Technology US

Streamer CriticalBard talks being the temporary face of PogChamp

Last week, Twitch deleted the face of its extremely popular PogChamp emote, Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, after he called for further violence at the Capitol just after a mob sacked the building. In the aftermath, Twitch responded to a suggestion from the community for the emote — why not have a different face represent hype on Twitch every day?

So that’s what the company did. Three days after the experiment began, Omega “CriticalBard” Jones, a partnered Black streamer who writes music for Critical Role, took his turn as the face of the global emote. The racist harassment came almost immediately.

“At the beginning it was fine. I was nervous. I’ll say beforehand I prepped my mods on Twitch,” Jones says. “And they were like, ‘Well, the person who’s a PogChamp today seems like they’re doing fine. So I think you’ll be fine.’ I said ‘Ha but I’m Black.’” Jones started receiving comments on Twitter from people saying that he didn’t look like PogChamp, that Twitch should bring back the old emote instead, and then “a crap ton of people, you know, saying racist things.” After he went live on Twitch, however, the trouble really began.

Jones was playing Overwatch with friends — “not playing it well, which is why I don’t do competitive,” he says — when Twitch users stormed his chat saying that he didn’t deserve to be PogChamp. “But it got to the subject of Black lives not mattering and other stuff,” Jones says. “And then someone mentioned white Lives Matter, whatever. And I said ‘No, white lives don’t matter because a white life isn’t a thing.’” Someone clipped it.

The clip went viral in places like the Twitch drama subreddit /r/LivestreamFail and across the live stream-watching internet. It was, however, pulled out of its context. “I said you can be proud of being Italian, you can be proud of being Scottish — because those are nationalities,” says Jones, echoing what he said in the full version of the clip. “That’s your heritage.” He continued:

You cannot be proud of being white. Because whiteness is a concept that was only created because blackness became a thing. And the only reason blackness is a thing because we as a Black people were taken away from Africa without our consent, enslaved, and left for dust. Our literal heritage and identity was taken away from us. All we have to hold on to in America — for the most part, most Black people — is our blackness. So, there is a Black culture, there is not a white culture. There was never a white culture.

It’s an elegant way to put a pretty complicated concept, one that people across the internet seem intent on misunderstanding. To discuss race in America is to discuss power dynamics and history, which is something that’s hard to understand if it behooves you to not understand it. Jones says he was trying to explain that to people. “But you know racists gotta be racist,” he said.

Jones says he wanted to be the face of PogChamp because it was going to mean a lot to other people who want to see marginalized people on Twitch. “I can deal with a little bit of bull if that means someone else gets to see something that’s, you know, them. Their color. Or somebody they can identify with,” he says. He was also into the idea of a community-based rotating emote. “The funny thing is people don’t even care about PogChamp as a person. They just care about keeping what they consider to be tradition,” says Jones. “But if PogChamp is about that excitement, it shouldn’t matter who the face of that is.”

Jones’ harassment points to a larger problem on Twitch: the site doesn’t seem to know how to protect its creators from marginalized backgrounds from the toxic elements of its community. Jones told me that the Twitch representative who initially reached out to him about being the face of PogChamp did say the company planned on giving future PogChamp faces additional moderation support in their channels. But Jones says that’s not enough. “What annoys me about that is instead of doing what y’all can do, which is ban these people from your platform — if we want to get into it, you need to start banning IP addresses,” says Jones.

Furthermore, Jones says, it’s not as though the Black Twitch community hasn’t spoken up to the company about the issue in the past. “Like, it wasn’t just yesterday where someone said, ‘Twitch, you need to fix this.’ Racism has been very wild on Twitch for a long time. And they’ve yet to do anything about it,” says Jones. “So it makes us go like, ‘Okay, so what’s the point?’”

Twitch obliquely referenced Jones’ harassment in a Twitter thread yesterday, where the company wrote that it believes in celebrating diversity. A Twitch spokesperson sent me the following statement when I asked for more details:

Highlighting a new PogChamp every day was an idea that came directly from our community and was created in the spirit of celebrating the diversity of creators on Twitch. While we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from both the community and those highlighted, we are also in close contact with the new faces of PogChamp to offer support as needed. We do not tolerate harassment on Twitch, and will take action on any behaviors on our service that violate our rules.

