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Costa Rica Faces Water Supply Challenges Amid Severe Drought

In a press conference the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (AyA), the government entity responsible for water supply in the country, announced that it cannot guarantee 100% of the water service due to the severe drought caused by the “El Niño” phenomenon and the scarcity of rainfall during the dry season, which lasts from November to May. Juan Manuel Quesada, the executive president of AyA, stated that “the flow rates of surface sources have been reduced by up to 85% in the Greater Metropolitan Area of San José, making it impossible to guarantee water 24/7.” This alarming situation has left residents of various areas in the capital, which is home to half of Costa Rica’s 5.1 million inhabitants, facing programmed cuts in their drinking water supply for weeks. Some neighborhoods have even gone days without access to water. According to data from the National Meteorological Institute, the rainy season is expected to begin in the central area during the first week of May. However, AyA estimates that the normalization of the water supply systems will not occur until the end of that month. San José typically relies on water naturally supplied by rainfall in the Central Mountain Range that traverses the country from north to south. But the scarcity of precipitation has forced authorities to intervene and manage the limited supply. AyA indicated that “the main surface sources, such as rivers and streams, have suffered large decreases in flow.” To compensate for the shortage and supply cuts, as well as to regulate the constant flow of water in the system, the managing entity has “redoubled efforts to incorporate sources that were not even planned,” including wells and tanker trucks. This highlights the severity of the situation and the need for immediate action to address the water crisis. Furthermore, AyA has accelerated more than 40 infrastructure projects, worth over half a million dollars, to adapt and improve the water supply network. These initiatives aim to optimize the distribution of the limited water resources and minimize the impact of the drought on the population. The current water crisis in Costa Rica underscores the vulnerability of the country’s water supply system to climate change and extreme weather events like El Niño. It also emphasizes the urgent need for long-term solutions, such as investing in more resilient infrastructure, promoting water conservation practices, and implementing effective water management strategies.

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D.C. locals still shellshocked from violent 2023, despite steady 2024 decline in crime

D.C. residents say they are still wary after rampant and often brazen violence plagued the city last year despite assurances from local officials and police authorities that crime in every major category is down this year. Mayor Muriel Bowser and leaders in the Metropolitan Police Department have touted the 24% drop in violent crime during public events through the first four months of 2024. Homicides are down 28%, carjackings are down 31% and muggings are down 22%, putting the District on track with a nationwide trend of lower crime rates in big cities. Last year, the city recorded a 26-year-high in homicides, a record-high number of violent car thefts and frequent ambush-style robberies in side streets and commercial corridors. The statistics aren’t resonating with locals. The rampant violence shook some residents to the point that they looked into hiring private security for their neighborhoods. “They were going to be patrolling all of our streets,” Ann Garlow, a resident of 16th Street Heights in Northwest, told The Washington Times. “It was a crime deterrent we were after.” Ms. Garlow said she and about 30 of her neighbors planned to have the security firm keeping watch over a seven-block area after an increase in armed robberies, violent car thefts and a homicide. Negotiations with the security company collapsed. Ms. Garlow said the idea for paid security generated interest after the MPD said it couldn’t send more patrols to the neighborhood. Parts of the District that have long struggled with crime are scarred from a turbulent 2023. “Personally, I think it’s still the same,” Curtis Brothers, who lives in the Greenway neighborhood in Southeast and runs the organization Saving Our Youth, told The Times. “As you can see, the carjackings are still up … and I think we’re about to get another spike [in crime] because the weather’s getting too good and people are starting to go outside more.” Despite the recorded drop in crime, the city has been peppered with jarring episodes of violence. In January, police said a man gunned down two people and carjacked multiple vehicles before he was killed in a shootout with police in Prince George’s County, Maryland. One of two barricade situations in February erupted because a gunman shot three MPD officers. A 14-year-old boy was fatally shot at the Brookland Metro Station this month. Days later, police said, at least two people sprayed down a neighborhood block in Northeast. One man was killed, and five others, including two boys, were wounded. Such incidents are becoming less common, according to city statistics. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, the federal prosecutor who handles most serious crimes in the city, said at a recent community crime meeting at MPD’s 4th District station that shootings are down 30% this year. D.C. Administrator Kevin Donahue said this winter that a higher rate of gunshot victims were mortally wounded last year. A quarter of all people who were shot last year died from their injuries, Mr. Donahue said, compared with roughly 18% in 2017. He said that increase accounted for more than 50 homicides last year. Mr. Graves, who has been badgered for his office’s woeful prosecution rate, appeared correct to say the District was six to 12 months behind the rest of the country in getting control of its pandemic lockdown crime wave. Data showing less violence on the streets isn’t persuading anyone to celebrate. “Sure, crime is down from its zenith last year, but we’re still well above where we were a decade ago,” said one downtown resident, who asked not to be identified. The resident encouraged people to chat with Uber Black drivers, the ride-hailing service’s luxury option. He said drivers are terrified of coming into the city and having their expensive vehicles stolen at gunpoint. How to keep crime rates down is up for debate. Ms. Garlow from 16th Street Heights said the city would benefit from providing a basic income for all residents. She said it would prevent people from feeling that they need to commit crimes to support themselves. Others say the best way to improve safety in the District is to rebuild interpersonal bonds that once kept communities together. “We’ve got to put the ‘neighbor’ back inside ‘neighborhood’ and put the ‘unity’ back inside ‘community,’” said Prince Hamn, who works with at-risk youths in Southeast with his organization Making A Difference. “We’ve got to start knowing one another before we start doing some of these violent crimes.” Mr. Hamn said a lack of connection makes criminals more prone to victimize their neighbors. Mr. Hamn also suggested that city leaders focus more on violence prevention and interruption efforts, given that crime in the District is becoming more manageable. He said outreach at schools, neighborhood events and even the D.C. Jail would prevent violence from spiking again. His suggestion also relies on people to take the message seriously. Mr. Hamn said those who lack the discipline to stay away from a life of crime will soon find themselves “inside the gravesite, as sad as that is to say.”

