Rocket League will retire old Crates in next major update

By Joe Donnelly 4 days ago

“Removing older Crates means that newer Crates will appear for you more often.”

Psyonix is removing champions crates 1-4! Unbelievable news but predictable as there were too many crates in the game.

When Tyler checked into Rocket League last week after some time away, he was taken aback by how good some of its players have become. At almost two years old, change is inevitable for Psyonix’s ball-cage-car ’em up—a fact which will soon extend to the retirement of Crates.

If you’ve been hanging around the Rocket League community of late, you’ve probably noticed a degree of speculation around this but it’s now official: Psyonix will retire “some” of the game’s Crates “in the near future.”

Speaking in this community post, the developer’s Devin Connors suggests the next major update will prevent all four Champion Crates from being obtainable following Online Matches. In turn, this means that the removal of older Crates should increase the likelihood of landing news ones—however, Connors also stresses the retirement will only affect drops and not whatever players may have (and wish to trade) in their current inventories.

“After retiring the Champion Series, we will continue to retire other Crates on a schedule of roughly six months after their initial release,” says Connors. “But don’t worry, items found inside retired Crates could still come back at a later date. Some items are already available in other Crates, like those found in the Player’s Choice Crate we released in February.”

Connors adds that an announcement will be made ahead of each Crate’s retirement and that Psyonix will have more to share regarding the next big update at the RLCS Season Three World Championship.

In the meantime, you might like to learn about the curious Rocket League player who rewards goals with waffle facts.

Sushma Swaraj thanks Pakistan for Uzma’s return

By News Desk Published: May 26, 2017

Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, has thanked Pakistani diplomats and judiciary for the safe return of Indian national, Uzma, who had alleged she was duped into marrying a Pakistani man, according to The Hindu.

The case of Uzma, 20, took several turns when finally she was repatriated to New Delhi on Thursday following an Islamabad High Court (IHC) order.

Indian woman ‘forced to marry Pakistani man’ repatriated

Swaraj said India would like to thank Pakistan despite differences in the status of bilateral political relations.

“Today, I would like to express our appreciation of Pakistan irrespective of the current state of bilateral ties. If Uzma is here today, that is because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has helped us a lot. Pakistan’s Home Ministry has also helped us a lot,” said Swaraj.

The Indian minister insisted that the Indian High Commission received humanitarian support from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Also lauding Pakistan’s judicial support, Swaraj said, “Political relations are another thing but Justice [Mohsin Akhtar] Kayani gave the verdict on humanitarian grounds. Her husband argued that the case was about the prestige of Pakistan but (Justice Kayani) said, how is this case related to the prestige of India or Pakistan? Barrister Shah Nawaz Noon argued the case almost like a father.”

IHC allows woman ‘forced to marry Pakistani man’ to go back to India

Swaraj welcomed Uzma as she returned to India via the Wagah border. “Uzma – Welcome home India’s daughter. I am sorry for all that you have gone through,” she tweeted.

During a press conference in India after her return, as India’s NDTV reported, Uzma said, “Pakistan is a death trap. Why women, not even men are safe there.”

The Indian national had alleged that her husband Tahir Ali – a resident of Buner region in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa K-P) – had assaulted her.

Uzma had claimed, “My Pakistani husband forced me to marry him on gunpoint and even harassed me.” She approached the IHC on May 12 to arrange her journey back to Delhi amid security and to issue duplicate travel documents which were allegedly stolen by Tahir.

BUSINESS CPEC investment pushed from $55b to $62b

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > By Salman Siddiqui  Published: April 12, 2017

China has approved additional financing for infrastructure projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), taking the investment volume to $62 billion from $55 billion, announced Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair on Wednesday.

“New investment has been approved for projects in various sectors including [establishment of] industrial zones,” said Zubair while speaking at a conference on “Infrastructure demand and financing” organised by credit rating agencies Pacra (Pakistan) and Dagong (China).

Chinese Fortune 500 company among bidders for Railways upgrade

“We are also in talks to place the Karachi Circular Railway under the CPEC banner,” he said.

