Here's some refreshing news: the pending reform to South African copyright is really excellent, with a fair use definition that futureproofs itself with the key phrase "such as" -- so naturally, giant entertainment companies are doing everything they can to kill it.
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A few years ago Vicki Momberg launched into a racist rant as a black police officer attemtped to help her. Shockingly, the video went viral. For verbal racist abuse a South African court has given Momberg a 3 year sentence, of which she will spend at least two in prison.
Via The Guardian:
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In a ruling that lawyers believed to be the first prison term imposed in South Africa for verbal racial abuse, estate agent Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years, with one year suspended, for directing offensive slurs at the officer. Previously people convicted of the same crime have been fined.
A video clip went viral following the incident in 2016 when the police officer tried to help Momberg after thieves broke into her car at night at a shopping centre.
It showed her saying she wanted to be helped by a white or ethnic Indian officer, and that black people were “plain and simple useless” and “they are clueless”.
In her rant, she several times called the policeman a “kaffir”, apartheid-era slang for a black person and one of the worst terms of hate speech in South Africa.
Momberg wiped away tears as judge Pravina Rugoonandan read the ruling in a Johannesburg court on Wednesday, finding her guilty on four counts. Momberg’s lawyer, Kevin Lawlor, said she would seek the right to appeal against her sentence.
The episode highlighted how 24 years after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, espousing reconciliation, the country is still struggling with race relations.
After the Argentine economic collapse in 2001, Juan Villarino realized that he was probably going to be poor for the rest of his life; he tried moving to Belfast and working low-waged jobs, but couldn't get ahead there either, so he decided to become a lifelong, professional hitchhiker, and got very, very good at it.
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After a Friday night screening of Black Panther, Marvel's new film that celebrates African culture and pride, a group of South African moviegoers ecstatically danced outside of the theater.
That celebratory vibe was felt here in California too.
My daughter and I saw the movie in Alameda at its first showing Thursday evening and the energy in the room was wild! The theater was packed and there was lots of cheering and clapping all throughout the film.
Also here in the Bay Area, the film's director and co-writer Ryan Coogler surprised the audience before Friday night's show at Oakland's Grand Lake Theater (where lines wrapped around the block):
Born and raised in Oakland, Coogler delighted more local fans by making surprise appearances at select movie premieres in San Francisco and Emeryville.
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University of Western Australia Law professor Camilla Baasch Andersen has helped businesspeople draft legally binding contracts that take the form of simple comic-strips, arguing that their simplicity not only promotes understanding, but also insulates companies from the risk of courts finding their contracts unenforceable because they were too confusing (an Australian court has forced insurers Suncorp and Allianz to refund AUD60m paid for insurance that was of "little or no value," but which Australians purchased thanks to confusing fine-print that made it hard to assess).
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Le Monde has published a new collection of documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, showing that the British spy agency GCHQ targeted the leaders of allied countries in Africa, as well as business executives and employees of telecommunications companies, whose accounts were a means to gaining access to communications infrastructure across the continent. Read the rest
An unprotected Kingo Solar database with the personal data and photos for thousands of off-the-grid electricity customers was accessible for months, reports Zack Whittaker at ZDnet. “Thousands of remote villagers in Guatemala and South Africa are living off the grid, but their personal information isn't,” he writes.
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Johnny Miller is a Cape Town-based photographer who uses drones to capture aerial views of neighbourhoods and cities that reveal the deep, racial inequalities in architecture and city planning between black and white populations. Read the rest
Crooks hit 1,400 convenience store ATMs in the space of two hours, using forged ATM cards based on data stolen from a South African bank. Read the rest
South African photographer Paul Shiakallis produced a series of photos, "Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts," of the "queens" of Botswana's heavy metal "Marok" scene, mostly in their homes. Read the rest
In South Africa, scientists have unearthed a humanoid species from what appears to be a burial chamber hidden deep inside a system of caves.
They discovered 15 partial skeletons, with evidence leading researchers to believe the hominids had enough intelligence to conduct rituals. This is the single largest discovery of its kind ever in Africa, and scientists claim it will change our ideas about our human ancestors. More on the findings in the journal Elife.
The species, which has been named naledi, has been classified in the grouping, or genus, Homo, to which modern humans belong.
The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived - but the scientist who led the team, Prof Lee Berger, told BBC News that he believed they could be among the first of our kind (genus Homo) and could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago.
Here's the abstract:
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Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. This species is characterized by body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to australopiths. Cranial morphology of H. naledi is unique, but most similar to early Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis or Homo rudolfensis. While primitive, the dentition is generally small and simple in occlusal morphology. H. naledi has humanlike manipulatory adaptations of the hand and wrist.
The tourist who was mauled by a lioness at a South African safari park was 29-year-old Katherine Chappell, an American who worked as a special effects editor on Game of Thrones. She was snapping photos from her car with her window down and was unaware that a lion was approaching. Other cars honked, trying to warn her, but the lion attacked before she was able to react. Chappell was in South Africa on an anti-poaching mission. Read more of the story here. Read the rest
Al Jazeera and The Guardian are set to publish "the Spy Cables," a massive trove of South African intelligence cables detailing the over-classification of information and the corruption of post-Apartheid South Africa by US political interference. Read the rest
The 3-day, $2750/person Rovos Rail train safari from Pretoria to Durban is pulled by 1930s steam trains; features giant, luxurious staterooms with their own bathtubs; offers high tea; and, true to its Edwardian time-warp, passengers are prohibited from working in public areas, lest this break the atmosphere of idle wealth and privilege. Read the rest
Al Billings writes, "Jacob Appelbaum discusses the fallacy of Americans thinking that they won't be targeted, passive and active surveillance methods, AI and human analyst systems working together, satellite networks, deep packet inspection & injection, military contractors getting special access to surveillance programs, proprietary vs open source software, OTR messaging, hoarding exploits for self-gain." Read the rest
Nathaniel Stern straps modified document scanners to his body and then walks around, producing beautiful, glitched out art-images. Now he's taken his scanners to the bottom of the ocean. Read the rest
This morning, as I listened to the BBC World Service on Mandela, I found myself pondering what it meant that he was South Africa's "first democratically elected leader."
This is undoubtedly true. The apartheid regime held elections regularly, but only white people were given the vote. The systematic, arbitrary denial of the franchise to a large fraction of the population makes those elections "undemocratic" and their leaders illegitimate. I think that this is indisputable. Read the rest