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Everything posted by NelsonG

  1. The Vinyl Me, Please exclusive comes with a special art print and illustrated liner notesView the full article
  2. Save 50%: As of Jan. 20, the 1,500-piece Lego Classic Bricks and Animals set is on sale for just $29 at Walmart. Say hello to your winter hobby. As any fan of Lego Masters knows, the classic colorful bricks are far more than your average toy. Adults and kids alike can unleash their creativity with Lego, and this deal on a 1,500-block Lego set gives you a way to do so at a very solid price. This set will let you create 10 easy-to-build animals, including a peacock, penguin, dinosaur, unicorn (OK, the term "animal" is pretty loose here), snail, bull, hippo with a bird on its back, panda, and giraffe. But if it's strictly the bricks you're after, you'll also be pleased no matter what you're building: There are 1,500. While that's probably not quite enough to build a Lego Masters-worthy creation, it's still enough to offer plenty of possibilities. Credit: LEGO Lego Classic Bricks and Animals Building Set $29 at Walmart (save 50%) Get Deal Explore related content:Lego is making prototype bricks from recycled plastic bottles Lego-like house seeks to transform how we build (and live in) our homes Lego launches first LGBTQ set View the full article
  3. Bill Murray strikes again. Known for his public shenanigans, actor Bill Murray gave an impromptu musical performance in New York City's Washington Square Park on Wednesday afternoon. In videos captured by filmmaker and influencer Nicolas Heller, Murray recited "Dog" by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and performed a rousing rendition of "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story, aided by a binder of laminated pages. He also talked to a dog who seemed a little too starstruck to respond. Accompanied by cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang, and pianist Vanessa Perez, Murray was going strong until his performance was cut short by the police. “The cops say we have to turn off the microphones,” Murray said. “Let’s rip this place apart!” View the full article
  4. SAVE $100: Featuring three pans, a Dutch oven, matching lids, and storage for all of the above, the TikTok-famous Caraway cookware set is on sale for $395 as of Jan. 20. That's $100 off its $495 MSRP, or a 20% savings. Let the Emily Mariko-fication of your kitchen commence. The beautifully designed Caraway cookware set featured heavily in the food influencer's TikToks is on sale for $395 as of Jan. 20. That's a $100 discount on its usual retail price of $495 (or 20% off), which is further sweetened by free shipping. SEE ALSO: Need some variety in your cooking? Check out this HelloFresh deal and get a bunch of free meals. These sets have a habit of selling out faster than you can type "first" in the comments section, so act fast if you're in the market for some nice new pots and pans. That being said, all colors were in stock at the time of writing aside from the limited-edition Brick Red set; take your pick from Cream, Navy, Sage, Gray, Perracotta, or Marigold. (Do note that the Cream, Navy, and Sage ones all have estimated shipping dates in early to mid-February.) Each one includes a 10.5-inch fry pan, a 3-quart saucepan, a 4.5-quart sauté pan, and a 6.5-quart Dutch oven — all with lids, a lid holder, and some magnetic racks for storage. For anyone wondering what all the hype's about, Caraway bills its ceramic-coated cookware as a healthier, better-looking alternative to traditional nonstick cookware made with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon. It supposedly releases up to 60 percent fewer CO2 emissions during the production process, and its coating won't break down over time or at high temperatures. (Parrot owner here: Overheated nonstick cookware can produce toxic fumes that'll kill a bird within minutes. The more you know!) Credit: Caraway Caraway cookware set $395 (save $100) Get Deal Explore related content:A cast iron skillet is the one pan that belongs in every kitchen — here's why The best air fryers for making crispy food faster than the oven 10 of the best juicers for turning your kitchen counter into a juice bar View the full article
  5. In a new shocking viral video, a reporter gets hit by a car while love on the air. And yet she gets up and keeps on reporting. Two things can be true about this video. One: The reporter is tough as nails. And two: There is no reason she should have been in such a dangerous position, and it is awful to see her suffer what must've been a painful injury. Reporter Tori Yorgey was live for WSAZ in West Virginia, reporting on severe weather that caused a water main to break when a car seemingly drifted straight into her. Here's the video, posted by Timothy Burke on Twitter. SEE ALSO: This 'exhausted' kid shoveling snow is the anti-work hero we need It's disturbing to see the car silently come up and strike the reporter. Somehow Yorgey almost immediately regains composure. "I just got hit by a car but I'm OK," she said from the ground. "We're all good. I'm all good, you know that's live TV for you." Yorgey mentions that she was actually hit by a car in college, before rising to her feet and setting up her camera. She was all by herself filing the report, there was no one