China has been increasing investment in Pakistan’s infrastructure and power projects since it unveiled CPEC programme worth $46 billion in 2015.

The volume of investment was pushed to $55 billion when Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister of Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique and chief ministers of provinces visited China about three months ago.

This country’s eyeing to become key partner of CPEC

“This [$62 billion investment] is good news. People will reap dividends of the investment,” remarked Zubair, who is an active member of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s core economic team.

A major chunk of the multibillion-dollar investment, $34 billion, is going into electricity production and distribution.

According to Zubair, other countries are keen to become part of CPEC projects. They may become part of the project by investing in industrial zones, he said.

Electric cars icing on the CPEC cake

Additionally, CPEC projects also have huge indirect benefits as well. “Information technology firms from across the globe have arrived in Pakistan as each and every project under China’s investment would require IT assistance.”

Zubair added China had become one of the world’s economic superpowers by investing in huge infrastructure projects like highways, railways, power production and gas pipelines at home.

“We are doing exactly the same thing. CPEC will create massive economic momentum in Pakistan,” he said.

The governor pointed out that Pakistan was not the only country whose exports had gone down in recent years as China and India had also registered a significant decline in their exports.

“The uptrend in international fuel oil prices may widen Pakistan’s current account deficit,” he said.

Zubair announced that the federal government would soon unveil a financing plan for new projects across Sindh including Karachi, adding the Green Line public transport project would be completed by the end of the year.

Speaking on the occasion, Ministry of Finance’s former secretary Dr Waqar Masood pointed out that besides Chinese government’s investment in CPEC projects, the private sector of China was funding different schemes in Pakistan, which did not fall within the purview of CPEC.

President Mamnoon invites Belarus to join CPEC

The volume of China’s investment in Pakistan would be significantly higher than $62 billion if its private sector investment was also counted, he said.

Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (Pacra) Managing Director Adnan Afaq emphasised that the establishment of power projects would help overcome shortage and play a positive role in achieving the required economic growth of 7% in the next two to three years.

He was of the view that managing such a huge investment of $62 billion or higher under CPEC would remain a big challenge for Pakistan as it had never done that before. “We need to make sure the process [of utilising the finances] remains transparent,” he said.

Dagong Chairman Guan Jianzhong stressed that infrastructure development would support economic growth in Pakistan over the long run, adding it would open Islamabad to the world and bring investment.

Other speakers urged the authorities concerned to float infrastructure bonds in order to attract public investment. The government should play its role of providing incentives for the proposed bonds to stimulate investment from new avenues.

Top Gun is coming back

On Wednesday Val Kilmer, the star of Top Gun, Willow, Heat, Batman Forever, Tombstone and a host of other cult movies did a Reddit AMA and it didn’t disappoint.

Val, 57, answered a string of questions about some of his biggest roles including as Doc Holliday in 1993’s Tombstone, but it was his comments about Tom Cruise his Top Gun co-star that was most interesting.

Kilmer played Iceman, the main rival to Cruise’s character Maverick in the iconic 1986 movie and there have long been rumors their mutual dislike continued off-screen.

Kilmer answered fan’s questions.

Not according to Val who had this to say about the Hollywood star: “No. He was a sweetheart. We were all quite rowdy me and all the real flyboys and the actors, so I actually felt a little sorry for him cause we all had time to play and date the cute extras and zoom around San Diego in muscle cars, but Tom was always in some scene and never go to play with us…” (sic)

Top Gun is coming back.

While he’s a fan of Cruise, he’s not so into the Kenny Loggins hit Danger Zone, which featured throughout the film.

When asked this by a user called ‘Chayis’: “Do you turn ‘Danger Zone’ up or down when it comes on the radio?”

He responded: “I hate you right now for making me hear it. Chayis, I will get you back. Just start humming EYE OF THE TIGER and that’s my revenge..” (sic)

So not a fan?

Kilmer has already confirmed he would appear in any sequel to the first film.

Last year he revealed on Facebook he had spoken to producer Jerry Bruckheimer about the possibility, writing: “I just got offered Top Gun 2. Not often you get to say ‘yes’ without reading the script.

“Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise, Yes… Let’s fire up some fighter jets again.”

Aside from Tom Gear, Val admitted he wouldn’t turn down another offer to play Batman, after appearing as the capade crusader in 1995’s Batman Forever.

Val Kilmer as Batman in Batman Forever

He also addressed the cancer rumors that have plagued him in recent years.

Last year Kilmer was forced to deny he had terminal cancer after Michael Douglas appeared to claim he was suffering from throat cancer in an interview.

Insisting he didn’t hold Douglas, who had the disease himself, responsible for the rumours he said: “He [Douglas] was probably trying to help me cause press probably asked where I was these days, and I did have a healing of cancer, but my tongue is still swollen altho healing all the time. Because I don’t sound my normal self yet people think I may still be under the weather.”

He also revealed his thoughts on Pizza: “Pizza is one of the greatest creations on earth. I have tried almost every kind in the world. There is no bad pizza. Or toppings. Heaven is filled with melted cheese…”

And revealed a dream future with Kevin Spacey: “I have known Kevin since sunday school in the San Fernando valley in 1975 I think. He and I have reconnected and I’m sure one day we will rip up Broadway and fulfill a childhood dream.” (sic)

Enhancing the Pakistani mind

 

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > By Amin Jan Naim  Published: May 26, 2017

How do we as people in Pakistan get out of the morass of superstition, and bigotry that bedevils us? This question is important in the effort to build a salutary narrative for combating the fanaticism and extremism that is becoming so prevalent in our country.

What we need to do is to study in depth the thought over the past centuries of leading thinkers of humanity. We then should select and adapt the best of their reflections into our own situation.

Plato was described by Hegel as being the teacher of mankind. Many misconceptions and distortions of Plato’s views have prevailed in the past and continue to do so. What we must search for is the essence of his thinking. He posed certain basic questions and examined them in a highly rigorous manner. This rigor was clothed in an engaging, charming and simple series of dialogues. Very often, however, the dialogues were inconclusive and the answers sought were elusive. Yet, the process of his reasoning has been unsurpassed till date.

Reason, courage, and desire are the main attributes of an individual. These attributes are present in different individuals in varying degrees. When courage predominates, the person has the qualities of a soldier. Desire predominates in the bulk of ordinary citizens. What reason must do is to guide and channel courage and desire towards worthy ends. The degree to which reason predominates in a policy determines its extent of excellence.

We need not take Plato’s construct of an ideal state in the dialogue in The Republic as an actual possibility. What we need to consider is his reasoning. The same holds good for other dialogues such as Phaedo, Timaeus, Protagoras, Meno and The Symposium. They need to be studied and pondered over in original, not just in the commentary. This has to be an elitist endeavor but it is no less important for that reason.

When I was the ambassador in Athens (1991-96), I and my wife both took a course of study of the Greek language. My aim was to understand the structure of this profound and remarkable language in which complex and difficult thoughts had been expressed. The same profundity holds good for the German language, which I studied in the Heidelberg University in 1959. Then, in order to understand the Chinese way of thinking, I studied elementary spoken Chinese during my posting in China (1976-79). New languages open new vistas.

Today, English has become a universal language. We need to override the complex some of us have in being opposed to having English as the main working language in Pakistan. Proficiency in English has now become a necessity. It enables access to science, technology, international commerce and worldwide communication. It also enables the development of a better mental pattern in our populace. Contrary to widespread belief, the desire for learning English is not confined to our elite alone. Go to many rural areas of Pakistan and you will find people there keen to make their children learn English. In order for us to compete in the contemporary world, acquiring proficiency in English has now become essential.

Since I am considering here the development of a mental pattern, I may mention that in China, Japan, and Korea, and in the Western world at large, considerable attention is being paid nowadays to the study of Western classical music in early childhood. The music conservatories in the three countries are churning out every year thousands of talented youngsters proficient in this genre of music. They do not have inhibitions that this music is Western and so must be shunned.

Although there might not be a direct link, there is perhaps an indirect link in the development of the mental pattern of a society and the study of Western classical music. This is evident in the economic progress the above-mentioned countries have made due to their world outlook, which reflects a kind of rationality and aesthetic structure.