But in Jones’ view, that isn’t enough. “They didn’t even say ‘we were sorry.’ They said, we’re working to make this place more diverse and all this stuff,” he says. “They didn’t condemn anything. They need to start condemning this stuff,” Jones continues. “They need to start saying, ‘This is not what we want as a platform. This is not what we promote as a platform. And people are going to start seeing the repercussions of their actions. Start seeing the consequences of the things that they do.’”

Jones also took pains to clarify that it wasn’t just random Twitch users who came to his stream to harass him. He says it was directed by some affiliates and Twitch partners. “If Twitch is a company that’s saying, ‘We don’t agree with that,’ then you need to show that you don’t agree with that. AKA, terminating them accounts, getting rid of them partner badges. Getting rid of that affiliate status. Because I’m pretty sure in the partner and affiliate rules and all that stuff, you can’t really be, you know, doing hate speech and all that. But I guess, when Twitch is making money, it’s fine?”

The harassment hasn’t fazed Jones, though. Some members of the community rallied to his defense, like Hasan “hasanabi” Piker, a prominent political streamer, who defended Jones on his own stream. “I loved watching the clip of Hasan,” says Jones. “One of the best things that can just give you all the light, the nutrients that your life needs, is watching these folk look up to somebody and expect them to like be on their side, and they’re not.”

He also told me that he saw a large influx of new subscribers — “But I’m not gonna be like, ‘Thank you for being racist,’” jokes Jones — and that he’s still here. “Black folk have had to walk through this world on high alert, since we were practically born,” he says. “So there is literally nothing they can do. I got doxxed. I got death threats. You can say all that behind your keyboard that you barely can afford, with your two viewership. You can say all that, but understand that you’re only fueling me.”

February is Black History Month, and Jones tells me that Twitch has already started reaching out to prominent Black creators about activations. It’s an open question whether Twitch’s overhauled Hateful Conduct policy — which was announced in December and goes into effect at the end of this month — will have an impact on the droves of people who swarm marginalized creators when Twitch gives them the spotlight. As with everything else, the devil is in the enforcement. Will Twitch protect its marginalized creators?

Headlines UK London

Appeal of the Russian Embassy in Great Britain in connection with the temporary suspension of air traffic

In connection with the requests of Russian citizens regarding the temporary suspension of flights between Russia and the UK, the Russian Embassy reminds that the term of this restrictive measure is one week. The restrictions took effect at midnight on December 22nd.

“The situation with the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus in the UK is being carefully studied by the Operational Headquarters of the Government of the Russian Federation. Based on the results of its consideration, further decisions will be made “, – says the website of the embassy.

There is no question of organizing any export flights from the UK. Those wishing to return to Russia are offered to study other air routes, having previously worked out the issue of transit through this or that country.

However, the embassy reminds: the British government has imposed restrictions on movement (including international travel), which must be observed, especially since London is in the zone of the 4th degree of restrictive measures. Leaving the UK is permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as for work. More information can be found at

Information on flights between Russia and the UK will be updated as they become available.


UAE: Temporary visa restriction due to COVID-19, Sheikh Abdullah tells Pakistan Foreign Minister

Sheikh Abdullah meets with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Abu Dhabi on December 17 during his two-day visit to the UAE.
Image Credit: Wam

Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign and International Cooperation, affirmed the depth of the bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, and recalled the keenness of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the relations during the early stages of establishment. He made this statement following the visit of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of the friendly Islamic Republic of Pakistan, to the UAE. Sheikh Abdullah met Qureshi on December 17 during Pakistan Foreign Minister’s two-day visit to the UAE.

The two sides exchanged views on the latest developments in the region, and discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern and ways to coordinate responses on issues of interest.

Sheikh Abdullah affirmed the depth of the distinguished relations between the two friendly countries and the keenness to enhance and develop further aspects of joint cooperation across all fields.