behind the camera. "It's a one woman band," she said, before reassuring studio anchor Tim Irr and a person on scene that she was OK. It's unclear from the video if Yorgey was talking to the person who hit her. While it is certainly impressive that Yorgey recovered and got back on air, it's shocking and awful to see her get hit by a car. She was sent out to report on this dangerous situation, in severe weather, all alone. It's a common trope for TV news to throw reporters into these dangerous situations. But with local TV especially cutting workers, it's now even more dangerous because reporters like Yorgey are expected to perform multiple jobs at once. There is no time or ability to check for your safety when you're the on-air reporter, camera operator, and sound person. Lots of people online, other journalists especially, were upset at the situation. Yorgey was seemed to be operating off adrenaline after being hit by the car on-air. Hopefully she is recovering well from the incident and perhaps TV stations will soon stop putting reporters in such dangerous situations. View the full article
  6. The F. Gary Gray–directed clip previews the February 13 performanceView the full article
  7. Last week, the U.S. government announced that it's buying one billion rapid COVID-19 tests to distribute to Americans for free — a welcome step in helping prevent and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, just like all good news these days, these free tests come with a catch. "There will be free tests available for every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be requested per residential address," read the White House's statement dated Jan. 14. SEE ALSO: Here's how to get free COVID tests delivered to your door right now Four tests are better than none, but it's markedly less useful for households of five or more. Further, while the UPS website for ordering the tests is now live, numerous people claim they have been unable to order because different apartments in the same building are considered part of the same household. "This is occurring in a small percentage of orders," the UPS said in a statement to The Guardian, directing those affected to contact customer service. In the meantime, Twitter users are roasting the four test limit by posting pictures of famous, mostly fictional households who would need many more tests to cover all of their members. It seems everyone will just have to decide who needs the tests most, like choosing who gets to stay aboard the overcrowded lifeboat. View the full article
  8. “Talks about the vengeful shero are spreading, and now men are scared to misbehave, because they’re well aware that revenge is coming”—Pussy Riot’s Nadya TolokonnikovaView the full article
  9. Facebook and Instagram might start letting users create, buy, and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a new report claims. According to the Financial Times, Meta's social media companies are exploring the idea at the moment, however it's still at an early stage and might change. The plans sound fairly ambitious, though: Users will be able to mint (or create) new NFTs, as well as buy and sell them on a specialized marketplace, and display the NFTs as their profile pictures. The FT's report has no details on how far along these plans are, or when these features might launch. NFTs are a massive internet craze right now. For a more detailed explanation of what they are, go here but, in short, they're a type of cryptocurrency where each unit is unique from every other unit. In a way, they're somewhat akin to digital collectible cards, and while the art they're typically associated with is easily copied (i.e., right-click and save), the ownership of the original NFT is near-impossible to dispute. Like so many blockchain-related things, a lot of money is changing hands in the space at the moment, with some NFTs valued in the millions of dollars. SEE ALSO: Make sense of the metaverse and NFTs with this guide to 2022 tech As such, it makes sense for Meta to try to capitalize on the interest in NFTs by integrating them into its properties. Facebook has recently announced a major investment into the metaverse, which it mostly defines in terms of virtual and augmented reality. Facebook head of metaverse products Vishal Shah has said the company's metaverse will support NFTs, and Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in December that the company is actively exploring NFTs. The news comes just days after a report that Walmart is preparing to launch its own NFT collection, and other major brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola have already dipped their toes in the space as well. We've contacted Facebook for comment on the Financial Times' report but have not yet heard back at the time of writing. View the full article
  10. Oxy Music is due out March 11 via Secretly CanadianView the full article
  11. “Shadow in the Frame” leads You Belong ThereView the full article
  12. “The places we go to discover music new and old have always been sacred to me,” says SwiftView the full article
  13. David Bazan and his band have also announced a spring tour of the United StatesView the full article
  14. “Call Me Little Sunshine” is the first taste of the Swedish metal band’s latest full-lengthView the full article
