'Dead Leaked

Leaked ‘Dead Island 2’ copy shows the zombie game that might have been – Engadget

Dead Island 2 is still in development limbo years after its 2014 reveal, but you now know what it would have looked like if Deep Silver and Yager hadn’t parted ways. A leaked (via Eurogamer and Kotaku) June 2015 gameplay build, reportedly originating on 4chan, shows just how the game was shaping up in its original form. As you might expect, it revolved around creatively shooting and slicing zombies in an overrun Los Angeles. It was surprisingly complete with three locations, a variety of characters and little touches like head stomping — it wouldn’t have been ready for shipping, but it might not have needed much more time.

Not that you’ll ever see it officially finished, however. Deep Silver and Yager split in July 2015, just weeks after this build was available, and Sumo Digital took the reins from Yager in March 2016. The leak is more a peek at an alternate history than anything else. And in case you’re wondering: yes, Sumo’s version of Dead Island 2 is still in the works. Without a release date or indications as to what has changed, though, this is about as close as you’ll get to playing the title for a long while.

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Leaked White

Leaked White House data shows infections spiking more than 1000% in rural areas that backed Trump – Salon

President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump claims cases are falling everywhere. An unreleased task force report shows massive spikes in the heartland

Igor Derysh
May 12, 2020 9:49PM (UTC)

A leaked unreleased White House coronavirus task force report showing cases spiking in areas across the country has undercut President Donald Trump’s claim that cases are declining across the nation.

“You know, the numbers are coming down very rapidly all throughout the country, by the way,” Trump declared at a Monday news conference. “There may be one exception, but all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly.”

This is, of course, not true. Though cases are decreasing in 14 states, they are rising in nine states, according to The New York Times. A lack of widespread testing in 27 other states, plus Washington and Puerto Rico, suggests that cases in those areas are being undercounted.

But a leaked coronavirus task force report obtained by NBC News shows that some parts of the country — rural counties in Tennessee and Kansas — have seen cases balloon by more than 1,000% in a matter of one week. Other counties in Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin saw increases of more than 400%.

Dr. John Ross, a professor at Harvard Medical School, pointed out that all but one of the top 10 counties that saw the largest increases voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.

The top 10 cities in the report, which was produced on May 7, saw cases increases by more than 72% over seven days. Some areas, like St. Louis and Central City, Ky., saw cases skyrocket by 650% over that span. St. Cloud, Minn., saw cases increase by more than 400%. Other cities like Gainesville, Ga., Racine, Wisc., and Nashville saw increases of more than 100% over a single week.

A separate graph listing “locations to watch” include Kansas City, Mo., and Charlotte, which saw increases of more than 200% over the previous week.

The report found that statewide cases in Minnesota increased by nearly 100% over a single week while New Mexico, Tennessee, Wisconsin and the nation’s capital saw increases of more than 40%.

Despite the alarming increases, Trump has continued to publicly and falsely claim that cases are falling nearly everywhere.

“Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere,” he tweeted Tuesday.

Medical professionals criticized Trump’s attempts to spin rising death counts.

“Anybody that claims we’re on a downward trajectory nationally is out of touch with reality,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told NBC News, adding that even the rising numbers do not tell the full story. “There isn’t a single state in the union that has sufficient testing.”

Though states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, which were hit hard early, have seen numbers decline, the nation has a rising curve when New York’s massive totals are excluded.

“It’s not appropriate to say the U.S. is consistently on a downward trend at all,” Redlener said. “In some places, it might be the direct opposite of that.”

Trump has also complained to advisers about the way that deaths are counted, arguing that the “real numbers are actually lower,” Axios reported last week.

But medical experts, including those on Trump’s own task force, say the opposite is true.

“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than” the 80,000 that is currently reported, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to a Senate committee on Tuesday. “The number is likely higher. I don’t know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly, it’s higher.”

Fauci also pushed back on Trump’s optimism and pressure on states to reopen businesses during the hearing.

“If some areas, cities, states or what-have-you jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said. “I have been very clear in my message — to try to the best extent possible to go by the guidelines, which have been very well thought out and very well delineated.”

Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Email: Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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Leaked reveal

Leaked pics reveal Google smart debit card to rival Apple’s – TechCrunch

Would you pay with a “Google Card?” TechCrunch has obtained imagery that shows Google is developing its own physical and virtual debit cards. The Google card and associated checking account will allow users to buy things with a card, mobile phone or online. It connects to a Google app with new features that let users easily monitor purchases, check their balance or lock their account. The card will be co-branded with different bank partners, including CITI and Stanford Federal Credit Union.

A source provided TechCrunch with the images seen here, as well as proof that they came from Google. Another source confirmed that Google has recently worked on a payments card that its team hopes will become the foundation of its Google Pay app — and help it rival Apple Pay and the Apple Card. Currently, Google Pay only allows online and peer-to-peer payments by connecting a traditionally issued payment card. A “Google Pay Card” would vastly expand the app’s use cases, and Google’s potential as a fintech giant.

Google the financial services company?

By building a smart debit card, Google has the opportunity to unlock new streams of revenue and data. It could potentially charge interchange fees on purchases made with the card or other checking account fees, and then split them with its banking partners. Depending on its privacy decisions, Google could use transaction data on what people buy to improve ad campaign measurement or even targeting. Brands might be willing to buy more Google ads if the tech giant can prove they drive a sales lift.

