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10 Things to stream this Easter weekend

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The Easter weekend is upon us, and that means four days to laze around and relax at home. Some of you might be going to spend time with family members outside your province or maybe taking a short holiday to your favourite destination.

Whatever you might be up to this Easter weekend, we have selected five movies and TV series for you to enjoy from some of the best streaming and renting services.

Mary Poppins Returns

You can rent this “sequel” from DSTV Box Office for R40. This new version of Mary Poppins is suitable for the whole family and if you are into musicals, this will bring back the child in you, as Emily Blunt takes on the role of the magical nanny that saves the Banks family again.

Aquaman

This is DC Comics movie, and one of their most successful to date. If your into superhero movies then this is definitely worth the watch. With Jason Momoa taking on the role of Arthur Curry and fighting to claim the throne as the King of Atlantis, Aquaman is crammed full of adventure. You can rent this movie at DSTV Box Office for R40 too.

Mortal Engines

Sticking with the fantasy adventure theme there’s Mortal Engines from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. You’ll get worked up cheering on the heroine in this film, Hester Shaw, as she faces the terrible treat of a giant predatory cities on wheels

Mortal Engines is available to rent for R35 or for R165 on Cell C’s black.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage

If you like your action on the insane and somewhat unbelievable side, why not give XXX: Return of Xander Cage a watch. It’s packed with action, plus you get to see ridiculously good-looking, heavily tattooed people saving the world. If that doesn’t say Easter Weekend, we don’t know what does.

Another offering from black, you can rent it for R35 or buy for R135.

The Perfect Date

A Netflix Original, this film is a romantic comedy that sees a high schooler launch an app offering his services as for fake dates, If you’re into teen romance movies then this film is for you. Plus if you haven’t already subscribed to Netflix, you get the first month free to test it out.

Game of Thrones (GOT)

If you haven’t heard or watched GOT, you clearly haven’t owned a TV for the past decade. This is the most talked about TV series in recent memory, and now the eighth and final season has begun airing. If you haven’t got the chance to catch up, the Easter Weekend will be a good place to start.

Showmax has all seven series for you to binge watch and catch up to the rest of the world, or maybe you just want to re-watch your favourite scenes from the series.

Ray Donovan

Another series available on Showmax is Ray Donovan, with the local platform airing the sixth season of this highly addictive show starring Liev Schreiber as the titular fixer. If you like criminal underworld, violence and dysfunctional families, Ray Donovan is for you.

Luther

The final series from Showmax we’re suggesting is Luther. It stars Idris Elba as the eponymous detective who uses his skills to hunt down the worst criminals in London. This series is more of thriller / mystery than it is crime solving, and as such will keep you coming back for more It is in its fifth season, and you can watch all of them on Showmax.

Love, Death & Robots

One of Netflix’s other Original series that recently arrived on the platform is Love, Death & Robots. It’s a series of animated episodes in the same vein as The Animatrix, with each episode from a different creator and touching of unique subjects. There’s quite a bit of NSFW stuff in it, but well worth the watch if you like futuristic series.

Our Planet

Rounding things off is another Netflix property that was added a few weeks ago – Our Planet., This documentary series about Earth is narrated by David Attenborough and focuses on how animals survive and exist in different parts of the world. If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, as well as see how global warming is affecting that, this is something you’ll want to watch.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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Scientists creating gene map of human ‘microbiome’

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The number of genes in bacteria that live in and on people could top 1 billion trillion – and at least half appear to be unique to their host.

That mindboggling math comes from scientists at Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston who have set out to map all genes of the human microbiome.

A gateway study

The research could reveal links between microbiome genes and human disease, and lead to development of precision treatments, they said.

So far, researchers have analysed the genes of bacteria in the human mouth and gut. Those findings were published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

“Ours is a gateway study, the first step on what will likely be a long journey toward understanding how differences in gene content drive microbial behaviour and modify disease risk,” said study first author Braden Tierney, a graduate student at Harvard Medical School.

The diversity of genes is far greater than researchers expected. They said the functions of microbial genes unique to each person are different from those of shared genes.