  15. An unlikely supergroup debuts, comprising Clarke, Harle, Isamaya Ffrench, and Hundred Waters’ Trayer TryonView the full article
  16. “Looking Backward” leads the French artist’s first album in four yearsView the full article
  17. Ever since I started photographing back in 2012 at the ripe old age of 19, my primary subject has been garbage and everything that comes with it. It may seem an odd choice, but it comes from my love for Dadaism (an art movement that played with what is already present and questioned a lot of the existing art world) and the idea of a readymade (a term first used by the French artist Marcel Duchamp to describe works of art he made from pre-existing materials). When Duchamp flipped a urinal upside down, signed it, and placed it on a pedestal as a sculpture, he was essentially turning trash into treasure. I have made it my duty as a photographer to document such found art existing in or from trash, and to share these works with the public. Trash buildup is impossible to ignore living in NYC (a never-ending source of found objects!), so naturally, I am also into all things Department of Sanitation. DSNY has some very forward-thinking initiatives to tackle waste management in New York, including a zero waste by 2030 initiative. I spend a lot of time educating myself on what they do, and am constantly surprised by what I come by on my Google deep dives. One of their most unique tactics of getting the word out is through art and exhibition. While in the midst of a trash-filled rabbit hole Google search, I came across retired sanitation worker Nelson Molina, who curated Treasures in the Trash, a collection of nearly 40,000 items discovered over his 34-year career with DSNY. An article about his project had a line on “dumpster diving as an enviro-political act.” I quickly clicked on the link to that quote, and there I was introduced to the NYC Freegans, a group of activists who scavenge for free food, usually from waste receptacles outside of stores and restaurants, as a means of reducing consumption of resources. I always knew what freegans did but not why, and that’s part of what fascinated me. There was a meetup page (with nearly 3,000 members) listing their upcoming events, both virtual and in person. I saw they had a Freeganism 101 & Trash Tour — a night in which the freegans give rules, tips, and answers on trash-affiliated questions to the public while visiting multiple locations to dive. I knew I had to attend. I sent them an email to make sure they were OK with having media present, and we had a date! Ursula was the host in charge on the night of my trash tour; she’s the one I had been corresponding with beforehand. She instructed me to meet the group on the corner of 44th Street & 2nd Avenue at 9 p.m. with a mask and empty shopping bags. That’s Midtown East and not too far from arguably the biggest tourist attraction of New York (i.e., Times Square), but just far enough where it’s inhabited mostly by locals, not tourists. Normally I'd be getting ready for bed at this time (early bird, I know) but the freegans can only dumpster dive at night for numerous reasons: First, waiting for stores to close, and second, less pedestrian traffic on the streets, which makes things easier. All the locations we visited. Credit: Bob Al-Greene A lot of people are probably asking the question, is this legal? I did, too. The internet has mixed thoughts and it ultimately depends on where you are, but the NYC Freegans assured me that if you are with them or following the rules, you are safe from arrest. On that night, we did get some looks from the NYPD, but they didn’t seem to care enough to actually interact. We also got some looks from people in fancy clothing and accessories. I certainly felt judgment. They didn’t necessarily frown down upon us, but they also weren’t giving approval. Ursula and our other host, Janet, shared three important rules before we headed out. #1: Each person in the group may individually dive, but what you find will be laid out in a pile for the whole group to go through together when everyone is done diving. Some locations were going to be a bit messier than others, depending on the offerings available, they explained. Sometimes produce and other items are thrown out in neatly placed boxes inside a dumpster; other times the garbage is encased in a never-ending pile of tied-up trash bags. Rule #2 is to never rip the bags, and always neatly tie them back up. And rule #3: If you can, try to leave the location neater than how you found it, in case another person is also diving that night. If you arrive at a location where someone else is diving, let them finish before heading in yourself. Now that we were well-versed in the fundamentals of freeganism, the group and I were ready to discover all that New York (trash) has to offer. Credit: Molly Flores Credit: Molly Flores Credit: Molly Flores What’s the most difficult-to-transport food item I'd come across on this night? If you guessed soup of the day, you are correct. Our first location of the evening was Health Nuts, a health food store offering an array of soup, much of which ended up in the trash. I cannot say these items went fast around our group, either. This was a moment of education and exposure. As a frequent soup maker during the cold months of winter who always makes too much to finish, I will never look at soup the same. No