He praised the Pakistani community for playing great role and active contribution to the growth and prosperity of the country.

Temporary visa restrictions

He noted that this reflects the interconnectivity of the peoples of the two friendly countries, stressing the temporary nature of the recent restrictions imposed on the issuance of visas due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion between the Foreign Ministers of the two fraternal countries included ways to further enhance and strengthen joint cooperation in various fields, consistent with the directives of the leadership of the two countries. Both sides discussed the challenges and repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic and investment issues of mutual interest, and prospects for further joint cooperation in order to achieve the aspirations of the two friendly countries and peoples.

He referred to the long-standing close relations between the two countries since the founding of the UAE in 1971, as Pakistan was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE. The two friendly peoples and countries share strong historical ties that enhance prospects of their broad cooperation across all fields.

Multifaceted cooperation

Sheikh Abdullah added: “The close relations between the UAE and Pakistan have continued to strengthened over the past decades, and translated into multifaceted cooperation, which represents a unique case in Arab-Asian relations in the region, as political relations between the UAE and Pakistan are based on a long history of joint action, trust, and respect.” The mutual interests and visions of the two countries converge on issues of regional and international importance through the principles of tolerance, inclusiveness and an agenda based on development to ensure peace and stability in the region.

His Highness said: “The UAE and Pakistan enjoy close relations and historical ties across political, economic, cultural and social domains, established on solid foundations of mutual friendship and respect.”

Headlines UK

Germany coronavirus: Dead stored in temporary freezer after morgues overflow

A German town has began storing its dead in a mobile freezer after space in hospital morgues ran out amid a surge in coronavirus fatalities.

Cemetery workers in Hanau, 10 miles outside of Frankfurt, began using the mobile freezer on Thursday, with two bodies currently inside.

It comes after the country suffered a record 956 deaths on Wednesday. The toll on Thursday was 698, Germany’s second-highest total of the pandemic.

Those figures contributed to Europe passing the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavrius deaths on Thursday, becoming the first world region to do so.  

Dead bodies in the German town of Hanau are now being stored in a temporary freezer after morgues overflowed amid a surge in coronavirus deaths

Cemetery workers said two bodies were being stored in the container on Thursday, which was first brought to the town in April but has not been used until now

Cemetery workers said two bodies were being stored in the container on Thursday, which was first brought to the town in April but has not been used until now

Latin America and the Caribbean have reported 477,404 deaths, the United States and Canada 321,287, Asia 208,149, the Middle East 85,895, and Africa 57,423.

Speaking about the freezers in Hanau, head of cemeteries Alexandra Kinski said they had initially been brought to the town in April as a precaution. 

‘Unfortunately the situation in Hanau has changed so much that we now need to make use of the containers,’ she added.

‘If a person passes away and there is no space in the clinic then they come here and stay for a short while until the deceased is taken to a final resting place.’

Seven-day average data for Germany, which accounts for natural peaks and troughs in the data, shows that deaths have been rising consistently since early November.

The seven-day average figure as of Thursday stood at 536, more than double the 233 peak during the first wave. Germany’s total death toll stands at 24,125.  

The country also reported 26,923 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to more than 1.4million. 

Seven-day average case data shows infections have been rising for the last fortnight.

Germany, initially praised for its virus response during the first wave, has been hard-hit during a second wave after it shunned going into a full-scale lockdown of the kind seen in other European countries during the autumn.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has now been forced to change tack, bringing in a ‘hard lockdown’ on Wednesday that saw shops and schools closed until January with social gatherings limited over the Christmas holidays. 

Alcohol is banned in public places – putting a halt to traditional mulled wine stands at Christmas markets – while hairdressers and salons are also shutting down.   

Merkel agreed the tough restrictions with state leaders on Sunday and has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the high infection rate.  