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Some Nikki Haley supporters are hanging on to her candidacy and, like her, refuse to endorse Trump

HARRISBURG, Pa. — When Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign, she refused to endorse Donald Trump as the last remaining major candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination – and apparently so did some of her supporters in Pennsylvania. Haley won almost 17% of Pennsylvania’s primary vote Tuesday, or 1 in 6 votes, to Trump’s 83%, despite not campaigning for president since she ended her bid in early March. Pennsylvania’s 19 electoral votes up for grabs in the presidential election make it a premier battleground state. So should those Haley GOP voters refuse to support Trump in November, it could prove a damaging blow to his prospects for victory in the state and, possibly, reelection. Haley’s base was never big enough to seriously challenge Trump before he clinched a third straight Republican presidential nomination, but her supporters have continued to vote for her in primaries in Pennsylvania and elsewhere even after she dropped out. With nearly all ballots counted in Pennsylvania’s primary, the former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor tallied more than 157,000 votes, or about twice the 80,500-vote margin by which Democrat Joe Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania in 2020. Pennsylvania’s election was even closer in 2016, when Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes. A larger proportion of votes for Haley tended to come from urban and suburban areas where Trump suffered massive losses in his two previous presidential campaigns. More than a million votes have been counted for Haley in Republican primaries and caucuses since she dropped out, though some of those may have been cast early or by mail before she ended her campaign. During that period, Trump received about 5.8 million votes. Over the same period, more than 600,000 ballots were counted for candidates other than Joe Biden in Democratic primaries and caucuses, while about 4.6 million were for Biden. On the Democratic side in Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota won 7% against Biden, or nearly 70,000 votes as of Wednesday. Counties had reported about 60,000 for write-in candidates in the Democratic primary – an increase from state elections office figures of 28,372 in 2016 and 34,356 in 2020. A handful of counties had not yet reported write-in totals, and the breakdown of write-in votes for “ uncommitted ” was not immediately available. Phillips and Haley qualified for Pennsylvania’s primary ballot before they dropped out of the presidential race, and Biden and Trump are on track to win their parties’ presidential nominations and face each other in November’s general election. Phillips has endorsed Biden. All told, about 1 million ballots have been counted apiece in Tuesday’s GOP and Democratic presidential primaries in Pennsylvania, out of 3.5 million registered Republican voters and 3.9 million registered Democratic voters. Pennsylvania holds closed primary elections, meaning that someone must have been registered as a Republican or a Democrat by April 8 to have voted in the primary for that party.

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Republicans pivot on abortion in key Senate races to align with Donald Trump