The team analysed more than 2 100 bacteria samples from people’s guts and more than 1 400 from their mouths. The samples contained nearly 46 million bacterial genes – about 24 million from the mouth and 22 million in the gut.

Trillions of bacteria

More than half of the bacterial genes (23 million) occurred only once, meaning they were unique to the individual. Of those unique genes, 11.8 million came from the mouth and 12.6 million from the gut.

The human microbiome contains trillions of bacteria. Most are harmless, many beneficial, but some cause disease. There is growing evidence that these microbes play an important role in health.

Changes in levels and types of bacteria in and on your body have been linked to development of conditions ranging from tooth decay to diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, the study authors noted.

So far, most research has focused on how various types of bacteria might affect disease risk. By contrast, this new research analyses the genes in these bacteria.

Study co-senior author Chirag Patel said that “just like no two siblings are genetically identical, no two bacterial strains are genetically identical, either”. Patel is an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School.

“Two members of the same bacterial strain could have markedly different genetic makeup, so information about bacterial species alone could mask critical differences that arise from genetic variation,” he explained in a Harvard news release.

Valuable clues

Learning more about the genes in these bacteria could lead to precisely targeted treatments, according to study senior co-author Alex Kostic. He’s an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard and an investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

“Such narrowly targeted therapies would be based on the unique microbial genetic make-up of a person rather than on bacterial type alone,” Kostic said.

Profiling these unique genes could provide valuable clues about past exposures to different pathogens or environmental influences, as well as disease risk, he concluded.

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DA national leaders deploy members to monitor troubled Tshwane caucus, council

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The DA’s leadership has moved to stabilise its fractured caucus in the City of Tshwane, effectively placing Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa’s municipality under party administration.

This is according to party insiders. News24 spoke to at least four well-placed sources at both national and local government level in the DA, with some saying there was no other way to fix the mess that’s been created in the capital city, but for national leaders to step in.

Over the weekend, DA leader Mmusi Maimane admitted, when asked by News24 about the state of the City’s leadership, that decisions had been taken to get more “involved” in both the work of the municipality and the party’s caucus.

“I made no apologies about the fact that we are going to take a strong stance there. We have to,” said Maimane.

While he highlighted the challenges the DA government inherited when it took over control of the City from the ANC, which had registered a disappointing showing at the polls following its own internal squabbles, Maimane said there was a need to turn the City around and make sure it delivered services to the people of Tshwane.

“So certainly, it’s a capital city and we are working hard, and I pride myself that, as the DA, we are going to turn that municipality around and do the work that needs to be done,” he said.

The DA-run municipality has been plagued by its own troubles, chiefly the GladAfrica tender scandal and the handling of city manager Moeketsi Mosola’s battle with the council.

James Selfe, who is currently moving into a new role dealing with local governments, flew to Gauteng from Cape Town earlier this month to discuss how the municipality could resolve a dispute with striking workers over the implementation of wage increases.

READ: DA ‘not at all happy’ about payment agreement with Tshwane striking municipal workers – report

When former mayor Solly Msimanga stepped down earlier this year it was expected that his successor Mokgalapa would stabilise the region and resolve the impasse with Mosola.

Insiders have told News24 that the situation has worsened, with Mokgalapa merely rewarding those who were unhappy during Msimanga’s tenure.

“Now the Soshanguve people get to eat, they get the opportunities… that’s who Stevens cares about. We thought he was capable, but he really has been a let down,” said one Tshwane insider.

‘It is really difficult right now’

While Maimane and several others refuse to outright say the party had placed the Tshwane caucus under administration, one source said the national leadership was literally “breathing down their necks” and not allowing any decision to be taken without it being scrutinised and approved.

“They want to know of every step, have a say in every decision. It is really difficult right now, but I believe in the end it will be for the best,” another Tshwane source told News24.

The leader of the ANC caucus, Kgosi Maepa, has complained about the involvement of Selfe and federal chairperson Athol Trollip in Tshwane.

He told journalists that the two had come to the capital city to give instructions. Maepa claimed the DA was not happy with Mokgalapa, whom he’s dubbed “gimmicks” over growing divisions between so-called “white” and “black” caucuses.