more wasting soup for me! Credit: Molly Flores Credit: Molly Flores We moved on to a couple of chain establishments, and I had a moment of nostalgia digging through Dunkin’s trash. I fondly remember calling it Dunkin’s Dumpsters as a bored and curious teenager of the suburbs due to the surplus of donuts available in their garbage after hours. Bread winners! Credit: Molly Flores Sadly, the abundance of jelly-filled and Boston creams were too squished to salvage, and no one was interested in donuts mixed with old coffee grinds. With sticky fingers, we moved on, joining the rest of the group at Duane Reade. Here, I wasn't expecting more than some sketchy sushi and old Slim Jims. A shocker was the discovery of children's Tylenol and allergy medication, possibly just too close to expiration. Multiple people in the group took some bottles. No container is off-limits when dumpster diving. Credit: Molly Flores At this point we were attracting a crowd. In previous locations we’d been frowned at, judged, or looked down upon by older residents. But this time, a group of younger (probably millennial) bystanders were cheering and jumping for joy for our trash treasures. They seemed genuinely interested in what we were digging for and what we found. Janet gets interviewed post Ess-a-Bagel dive. Credit: Molly Flores Tonight's wins were in fact the children's medication from Duane Reade. Credit: Molly Flores These brief moments of connection and happiness were something I never expected to find on a trash tour. Quick round of lettuce hacky-sack? Credit: Molly Flores As we reached our next location, the Amish Market, Janet dispersed a supply of reused plastic bags to the group. This was actually our second visit to the Amish Market that evening: We’d been by earlier, but they weren't yet closed. With employees giving us judgy looks from inside, we decided to come back later. Janet speaking to the group in front of the Amish Market. Credit: Molly Flores Now, the timing was right, and we had our biggest discovery of the night: apples, organic spinach, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, organic kale, asparagus, carrots, and the list goes on. The group pulled it out of dumpsters, trash bags, and produce bags, creating a massive pile of food in the center of us. It was a grocery haul fit for a family of 20. Credit: Molly Flores These items were barely defective, some with nothing but an expiration date matching the day of. I’m guessing that’s the reason they were tossed. Janet took a moment to use the bounty as a way of talking about the food system in America, which she believes is built to value profit more than care and compassion. Food is just too damn expensive, and feeding our people is seen as less important. According to a 2022 report from the waste management company RTS, 35 million people across America had food insecurity before the pandemic began, a number that's expected to rise to as high as 50 million this year. Meanwhile, "the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year." It can be overwhelming to imagine this sort of waste and its consequences, but hearing Janet’s words while standing around an overpriced pile of garbage, now worthless to the company that priced it too highly for it to have sold, really put things into perspective. Credit: Molly Flores Credit: Molly Flores At the end of the night the group came away with an enormous haul. I haven't gone back to dumpster dive myself, and I'm not sure I ever will. But seeing trash is believing trash. Since that night, I've made a conscious decision to do my small part, at the very least, to help with the problem of food waste: Always finish my groceries. That’s something I'd attempted to do before, but It wasn't until I spent that night with the freegans that I realized how truly important it is not to throw away what we’re lucky enough to have. Closing Time. Credit: Molly Flores Shopping List. Credit: Bob Al-Greene View the full article
  18. Representations of virtual cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration taken November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File PhotoRussia's central bank on Thursday proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability, citizens' wellbeing and its monetary policy sovereignty. The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems. Russia has argued for years against cryptocurrencies, saying they could be used in money laundering or to finance terrorism. It eventually gave them legal status in 2020 but banned their use as a means of payment. In December, the price of bitcoin fell after Reuters reported, citing sources, that Russia's regulator was in favour of a complete ban on cryptocurrencies. In a report published on Thursday, the central bank said speculative demand primarily determined cryptocurrencies' rapid growth and that they carried characteristics of a financial pyramid, warning that bubbles in the market could form, threatening financial stability and citizens. The bank proposed preventing financial institutions from carrying out any operations with cryptocurrencies and said mechanisms should be developed to block transactions aimed at buying or selling cryptocurrencies for fiat, or traditional currencies. The proposed ban includes crypto exchanges. Russians are active cryptocurrency users, the central bank said, with an annual transaction volume of about $5 billion. CRYPTO MINING Russia is the world's third-largest player in bitcoin mining, behind the United States and Kazakhstan, though the latter may see a miner exodus over fears of tightening regulation following unrest earlier this month. read more The central bank said crypto mining created problems for energy consumption. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "mined" by powerful computers that compete against others hooked up to a global network to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The process guzzles electricity and is often powered by fossil fuels. "The best solution is to introduce a ban on cryptocurrency mining in Russia," the bank said. In August, Russia accounted for 11.2% of the global "hashrate" - crypto jargon for the amount of computing power being used by computers connected to the bitcoin network. In its report, the central bank pointed to steps taken in other countries, such as China, to curb cryptocurrency activity. It said it would work with regulators in countries where crypto exchanges are registered to collect information about the operations of Russian clients.In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks. Russia's regulator said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation. It said the long-term potential of cryptocurrencies being used for settlements was limited. Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia is planning to issue its own digital rouble, joining the global trend to develop digital currencies to modernise financial systems, speed up payments and counter a potential threat from other cryptocurrencies. View the full article
  19. Space may soon house a full-fledged TV and film studio, thanks to Space Entertainment Enterprise (S.E.E.). According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the company that is co-producing Tom Cruise's upcoming space movie (which is set to be filmed in space), is intending to launch the studio by 2024, in addition to a streaming studio and sports arena. The microgravity production broadcast module, named SEE-1, will be fitted to the Axiom Station, a commercial space station being made by Axiom Space and that will be attached to the International Space station prior to orbit. “Creating a next generation entertainment venue in space opens countless doors to create incredible new content and make these dreams a reality," said Richard Johnston, COO of S.E.E. SEE ALSO: Russian film crew launches into space to shoot movie on International Space Station The module is built with the intention of hosting film, music, television and sports events, in addition to artists and creatives seeking to create content in the environment, says THR. S.E.E. partners, consultants and advisors consist of former HBO, Endemol, and Viacom executives, as well as investment bank GH Partners. “SEE-1 is an incredible opportunity for humanity to move into a different realm and start an exciting new chapter in space,” said co-founders Elena and Dmitry Lesnevsky. "It will provide a unique, and accessible home for boundless entertainment possibilities in a venue packed with innovative infrastructure which will unleash a new world of creativity. With worldwide leader Axiom Space building this cutting-edge, revolutionary facility, SEE-1 will provide not only the first, but also the supreme quality space structure enabling the expansion of the two trillion-dollar global entertainment industry into low-Earth orbit.” Shooting movies in space is apparently the hot new trend. Tom Cruise was initially planning to be the first to do it, only for a Russian film crew to launch off to the ISS and beat him to it last October. If this film studio does end up happening, it seems like it'll require a whole lot of time, money, and commitment. Besides, we've been enjoying space movies that haven't been filmed in space for decades now. And they've done just fine. View the full article
  20. Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File PhotoTikTok owner ByteDance saw its revenue grow 70% year on year to about $58 billion in 2021, slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies. According to two people familiar with the matter the numbers were revealed to a small group of employees at an internal meeting of the social media giant this week . In 2020, the Beijing-based company's total revenue grew by over 100% to $34.3 billion, Reuters has reported. ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chinese tech companies from Tencent to Alibaba have reported slowing growth amid a sweeping crackdown by the country's regulators, who have rolled out new rules for how they operate and interact with their users. According to a recent report by market research firm Interactive Marketing Lab Zhongguancun, ByteDance held its second position in China's online advertising market last year with a 21% market share. The number one position was still held by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (9988.HK), and third place went to gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), according to the report. The overall growth of online ad sales in China declined to 9.3% in 2021 from 13.8% a year earlier, the report says. Tech news website The Information last November reported that ByteDance's 2021 revenue was on track to rise