Republicans in critical congressional races are reshaping their stances on abortion, in some cases backing away from stricter limits in the wake of public backlash. Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, and Kari Lake, who is running for Arizona’s open Senate seat, have moderated their positions on restricting abortion. So has the Republican front-runner in Nevada’s race for Senate, who recently cited his wife’s past abortion for his decision to support a 24-week limit. In polling and two consecutive election cycles, voters have expressed opposition to strict abortion limits. They have enshrined abortion access through ballot measures and rejected Republican candidates who embraced stricter limits. Abortion is a central issue in the presidential campaign. Democrats hope it will taint the Republican Party enough to help President Biden win a second term and keep their narrow Senate majority. While serving as Florida governor a few years ago, Mr. Scott pledged to sign legislation banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Now seeking a second term in the Senate, he supports a more generous time frame that allows abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. Florida Democrats are trying to galvanize their base with a November ballot measure that would quash the state’s looming six-week limit on abortion and bar Florida from restricting the procedure before fetal viability, or 24 weeks of pregnancy. Although Republicans significantly outnumber Democratic voters in the state, the abortion measure could bring out enough Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to tighten the race against Mr. Scott’s likely Democratic opponent, former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Mr. Scott told The Washington Times he is pro-life and an advocate of adoption, but he said the Republican Party needs to be compassionate about unwanted pregnancies, and that is what Florida voters are telling him. A USA Today/Ipsos poll released last week found that 3 out of 5 registered voters in Florida favor a ballot measure expanding abortion access and more than half oppose the state’s six-week ban that takes effect in the coming weeks. Mr. Scott said he examined data from polls and focus groups and met with Florida voters to reach his decision to support a 15-week limit. “We ought to be where the consensus is,” Mr. Scott said. “In my state, that consensus is 15 weeks.” Ms. Lake, who ran as an ardent pro-life candidate in her unsuccessful bid for Arizona governor in 2022, has moderated her position since the state Supreme Court ruled this month to uphold an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions. “This total ban on abortion that the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled on is out of line with where the people of this state are,” Ms. Lake said on social media. The latest poll of likely Arizona voters shows Ms. Lake running 5 percentage points behind her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego. Voter turnout will be a crucial factor in deciding the race. State Democrats plan to animate their base with a November ballot initiative similar to Florida’s, which would enshrine access to abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Mr. Gallego listed abortion rights at the top of his “priorities” on his campaign website and said he would vote to eliminate the filibuster to legalize abortion at the federal level if he is elected to the Senate. Ms. Lake has shifted slightly toward Mr. Gallego’s direction. In a campaign video this month, she announced that she does not back a federal abortion ban and thinks abortion limits should have exceptions. “I chose life, but I’m not every woman. I want to make sure that every woman who finds herself pregnant has more choices so that she can make that choice that I made,” Ms. Lake said. The abortion limits that Mr. Scott and Ms. Lake are supporting are the most favorable in public opinion polls and align with the stance of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Trump is leading Mr. Biden in Arizona and Florida. Mr. Trump has rejected total bans on abortion or “heartbeat” legislation, which would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. The former president announced last month that he does not support a federal ban on the procedure and that the states should decide the matter. The Supreme Court affirmed that position when it overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion at the federal level, in June 2022. Mr. Trump said earlier this year that he believed a 15-week limit would work best because polling showed that it had the greatest level of public support. “Even hard-liners are agreeing … 15 weeks seems to be a number that people are agreeing at,” Mr. Trump said in March. He blamed the 2022 Republican election losses on party and candidate pressure for strict abortion limits after Roe v. Wade was overturned. He takes credit for the Supreme Court ruling because he appointed three justices who made it possible. Campaigning this year ahead of the Iowa caucuses, when he was competing in the Republican primary against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Mr. Trump denounced the six-week ban on abortion that Mr. DeSantis pushed through the state Legislature and signed into law. Mr. Trump called it “a terrible mistake.” Mr. Trump said he supported exceptions for rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Ms. Lake parroted that line in her statement after the Arizona Supreme Court ruling upholding the 1864 law. “I agree with President Trump. We must have exceptions for rape, incest and the life of a mother,” she said. Mr. Scott, a Trump ally, is also advocating for those exceptions. In Nevada’s closely watched Senate race, the likely Republican candidate, Sam Brown, moved swiftly to moderate his position on abortion. He previously supported restrictions ranging from a 20-week limit to an all-out ban except when the mother’s life is in danger. Mr. Brown, the prohibitive front-runner in the state’s primary, is on course to face Sen. Jacky Rosen in November. The latest polling of registered voters shows the two statistically tied. Based on the last Senate race, abortion could be a deciding factor. Two years ago, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in Nevada by less than 1% of the vote. Many predicted the poorly performing economy and high gas prices would drag down Ms. Masto and flip the seat to Mr. Laxalt. The election was held just months after the high court ruling on abortion. Ms. Masto campaigned heavily on protecting abortion access, and Mr. Laxalt ducked the issue. Exit polls found abortion ranked second among the issues that mattered most to Nevada voters, and 89% of those who voted for Ms. Masto said abortion access was their top issue. Abortion in Nevada is legal for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Advocates want to make it harder to restrict or change the law by enshrining it in the state constitution through a November ballot measure, which could also bring out additional voters for Ms. Rosen. Mr. Brown, hoping to neutralize abortion as a weapon for Democrats, has softened his stance, calling for compassion for women who become unexpectedly pregnant. Mr. Brown recently said he does not support further limiting the state’s 24-week limit, nor would he back a federal ban. Mr. Brown, an injured veteran who served in Afghanistan, announced his new position in an NBC News interview while sitting next to his wife, who revealed during the sit-down that she had an abortion when she was 24. “Things just get boiled down to trying to put something on paper or draw a line in the sand, and it’s missing the point that there is at least a woman who is going through what might be one of the most challenging things in her life,” Mr. Brown said in the interview. “We need to take care of those women.”

