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Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Woods

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Presenting the golfing great with the nation’s highest honour, Trump praised Woods’ “relentless will to win, win, win.”

“These qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness,” the president said.

Trump congratulated Woods on “your amazing comeback and your amazing life and for giving sports fans a lifetime of memories.

“We can’t wait to see what’s next, Tiger,” said Trump, an avid golfer and owner of several golf courses around the world.

Woods, 43, choked up as he thanked his mother, his two children, his girlfriend and his caddy during the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

“You have seen the good and the bad, the highs and the lows,” said Woods, who battled back from injury to win the Masters last month, his first major title since the 2008 US Open.

“My dad is no longer here, but my mom is here,” Woods said. “I love you, Mom.”

“I have tried to hang in there and I have tried to come back and play the great game of golf again,” Woods said. “I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to do it again.”

He said his Masters victory was “probably the highlight of what I have accomplished so far in my life on the golf course.

“To have had that type of experience and to be able to come out on top and win,” he said.

Established by John F Kennedy in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is bestowed upon those who have made an “especially meritorious” contribution to US security or national interests, world peace, cultural pursuits or other non-specified  endeavours.

It has been awarded to nearly three dozen sports figures including golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, honoured by president George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama gave the medal in 2014 to Charlie Sifford, the first African American golfer to play on the PGA Tour.

During his speech, Woods praised Sifford who he said was “like the grandpa I never had.”

“I ended up becoming so close with him that I ended up naming my son Charlie after him,” he said. “So to have been chosen as the next golfer after Charlie is truly remarkable.”

Woods’ Masters was his 15th major title, leaving him just three short of the record held by Nicklaus.

Woods, a black superstar in a white-dominated sport, has steered clear of commenting on politics during his career.

He has golfed with Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and with Republican presidents George HW Bush and Trump.

He has hit the links with Trump on several occasions, most recently in February at the president’s course in Jupiter, Florida.

Woods was asked last year about his relationship with Trump, who has been engaged in an ongoing feud with a number of African-American basketball and football stars.

“Well, I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” Woods said. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together.

Woods said the important thing was to respect the office of the presidency, regardless of who happened to be occupying the White House.

“No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office,” Woods said.



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CTO expertise without the expense

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Nick Truran is CEO of AgileIT.

Nick Truran is CEO of AgileIT.

Using IT to drive business growth is not as simple as it sounds. Technology is evolving at such a fast rate that only the most lean and agile of organisations have managed to keep up.

Pressure on CIOs to justify extensive investments in IT (estimates are that as much as 10% of all business spend is on technology) is intense. This is aggravated by the fact that most IT executives have only a short contractual timeline to deliver and prove value.

Turning an IT ship to innovate and deliver on the business strategy takes time.

Chances are that by the time the executive has managed to get to grips with the organisation and forged a plan to address the original requirement, its needs have changed and a new plan is required. It’s little wonder that IT executives are becoming overwhelmingly fatigued by the constant turbulence.

Behold the fractional CTO

Enter the fractional or part-time chief technology officer (CTO), of which I would count myself as one. Equipped with the technical knowhow to evaluate the inner workings of the technology landscape, the fractional CTO is able to lend stability to current operations, and derive optimum performance and savings.

This frees the current CIO/CTO to focus on servicing the business and planning the innovation necessary to deliver on its strategy.

Likewise, a midsize business that does not require a full-time CIO/CTO, which is costly, can reap the benefits of their skills by using one part-time. This person should have a deep understanding of the needs of the organisation, as well as the technology required to underpin it, ensuring everything runs as it should.

For me, the latter is all about the maturity of the IT team as well as some of the service-centric best practices, such as the ITIL framework. The essence of ITIL is that it provides a critical prescriptive framework to assist IT teams to manage and measure service delivery to the business.

ITIL is a valuable process guideline, which allows IT teams to continually self-assess their maturity between levels one and five. A level five standard denotes a high level of predictability, resilience and stability within the organisation’s IT service delivery infrastructure. 

A fractional CTO will operate without bias or prejudice for the company, as the objective is, always, value creation to the customer.

The more mature the ITSM processes, the easier it is to manage change and transitions in the IT infrastructure. Yet despite the huge upside of ITSM, in my experience most South African IT shops barely attain a level two, and that is typically only after several years of its introduction into the business. This severely impacts the business’s ability to innovate and embrace new technologies on the path to becoming a truly digital business.

A fractional CTO brings best practice adoption, a business-centric service delivery model and operational efficiency through maximising the value of IT spend, rationalising partnerships, reducing complexity and driving up overall stability and performance.

This is achieved one step at a time, diligently chasing continual service improvement, investing in fit-for-purpose technology, and cultivating an environment that is monitored, metered and measured.

Many companies are willing to throw millions into the investment of various technologies with little or no value realisation, but with no one to steer this vessel to effective, monetised success, it is essentially a sinking ship and huge waste of capital.