The long-term implications are even greater. While once the industry joke was that every app eventually becomes a messaging app, more recently it’s been that every tech company eventually becomes a financial services company. A smart debit card and checking accounts could pave the way for Google offering banking, stock brokerage, financial advice or robo-advising, accounting, insurance or lending.

Young wealthy man pays card using mobile payment

Image Credits: jossnatu / Getty Images

Google’s vast access to data could allow it to more accurately manage risk than traditional financial institutions. Its deep connection to consumers via apps, ads, search and the Android operating system gives it ample ways to promote and integrate financial services. With the COVID-19 downturn taking shape, high-margin finance products could help Google develop efficient revenue opportunities and build its share price back up.

When TechCrunch asked Google for confirmation, it did not dispute our findings or assertions. The company offered us a statement it provided reporters following a November story, wherein Google told The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Rudegeair and Liz Hoffman it was experimenting in the checking account space. TechCrunch is the first to report Google’s debit card plans:

We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the US to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools, while keeping their money in an FDIC or NCUA-insured account. Our lead partners today are Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union, and we look forward to sharing more details in the coming months.

For now, Google’s strategy is to let partnered banks and credit unions provide the underlying financial infrastructure and navigate regulation while it builds smarter interfaces and user experiences. It’s forseeable that one day Google might cut out the banks and take all the spoils for itself. Google launched a Wallet debit card in 2013 as an extension of its old payment app Google Wallet, but shut the card down in 2016. Given Google’s penchant for renaming or shutting down then reviving products, building a new debit card feels on-brand.

With people around the world suddenly more concerned about their finances amidst the coronavirus economic disaster, a debit card with more transparency and controls could be appealing.

First look at the Google Card

Traditional banking products can be clunky, often requiring phone communication with customer service or sifting through cluttered websites to address security issues. Google hopes to make financial management as intuitive as its email and mapping apps. The card and app designs shown here are not final, and it’s unclear when Google’s debit card may launch. But let’s take a look at what these internal Google materials reveal about its ambitions for its payment instrument.

The Google debit card will come co-branded with the Google name and its partnered bank, though the exact name of the product is still unknown. In the designs, it’s a chip card on the Visa network, though Google could potentially support other networks like Mastercard. Users are able to add money or transfer funds out of their account from the connected Google app, which is likely to be Google Pay, and use a fingerprint and PIN for account security.

Once connected to their bank or credit union account, users could pay for purchases in retail stores with a physical Google debit card, including with contactless payments, by just holding it up to a card reader. A virtual version of the card that lives on a user’s phone can also be used for Bluetooth mobile payments. Meanwhile, a virtual card number can be used for online or in-app payments.

Users are shown a list of recent transactions, with each including the merchant name, date and price. They can dig into each transaction to see the location on a map, get directions or call the store. If users don’t recognize a transaction, it’s easy to protect themselves with the card’s vast security options.

If a customer suspects foul play because they lost their card, they can lock it and optionally order a replacement while still being able to pay with their phone or online, thanks to Google’s virtual card number system that’s different than the one on their physical card. If instead they suspect their virtual card number was stolen by a hacker, they can quickly reset it. And if they believe someone has gained unauthorized access to their account, they can lock it entirely to block all types of payments and transfers.

The settings reveal options for notifications and privacy controls to “decide what information you share,” though we don’t have imagery of what’s contained in those menus. It’s unclear how much power Google will give customers to limit the company or merchant’s data access. Google’s decisions there could impact how transaction data might fuel its other businesses.

Fintech everywhere

Google is a relative late-comer to offering its own card. Apple launched its Apple Card in August, offering a slickly designed titanium Mastercard credit card backed by Goldman Sachs. It charges minimal customer fees, comes with a virtual card for use through Apple Pay and generates interest.

Apple Card

Apple does collect interchange fees from merchants, though, which Google could similarly gather to earn revenue. Last month, Apple changed the Card’s privacy settings to share more data with Goldman Sachs that might also help the two provide additional financial services. Apple Pay now accounts for 5% of global card transactions, and is forecast to hit 10% by 2024, according to Bernstein research. The underlines the gigantic market Google is gunning for here.

The stock brokerage and robo-advisor apps have also joined the payments race. Wealthfront launched cash accounts and debit cards last February, bringing in $1 billion in assets in two months and doubling the company’s total holdings to $20 billion by September. Betterment launched its checking product in October 2019 with a Visa debit card, but it doesn’t generate interest.

Robinhood botched the December 2018 launch of its checking accounts due to ineligible insurance, but relaunched in October 2019 with debit card withdrawls from 75,000 ATMs and a solid interest rate. It’s unclear how Google’s card will work with ATMs or how its checking accounts will generate interest.

Robinhood’s debit cards

The appeal for Google and the rest is clear. It seems whenever companies help move people’s money around, some of it inevitably “falls off the truck” and lands in their pockets. Financial services are typically low-overhead ways to generate revenue. That could be especially enticing, as Google has found many of its side hustle “other bets” to be unsustainable. It’s moved to prune some of these tertiary projects, such as its Makani wind energy kites.

Google may never find businesses as lucrative as its core in search and advertising, but it has the advantages to become a serious player in fintech. Its vast sums of cash, deep bench of engineering talent, experience building complex utilities, numerous consumer touch points and near-bottomless well of data could give it an edge over stodgier old banks and scrappier startups. And while Facebook slams into regulatory scrutiny and is forced to scale back its Libra cryptocurrency, Google’s more familiar approach via debit cards could pay off.

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