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‘Basic Education, unions planned meeting shelved’
15 July 2020, 11:32 AM

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) says the meeting between teachers’ unions and Basic Education Minister Angie has been postponed to an unspecified date.

Motshekga was due to meet with the unions this morning to discuss their call for schools to be closed. Teachers’ union, Natu, and students’ organisation Cosas have joined Sadtu’s call for schools to close amid the pandemic except for the matric class of 2020. The World Health Organisation has also warned against the reopening of schools while COVID-19 infections are on the rise.

Naptosa also wants classes suspended.  The union’s executive director, Basil Manuel, says the closure of schools may not happen immediately, but their call is for the period when the pandemic reaches its peak in the country.

“We were due to meet her this morning but unfortunately that meeting has now been postponed and we don’t yet have a time for when the meeting will happen where we will put this to her. Everybody’s telling us that we are peaking or that the peak is imminent and that is why we haven’t put a date to this we said we need to close schools when the virus peaks but we also know how difficult it is to pin a date to that and when the return will be and how difficult that is. So this is about the virus unfortunately, it’s not perfect science.”

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) says it is still engaging its provincial structures before it announces its stance on the possible closure of schools during the peak of the coronavirus in South Africa.

“Our position is that we directed all the provinces to start negating the matter because we have been guided by the principles of safety first and we have just realised that now our children and our teachers are no more safe in schools so we have said now provinces must tell us what our position will be. Probably tomorrow or Friday we shall make our position known to the country,” says the organisation’s General Secretary Matakanye Matakanye.

In the video below, is a discussion on the best way to keep safe as infections rise:

Children less infectious 

President of the South African Medical Research Council and member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID19, Professor Glenda Gray, says there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the opening of schools has resulted in an increase in coronavirus infections among educators.

Teacher union, Sadtu, says at least 67 teachers in the Eastern and Western Cape have died of COVID-19 since the reopening of schools last month. Another 300 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus across the country.

Gray says children are less infectious than adults and the teachers most likely caught the infection outside of the school.

“Our decisions have to be data-driven if you look at the global and local epidemic we know that most children are gonna be okay and because kids are less infectious they are less likely to infect the teachers. We have to find a way of protecting the vulnerable and elderly and teachers with comorbidities and who are old and find a way to keep the schools open and we have to try and balance all of these in the face of this epidemic that will continue with us until we have a vaccine. Children are less infectious they have less viral load; i’ts very hard to say that these teachers got infected by their students,” Gray adds.

Earlier, the South Africa Medical Association (SAMA) said only schools in areas with more COVID-19 cases should close during the pandemic’s peak.

In the video below, Northern Cape parents call for schools to be closed:

 

Eastern-based Libyan parliament asks Egypt to intervene in war
15 July 2020, 6:18 AM

Libya’s eastern-based parliament has called for Egypt to directly intervene in the country’s civil war to counter Turkish support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli.

In a statement late on Monday, the House of Representatives based in the eastern port of Tobruk said Egyptian backing was needed to stave off what it described as a Turkish invasion and occupation. The statement underscores the growing stakes in Libya, where battle lines solidified earlier this month near the city of Sirte after the GNA and Turkey repelled a yearlong assault on Tripoli by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Libya has been divided since 2014 between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival eastern administration in Benghazi, where LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has dominated. There is also a separate House of Representatives based in Tripoli. Any major new escalation could risk igniting a direct conflict in Libya among the foreign powers that have already poured in weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo.

In the video below, no let off in the Libyan civil war:

The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already warned the army might enter Libya if the GNA and its Turkish allies renew an assault on Sirte, a central coastal city seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Tuesday to work more closely in Libya to bring about lasting stability in the country, the Turkish presidency said. Ankara has previously said the United States needs to play a more active role in the North African country.

The White House said the two leaders underscored the “need for a negotiated settlement of regional issues.” Control over oil, the main source of state revenue, has emerged as the biggest prize in the conflict, with eastern forces having imposed a blockade on production and exports.

TikTok’s US users prepare for life without the video app
14 July 2020, 8:19 PM

Ty Gibson, 20, of Greensboro, North Carolina, brushed off speculation last week on TikTok that his favourite video sharing platform was going to be banned.

By Thursday, users panicked after a glitch on the service erased video views, a measure of video popularity. Suddenly, news reports of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to block Chinese-owned apps like TikTok hit home as he watched other users flood the app with goodbyes.

US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, and said they were worried it would be required to share data with the Chinese government.

“I thought it was the end,” Gibson said in an interview. “I didn’t even have time to think things through.”

Gibson recorded his own farewell video for his 4.6 million fans, asking them to follow him on YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram.

While TikTok’s fate in the United States is undecided, the news set off a wave of worries among its devoted user base, who are coming up with backup plans on other services. Some, like e-sports star Tyler Blevins, known more widely as Ninja, who has 4 million followers on TikTok, told his 6 million followers on Twitter that he already deleted TikTok from his phone.

Loyalists are sitting tight for now. But they are distraught – sharing videos of themselves crying (and dancing) with hashtags like #TikTokBan which has 212 million views and #SaveTikTok, with 315 million views on the app.

“If TikTok loses consumer trust, then they lose their relevance,” said Alexander Patino, deputy director of the American Influencer Council, a trade association for social media personalities who market products online.

While there are real security questions about TikTok, the Trump administration’s motives are primarily political, which make it not only difficult to predict what the government will decide, but nearly impossible to fight back if it proceeds with a ban, said Justin Sherman, a nonresident fellow at think tank Atlantic Council, who focuses on geopolitics and cybersecurity.

“I don’t think the company could do anything to placate them,” he said.

TikTok has said it has never given user data to the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked, adding that the company has not been asked.