The mayor has been accused of advancing the interests of the black caucus, which had previously been aggrieved with Msimanga.

Even City employees seem disgruntled, with a group calling themselves Concerned Employees of Tshwane writing to both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile, asking for them to intervene in the City.

Maile said, while the department had enough reason to place DA-run municipalities in Gauteng under administration, that was not its objective, and that they were instead prioritising working together optimally to serve their respective communities.

When Trollip was quizzed by News24 regarding the claims and concerns around the Tshwane caucus, he declined to answer, saying he would never discuss internal party issues with the media.

Maimane, in raising concerns about its Tshwane members adhering to the DA’s principles, said the party was attempting to address the challenges facing its caucus.

“When it comes to the caucus. I have deployed people there to monitor that caucus to make sure we build a united team there that will deliver in Tshwane.”

Samwu strike

Maimane complained about the recent Samwu strike, which shut down the capital city for three days, questioning how the chief of police had failed to stop an “illegal march” from going ahead.

He said this was a failure of leadership and accountability.

“More than anything, I wanted to make sure in the adjudication of certain decisions that take place in that municipality, that we always uphold the DA’s principles in that regard, [ensuring] clean government, making sure that we don’t have contracts that are not of service to the people, making sure of the competence of the leadership.”

Mokgalapa’s office said it was not aware of moves by national leaders to get more involved in monitoring the performance of the municipality. Selfe, who’s recently been given the task of running the party’s governance unit, admitted to “closely monitoring” work being done under Mokgalapa’s watch, but said this was not “unique” to Tshwane.

He said the DA had appointed top leaders to closely monitor work across all the country’s metros.

“This is a programme implemented in order to clearly ascertain the state of affairs in those councils and the communities they serve; the intervention is to better prepare ourselves ahead of the 2021 elections,” said Selfe in an email response to News24.

Selfe also said the DA regularly met with its members who held elected office to ensure they were “on top of all issues” and able to “advise on any appropriate action, if necessary”.

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Jumia Finds Wrongdoing in Nigeria Sales Force as Loss W…

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While the Berlin-based company Jumia Technologies AG is taking measures to cut out instances of wrongdong, the findings backed up warnings made by short-sellers Citron in a report three months ago, which brought an abrupt end to a share-price rally following Jumia’s initial public offering in New York the previous month.

Jumia found cases where “improper orders were placed and subsequently cancelled,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. These included deals made through a team of independent Nigerian sales consultants called J-Force. The transactions in question amounted to 2% of 2018 gross merchandise volume — a term for sales used in online retailing — rising to 4% in the first quarter of 2019.

J-Force allows the company to interact directly with customers but “requires constant improvement,” Jumia co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sacha Poignonnec said in a conference call.

The retailer — sometimes dubbed Africa’s Amazon — has operations in 14 countries and is seeking to take advantage of rising incomes and better technology on the continent.

‘Unlimited Income’

In advertising for candidates to join J-Force, Jumia promises the opportunity to “earn unlimited income” while having “complete freedom and control over your activities.” Nigeria is ranked 144th on a list of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled by Transparency International.

The report of dubious sales practices comes after Citron called Jumia “an obvious fraud,” wiping out early gains from the IPO. The stock shed another 14% to $12.73 as of 12:39 p.m. in New York, dropping below the $14.50 listing price.

Jumia said second-quarter operating losses widened by 60% to 66.7 million euros ($74 million), mainly due to an increase in costs related to the vesting of share options following the IPO. The company’s target for profitability is late 2022, and the cash raised through the listing should take Jumia “close” to that, Poignonnec said.

The “business model has severe vulnerabilities,” Tellimer Markets Inc analysts led by Nirgunan Tiruchelvam said in a note following the results. “The business is intensely cashflow negative and we have concerns about its viability.”

In other news…

South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.

On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government – mission accomplished.

And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.

However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

If you believe in supporting the cause and the work of Daily Maverick then take your position on the battleground and sign up to Maverick Insider today.

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