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Tech giants pledge to limit online terror content

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Jacinda Ardern and Emmanuel Macron launch the initiative in ParisImage copyright
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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron have launched the “Christchurch Call”

Five global technology companies have pledged to limit terrorist material online.

Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter and Microsoft will develop shared tools to detect and remove terrorist or extremist content among other measures.

The pledge was made at a Paris summit, which was called after the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand left 51 people dead.

The March attack was live-streamed on social media.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the event with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been calling for technology executives to sign a pledge as the “Christchurch Call”.

What was pledged?

The firms said they would update their terms of use to “expressly prohibit the distribution of terrorist and violent extremist content”.

They will develop crisis protocols to respond to emerging or active events such as a terror attack.

The companies said they would also commit to publishing “transparency reports” on the detection and removal of terror or violent extremist content.

Live-stream limits

Before the event Facebook announced curbs on its streaming feature.

The tech giant said there would be a “one-strike policy” banning those who violate new Facebook Live rules.

In a statement, Facebook said that anyone sharing “violating content” like a statement from a terrorist group without context would be blocked from using Facebook Live for a set period, such as 30 days.

Ms Ardern called the measures a “good first step”.

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African News

PICS: Occupied house left in ruins by now-evicted BLF members

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A lawyer from Pretoria has managed to have a group of Black First Land First (BLF) members who had occupied a house in Brooklyn, Pretoria, evicted – according to Sunday newspaper Rapport.

The paper reported that the sheriff of the court removed the occupiers on Friday after an eviction order was issued by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The party – who managed to garner a mere 0.11% of votes nationally on the May 8 general elections – suffered another blow last week when it was forced to give up on a court fight for its supporters who occupied the house in the posh Pretoria suburb of Brooklyn, Times Select reported. 

Times Select had reportedly seen a letter written by BLF leader Andile Mngxitama to attorney Mike Potgieter, the executor of the deceased estate of Willem and Dorothea Serfontein – the owners of the property at the centre of the legal battle.

“We confirm having arranged for the applicant’s attorney (Potgieter) to inform the court … that the respondent [BLF and the group of illegal occupiers] are hereby withdrawing from this case as they were unable to secure legal representation due to the lack of funds,” the letter reads.

“The respondents ask that the court make no order as to costs (each party to pay its own costs) and the respondents do not have funds to attend the court.”

Toilets were used but not flushed. (Deon Raath, Rapport)

The Citizen reported about the occupation of the house in August last year. 

House stood empty for years

The house “invaders”, who claim to be students, moved into the unoccupied thatched-roof house [in July 2018], The Citizen reported.

When confronted, they reportedly said they could not afford accommodation and called their “lawyer”, who turned out to be Mngxitama, who is not an attorney.

According to The Citizen, Potgieter launched an urgent application to have the students evicted, saying they illegally gained access to the property and were trespassing. Judge Nelisa Mali, however, ruled that the application was not urgent and struck it off the roll.

The main house on the property had reportedly been standing empty for years after the owners died, leaving the property to their sons, who both live abroad.

On Thursday, Judge A.J. Brand ruled that Amanda Mjindi, Dlozi Mthetwa and others living at 235 Brooks Street in Brooklyn must leave the property and carry the costs of the eviction order, Rapport reported. 

‘They moved in to destroy the house’

Rapport quoted Renier de Meyer of Interactive Security, who said the eviction was carried out without incident.

He told that publication that it appeared that the BLF members had moved into the house “to destroy” and estimated damages to the property at R500 000.

The kitchen was so dirty that security guards battled to open the door. (Deon Raath, Rapport)

Back in August last year, Times Select reported that, when its reporter visited the house, the neighbours, who did not want to be named, expressed concern about the situation and that their sympathy levels with the group of occupiers were low.

“I am worried about the value of my property going down,” one neighbour reportedly said.

According to Rapport, the house had been stripped of electrical wiring and light fittings, the interior of the house had been severely neglected, toilets had been used but not flushed and litter was lying around everywhere. The garden and pool were also reportedly in a state of severe disrepair.

Mngxitama requested that Rapport send him questions in writing. To this, he reportedly replied: “F*ck you.” 

BLF members on the pavement after being evicted from a house they had occupied. (Deon Raath, Rapport)

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Three Geeks Rescue a 50-Year-Old IBM 360 Mainframe From an Abandoned Building

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In late April of 2019 Slashdot reader Adam Bradley and engineer Chris Blackburn were “sitting in a pub on a Monday night when Chris happened across a somewhat unusual eBay listing…”

They eventually submitted the winning bid for an IBM 360 Model 20 mainframe — €3,710 (about $4,141 USD) — and proceeded to pick it up from an abandoned building “in the backstreets of Nuremberg, Germany.” (Where they tackled several issues with a tiny door that hadn’t been opened since the 1970s.) By day Adam is a railway software engineer, but he’s also been involved in computer history for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley, England.

Along with engineer Peter Vaughan, the three are now blogging “the saga that unfurled…and how we eventually tackled the problems we discovered.” But after much beer, whisky, and Weiner Schnitzel, Adam assures us the story ends with a victory:
The machine will shortly be headed to the UK for a full restoration to working order. We’re planning to blog the entire process and hope some of you might be interested in reading more about it.

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The hidden lives of ‘housegirls’ in Kenya

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In Uganda, young women are leaving their homes to try and find jobs as domestic workers, but for some their new lives can lead to mistreatment and abuse.

A charity in Kenya is calling for the introduction of laws to protect domestic workers, commonly referred to as housegirls, to ensure their safety.

For BBC Africa Eye, reporter Nancy Kacungira has been investigating why young women living near Uganda’s border are leaving their villages to find work in Kenya.

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