I have here alluded to the utmost achievement of humanity in the dialogues of Plato. So it would not be out of place to also allude to the other pinnacle of humanity, namely the music of Beethoven. Beethoven’s musical repertory ranges vastly from epic struggles as in the Eroica Symphony to sublime peace as in the Adagio of the Fruehlings sonata. Such struggle is what we have been undergoing since our inception as a nation. And an internal peace is what we badly need. As a society, perfection is what we should aim at. And perfection has not been equaled, except in Beethoven’s music.

The various factors affecting a society are interlinked with one another. Truth, beauty, and goodness are the hallmarks of the legacy of Plato and Beethoven. I leave it to you to decide how far we must imbibe their achievements and include them in our educational institutions.

As a society in rapid transition, we in Pakistan are presently a confused and disoriented lot. It is, therefore, necessary to make our world of ideas accord with universal thought, harmony, and values.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2017.

Pakistan shining?

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > By Syed Mohammad Ali Published: May 26, 2017

The recent announcement of China’s willingness to pour in another $50 billion into the Pakistani economy to boost hydro-energy production, in addition to its CPEC commitments, could not have come in at a better time for our ruling party. With elections around the corner, every piece of good economic news helps boost the chances of the incumbents to win another term, despite the varied controversies which plague its present tenure.

Our current political leaders seemed to have borrowed our neighbour’s playbook on campaigning for elections, where politicians have been appealing to voters by pitching the ‘India shining’ campaign since over a decade. Although the ‘India shining’ campaign has been appropriated by both the BJP and the Congress, and produced varied results, the claim itself remains dubious given the ground realities within the country, especially for the common man.

In the case of Pakistan as well, the task of current political leaders to portray Pakistan as an emerging economic power receives a boost every time there is mention of its bourgeoning middle class, or a reassessment of its overall economic performance. Yet, the fact of the matter remains that despite these glittering assessments, Pakistan is yet a long way away from charting a sustainable path to economic and social development.

Despite being recently described as ‘the most underrated economy in the world’ by Bloomberg, for example, the fact remains that Pakistan is still ranked at 147th in terms of its Human Development Index, as per the latest UNDP assessment. And, despite all its recent accomplishments, Pakistan’s HDI ranking is 12 ranks lower than in 2000.

While our leadership may have set its sights on making Pakistan a vital link in the ‘new Silk Road’, the fact of the matter remains that our basic social indicators like infant mortality and primary and secondary enrollment are among the worst in the world. The number of out-of-school children in Pakistan is dismal, as is the quality of education being imparted to those who are attending school. Relative to countries of similar or lower its income level, Pakistan has systematically underperformed on most human development indicators.

Besides lacklustre health and education accomplishments, we, as a country, are also structurally biased against half the national population, which is female. Our female HDI value stands at 0.452 while the male HDI value stands at 0.610. An even larger gap is seen in the labour force participation rate where on average less than 25 per cent women are employed in contrast to an average of over 82 per cent of men. A mere 3 per cent of our legislators, senior officials and managers are women, and women hold only 20 per cent seats in parliament. This situation also does not bode well for making Pakistan a more progressive and prosperous country.

Our current HDI ranking still places Pakistan in the ‘medium human development’ bracket, which also includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kenya, Myanmar and Nepal. Yet, we are the last country to fall in this ‘medium human development’ group.

The current HDI ranking does not provide detailed information on regional disparities within the country, but there are other indicators which reveal that our national growth is also very lopsided and inter-regional, as well as intra-regional, disparities remain a serious problem. Yet, the gap between the haves and have-nots continue to grow due to structural biases which continue to marginalise and exploit already vulnerable communities and groups of people.

Our leaders must pay more attention to the plight of the common man and woman, and pay more attention to fulfilling their needs, instead of focusing on glittering projects such as metro rails or motorways. Otherwise, we will simply not have the required human capital which is needed to sustain economic growth in the long run, no matter how many infrastructure or energy projects are ushered into the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2017.