Germany is being hit hard by a coronavirus second wave that has pushed the seven-day average for cases up to record levels (pictured)

Germany is being hit hard by a coronavirus second wave that has pushed the seven-day average for cases up to record levels (pictured)

Seven-day average death data, which accounts for natural peaks and troughs in how numbers are reported, has also risen to a record figure as the outbreak spirals out of control

Seven-day average death data, which accounts for natural peaks and troughs in how numbers are reported, has also risen to a record figure as the outbreak spirals out of control

Under Germany’s federal system, the states have the final say, and some are adopting even tougher measures – with Saxony imposing a 10pm curfew and Bavaria enacting stay-at-home rules similar to those in other countries. 

Schools stayed open during the ‘lockdown light’, but are moving to distance learning from Wednesday until at least January 10.   

Companies in Europe’s largest economy are also being encouraged to allow their employees to work from home during the month-long shutdown. 

‘That would help to implement the principle ‘we’re staying at home’,’ according to the policy paper agreed by Merkel and state premiers. 

Social gatherings are restricted to five people from two households, although children aged under 14 are not counted towards the limit. 

The rules are being slightly relaxed from December 24-26, when any one household can meet four other people – meaning the total number can rise above five.

However, there is no relaxation over the New Year, and traditional firework displays have been banned in public places.  

Shops are also closing down for the first time since the spring, with only essential stores such as supermarkets allowed to remain open. 

The typically cautious Merkel last week made an unusually impassioned appeal for Germans to keep their discipline over the Christmas period. 

‘If we have too many contacts before Christmas and it ends up being the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we’d really have failed,’ she said. 

While Merkel remains largely popular, Germany’s long-admired pandemic response has come under greater scrutiny as the death toll continues to climb. 

Many European countries saw their infection rates fall after imposing new measures in October and November, but Germany has yet to see a significant drop.  

A security guard closes the iron gate at Berlin's famous KaDeWe department store last night as it closes its doors during Germany's second national lockdown

A security guard closes the iron gate at Berlin’s famous KaDeWe department store last night as it closes its doors during Germany’s second national lockdown 

After stabilising for a a few weeks, infections started to rise again at the start of December and the last week has seen a record of more than 160,000 cases. 

Some parts of Germany, especially in the former East, which had escaped the first wave of the pandemic relatively lightly are now seeing a massive spread of Covid-19. 

The death toll, which only once rose above 300 per day during the spring, is now at an average of almost 500. 

And while the German health system has generally handled the crisis well, the number of patients in intensive care is now at an all-time record of 4,735. 

Merkel’s economy minister Peter Altmaier and Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder have both described the virus situation as ‘out of control’ in Germany. 

Soeder, seen as a possible contender for Merkel’s job when she leaves office next year, warned this week that Germany could become the ‘problem child’ of Europe.   

The one ray of hope for Germany was a prediction by health minister Jens Spahn that vaccinations could still begin before Christmas.  

Spahn told German television that jabs with the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine could begin within two to four days of an approval by the European Medicines Agency.

The jab has already been approved in Britain, but Spahn has voiced impatience with EU regulators in recent days, finally receiving assurances that the EMA will finalise the approval process by December 23. 

Germany has set up some 440 vaccination centres, has 10,000 doctors and medical staff ready and is ready to start mass vaccinations immediately, Spahn says.   

‘Our goal is an approval before Christmas,’ Spahn said. ‘We want to still start vaccinating this year.’ 

Football USA NFL NHL

49ers may need temporary new home due to rising COVID cases

The San Francisco 49ers and other teams may need to find a temporary new home after Santa Clara County on Saturday banned all contact sports from holding games and practices for the next three weeks.

County officials issued the directives in response to rising cases of the coronavirus in the area. The rules take effect Monday and will last for three weeks.

The 49ers have home games scheduled for Dec. 7 against Buffalo and Dec. 13 against Washington at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The team also practices at that site in the county.

“We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s emergency directive,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed.”

The rules also will impact the San Jose Sharks of the NHL and college teams at Stanford and San Jose State.

“For those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices where they have direct contact, within the county,” Santa Clara County counsel James Williams said.