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Set the table and the mood with the latest in creative dishware

The way a dish looks has been important to the dining experience since forever, but perhaps never more than now. Relaxed and homey. Or vibrant and celebratory. And perhaps shareable, too. “Chefs know that guests spend a lot of time looking at their plates,” says Chandra Ram, associate editorial director of Food & Wine magazine. “So it’s another detail, before you eat, to help set the stage for a visual experience. This is especially true for dishes they know are going to make it onto Instagram – a beautiful plate makes for a better (and more shareable) image, which helps market the restaurant.” As with restaurants, so with the home. Design is all over new tableware. The classic white ceramic circle has ceded some ground to plates in a variety of creative shapes and colors. “Chefs and restaurants are moving away from traditional ways of food presentation,” says Thomas Kastl, director of dining at Ambiente, the global homewares trade fair in Frankfurt each year. “The latest trend embraces handmade-style tableware, or irregular shapes inspired by nature, like leaves or shells.” PHOTOS: The plate as palette: Set the table and the mood with the latest in creative dishware Stoneware, in particular, is enjoying a renaissance, he says. It’s natural, recyclable and long-lasting, and “implies down-to-earthiness, legacy and craftsmanship.” The stoneware trend also reflects a “more relaxed plating style,” even in fine-dining restaurants, Kastl said. It’s part of a larger shift in decor, says Blair Donovan, an editor at Apartment Therapy. “The past few years have been all about soft, fluid furniture; now I’m noticing these silhouettes trickle over to dinnerware,” “Instead of conventionally clean-edged plates and platters, more organically shaped, asymmetric styles are cropping up.” Donovan mentions brands like Food52 and Soho Home for having embraced “imperfect” dining sets, often in neutral, earthy tones. At Crate & Barrel, designer Leanne Ford’s Kiln wonky dinnerware looks fresh off the potter’s wheel. The retailer also sells the Julo stoneware collection from Portugal, with blue and brown reactive glazes creating kinetic patterns. Scallop trim – a trend noted in Apartment Therapy’s 2024 State of Home Design survey – has found its way from decor to plates, where the wavy edging is especially well-suited to smaller appetizer and dessert dishes. Ceramicist Jono Pandolfi started making dinnerware for restaurants in 2004. When Michelin-starred restaurateurs like Danny Meyer began working with him, the business really took off. Today he’s in a 6,000-square-foot production house in Union City, New Jersey, where 10 kilns are kept busy making stoneware for home cooks and gourmet restaurants around the country. And on New York’s Lower East Side, the recently opened Bar Miller restaurant serves its omakase menu on the colorfully glazed ceramic slabs and plate bowls of local artisans Helen Levi and FeFo Studio. “Chefs are telling me they use beautifully patterned plates to help tell their stories,” says Ram, of Food & Wine. “A vintage plate style might reiterate that a chef was influenced by a parent or grandparent’s cooking.” Some playful patterns put the design on just one side of the plate. Others evoke nature, like Fortessa’s swirling Cloud Terre and Northern Lights collections. Still others favor modern art. In Olhao, Portugal, David Pimentel and Arren Williams created Casa Cubista, named for the town’s Cubist-style buildings. The buzzy brand has handmade plates with bold swaths of glaze, colored dips and graphic abstracts. Mud Australia has matte-finish ceramic pieces in soft, dreamy hues with names like pistachio, duck egg, mist and blossom. At London’s Kitchen Theory food design lab, chef Jozef Youssef and his team have done surveys of how the color of a dish affects a diner’s perception of the plated food. Their findings: Dishes served on red plates were thought to be sweeter, making them ideal for desserts. Yellow plates seemed to make fruit dishes look especially appetizing. Blue and green? These plates were said to make dishes appear healthier. New York-based writer Kim Cook covers design and decor topics regularly for The Associated Press. Follow her on Instagram at @kimcookhome.

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Games Inbox: Was Sony wrong to publish Stellar Blade?

