Trevor Noah's 91-year-old grandmother schools him on apartheid

When Trevor Noah brought The Daily Show to his South African home to celebrate what would have been Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, he stopped by his childhood neighborhood to visit with his 91-year-old grandmother. Her memories of what it was like to live under apartheid is both shocking and heartbreaking. Read the rest

Insurer won't pay murdered gunshot victim's family because he didn't disclose his high blood-sugar

In March 2018, Nathan Ganas was murdered in his driveway in Durban, South Africa, during a botched hijacking; now Momentum, the insurer who wrote the 2.4m Rand (USD 170,700) policy on his life, is refusing to pay out because they say he didn't disclose his elevated blood-sugar levels when he took out the policy -- instead, they will refund the premiums Ganas paid during the four years he held the policy. Read the rest

South Africa is considering a new copyright bill that is really, really good!

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. Read the rest

Racist rant wins South African white woman 2 years in prison

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:

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.

Read the rest

Secrets of the World's Greatest Hitchhiker

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. Read the rest

South African audience celebrates 'Black Panther'

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.

(reddit) Read the rest

Comic-strip contracts, so no one argues they’re too confusing to be enforceable

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). Read the rest

In Africa, British spies target allied leaders, executives, and telcoms engineers

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

Unprotected database exposes off-grid energy users in Guatemala, South Africa

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. Read the rest

Drone's eye view photos reveal the racism of South African neighbourhoods

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

Massive, coordinated ATM heist in Japan nets $12.7 million (¥‎1.4 billion)

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

Portraits of the women of Botswana's heavy metal subculture

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

Meet Homo naledi, the distant ancestor you never knew

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.

BBC News:

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:

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.

Read the rest

Game of Thrones editor killed by lion at safari park

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

Huge trove of surveillance leaks coming

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

Luxury South African safari train where work is forbidden

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

Jacob Appelbaum on Americans' false belief that the NSA isn't targeting them

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

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