the hive. 

Social hymenoptera live in a group of their sisters—all the bees or wasps in a colony are very closely related. To defend their siblings, queen/mother, and genetic line, some Hymenoptera give it all. The likelihood of this suicidal tendency increases with the size of a colony, says Schmidt. Bees and wasps that live in very large groups, like honey bees, have less to lose and more to protect by stinging.

Which flying insects can sting, but probably won’t?

Non-social, or solitary, bees and wasps are often still capable of stinging, but unless you pose a direct physical threat (i.e. picking an insect up, stepping on it, repeatedly swatting) they have no reason to sting you.

In fact, Schmidt—who’s made it part of his life’s work to experience all the different stings out there—has had to try hard in some cases. It took him three or four attempts at  manhandling a mud dauber wasp before it would successfully sting him. “You have to be pretty talented to manage to do it,” he says. 

Solitary bees and wasps usually have multiple small nests where they leave their young without much ongoing parental care. Their genetic line dies with them as individuals, and so they are much more risk-averse when it comes to deploying stings. Solitary bees and wasps aren’t even particularly likely to sting to defend their own nests, says Schmidt. If their nest is threatened, they’d sooner lay new eggs in a new nest than die to protect replaceable young.

Many bees and wasps that look scary are actually very unlikely to cause you harm, and act as valuable pollinators or pest control. For example, rambunctious male carpenter bees (fat like bumble bees, but shiny and black) will wrestle each other for territory while airborne, often getting within inches of surrounding humans. But these males are certainly not interested in you and are incapable of stinging.

Others, like spider wasps, cicada killers, and mud daubers, look intimidating, but are very unlikely to sting, Schmidt says.

A tarantula hawk, a species of spider wasp, feeding on milkweed in Joshua Tree National Park. Spider wasps have shiny, dark bodies and reddish wings. They are large and scary looking, but very unlikely to pose a threat to humans.
Mud dauber wasps can be large and brightly colored. Schmidt describes them as “otherworldly” because of their long, thin waists. As strange as they seem though, they come in peace.
Cicada killers look like “yellow jackets on steroids,” says Schmidt. So, many people fear they’ll be just as defensive. Fortunately, these beefy wasps are solitary and save their stings for their prey.

Schmidt often watches the tarantula hawks, a particularly large species of spider wasp, fly around his yard as they forage around milkweed. “They’ll get within six or eight inches of me as they’re flying around, and they don’t pay attention to me and I don’t pay attention to them. Everybody’s happy and we’re all having a good time.”

Author: Lauren Leffer
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Holidays: 'Red list likely for some time' warns expert – Heathrow opens dedicated terminal

The special terminal, where passengers from “high risk” countries will land, is currently housed in Terminal Three.

In a tweet, Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, wrote: “Sadly the @HeathrowAirport ‘red list’ terminal, initially paid for by the #Government, may be needed for a while as vaccine rollouts are at a different pace worldwide.”

Speaking on BBC News, the travel expert added: “Indeed, Heathrow is saying it might be needed for some time and clearly because of the vaccine roll-out not being at the same pace globally then it is likely that there will be some red list countries sadly for some time.”

However, Mr Charles pointed out that the airport looking to move the red list terminal from Terminal Three to Terminal Four could be a “good sign” for hopeful holidaymakers.

READ MORE: Greece holidays: FCDO carries out ‘full review’ for UK holidaymakers

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Blast Some Heavy Metal in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries with Xbox Game Pass

MechWarrior has returned to the Xbox platform better than ever and we’re so excited that fans and new players can check out the latest adventure in the BattleTech universe!

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Why better than ever? Well, we spent nearly one year of development time to implement over 30 major updates to the base game based directly on feedback from our passionate MechWarrior community. This huge (and free) update covers a bit of everything with quality-of-life improvements that make managing and customizing your mechs a breeze, adjustments to UI and game systems, and new gameplay changes that add new bases and garrisons to explore and destroy as well as more variety and challenge throughout the game. It’s difficult to show these off in a few in-game screenshots so here’s a quick look at what you can expect:

The life of a MechWarrior mercenary remains a dangerous and sometimes lonesome profession. That’s why we’re so excited that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will support cross play across the Xbox Series X|S and PC platforms. Now you can team up with friends while you destroy enemy forces while leveling entire cities (and loads of other things along the way)!

When you’re ready for more of the merc life, the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC awaits and we’ve taken a unique approach to content access — there’s no gated content on this addition to the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries base game. So whether you’d like some company or a friend isn’t 100% sure if they want the DLC, a fellow merc can join a match hosted by a player who owns the DLC, and experience the entirety of the Heroes of the Inner Sphere campaign together.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - Heroes of the Inner Sphere

As a special treat, MechWarrior 5 players on Xbox and Microsoft PC will receive an exclusive Kobold Hero Mech. This featured mech comes with a custom loadout and paint job plus Goblin AI pilot with new dialogue.

