We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Grocery Shopping ‘Primed’ to Change as Select Cities Now Get Whole Foods Delivered
Remember back in June when Amazon, No. 1 in internet retail, bought Whole Foods for $13.7B, and everyone remotely interested in business went crazy? Well, real changes are actually happening. Amazon “finally gets serious” by introducing free two-hour grocery delivery services to its Prime members in four mid-sized cities, starting with Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach, with plans to expand—potentially changing grocery shopping as we know it.
Now that grocery wars have officially commenced, it will certainly be interesting to see how its competitors, including Kroger, Walmart, Publix, Wegmans, just to name a few, will evolve to compete. As a Cincinnatian, I am piqued to see how Kroger (headquartered here, and perhaps not-so-coincidentally the reason we're one of the four chosen cities) steps up its game, while at the same time, overwhelmed with dreams of never having to grocery shop again—asides from the occasional weekend trip to the farmer's market. —Maria Walley
Baby Lucas Is First Child with Down Syndrome to Be Named Gerber Baby
It’s pretty commonplace for the parents of cute babies to hear someone suggest that their baby is just so cute they could be the Gerber Baby. But every year one baby is actually selected and not only becomes the Gerber “Spokesbaby,” but also a symbol of beauty around the world. This year, baby Lucas became the 2018 Gerber Baby and the first child with Down Syndrome to be given this honor.
As Gerber’s official Spokesbaby, Lucas will be awarded a prize of $50,000, featured on Gerber social media, and will show the world just how much joy a child with Down Syndrome can bring to the world. “He has always been such a good baby,” Lucas’s mother tells the Today Show. “I have never known someone to come into contact with Lucas and not smile.” It’s so true! Lucas’s smile has blown up the internet and proven to be the brightest thing we have seen in the news this week. —Monica Gabriel Marshall
Should We Think Twice About Asparagus?
Yes, smelly asparagus pee is one unpleasant side effect of asparagus (at least, for some), but that’s not the only reason to give this vegetable the side eye. According to new studies conducted on mice, asparagine—an amino acid first identified in asparagus and many other foods—contributes to the spread of cancer.
Professor Greg Hannon, lead scientist and director of the Cancer Research U.K. Cancer Institute in Cambridge, explained that asparagine helps cancer cells change into a form that easily spreads from the breast, through the bloodstream, to other organs where they grow into secondary tumors. When the researchers reduced asparagine in the mice with breast cancer, however, they found that the number of secondary tumors in other tissues fell dramatically.
This is bad news for asparagus-lovers, but if the research holds in human trials, it could be good news for preventing the spread of breast cancer throughout the body. The trouble is, asparagine is found in many foods, so many in fact researchers feel it might be more effective to create a drug to block the amino acid altogether. —MGM
String of Amtrak Crashes Continues
This past Sunday an Amtrak train from New York to Miami crashed into a freight train near a switchyard, killing two, injuring 116 others, and spilling thousands of gallons of oil at the crash site in South Carolina. This is the third Amtrak accident in less than two months.
According to Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a switch was left in a position that forced the train off the track. Investigators are still working to find out why and how this happened. In the meantime, Margaret Fisher, the coroner assigned to the case, reminds us that it could have been much worse. “Any time you have anything that happens like that, you expect more fatalities," Fisher said, "but God blessed us, and we only had the two." —MGM
Philadelphia Celebrates First-Ever Super Bowl Win, While Timberlake Comes Back for Second-Time Performance
In a historic move, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl ever, overcoming the odds playing the powerhouse Patriots. The game was close, with fans at the edge of their seats until the last few seconds. Of course, the big game was just part of the reason why the Super Bowl drew 103.4 million viewers this past Sunday.
The commercials are always a hit (they’d better be, with the average ad spend of $5 million), and this year Tide did a serious takeover. It also seems like Pink deserves her own kind of trophy for beautifully belting the national anthem, despite battling the flu (joining the rest of us mortals). Justin Timberlake got another shot at the halftime show—it seems we’ve apparently long moved on from 2004’s infamous wardrobe malfunction—and some viewers either deemed the performance a total win, while others took a far more critical stance, wondering, really? Is it still about the #selfie? —MW
The Fervor Behind #MeToo Isn’t Stopping Anytime Soon
Two notable claims of sexual misconduct have taken over the news this past week: one in the C-suite of a gambling chain, the other, in the church. Steve Wynn, CEO and Chairman of Wynn Resorts, officially resigned two weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that numerous women were assaulted and sexually harassed by the casino mogul and billionaire—now facing investigations by gambling regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau. Thus far, Wynn has only denied the allegations, his decision to resign was done so very “reluctantly,” according to the board.
On the other side of the pond, the integrity of the man leading the Vatican is under some serious scrutiny. According to reports, the Catholic Church’s 266th Pope, Pope Francis, received an eight-page letter from a victim in 2015 detailing (very graphically) how a priest sexually abused him. The victim claims that the clergy in Chile didn’t just ignore his abuse but also took measures to cover it up. Thus far, Pope Francis denies any knowledge of this, stating that any accusations against the bishop thought to be in charge of the coverup as slander. However, it wasn’t until this week that it was reported that Pope Francis might have actually known about this information via the 2015 letter. As a leader of a church with an estimated 1.2 billion people—this is a huge deal that will continue to raise some serious inquiries and possibly some serious action. —MW