Sponsors on hold

The effect of a ban on the advertising world would be minimal as TikTok’s ad business is still nascent and brands would easily migrate to other platforms, one executive at a major ad agency said.

But corporate sponsorship of so-called influencers has already suffered. One major consumer-goods brand put a five-figure deal with a TikTok influencer on ice for at least two months, because it did not want to be associated with negative news about the app, said Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, declining to name the brand.

James Lamprey, a chef with 1.2 million TikTok followers, said the uncertainty has caused a camera company to pause their deal with him for a sponsored TikTok video, worth $1,000, until there was more clarity about the app’s fate.

Lamprey said he has started trying to get his TikTok fans to follow him on Instagram. But if TikTok is banned, the impact to his earnings could be huge, he said.

“For TikTok, these brands are contacting me left and right,” Lamprey said. “They want to get in front of that audience.”

Rivals closing in

Smaller rivals like Triller, Byte and Dubsmash have watched downloads of their apps spike after Pompeo’s comments. Some are now proactively targeting TikTok users.

Triller, which became known for its focus on hip-hop music, is reaching out to top TikTok stars while it fields inbound interest from creators wanting to grow their Triller accounts, said Ryan Kavanaugh, founder of Proxima Media, which operates Triller.

Taylor Cassidy, a TikTok influencer with 1.7 million followers, said some TikTok competitors, which she declined to name, have nudged her to build her presence on those apps, guaranteeing her an immediate verified account, which often helps influencers negotiate larger deals.

Daily app downloads in the United States for Byte, Dubsmash, Triller and Likee have all jumped, according to data from Apptopia. In particular, Dubsmash more than doubled to over 46,000 downloads on Thursday, while Byte skyrocketed to over 28,000 downloads on Thursday, versus just 3 400 the day before.

Dylan Tate, an 18-year-old TikTok user from Greenville, South Carolina with 1.2 million followers, has been promoting reasons why users should move to Byte in his recent TikTok videos, including that Byte gives 100% of ad revenue to its creators.

“I’ve been commenting on people’s TikToks to tell them to go to Byte. Now people are doing it themselves,” he said.

Mop up efforts under way in the Western Cape after monster storm
14 July 2020, 6:21 PM

Communities across the Western Cape embarked on mopping up operations today, following a storm that swept across the province this past weekend.

Many people in low-lying areas were affected due to flooding and strong winds.

70-year-old pensioner Thandeka Thunyiswa says it’s the same story every year. She wakes up in water, goes to bed in water and even has to struggle to get to ablution facilities that are full of water. Thunyiswa has lived in the area since 1994 and says the situation is not good for her health as she has high blood pressure and arthritis.

“Sometimes I run to stay with my relative. Sometimes I am sleeping here at my neighbours because I can’t do otherwise because I’m not able to walk far.”

Her neighbour Nosipho Mncedane faced a similar situation. This time, the storm destroyed all her electrical appliances.

“I’m sick from putting my hands in water because I have diabetes. I’m staying here from 1992,” explains Mncedane.

Community leaders are concerned.

“The water inside the houses, old people are staying in water but we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We are going to get more infections because it’s cold, that’s my worry,” says Gugulethu Community Activist Nombeko Leputhing.

In the video below, winter storm shuts several schools in Western Cape:

At Kanana in Gugulethu, on the Cape Flats, the Gift of the Givers brought relief to people living in dire conditions, including the elderly. The NGO delivered necessities such as masks, soap, mattresses and food. The organisation says it is inundated with calls for help after the storm, which is exacerbating the already dire crises of escalating poverty since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gift of the Givers Western Cape Project Manager Ali Sablay says: “We find many of these people who had jobs before are now left at home. They are in the same situation as their neighbours. So we can see poverty is increasing and the situation is getting worse out in the townships in terms of hunger. We find young children going to bed hungry at night and there are many other situations and this is one of the thousands of cases we are dealing with in the Western Cape and the whole country.”

City of Cape Town Disaster Management completed assessments in some townships. Officials are clearing debris, such as fallen trees, and deploying assistance where needed.

City deserve an apology says defiant Guardiola
14 July 2020, 4:55 PM

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola said his team deserved an apology, after their two year UEFA ban from European football was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – a verdict he called a “good day for football”.

Guardiola said the club’s reputation had been damaged by the furore around allegations that they broke Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and fired back at comments from managers Jose Mourinho and Juergen Klopp. “Jose and all the managers should know that we were damaged. We should be apologised (to). Because, like I said many times, if we did something wrong, we will accept absolutely the decisions by UEFA and CAS because we did something wrong,” he said in a news conference on Tuesday.

“We have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct, is right. Three independent judges said this,” he added.

Liverpool manager Klopp had described the CAS verdict on Monday as “not a good day for football” but Guardiola disagreed. “Yesterday was a good day for football because we play with the same rules of FFP as all the clubs in Europe. All of them. (If) we break this FFP, we will be banned,” he said. “We were damaged. The people say that we cheated and lying many, many times. The presumption of innocence was not there and after, when it happened and it was right, of course, we are incredibly happy because we can defend what we have done on the pitch.”

Guardiola also took aim at Spanish league president Javier Tebas, a long-standing critic of City, who had questioned whether CAS was the right court for deciding such matters. “He is another one, this guy Senor Tebas must be so jealous for the Premier League, the English football,” he said.

“He is an incredible legal expert from what I see, so next time we will ask in which court, which judges we have to go. He has to be a little bit worried or concerned about La Liga, (he should) focus on there.

“Normally these kinds of people, when the sentence is good for him it’s perfect like happened many times in Spain right now, but when the sentence is against, the problem is for the other ones,” added Guardiola.

“We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly.”

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