about 60% to 400 billion yuan ($63.07 billion). ByteDance is one of the world's biggest private tech companies with recent trades in the private-equity secondary market valuing it at about $300 billion, Reuters has reported. Following Beijing's antitrust efforts, ByteDance has recently been downsizing its powerful investment arm. read more In November, ByteDance reorganised itself into six business units in its biggest organizational change since ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming said in May he would step down as CEO. Besides TikTok, ByteDance's other apps include its Chinese equivalent Douyin, news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and video-streaming platform Xigua. In 2021, users spent approximately $2.3 billion in TikTok and the iOS version of Douyin, a 77% jump year-over-year, according to app tracker Sensor Tower. View the full article
  21. Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration Hedge funds, which make profits by speculating on precarious takeovers, got a treat this week when Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) agreed to buy "call of duty" maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) for US$68.7 billion dollars in cash. The transaction requires antitrust laws. Approved in the United States and other major jurisdictions, including the European Union and China. It comes at a time when President Joe Biden's administration is taking a closer look at large mergers, blaming some of them for raising prices to consumers that are fueling inflation. Activision's shares ended trading at $82.15 on Wednesday, well below the $95 per share deal price, reflecting concerns that regulators may shoot down a combination that would create the third biggest gaming company, after Tencent and Sony Group Corp (6758.T). This infers a 57% chance of the deal closing, based on Activision's closing share price of $65.39 before the deal was announced. The wide spread gives investors willing to bet on whether the deal will be completed the opportunity to score double-digit returns. At a time when so-called merger arbitrage strategies have trailed the broader stock market's returns, it is an attractive but also risky proposition. Last year, merger arbitrage funds returned nearly 10% according to Hedge Fund Research data, beating returns posted in 2020, 2019 and 2018, but trailing the broader S&P 500 stock market's 27% gain in 2021. For some investors, Aon's (AON.N) scuttled $30 billion acquisition of Willis Towers Watson (WTY.F) as the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the deal hurt returns. Now they are looking to come back, hoping that this deal will also force competitors into making deals of their own. "The positive outlook for event-driven and merger-arbitrage oriented firms in 2022 has been accelerated with the Microsoft-Activision deal," said Hedge Fund Research Inc President Ken Heinz. Microsoft and Activision gave themselves until June 2023 to complete the transaction, giving hedge funds months to handicap how regulators will react to Microsoft bundling its Xbox platform with Activision's popular games, such as World of Warcraft and Diablo. Investors may get hints on the Biden administration's stance soon as the Federal Trade Commission is expected to weigh in on defense contractor Lockheed Martin's (LMT.N) planned $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD.N) and the Justice Department will decide on healthcare insurer UnitedHealth's (UNH.N)$13 billion bid for healthcare analytics and technology vendor Change Healthcare (CHNG.O). Coverage finds such as Millennium, Tiesemann consultant and pentwater capital spend a piece of their fusion bets, and many have occupied Microsoft and Activision for some time.Mutual funds The Merger Fund run by Westchester Capital Management and The Arbitrage Funds run by Water Island Capital offer similar strategies. View the full article
  22. A doctor vaccinates a person with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Vienna, Austria April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi NiesnerAustria's conservative government said Thursday it was launching a national lottery to encourage holdouts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, hours before parliament passed legislation that would introduce a national vaccination mandate. About 72% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. "What's up for grabs in the Vaccine Fleet?" Vouchers!” This is what Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said at a press conference of the social democratic opposition leader Pamela Rendi Wagner, with whom the measure was being negotiated. Nehammer said he wanted there to be a financial reward for getting vaccinated, adding: “We have learned from the past and we have seen that a vaccination lottery is the best possible way to set up such a system.” Members of the public, whether already vaccinated or not, would be entitled to one ticket for each shot they have had – three in total for those who have had their booster shot. Every 10th ticket would win a 500 euro ($568) gift voucher, Nehammer said, adding it would cost up to 1 billion euros. He later added on Twitter that the vouchers could be used in “retail, tourism, hospitality, services, culture and sport”. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said the aim was to support Austrian businesses and avoid online retailers as much as possible. View the full article
