MADRID (Reuters) – In the Guadalix mountains outside Madrid, Argentine horse whisperer Fernando Noailles uses his animals to help people suffering from stress and anxiety.
MUMBAI (Reuters) – State Bank of India (SBI) projected a recovery over the next two years after a record 77.18 billion-rupee ($ 1.13 billion) fourth-quarter net loss following stricter central bank rules around bad loans, sending its shares to a nearly six-week closing high.
State of Decay 2 sometimes feels like a far-too-real representation of the mundane reality that comes with surviving a zombie apocalypse. Consistently being on the hunt for food, resources to craft ammunition, and survivors to bolster your ranks doesn’t always translate into a captivating gameplay loop–especially when you’re faced with horrors other than the countless undead that roam around you.
Like the first game from Undead Labs, State of Decay 2 infrequently checks in with an overarching narrative. You’re given the choice of three pairs of survivors to start off with, each with their own bare-bones background stories. Those stories don’t really matter, but your decision does define your starting area and the preliminary survivors you’ll team up with to combat a growing sickness called the Blood Plague. The plague is the singular goal for you to work against, as your community strives to eradicate it from your town and build towards a brighter future.
That mission boils down to finding zombie-invested settlements that you’ll need to first scout out and ultimately destroy, with grotesque, beating Plague Hearts at the center. These fights are the only real way to measure progression through State of Decay 2’s otherwise open-ended campaign. Each settlement you conquer strengthens the rest, forcing you to step back and regroup before attempting to blow up the next. They’re the toughest challenges the game has to offer, too, serving up waves of foes for you to fight as you valiantly lob another Molotov at the heart, hoping it vaporizes and takes all the nearby undead with it. Unfortunately, they are basic action set-pieces at their core, without much variety to help shake up the otherwise monotonous scavenging that surrounds them.
State of Decay 2 is primarily about survival, and it bears all the baggage the genre is known for. Although you’re spared the stress of dealing with individual meters for hunger and thirst, you’ll instead be engaging with ones that affect your community. Food, medical supplies, and crafting materials all factor into the stability of your community, with the overall mood of your survivors governing how well you’re doing. Supplies are littered around the dilapidated and abandoned settlements surrounding you, which are easily scouted with a little high ground. Your objectives hardly stray from going out, clearing an area of enemies, and scrounging around for consumables, gear, and large rucksacks of the more pertinent supplies you’ll need to keep settlers happy.
The act of gathering these supplies is rarely gratifying, though. Although your settlement initially requires some quick work to get on its feet, State of Decay 2 hardly feels like it will fail you for slacking on your routine duties. Certain base structures, for example, have daily resources costs that might trick you into thinking you’ll need a steady supply coming through. But because days tick by so slowly (I finished my core objectives within the first 10 days) this never becomes a real concern. Resources only become troublesome when you need them to craft something specific, such as ammo or plague cures. They’re short-lived problems though, which hardly force you to pause and think about how you’re setting up your settlement. It’s rare for State of Decay 2 to make you feel pressure over the choices you make, which just make all of its interesting sub-systems feel shallow.
It’s a pity, too, because so many of them could’ve added a much-needed layer of strategy. As an example, your base features a threat level which governs how likely you are to attract a zombie attack. Creating new structures or powering them with generators creates noise and in turn increases the likelihood of an attack for a certain period. But even at the highest level, a community of just six members strong is often enough to fend off these attacks without needing explicit intervention on your part. Of the handful of moments that my character was radioed to return, the fight was over by the time I arrived. All structures intact, all survivors unharmed.
State of Decay 2 squanders systems like this by not giving you a reason to engage with them seriously. If your aim is to continually bring new survivors to a settlement but also worry about their well-being, your encounters with each new face should feature more scrutiny as to what they bring to the table. Their distinct abilities set them apart from each other, but not in a way that forces you to make tough decisions about who to invite into your settlement.