Kobold Mech Exclusive

Whether you’re a longtime MechWarrior veteran or new to the series, there’s really never been a better time to discover the ultimate power fantasy of stomping through war torn cities in a building-sized weapon of destruction with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC, out now for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC!

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Piranha Games Inc.

PC Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass
BE YOUR OWN WEAPON OF WAR Welcome to the year 3015! It’s a hell of a time to be alive. Humanity has colonized thousands of star systems spanning a vast region of space known as the Inner Sphere. The golden age of cooperation and advancement is now a distant memory, and humanity has once again splintered into disparate factions all vying for supremacy. In the midst of these Succession Wars, power hungry Mercenaries like yourself are in a privileged position to capitalize big time. It’s dangerous work but that’s why you’re here, right? If you’ve got an itch to blast, wreck, stomp and go all out ballistic, step inside and become your own weapon of war!

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Heroes of the Inner Sphere

Piranha Games Inc.

$ 19.99 $ 17.99
In Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC, we’ve opened up the Mercenary experience with the new Career mode and packed the Inner Sphere with new content to discover. With the New Career mode, you can start a career from scratch or import your progress from MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries. Work to establish your Mercenary Company while exploring the rebalanced Inner Sphere with New Warzones and Hubs to discover. Find and Collect 7 New hero ‘Mechs and 7 New Chassis Types and 50 new ‘Mech variants for the base game. Customize all your ‘Mechs with new weapon systems and equipment! Experience the Beach Head Mode with Multiple objectives and incoming artillery fire to evade. Take the Fight to new planets on the Extra-Solar Moon Biome and Garrisons. EXCLUSIVE CONTENT! Heroes of the Inner Sphere also includes an exclusive ‘Mech and new AI Pilot. The Phoenix “Kobold” hero ‘Mech features a custom paint scheme and loadout. The AI Pilot “Goblin” features unique pilot stats, special character portrait, and new voice lines.

Author: Daeron Katz, Senior Marketing and Community Manager, Piranha Games
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Marilyn Monroe: Tony Curtis claimed their Some Like It Hot affair resulted in pregnancy

Back in 1958, Billy Wilder shot his classic comedy starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon opposite Marilyn Monroe herself. The movie followed two musicians who disguised themselves in drag to escape the Mafia, after they witnessed the gangsters committing a crime. Monroe, who played singer Sugar, was notoriously difficult on set by often being late or not showing up to filming.

However, it should be noted that Monroe, who would have been 95-years-old today, was also suffering from physical and mental issues at the time.

Curtis, who played saxophone player Joe, famously said that filming romantic scenes with the icon was like “kissing Hitler”

Although years later in 2008, he told The Guardian the origin of this line which seemed to be taken out of context.

He told the outlet: “Someone said to me, ‘Hey, what’s it like kissing Marilyn?’ I said, ‘It’s like kissing Hitler. What are you doing asking me such a stupid question?’ That’s where it came from.”

A year later, Curtis would publish his memoir The Making of Some Like It Hot: My Memories of Marilyn Monroe and the Classic American Movie.

In the book, released just a year before his death, the actor claimed he had an affair with Monroe while both of them were still married.

The pair had briefly dated in 1949 before either of them shot to stardom, but rekindled the romance on the set of Some Like It Hot.

According to The Guardian, the 84-year-old said at the time: “What I experienced with her was unforgettable.”

After filming was completed, Curtis claimed he learned that Monroe had had a miscarriage.

The Hollywood icon would tragically die just a couple of years later on August 4, 1962, of barbiturate poisoning. She was only 36-years-old.

Last year, 2000 Brits were polled by Klook to find out which famous dead star or historical figure they’d most like to meet if time travel were possible.

Monroe, the second American after Elvis Presley, came sixth place. Below is the rest of the Top 10.

1. Princess Diana 8%
2. Freddie Mercury 6%
3. Winston Churchill 6%
4. Elvis Presley 5%
5. William Shakespeare 4%
6. Marilyn Monroe 4%
7. Bob Marley 4%
8. John Lennon 3%
9. Stephen Hawking 3%
10. Robin Williams 3%

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed

Some UT-Austin grads plan walk out at commencement during 'Eyes of Texas'

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As University of Texas at Austin students are set to celebrate Saturday’s Class of 2021 commencement, some are planning to walk out to send a message about the school’s controversial anthem “The Eyes of Texas.”

A Facebook event organized by two UT students, “Eyes of Texas Walk Out: Commencement 2021″, is planned to happen near the end of Saturday night’s ceremony at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, where the song will be played.

The song — played to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad” — was historically performed at campus minstrel shows. While no photographic evidence exists, it’s widely believed that the song was performed by students in blackface.