An unusual PS5 exclusive (Picture: Sony) The Thursday letters page worries that there are no first party PS5 games with a release date, as another reader wants a new Fallout game. To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@metro.co.uk Only on PlayStationGood, fair review of Stellar Blade, GC. I don’t imagine that was an easy one, if the game is good but other stuff around it is so icky. What I don’t understand is why Sony would want to pick up this game to publish and not tell the developers to think again when it comes to the main character, especially if it doesn’t have any influence on the rest of the game. For a company that’s trying to be open to everybody, publishing a game where the character looks like she’d be over-the-top in Dead Or Alive Xtreme Volleyball seems like a really weird move. I hate to think they did it just to get people riled up, but I’d imagine the main character is only likely to have a negative effect on reviews and general audiences. Although I’ll be honest, the thing that put me off the most was the price. I know it’s the same for all Sony games but there is no way that I’m going to pay £70 for an unknown new IP that got good but not amazing reviews. That game’s going to be discounted before you can say Black Friday and I really don’t know why they even bothered starting it off at full price. Like the reader said yesterday, surely they’d sell twice as much, or more, at half the price. I really struggle to understand why Sony published it at all.Sieben Date unknownSo, now that Stellar Blade is out we’re down to there being no scheduled first party games at all, in terms of ones with actual dates. So that means the only games we know about are Concord, which is meant to be out this year, and Marvel’s Wolverine, which is maybe 2025, if we’re lucky. Beyond that the only Sony games I know about are the live service Fairgame$, which I don’t think has a release year, and Kojima’s Physint – also date unknown. How has Sony allowed things to get this bad? What are people supposed to be buying a PlayStation 5 for? Oh, I’m really looking forward to that new game, err… that probably exists, but they haven’t really said. All I can say is that their summer preview event better be really good. I’m going to bet it isn’t though.RoryB GC: There’s also the Until Dawn remake sometime this year and Death Stranding 2 sometime next year, also by Kojima. Creator’s voiceFor anyone wanting to find out more about the creator of Balatro there is a podcast called Eggplant: The Secret Lives Of Games. It is episode 136, Going in Blind with Balatro. Just a quick thanks to Andrew J for the amiibo link. I have finally been able to grab the Sonic The Hedgehog amiibo. Thought I’d never get the little fella.Chaosphere616 Email your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk Infinite problemsI’m going to guess that most of Ubisoft’s summer showcase is going to be devoted to Assassin’s Creed, considering they haven’t shown off Infinity yet and they’ve got so many other games on the boil that also haven’t been seen yet. I know the series has its critics, but I’ve always been a fan, at least in measured doses – I don’t need a new one every year. I do worry at what Infinity is going to be though. As my understanding is you don’t buy it separately but it’s something you get for free and can run all future games from, probably having an interface set in the present day or something. That all sounds cool enough, but Ubisoft keep calling it a live service title and since it’s not a game in itself it’s pretty obvious that’s going to mean a lot of microtransactions, skins, and the likes. I know, I know: I don’t have to buy it. But all this monetisation stuff is just so exhausting sometimes. I’m already wishing I can just start the games and play them as normal, without Infinity.Talkclose No negotiationsI enjoyed reading Mark Fitz’ nostalgic N64/PS1 letter on Wednesday, where he mentioned Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, and Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and it got me thinking… which other consoles have had three titles which are absolutely non-negotiable 10/10 classics, like these were back in the day? The PS1 games he mentioned (Grand Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasy 7) were excellent but were more 8 possibly 9/10 titles. Any thoughts GC and GC viewers?Adams6legend GC: The Switch has more 10/10s than any recent console but Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is arguably the only one that’s a mould-breaker in the manner of those other games. Quick releaseI agree that it would be madness to wait until 2031 or whenever to make the next Fallout. The show will be long gone by then and all this goodwill will have been squandered. If I was Bethesda, I’d get Id Software to make some sort of shooter and scale back on the role-playing elements. Make it clear it’s not meant to be a normal game and you could have some decent gunplay for once as well. Get a good story in there, that ties into the show, and you’d have an instant hit. The problem is, as we all know by now, games take so long to make now that that’d still take four years or so. But I wonder what Id Software is working on right now? Probably a new Doom game but maybe they could adapt that to be a Fallout game instead? Not literally turn the game into one but use its basic gameplay and graphics and then come back to Doom 3 later? The inability for gaming to quickly pivot and react to anything is a real shame and, as we know, is only getting worse. Maybe they could get an indie developer to do something instead, because it’d be quicker, but that’s not really the same, is it?Freddy Strange voicesRE: Dragon’s Dogma 2. I really liked the first game, especially the Dark Arisen expansion, and the sequel is my game of the year so far. But I have to ask, what is going on with the people reading out the lines? I reckon they’ve all had a liquid lunch before work and decided to troll everyone en masse.Chevy Malibu (PSN ID) GC: We suspect it’s the case of an American or Japanese voice director not realising just how silly they all sound. More TrendingFallout 4 next gen update – when it’s out and what’s in itStellar Blade review – fighting through the male gazeGames Inbox: What Nintendo games will launch with the Switch 2?Games Inbox: Will GTA 6 have campaign co-op?Read More Stories Late flashI’m not sure this No Rest of The Wicked dev is necessarily wrong about early access but way to make yourself seem like an arrogant git. As far as I can tell his game is a generic Diablo clone, whereas Dark Souls is one of the best and most influential games of all time. Based on quality, maybe he should’ve just released their game as normal, like From did? And then he has a go at Sony and Nintendo for not allowing early access? Nintendo?! GC already gave the obvious example of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom but, especially given their complexity, Nintendo games are basically always bug free and highly original. And they didn’t get either by relying on early access. Personally I’ve never liked the idea. I don’t want a game made by committee, especially a committee of gamers that know nothing about making games. I think I’d much rather stick with Nintendo and all the other great developers of the world, than relying on just throwing a game out there and slowly fixing it as you go. I can see maybe it’s useful for indie developers, in terms of getting money rolling in, and you can’t argue with the results of Baldur’s Gate 3, but in general, I’d rather developers just made the game themselves and finished it before releasing. I don’t think that’s old fashioned, that’s the way that has the most consistent results.Focus Inbox also-ransSo if they make a Kingdom Hearts movie, and manage to make sense of the plot, can we just swap that into the actual games. I can’t believe how complicated they’ve got.Anton Why does June 21 seem so far away? I want to play Shadow Of The Erdtree now, dammit! I’m looking forward to that more than most full games.HGW Email your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk The small printNew Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content. You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot. You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. MORE : Games Inbox: GTA 6 campaign co-op, PS1 vs. N64, and reassessing Dark Souls after 13 years MORE : Games Inbox: Nintendo Switch 2 launch games, new Fallout 4 expansion, and Princess Peach Showtime love MORE : Games Inbox: Coping with a video games backlog, Fallout TV show of the year, and Unicorn Overlord love Follow Metro Gaming on Twitter and email us at gamecentral@metro.co.uk To submit Inbox letters and Reader’s Features more easily, without the need to send an email, just use our Submit Stuff page here. For more stories like this, check our Gaming page. Sign up to all the exclusive gaming content, latest releases before they’re seen on the site.Sign upPrivacy Policy »This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