The friendlier survivors you encounter are injected with a sense of individuality thanks to numerous perks that come pre-assigned to them. One specialising in swordplay will be more effective with a bladed weapon, while another with computer skills can help expand your base of operations. The sheer breadth of options on offer might trick you into thinking that scrutinizing each potential new addition to your settlement is key, but that’s not the case. Frequently, State of Decay 2 informs you that clashing personalities are leading to fights at home base, but these never escalate to a point where you’re required to take action. You’ll never feel the need to exile an existing character or deny entry to one based on their lack of specific skills.
Graphical hitches are frequent, including enemies clipping through the environment and sometimes having entire hordes stuck on single piece of the environment.
Combat isn’t as dynamic as some character-specific abilities might suggest, but it is satisfying nonetheless. A single button is used for attacks, which depending on your weapon of choice could inflict blunt knockback damage and force an enemy to the floor or slowly slice away at them limb by limb. Each approach comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Bladed weapons deal with larger groups of enemies more efficiently but tend to be far less durable than a sledgehammer or tire iron. These bulkier weapons require you to take an additional action to finish off enemies on the ground, which might leave you open to getting surrounded. Either way, the gory finishers and gruesome sound effects really bring a weight to the melee action, even if you’re just mindlessly mashing the same button until your stamina expires. Firearms feature too, and ammunition for them is far more abundant than you might expect. Gunshots attract more zombies (even with silencers), but it’s the sluggish aiming that’s ultimately more frustrating in practice.
State of Decay 2 does a fair job of mixing things up with the introduction of some new enemy types. While some less interesting additions suchs as exploding Bloaters feature more than they deserve to, two others shake up combat in delightful ways. Ferals will jolt around at high speeds, avoiding your melee swings and making firearms a nightmare to connect with. Similarly, Juggernauts make up the largest foes you’ll face on the frontier. They’ll soak up hits from vehicles and rounds of ammunition before giving you a chance to take them down with a satisfying execution. Combined with regular, lumbering enemies that will quickly surround you, Juggernauts make fights more about clever crowd control.
Often though, it’s the game itself that will do its best to deter you from playing rather than its lack of depth. State of Decay 2 runs extremely poorly, even on Xbox One X. Despite not standing out graphically in any regard, the framerate will frequently dip well below its 30 frames per second target, sometimes locking up momentarily when the action is thick on screen. As a result, inputs can often feel incredibly sluggish and unresponsive, which just becomes annoying when you’re trying to swing your way out of a supply run gone sideways. Lighting can sometimes be striking, especially in dawn and dusk situations, but State of Decay 2 lacks a visual theme to tie itself up with and just ends up looking drab and boring. This is all stacked on top of a motion blur that is so aggressive that even the slightest movement turns your surroundings into an unattractive smudge.
Bugs are prominent too and can range from slightly annoying to near game-breaking. Graphical hitches are frequent, including enemies clipping through the environment and sometimes having entire hordes stuck on single piece of the environment. Enemies also routinely drop from the sky if you’re racing across the map quickly, which you’ll do often when you’re travelling in any one of the vehicles present on the map. Physics will miscalculate, launching your vehicle in the air from a slight touch at low speeds. Companions are also particularly prickly. Some following you on missions will disappear for no reason, while I personally had a single instance of a community member disappearing entirely and being eliminated from my pool of characters upon starting the game. One other instance saw one of my characters locked out from use in perpetuity for no apparent reason, while other times some would be stuck in an endless loop of the same boring dialogue for an entire mission. State of Decay 2 is in rough shape as it stands.
Perhaps if State of Decay 2 had the kind of depth that drew you in, these technical faults would be easier to overlook. But it’s because of the lack of meaningful motivations that they stick out so predominantly. State of Decay 2 settles into a rhythm that might be easy for you to pass some hours with, but it’s never a ride with genuine surprises, excitement or purpose. There’s promise in so many systems that it introduces, but they’re woefully underutilized to make space for repetitive activities that are nowhere near as exciting to engage with. State of Decay 2 feels like the lumbering enemies that populate its country mountains. Aimless, wandering, and just out of place.