The group’s Facebook page reads:

“The Eyes of Texas, despite the racism it represents, will be played at graduation. Rather than stay and be complicit in the continued anti-Blackness of UT’s administration, those of us who see through President Hartzell’s mission to “reclaim” a racist song will be walking out during commencement to protest the inclusion of the Eyes of Texas in graduation programming and school events.”
Eyes of Texas Walk Out: Commencement 2021

KXAN reached out to organizers Saturday to ask what their plan is and will update this story when we hear back.

A thorny history

In the wake of protests and demands for social justice over last summer, the retirement of the school song was brought to the foreground.

In July 2020, multiple Longhorns student-athletes issued a letter to the school on behalf of the UT student-athlete body, demanding the song’s replacement — in addition to the removal of several on-campus nods to Confederate leaders.

“The recent events across the country regarding racial injustice have brought to light the systemic racism that has always been prevalent in our country as well as the racism that has historically plagued our campus,” the letter said.

In an April 2018 article for the school’s publication “The Daily Texan” titled “The Eyes of Texas: Racist tradition or cornerstone of school spirit?”, the Vice Provost for Diversity Edmund T. Gordon explained that the song was written during a period of lynchings and pervasive anti-black sentiment — in addition to Jim Crow laws — and questioned whether the song could be about “minstrelsy” and school pride at the same time.

Nevertheless, UT President Jay Hartzell has continued to stress the importance of learning from the song’s history while also keeping it around. In October, the president confirmed the song would be played during Longhorns’ games. In April, it was announced both UT marching and pep bands would be required to play the song. A new marching band is being created for those who don’t want to perform the song.


Back in March, emails to Hartzell were obtained by the Texas Tribune, where donors and alumni expressed outrage after then-Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger was left alone on the field as the song played.

The hundreds of emails lobbed several condemnations at the team leaving the field during the playing of the school’s anthem.

Out of the nearly 300 emails sent to Hartzell, over 70% demanded the school keep the song.

Email sent to UT-Austin obtained in a public records request. (Illustration by Emily Albracht for the Texas Tribune)

UT law school student and president of the UT School of Law Student Bar Association Anthony Collier said the decision to keep the song was a valuation of money over morality.

“We can’t afford to place profit over people and bow to pressures from bigoted donors,” Collier said. “We must do what is right and remove this racist song immediately.”

The report

In March, UT released a report gathered by a 24-member team of students, athletes, faculty, employees and alumni who examined the song’s content, history and usage. The committee ultimately determined the “intent of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ was not overtly racist,” though they also acknowledged the song “debuted in a racist setting.”

But some suggested the committee’s report should not be used to “sanitize” or “justify” racism in the university’s history.

“It’s not enough to only acknowledge racism, we must abolish it,” said Collier at the time. “I know change can be uncomfortable, but we will not sacrifice our humanity for your comfort.”

A March conference was held by the Texas NAACP, state elected officials, UT Austin students and alumni groups to officially denounce the song and demand its removal.

Texas NAACP President Dr. Gary Bledsoe condemned the school’s continued use of the song despite its “humiliating impact on African-Americans.” Bledsoe said his group’s understanding is that UT Austin has indicated it’s open to reconsidering its decision to keep the song based on “new facts” if presented with them.

“UT seems to think that because a song’s lyrics are not overtly racist, that there’s no harm, no foul,” Bledsoe said. “It’s unconscionable that UT officials have not thought about the matter from the impact of Black people… we will continue talks so they understand the impact and facts. Minstrels were performed to degrade and mock African-Americans as a form of entertainment for white people. That is as racist as it gets.”

KXAN will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Pokémon Trading Card Scalpers Are Causing Some Ugly Scenes Right Now


Earlier in May, Target stores located in America temporarily suspended sales of various trading cards including Pokémon ones.

It was already fairly obvious tensions were high when a 35-year-old man was assaulted in a Target parking lot for his own purchase, and now video footage has emerged of adults swarming an aisle in another store, and clearing out entire shelves of cards within seconds. Note: this footage contains explicit language.

Pokémon News @TrainerINTEL “If you are lucky enough to spot some #Pokemon cards in the wild, please be respectful and leave some for other Trainers. Everybody deserves to enjoy the hobby and not have it ruined by scalpers.”

This video was originally shared by tcg_grassi on Instagram and shows just how “in-demand” trading cards are in certain locations right now. In saying this, a lot of viewers on social media point out that these people are likely to be scalpers rather than legitimate fans – further stating how the cards and packs will probably end up on sites such as eBay for top dollar.

Many Pokémon Trading Card fans are now calling for more stores to remove the cards from aisles, and instead sell them behind the counter or online as well as limit purchases. Although Target suspended in-store sales, cards can still be purchase from its online shop.

[email protected] “Stores should have a policy where you can only purchase two packs at a time, or perhaps have the cards stocked behind the counter.”

What do you make of the video above? Surprised to see people acting this way over trading cards? Leave a comment down below and stay safe out there.

This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News