  23. An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERSA UN-backed agency has struck a deal with nearly 30 generic drugmakers to make low-cost versions of Merck's COVID-19 pill molnupiravir for poorer countries, expanding access to a drug seen as a weapon to fight the pandemic. The antiviral drug, which received emergency use approval in the US in December, reduces hospitalizations and deaths by about 30% in high-risk patients, according to clinical trials. The agreement, negotiated by the U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) with Merck, allows 27 generic drugmakers from India, China and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to manufacture ingredients and the finished drug. The MPP said on Thursday the agreement would see the pill distributed to 105 least developed countries. The developers of molnupiravir, which together with Merck are the US company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Emory University, will not receive royalties from the sale of cheap versions made by generic drug companies as long as COVID-19 is classified as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) . "This is a critical step in ensuring global access to a much-needed COVID-19 treatment, and we are confident that with manufacturers working closely with regulatory authorities, pre-treatments will be rapidly available," said MPP CEO Charles Gore . Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals, India's Natco Pharma, South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare and China's Fosun Pharma are among the generic drug companies that will manufacture the final product.View the full article
  24. If you've been anywhere near Twitter recently, you've likely seen people posting screenshots of cheery little grids filled with green, yellow. and grey boxes. The phenomenon relates to a daily game called Wordle created by software engineer Josh Wardle — an addictive puzzle that involves six tries at guessing a secret five-letter word, with clues coming in the form of the colour your letters turn after you've entered your guess (orange means a correct letter in the wrong place, green a correct letter in the right place, and grey a letter that's not in the word at all). It sounds a little complicated, but the game is simple enough once you give it a go — which is more than can be said for Absurdle, a recent head-scratching spin-off created by pseudonymous coder qntm. Created 10 days ago (but picking up steam ever since), Absurdle mimics the surface gameplay of Wordle (there's a grid, five-letter word guesses, and clues in the form of coloured letters) only with a devilish twist: Instead of starting with a secret word that players work their way towards, Absurdle doesn't have a single word up its sleeve. The game starts with 2,315 possibilities and responds to each of your guesses by keeping the maximum number of potential secret words in its back pocket, forcing you to narrow its options down until you essentially trap the AI into only having one word left. Confused? Yes, so were we. Here's an example of a game we played earlier which we ended up giving up on after five guesses: Seriously? Credit: qntm.org/files/wordle So essentially the first guess you take will always be fully greyed out, because the game is trying to make things as hard as possible as you frantically scour its 2,315-word arsenal for options that don't match any of the letters you've picked. The one helpful thing is you can see the letters you've already used in the keypad below the game grid, allowing you scout through the remaining options and frantically try to think what five-letter words you can use that only have a single vowel in them. If you're interested, the full methodology of the game is broken down in more detail on qntm's website — or you can dive straight in and have a go yourself here. SEE ALSO: All the tips and tricks you could need to succeed at 'Wordle' Will Absurdle rival the wild popularity of Wordle? Given how much of a big meanie it is, probably not. But attempting to trap the software in as few guesses as possible is certainly a fun — albeit head-scratching — distraction. View the full article
  25. Welcome to Thanks, I Love It, our series highlighting something onscreen we're obsessed with this week. It's been over 15 years since The Office popularized the mockumentary format for American TV audiences, and director Randall Einhorn has been an integral part of it. The Office and Parks and Recreation director now helms Abbott Elementary, which premiered Dec. 7 on ABC. Created by Quinta Brunson, who leads an outstanding ensemble cast, Abbott Elementary takes place at the titular underfunded institution, where teachers and students alike make the most of a suboptimal learning environment. Brunson and her writers create a rich world and warm comedy style, rooted in the unique relationship children form with their teachers, and the begrudging camaraderie of adults surrounded by other people's vomiting children. "The thing that I was really clear upfront about when we started shooting the show is the rules," Einhorn tells Mashable in a phone interview. "Other shows don't necessarily have rules, they have styles that they're serving. But to keep