Levi's Stadium is the home field for the 49ers, but may not be for at least the next three weeks because of conornavirus concerns.
Levi’s Stadium is the home field for the 49ers, but may not be for at least the next three weeks because of coronavirus concerns.AP

Williams said he has been in touch with the teams.

The NHL hasn’t announced a date for the start of training camp but the Sharks have said they would look into alternate sites if needed.

Stanford and San Jose State also have several sports in season. The Cardinal have one scheduled home football game left on Dec. 12 against Oregon State.

The Spartans have home football games on Dec. 5 against Hawaii and Dec. 11 against Nevada. San Jose State practiced before the season a few hundred miles away at Humboldt State because of restrictions in Santa Clara County.

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Giant marquees as a temporary measure in times of COVID

Two huge marquees are being built at the Saint-Eustache and Saint-Jérôme hospitals in order to transfer people requiring hospitalization following surgery. This plan is to free up space in existing buildings for patients with COVID-19.

“It will definitely have a positive impact on our waiting lists. Remember that we want to abandon as few services as possible, even if the current pandemic is placing great demands on us, ”said in a press release the President and CEO of the Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) of the Laurentians, Rosemonde. Landry.

The objective of the CISSS des Laurentides is that the population continue to have access to care for surgeries, diagnoses, examinations and various consultations, in addition to receiving patients with COVID-19.

“The goal is to more easily accommodate patients requiring hospitalization, including those with symptoms of COVID-19,” said Ms. Landry. The two capitals will also allow a better distance between the patients.

Additional beds

Sixty-two additional beds will be available in the rapid hospitalization complex of the Saint-Eustache hospital, while that of Saint-Jérôme will include 57 more.

“The cost of a complex is approximately $ 19 million for the structure and its interior construction (including taxes, professional fees, design, etc.) to which is added $ 8.8 million for the equipment necessary for care. and the well-being of users, ”said Mélanie Laroche, spokesperson at the CISSS.

The two temporary complexes, whose structures are covered with canvas, should be ready in December.

Not enough staff

The employees’ union appreciates the approach that will increase the supply of beds for patients, but explains that this will not solve the shortage of staff.

“We definitely agree with that, but we have a staff shortage. There have been a lot of absences since last March for all kinds of reasons, ”explained Dominic Presseault, president of the Syndicat des Travailleurs des Laurentides en santé et en services sociaux (CSN). The latter added that the government will have to review the working conditions of health workers to attract more workers in the field.

“We may have increased the number of beds, but if we do not increase the number of employees, we will not solve the problem,” said Mr. Presseault.

Both constructions have been approved for short term use. The CISSS des Laurentides anticipates that they will be used for a period of 18 to 24 months. The canvas has a 25 year warranty while the structure has a 50 year warranty.

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Headline USA New York

UPS opens more than 50,000 temporary jobs nationwide: 4,000 in New York and Jersey | The NY Journal

More online shopping, more postal work

Aurelia Ventura / Impremedia / La Opinion

United Parcel Service (UPS) opened about 50,000 temporary positions across the country, including at least 4,000 in New York and Jersey.

Positions include drivers, helpers and package handlers for the christmas season that, due to coronavirus, this year would mean less in-person shopping and more online orders.

UPS noted that seasonal positions have possibility of becoming permanent, highlighted Pix11.

The interviews and hiring are already taking place virtually and in person, under security protocols, with face covers and social distancing. More information here.

Due to the same circumstance of wide demand for virtual purchases at the end of the year, Amazon announced that it plans to hire about 100,000 temporary workers across the country, including 4,500 in NYC and paying above the minimum wage.


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Headline USA New York

Amazon Announces 4,500 Temporary Jobs in New York with More Than Minimum Wage | The NY Journal

Online retail giant Amazon announced yesterday that it plans to hire about 100,000 temporary workers across the country to deal with holiday shopping.

More than 4,500 of those positions are in New York, he specified Pix11. Is about full and part time jobs.