The campaign for the May 12 election shows voters may want less politics based on religious parties and more civic unity on common interests.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Says U.S. Can Send ‘Capital’ to North Korea Once Nuclear Weapons Are Gone
The U.S. is ready to allow investments in North Korea once it has verifiable proof of the Asian nation’s denuclearization, two of President Donald Trump’s top national security officials said.
“We’re prepared to open the trade and investment with North Korea as soon as we can,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week,” one of two appearances on Sunday political shows.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went further in an interview on CBS. He talked of the potential for U.S. investment in the North Asian nation from America’s “entrepreneurs, our risk takers, our capital providers” to help North Korea’s people “get the opportunity that they so richly deserve.”
Before any such benefits flow, though, Bolton and Pompeo said the U.S. must have proof that the denuclearization process is complete, verifiable, and irreversible.
The remarks come ahead of a historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore on June 12 that may pave the way for the North Korean dictator to give up his nuclear arsenal. It will be the first time a sitting U.S. president meets the leader of North Korea.
Not Seeing Stars
Kim is expected to seek swift relief from severe economic sanctions in exchange for steps to shut down its nuclear program. The U.S. has insisted that Pyongyang completely abandon its nuclear program before easing its “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
“He sees the chance of a breakthrough, but I don’t think he has stars in his eyes over this,” Bolton said of Trump.
Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday” that North Korea would be allowed access to private-sector U.S. capital for infrastructure projects if “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” occurs.
“We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the south,” Pompeo added.
That will be a heavy lift, however: The Central Intelligence Agency estimates 2017 per-capita gross domestic product for South Korea at $ 39,400 against North Korea’s $ 1,700 in 2015, the most recent figure available. North Korea’s per-capita GDP ranked it 214 out of 228 countries.
“Private-sector Americans, not the U.S. taxpayer” would go into North Korea to “help build out the energy grid,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.” “To work with them to develop infrastructure. All the things that the North Korean people need.”
The Singapore summit comes amid a broader warming of North Korea’s relations with the U.S. and South Korea that’s gained momentum in amid steps by Kim to ease tensions. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed in late April to finally put an end to the seven-decade war between the two nations and seek a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Pompeo has spent“a great deal of time with Chairman Kim” on two recent visits to Pyongyang, he said. “He’s able to deal with complexity when the conversation requires it,” he said of Kim, whose age is estimated at 34 to 36.
North Korea on Saturday said it would dismantle its nuclear test site and invite foreign journalists to observe, a largely symbolic move ahead of the meeting with Trump. North Korea also freed three U.S. citizens who’d been imprisoned there.
On “Face the Nation,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said getting North Korea to denuclearize is complicated, because its program is “dramatically larger” than Iran’s, with miles of tunnels, multiple sites and existing weapons. Gates put the odds of immediate success as “very low.”
But Trump goes into the meeting “with a lot of cards to play,” Gates said, including a possible peace treaty, diplomatic recognition and a promise not to overthrow the regime.
BENGALURU/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Four Indian state banks reported on Friday a combined net loss of 117.29 billion rupees ($ 1.74 billion) for the fiscal fourth quarter due to a jump in bad-loan provisions following a tightening of the Reserve Bank of India rules.
When Mike Pompeo was nominated as secretary of State he was touted as just the administrator the understaffed State Department needed to right the ship and improve morale. But from Day 1 the foreign-policy challenges have been historic and unrelenting. Can he handle both areas of responsibility at once? He may have to.
Joseph James DeAngelo has been identified as the so-called Golden State Killer believed to have committed 12 killings and 48 rapes across California from 1976 to 1986, authorities said. The 72-year-old suspect is being held without bail in Sacramento on two murder counts. “The answer has always been in Sacramento,” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.
