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App
New app to help with self-screening for COVID-19
14 June 2020, 5:25 PM

A new app “Keep out COVID” created by online technology, Howler, will allow individuals to screen themselves for coronavirus ( COVID-19) through their phones using the app.

The app hopes to lessen the burden of the healthcare system by allowing individuals to screen themselves from the comfort of their homes.

Howle Director, Steve Cuzen, says, “Seeing the pandemic that has hit the world, we saw an opportunity to adapt our technology solutions to help people that were going back to work and schools. It also allows organisations to take control of the COVID-19 situation and prevent the COVID-19 from arriving at their organisations.”

Cuzen sought to ensure people about the safety of the app, which he says is 100% safe.

“No one has access to anything other than the organisation itself. All the information that we collect get to be stored to our servers that are encrypted. There is no way that people can hack them.”

In the video below, Cuzen explains further about the app: 

Infographic: Latest COVID-19 statistics in South Africa:

 

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Sanef
Sanef welcomes the President’s decision to review the Secrecy Bill
13 June 2020, 7:35 AM

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to have the controversial Secrecy Bill reviewed and aligned with the Constitution.

Sanef says the forum’s key concern is the lack of a public interest defence in the draft law and the review will now allow for this provision to be introduced.

“Throughout the years Sanef has joined forces with a number of media freedom groups and activists to raise awareness about the unconstitutional nature of many parts of the Bill. Further, we have made a number of submissions to Parliament. One of the most draconian aspects of the present Bill, for instance, includes a 15 to 25-year jail term for any journalist found to have ‘’classified” documents in their possession,” Sanef said in a  statement issued on Friday.

“Sanef welcomes this opportunity to ensure that all aspects of the Bill that are unconstitutional, or too broadly defined, are redrafted – and we would be happy to give further input to finalise it,”  the statement read.

Full statement below:

In 2019, Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa asked Parliament to reconsider and polish the draft law, which seeks to ensure a coherent approach to the protection of State information and the classification and declassification of state information. It also sets out procedures on how classified documents are to be handled during court proceedings and requires courts to prevent public disclosure of classified documents that form part of court records.

The Bill raised the ire of civil society organisations and opposition parties, who slammed it as undermining South Africans’ right to access information. They also believe it also threatens journalists’ and whistleblowers’ rights.

 

 

Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Speaker Modise sends invitations to panel members selected to probe Mkhwebane
12 June 2020, 10:01 PM

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has sent out invitation letters to three persons she intends to appoint on the panel to conduct a preliminary assessment about whether there is prima facie evidence that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has committed misconduct and is incompetent.

In the letters, Modise is requesting their availability. She’s also asking them to indicate if they will be able to carry out their work under the COVID-19 restrictions.

Parliament says their names will be announced once the process of appointment is concluded.

Depending on their responses, Modise will make the appointments or take other steps and appoint other persons to the Panel.

DA’s bid to remove Mkhwebane

The move follows Parliament’s approval of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) submitted motion, proposing the National Assembly initiate a process aimed at removing Mkhwebane.

The DA called for the removal of Mkhwebane after the High Court in Pretoria declared her Vrede Dairy farm report unconstitutional and invalid. She had also overstepped her authority when finding that the Reserve Bank mandate should be revised.

At the time, DA Interim Leader, John Steenhuisen argued that this shows that Mkhwebane was incompetent and did not understand the role of her office.

In her response to the Justice Committee of Parliament, Mkhwebane had stated that none of the DA’s complaints can justify her removal.

Steenhuisen says their latest complaint to the Speaker also included new information currently in the public domain; such as a press release by the Public Servants Association (PSA), alleging that  Mkhwebane’s office was making use of the State Security Agency to victimise and harass PSA shop stewards.

In the video below, Mkhwebane says rules to remove her are unconstitutional:

 

George Floyd
UNHRC urged to convene urgent debate on racially inspired human rights violations
12 June 2020, 9:40 PM
The African Group to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva has requested an urgent debate into racially inspired human rights violations in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s killing when a white police officer in the US held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes on May 25, 2020.

In a letter seen by SABC News, the group calls for a discussion that will focus on systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests when the council resumes on June 15. Such a debate in the council would be the first the national situation of a Security Council permanent five members would discuss.

The letter states that the international outcry following the tragic events in Minneapolis, on Africa Day, stressed the urgency for the Council to discuss these issues, pointing to the fact that the brutality meted out to Floyd was not an isolated incident.

The urgent dialogue is sought to address the structural and proximate causes of racial discrimination that prevails worldwide with tremendous impact on the enjoyment of human rights, especially for People of African Descent.

The Africa Group says it hopes the discussion will chart the way forward and propose strategies on how different human rights mechanisms and relevant treaty bodies can improve their work to bring about tangible results on the end of racial discrimination and in cooperation with concerned countries.

In the video below, is a discussion on calls for police reform in the US with a Black Lives Matter activist:

Floyd’s death has been declared a homicide. The 46-year-old died after a policeman knelt on his neck, despite his plea, saying “I can’t breath.”

His alleged killer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and is out on bail. The three officers, who were with him on that fateful day, are facing abetting murder charges.

The four officers have been fired following public pressure, calling for justice in the matter.

Chauvin is the most experienced of the four and doesn’t have a good track record. In his nearly 20 years of service within the Minneapolis Police Department, he has reportedly had 17 misconduct complaints laid against him.

His fall from grace came after a video of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck went viral.

It followed days of protests from Americans of all colour and creed, calling for justice. Other parts of the world, including the UK and South Africa, also followed with similar protests.

Oscars
Academy says films aiming to win Oscars will need to meet diversity criteria
12 June 2020, 9:00 PM

The organisation that hand out the Academy Awards said Friday it would form a group to develop diversity and inclusion guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been criticised for honouring few movies and creators of colour, said the move and other steps represented a new phase of a 5-year effort to promote diversity.

The group said in a statement it would work with the Producers Guild of America to convene a task force of industry leaders to develop “representation and inclusion standards” for Oscars eligibility by July 31 that will “encourage equitable hiring practices on and off-screen.”

 

The rules will not apply to films vying for Oscars at the next ceremony in 2021.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite

Criticism of the movie academy intensified in 2015 with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, a backlash against an all-white field of acting contenders.

The academy responded in part by doubling the number of women and people color in its invitation-only ranks. Still, by 2019 just 32% of its roughly 8 000 members were women, and 16%were people of colour. New members will be announced next month.

“We know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said. “The need to address this issue is urgent.”

Hollywood has been reckoning with a lack of diversity and portrayal of racism on-screen amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

Earlier this week, streaming service HBO Max said it was temporarily pulling Oscar-winning film “Gone with the Wind.”

Among other new measures, the film academy will guarantee 10 best picture contenders annually, rather than a fluctuating number up to 10, to give more films a shot at the industry’s most prestigious prize.

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