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In blocking April Perry from U.S. attorney post, J.D. Vance shows he’s pro-Trump, pro-crime

It’s too bad someone can’t put a “procedural hold” on Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance that would crimp what essentially is his pro-crime politicking. In June, Vance announced a procedural hold on all appointments for U.S. attorneys across the country, including April Perry, whom President Joe Biden had appointed to fill the seat for the Northern District of Illinois. Under the Senate’s byzantine rules, just one senator can block the confirmation of a U.S. attorney. That has left northern Illinois with no one in the top job since John Lausch stepped down in March 2023. All because Vance, who pretty much owes his job to former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement, thinks Trump should be above the law instead of facing the four indictments and 88 criminal charges federal and state prosecutors have brought against him. Because Vance has not relented, Biden on Wednesday appointed Perry to serve as a U.S. district court judge for the Northern District of Illinois, making it unlikely anyone else will be appointed to fill the U.S. attorney seat until after the November election. No U.S. attorney nominee since 1981 had to wait as long as Perry did for Senate confirmation. In September, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recommended Perry’s nomination. Vance’s treatment of Perry has been beyond shameful. “It is just a crime what they did to April Perry’s nomination,” Ron Safer, former head of the criminal division in the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office, told us. “She should be the U.S. attorney. She is supremely qualified, [and] it is important for the office to have a woman for the first time in history at the head of the office.” Vance’s hostage-taking is also bad for the efforts to fight crime in the Northern District of Illinois, which serves some nine million people in 18 counties. The federal prosecutors in the office of some 155 lawyers are still doing the day-to-day jobs in the district’s Chicago and Rockford offices. But in any large office, having no one at the top can create a vacuum and lead to inertia and uncertainty. That’s what playing politics with a prosecutor’s office can engender. Vance puts loyalty to Trump above all Acting U.S. Attorney Morris “Sonny” Pasqual, who was the first assistant under John Lausch, has a depth of experience and is widely regarded as someone with good judgment. Under his leadership, the office secured convictions against longtime Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and four former ComEd officials. But Pasqual has been in limbo for a year. That makes it harder to make personnel and other long-range decisions. And with no Senate-confirmed leader, the northern Illinois office has less political clout within the U.S. Justice Department. Moreover, Pasqual lacks his own first assistant, someone who normally acts as a sounding board for the U.S. attorney. Prosecutors have wide discretion in bringing charges, negotiating pleas and setting office policy. Thorough discussions are needed to get all that right. The top job in the criminal division is also vacant. The criminal chief serves a key role in the U.S. attorney’s office, supervising everything that happens in that division, which prosecutes cases involving narcotics, money laundering, violent crimes, financial crimes, securities and commodities fraud, public corruption, organized crime, attacks on national security, cybercrimes and other crimes. Does Vance think none of that is important? Does he not care about the safety of Americans? Does he put his loyalty to Trump above all of that? What does Vance, who said he wants to grind the Justice Department “to a halt,” think he will achieve? That federal prosecutors, who have amassed voluminous evidence against Trump, will just drop all the charges because of one intractable senator? Ironically, Vance’s hold on all U.S. attorney appointments has also left the job of U.S. attorney for Northern Ohio, in his home state, without an occupant for the longest stretch in its history. Trying to get around Vance’s procedural hold is no easy task. If Durbin, for example, tried to pass a so-called “motion to proceed” to end Vance’s hold, such a vote would inevitably be blocked by a filibuster. Efforts over the years to reform procedural holds have gone nowhere in the Senate, which has so many interlocking rules and precedents that attempts to fix something sometimes just make things worse. Whatever else Vance thinks he is up to, he has made himself a friend of criminals and a foe of a qualified U.S. attorney nominee. He has gained nothing, and Illinois — and the rest of the nation — is suffering. The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. See our guidelines.