the documentary honest, we needed to have rules, and that can make a lot of things harder." Einhorn comes from a documentary background, so he approaches mockumentaries aiming for the same look, feel, and timing. On a normal TV show, cameras deliberately capture everything driving the plot, but a mockumentary captures many things just a hair late to sell authenticity. The camera operators themselves become actors, pretending to catch a line, action, or reaction just as it's about to slip away. "It was actually harder to make it look like you just missed something than to actually just shoot it," he says. "What we're always trying to do is we're trying to activate the viewer, to make them a participant rather than a passenger." "It's a very interesting way of framing something," he adds. "What it does is it just dangles the carrot out in front of the viewer a little bit, so that they're always reaching for it and they're always paying attention." Ava (Janelle James) and Janine (Quinta Brunson) have very different relationships with the camera on mockumentary comedy "Abbott Elementary." Credit: Gilles Mingasson /. ABC Most directors watch a scene play out from nearby or a monitor connected to cameras — but for Abbott Elementary's pilot, Einhorn himself picked up the cameras. He ended up operating every camera on every scene in the pilot (most scenes use three cameras) and having extensive conversations with camera operators to set them up for future episodes. "The best direction I can give a camera operator is kind of similar to direction that you would give an actor," he says. "Something like, 'You know this but you suspect that because you saw this down here' — the best way to get good camera operating is by explaining or talking about their knowledge and their point of view." Einhorn says he thinks of the camera as a character in the show, or at least a unique viewpoint within it. The Office interrogated this in later seasons by introducing the film crew into the story, while Parks and Recreation never really addressed how or why the cameras were there. A show like Modern Family uses the talking head element, but never suggests that there are cameras and camera operators. In Abbott, the film crew is hired by new principal Ava (Janelle James) to promote the school. The teachers don't love it, but they're too busy to be bothered or take time away from their work. "We certainly use some voyeuristic techniques on Barbara," Einhorn elaborates, referring to a senior teacher (Sheryl Lee Ralph) who struggles with new technology in episode 4. "That was really fun, seeing [someone] who's normally this super earnest, very truthful character and seeing the crack in her — seeing her need to deceive, almost. It was quite interesting." Barbara hasn't quite warmed to the cameras — indeed, she may never — so they catch her when she thinks no one is watching. Shots like that, filmed through a door or from a distance, are very deliberate. "Any time… something really means something to somebody, or it's an important emotional moment, when they've got a secret — I back off rather than move forward," Einhorn says. "It's something shot like a spy camera or a long lens through a doorway. I think that helps the suspension of disbelief that that person doesn't necessarily know that there's a camera just outside that door because you're keeping the edge of the doorway in the frame. Those moments are very, very thought out." That person doesn't necessarily know that there's a camera just outside that door... Those moments are very, very thought out. Einhorn says every character has a different relationship with a camera — think about Jim's signature looks on The Office and how he is implicitly confiding something in the camera operator and the audience. The young and optimistic Janine (Brunson) lets the camera in, part and parcel of her worldview. Ava uses them to craft a public persona, while teachers like Barbara and Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) keep their distance. And then there's the new sub Gregory (Tyler James Williams), still unsure of how to answer to this outside force that catches him in vulnerable moments. "He's just such an interesting character because the camera's always trying to catch him," Einhorn says. "I love the way [Williams] hides everything, and the more that somebody hides something, the more the camera has to look for it. [He] gives us just enough that you just have to dive in and really look for it." At the end of episode 1, after his first day at Abbott, Gregory decides to stay on. As he says this in a voiceover, the camera catches him looking at Janine — and then directly into the camera, immediately guilty. "He's almost catching himself like 'Oh shit, did you see that?'" says Einhorn. "It's really, really cool. His tiny little glances at the camera when he's a little bit caught I just think are so rich. Or when he catches himself looking at her too long and he realizes that we've looked at him looking at her too long. His recoveries are pretty outstanding." It's still early in the season, but Abbott's hallways already feel as welcoming as Dunder Mifflin or Pawnee. It's no wonder Gregory wants to stick around. Abbott Elementary airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. View the full article
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