Back in April of 2016, author Michelle McNamara passed away unexpectedly at the age of 42.
Though perhaps best known to the general public as the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, McNamara was a highly-regarded true crime writer who was hard at work on her magnum opus at the time of her death.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark became an instant bestseller when it was published posthumously in February of this year, and now it looks as though the book may have helped lead police to a serial killer and rapist who evaded capture for more than four decades.
Former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested in Sacramento this morning on two counts of murder.
There’s reason to believe that DeAngelo might be the man police referred to as the East Area Rapist and who McNamara dubbed the Golden State Killer – an elusive suspect whose DNA ties him to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults, and 120 burglaries committed between 1976 and 1986.
The investigation has been referred to by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert as “the most prolific unsolved serial killing case probably in modern history.”
At the time of her death, McNamara’s manuscript was left unfinished.
The published version has been supplemented with material from researcher Paul Haynes and journalist Billy Jensen as well as an afterword by Oswalt, all of whom took to social media today to celebrate what appears to be the completion of McNamara’s life’s work.
“Think you got him, Michelle,” Oswalt said in an emotional video posted to Instagram this morning.
The famed comic will also produce an upcoming HBO docudrama about the GSK investigation.
The publicity surrounding the book and HBO special is believed to have prompted Sacramento police to re-open the 32-year-old cold case.
Interestingly, when news of DeAngelo’s arrest broke, Oswalt was with the book’s research team at a press event in McNamara’s hometown of Chicago last night, which also served as the first night of filming for the HBO documentary.
“Ended with me saying, ‘He’s running out of time.’ And now all of this. Surreal,” Oswalt tweeted today.
Many fans of McNamara’s work have posted some of the more eerily prescient passages of her first and last book, particularly a section in which she addresses the killer directly, imagining him being apprehended as an old man.
“You’re long past leaping over a fence. Take one of your hyper, gulping breaths. Clench your teeth. Inch timidly toward the insistent bell,” McNamara writes.
“This is how it ends for you … Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.”
While there are certainly no happy endings in a story this macabre, we hope that DeAngelo’s arrest can bring a modicum of relief to those who were tormented by his crimes – as well as the family of the woman who devoted her final days to seeing him brought to justice.
When it comes to handholding, things tend to get a little awkward between President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania. On three separate occasions, a stone-faced Melania, 47, has been photographed resisting her husband’s advances. That all changed on Tuesday, April 24.
As the couple stood in front of the White House steps ahead of their first State dinner, Melania wore her signature stoic expression — but her fingers were tightly intertwined with his The PDA came just hours after the former model refused the 71-year-old’s attempt at tenderness. (He kept tapping her hand until she reluctantly clasped his.)
Twitter had a field day with the cringeworthy moment that was captured by MSNBC. “I know I’ve been an absentee dad and a horrible husband — including flagrant affairs while you were pregnant — but let’s just hold hands at this event,” wrote one person. Added another: “Melania refusing to hold Trump’s hand with a ghastly expression on her face, and then him creepy grabbing it, is American 2018.”
Of course, the pair, who have been married 13 years, are used to this kind of attention. On a tarmac in Israel in May 2017, she dodged Trump’s grasp with a swat heard around the world. One day later, another snub: As they were exiting Air Force One, Trump tried to take her hand but she suddenly attempted to fix her hair.
In March, an insider told Us Weekly that Melania, who shares son Barron, 12, with Trump, “is very, very unhappy with her life.”
“If she should, she would get away from Donald,” said the source. “And just be with her son.”
A new study turns a spotlight on how black and white men in America experience rates of firearm homicide and suicide differently, and by state.
The French President arrives today as the first foreign leader invited for a state visit by this administration
It was last July that US President Donald Trump laid bare the depth of his feelings for his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
Russia has condemned US, UK and French strikes against targets in Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons, as the Western allies argued they were essential to deter the future use of illegal munitions.