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Jail for Mallow 'mule' who hid €8k of cocaine in baby's nappy

Detective Garda Shannon Ryan testified that the accused was stopped driving in the Rathcoole area on February 2, 2023. Approximately €500 worth of cannabis was found during an initial search. Asked if there were any more drugs in the car, she replied that there were none. A search was undertaken and what appeared to be a used baby’s nappy was found in the boot of the car. This was opened by gardaí who found the package of cocaine concealed inside. On analysis, it consisted of 117g of cocaine with a street value of €8,246. At this stage in the search, the defendant reached into her underwear and handed over €3,800 cash. She pleaded guilty to money laundering in respect of that amount of seized cash. She also admitted having cocaine for sale or supply and having a smaller amount of cannabis for sale or supply. The judge was told that the 40-year-old had addiction issues and was addressing these, that she showed remorse, and co-operated with the investigation. “This is not a case where the court has a victim impact statement. But society at large is the victim of drug dealing — possession of drugs for sale or supply is a serious offence which carries a sentence of up to life in prison. That reflects the gravity of this kind of offending,” Judge Martin said. Unusually, the defendant reached her mid to late 30s before becoming involved in criminality. “Your position was essentially to act as a mule — go out the road, making drop-offs and collecting money. You were an essential cog in the wheel. (Larger drug suppliers) need people like you to do this for them and it wreaks havoc on society at large. “You say you were being paid €300. That suggests a desperation on your part. You were not deterred by the fact that you were before the court for the very same type of offences. I cannot overlook previous convictions for the very same type of criminality,” Judge Martin said.

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Calls for tougher sanctions to bring back the 'fear of penalty points'

So far in 2024, 68 people have died on the roads — 17 more than the same period in 2023, which itself was considered a tragic year for accidents. On Wednesday, a motorcyclist in his 40s was killed after colliding with a truck near Ballydesmond in Cork, while a cyclist in her 20s was killed following a collision with a van in Dún Laoghaire. The motorcyclist was the second to die on Cork roads in just 14 hours, and the third motorcyclist to die in the county since Sunday. Motorcycles account for approximately 1.5% of all vehicles on the roads yet so far in 2024, bikers have accounted for more than 10% of the deaths. Irish Road Victims Association vice president Leo Lieghio has urged the Government to take a tougher approach to road safety. “I don’t know what was involved in the most recent tragedies, but in general, people seem to have lost the fear of penalty points, of being caught speeding, or drink/drug driving, or of losing their driver’s licence,” said Mr Lieghio, whose daughter, Marsia, 16, died in 2005 after she was struck by a car. “I don’t know why we are still taking the softly-softly approach. We need to treat motoring offences as motoring crimes, with real sanctions, with the real risk of losing your licence, and we need to staff and equip gardaí better. The latest fatalities came as a community that had warned just two weeks ago of more road deaths in their area, vowed to ramp up their campaign for road safety upgrades, following the death of a young motorcyclist at Ballinahina, about 4km north of Cork City on Tuesday. The victim was named locally as Paul Harrington, who was in his mid-20s. He died when his motorbike was involved in a collision with a van at Ballinahina just before 6pm on Tuesday. It occurred just two weeks after a delegation of residents presented a petition to the Lord Mayor, Cllr Kieran McCarthy, at City Hall, calling for the delivery of long-awaited road safety measures in the area, amid warnings of more road deaths until the work is done. Joan Lewis, chairperson of the Kilcully and Ballincrokig Residents Association, said the entire community has been devastated by the tragedy — the 10th road death in the area in a decade. In their petition, they said residents in Kilcully, Dublin Hill, Ballincrokig, Whitechurch Rd, Carrignavar, and Ballinahina Rd are living in constant fear of high-speed traffic, with inadequate lighting and footpaths. “We cannot wait any longer while lives are at risk. We refuse to let more lives be lost or forever changed due to negligence or delay. “It’s time they prioritised our safety,” the residents said at the time. Ms Lewis said residents plan to ramp up their campaign now. “Why are they ignoring us? Why are we being pushed back all the time? We are less than 4km from St Patrick’s St but we have no traffic calming, no pedestrian crossings, and no bus service. Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said councillors for the area agreed on Monday to prioritise traffic calming in Kilcully. “Tragically, that’s too late for this young man and his family. “Nothing will ever bring back his life. “Those works now have to go ahead urgently. “We have to prevent these serious incidents from happening again and again in this area.” Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, Sam Waide, has told the Oireachtas that one in five people are looking at their phone while driving and one in 10 admits to speaking on a phone held in their hand while driving.