The minimum hourly pay in NYC is $ 15 dollars, but at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island (NYC) it is $ 17.75 the hour, the retailer noted. Anyone interested in applying can visit

The demand for online shopping has exploded even more this year due to the restrictions that traditional stores have suffered during the pandemic, which would have sharpened the unemployment in face-to-face sales work and the definitive closure of many businesses.


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Headlines UK

Tesco recruiting for 11,000 temporary jobs for Christmas

Tesco launches recruitment drive for Christmas with 11,000 temporary jobs available in stores and warehouse across UK

  • Tesco says it will hire more than 11,000 seasonal staff over the Christmas period 
  • Temporary roles will be available in supermarkets and Extra stores until January
  • It comes as the Covid-19 pandemic has cost up to 200,000 jobs across Britain

Tesco has announced it will hire more than 11,000 people on a temporary basis over the Christmas period to work in its stores and warehouses across the UK.

The supermarket giant says it will be hiring across the UK, with jobs including picking for online deliveries and store replenishment, supporting permanent colleagues.

It comes as the coronavirus pandemic cost up to 200,000 jobs across Britian.

Tesco has announced it will hire more than 11,000 temporary staff to cover the busy seasonal period. File photo

While 11,000 shops closed between January and August, supermarkets have experienced a busy year, brought about by panic buying and an increase in online delivery demand. 

Around 47,000 temporary staff joined Tesco at its peak during the pandemic, although it is understood that most of these roles have since ended.

The supermarket said it had more than doubled its online capacity since the outbreak, and in August it announced it was creating 16,000 permanent jobs.

Most of those permanent jobs were expected to go to temporary staff who joined when the impact of the virus hit British jobs and businesses. 

The supermarket says it has served nearly 1.5 million customers every week, while boasting a 26 per cent share of Britain’s retail market.

Announcing the Christmas recruitment drive, Tesco’s people director Rachel Bushby said: ‘We had a fantastic response for temporary jobs during the spring lockdown and we’d love to hear back from anyone who worked here then.

‘We’re looking for people who enjoy working as part of a team and are prepared to go that extra mile in order to help our customers.’

Once the seasonal period comes to an end, Christmas colleagues will be encouraged to apply for any permanent roles available in their stores.

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Tech News

Facebook Events Service Gets Temporary Exemption From Apple App Store Fees

Facebook said on Friday that businesses running paid online events on its iOS app would not need to pay a 30 percent fee to Apple for the remainder of 2020, temporarily defusing a standoff between the two tech giants.

The social media company said in a blog post that all businesses except gaming creators would be eligible for Apple’s fee exemption and can process payments for the online events they run through Facebook Pay.

“Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30 percent App Store tax,” Facebook company spokesman Joe Osborne said in a statement.

Facebook said it will not charge fees of its own for online events while businesses remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, through at least August 2021.

Apple said Friday that such online events have always been subject to its in-app payment rules, which charge commissions between 15 percent and 30 percent of the purchase price of paid online events.

Apple said it has given businesses affected by the pandemic more time to implement the system and that Facebook is getting the same exemption until year’s end it has given ClassPass and Airbnb.

Gaming creators will not receive the exemption because the service was launched in early 2018 and it is not a physical business affected by the pandemic, Apple said.

“Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone,” Apple said in a statement.

Facebook challenged Apple’s rules last month, attempting to tell users in an app update that the iPhone maker would take a cut of sales for a new online events feature, but later removed the message after Apple rejected the update.

The world’s biggest social media company cast the move as a defence of small businesses and app developers, joining other developers such as Fortnite creator Epic Games, which is suing Apple on antitrust allegations over the fees.

Facebook is also wrangling with Apple over new privacy rules for iPhones that will require more notifications before tracking users across apps.

The social media giant said Apple’s decision to lift the fees came with a catch excluding game creators from being able to use Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS.

“We unfortunately had to make this concession to get the temporary reprieve for other businesses,” said Vivek Sharma, vice president of Facebook Gaming.

Apple is defending an antitrust lawsuit brought by Fortnite creator Epic Games over its in-app payment rules.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

In 2020, will WhatsApp get the killer feature that every Indian is waiting for? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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