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Michael Moynihan: We must not allow antisocial behaviour in Cork to become normalised

I ask because it sometimes appears the middle of town is rougher than it used to be. Far rougher. Some of that may be down to an eagerness to share war stories, whether those are accurate or not. Many Leeside readers will have friends eager to describe recent trips down Oliver Plunkett Street in terms reminiscent of New York’s Five Points in the mid-19th century. Or they may be sharing some of those yarns themselves. ‘Sometimes appears’ is also an important qualifier here. Older readers may recall Cork city centre 30 or 40 years ago not exactly resembling a lost pastoral. In the early 90s, I had a challenging encounter coming out of town one night in late March: around Lower John Street a chap inquired about the contents of my bag from The Body Shop and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. To quote Cormac McCarthy: whoa, differences. I know it was late March because the bag had a Mother’s Day gift basket in it, which came in handy. (“There’s a bit of a dent,” said my mother the following morning. “Don’t ask,” I said.) Granted, even then certain precincts were associated with blackguarding late at night as punters spilled out of discos and sought deep-fried solace. Daytime danger What’s different now is the daytime blackguarding. Many readers will be aware that a local radio station carried a report some days ago of a small child witnessing a stabbing in Cork city centre last weekend in broad daylight — near the city’s bus station around half two in the afternoon. That’s hardly the only report of its type: the daughters of a friend of this column walked past an entirely different stabbing incident in Patrick Street some time ago after school; a random trawl through the headlines in this paper certainly suggests a growing lawlessness in the city. Shops in Patrick Street were set on fire, apparently at random, by an arsonist in February, a woman was seriously assaulted on Oliver Plunkett Street early in March, and later that same month a case came to court involving a man threatening staff at another shop, this time on the Grand Parade (this newspaper’s headline on that last case? Man with over 100 convictions told garda he hoped his wife and children would ‘die a horrible death’). Earlier this month a teenager was brought before Cork District Court charged with injuring another teenager in “a knife fight” on Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork. Another case was heard in the courts last week about an alleged assault which began on Washington Street and continued at the intersection of Grand Parade and Oliver Plunkett Street (this newspaper’s headline on that case: ‘I still don’t fully recognise myself’: Man was hit 250 times during assault in Cork city’.) That last incident occurred around 1am. The other four cases occurred between 9.40am and 6.30pm. These incidents don’t occur in a vacuum. The lack of basic maintenance of the city, the swathes of dereliction, the vacant shopfronts don’t help, and other random factors contribute as well, such as images of violence on the streets being shared online. Garda presence Then you have the street harassment, open-air drug-taking, aggressive begging, and what might charitably be termed a low-key garda presence. That last is no exaggeration. Eoin English reported here this week on a Sinn Féin policing document launched by Deputies Tommy Gould and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: “In Cork City, there were 734 gardaí in January 2022, which fell to 699 by December 31, 2023, and to 694 by January 31, 2024. “This figure has now fallen to 673 on February 29. This is a loss of three gardaí a week in the first two months of the year,” Mr Gould said … Mr Ó Laoghaire said of the 126 gardaí who graduated from Templemore in 2022, just one was assigned to Cork, with just four from the 237 cohort who graduated last year. ‘Cork has 10% of the state’s population but it is getting just over 1% of the garda cohort,’ he said.” It is a truth universally acknowledged that every columnist will eventually bemoan in print antisocial behaviour, petty crime, and the general decline of society. It is as inevitable as using the phrase ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged’ in a column. In doing so it’s important to point something out, though. There are people on the streets of Cork who are in the terrible grip of addiction — people who have been failed at every turn by the apparatus of the State and who are now largely fending for themselves in a hostile environment. Those agencies and individuals who are trying to care for those people deserve huge credit for their efforts. They’re working on behalf of a cohort of people who have been effectively abandoned by Irish society. That reality coexists with another reality: many people visiting the city find aggressive begging and violent behaviour generally frightening to encounter at any time, but particularly disconcerting on a morning’s trip to town. Such behaviour is a strong disincentive to return to the city, obviously enough, but there is another consequence to such behaviour being so widespread: there is every danger that it becomes normalised. And this in turn raises a slightly different spectre. If that is your expectation then you simply come to expect it when you visit the city centre. You become immune to the aggravation and learn to adapt your behaviour accordingly. You learn to side-step the two people fighting with each other on the footpath so you don’t get embroiled in the row. You jam in your AirPods so you don’t have to listen to someone intimidating those around you in a queue for coffee. You hold the door open in a city car park for the five people who were taking drugs in the parking space next to your car. (All personal highlights from a couple of weeks’ worth of visits to the city centre, by the way.) But this behaviour has a limited shelf life. For many people, a day eventually dawns when you decide not to visit the city centre at all simply because it’s not worth it. Parking at a suburban shopping centre car park is an easier experience, and free. There isn’t as much brawling outside the supermarket entrance. Where does that leave the city centre, though? Some readers may feel this is an overly negative depiction of Cork city centre. If your visits are more sunshine and lollipops then good for you, but that is manifestly not the case for many others. Creating a better city experience for all is surely a basic expectation, but to do so we need to identify the problems that need to be solved. That can’t be accomplished until the people who love Cork, and who want to see the city fulfil its potential, acknowledge the challenges it faces.

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