Fractional CTO services offer the expertise needed, for a fraction of the cost, with five key areas of value:

  • Guidance: Mature environments require the right level of governance and compliance to facilitate optimal performance. He or she will manage the risk appetite of the business, through embedding controls that will ensure risks are highlighted early, mitigated where necessary and managed appropriately with the highest level of visibility and transparency.
  • Symbiosis: For any business to perform to its optimal potential, symbiosis between the company’s needs and technology delivery is a necessity. However, they are often worlds apart. A fractional CTO not only understands at all times the business strategy, market segments and its “go-to-markets”, he or she also provides technical input into the above with an “art of the possible” lens.
  • Objectivity: A fractional CTO will operate without bias or prejudice for the company, as the objective is, always, value creation to the customer. The fractional CTO’s role is to provide an objective evaluation of all hardware, software and IT-related services, as well as the vendor contracts associated with these.
  • Trend-spotter and recycle-focused strategies: While keeping a close eye on foreseeable future technological developments, the fractional CTO will help sweat all existing technology assets within the business, ensuring maximum value extraction at acceptable risk. This will ensure said technologies have been used to their fullest potential, with less waste in the environment.
  • Cost-effective: The last point is possibly the most compelling of the five; a fractional CTO is a cost-effective hire. The company will be able to reap the full benefits of an IT expert, while keeping within its means.

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‘Total political crap’: Apple takes on EU’s Vestager

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Margrethe Vestager

Apple fights the world’s biggest tax case in a quiet courtroom this week, trying to rein in the European Union’s powerful antitrust chief ahead of a potential new crackdown on Internet giants.

The iPhone maker will tell the EU general court in Luxembourg that it’s the world’s biggest taxpayer. But that’s not enough for EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager who said in a 2016 ruling that Apple’s tax deals with Ireland allowed the company to pay far less than other businesses. The court must now weigh whether regulators were right to levy a record €13-billion tax bill.

Apple’s haggling over tax comes after its market valuation hit US$1.02-trillion last week on the back of a new aggressive pricing strategy that may stoke demand for some smartphones and watches. The company’s huge revenue — and those of other technology firms — has attracted close scrutiny in Europe, focusing on complicated company structures for transferring profits generated from intellectual property.

A court ruling, likely to take months, could empower or halt Vestager’s tax probes, which are now focused on fiscal deals done by Amazon.com and Alphabet. She’s also been tasked with coming up with a “fair European tax” by the end of 2020 if global efforts to reform digital taxation don’t make progress.

“Politically, this will have very big consequences,” said Sven Giegold, a Green member of the European parliament. “If Apple wins this case, the calls for tax harmonisation in Europe will take on a different dynamic, you can count on that.”

Apple’s fury at the EU’s 2016 order saw CEO Tim Cook blasting the EU move as “total political crap”. The company’s legal challenge claims the EU wrongly targeted profits that should be taxed in the US and “retroactively changed the rules” on how global authorities calculate what’s owed to them.

‘Hates the US’

The US treasury weighed in too, saying the EU was making itself a “supra-national tax authority” that could threaten global tax reform efforts. US President Donald Trump hasn’t been silent either, saying Vestager “hates the United States” because “she’s suing all our companies”.

“There is a lot at stake given the high-profile nature of the case, as well as the concerns that have been raised from the US treasury that the investigations risk undermining the international tax system,” said Nicole Robins, a partner at economics consultancy Oxera in Brussels.

Vestager has also fined Google some $9-billion. She’s ordered Amazon to pay back taxes — a mere €250-million — and is probing Nike’s tax affairs and looking into Google’s taxation in Ireland.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple declined to comment ahead of the hearing, referring to previous statements. The European Commission also declined to comment. Ireland said it “profoundly” disagreed with the EU’s findings.

The first hints of how the Apple case may turn out will come from a pair of rulings scheduled for 24 September.

The general court will rule on whether the EU was right to demand unpaid taxes from Starbucks and a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unit. Those judgments could set an important precedent on how far the EU can question tax decisions national governments make on how companies should be treated.

“It’s very clear that the largest companies in the world — the frightful five I call them — are hardly paying taxes,” said Paul Tang, a socialist lawmaker at the European parliament. “Cases like these, Amazon in Luxembourg or Apple in Ireland, started to build public and political pressure” for tax reform in Europe.

The legal battles may go on for a few years more. The general court rulings can be appealed once more to the EU’s highest tribunal, the EU court of justice. Meanwhile, Apple’s back taxes — €14.3-billion including interest — sit in an escrow account and can’t be paid to Ireland until the final legal challenges are exhausted.  — Reported by Stephanie Bodoni and Aoife White, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP

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Africa: BET Hip-Hop Awards 2019 – Falz, Sarkodie, Nasty C Emerge First African Nominees

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Lagos — BET International has launched the “Best International Flow” category to honour artists from around the world during the BET “Hip Hop Awards” 2019, including African trailblazing artists.

African hip-hop artists who made the nominees’ list in the new category include globally acclaimed Nigerian rapper and songwriter, Folarin Falana, a.k.a. Falz, his South African counterpart, Nasty C. and awarding winning Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie.

The trio are set to compete with internationally recognised singer-songwriter Tory Lanez (Canada), hip-hop artist and grime OG Ghetts (UK), rapper/singer Little Simz (UK) for the award.

A statement from the company said the latest move is to recognize the growing appeal of artists from around the world, especially from Africa, Europe and Canada.

It said the BET “Hip Hop Awards” will return to Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where the winner will be announced during the global broadcast on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

It noted that the BET “Hip Hop Awards” 2019 will air on BET Africa (DSTV Channel 129) on October 9, 2019, at 6:00PM WAT.

Commenting on the nomination, Alex Okosi, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, BET International and Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa), said: “We are excited to announce the first ever BET “Hip Hop Awards” Best International Flow Category with such diverse nominees.

“The award will be presented on-stage during the live broadcast, confirming BET’s commitment to recognizing the influence of international artists globally.

“I believe that opportunities like the BET “Hip Hop Awards” position international artists for global success long after the winners are announced.”

Also speaking, Connie Orlando, BET US’s Head of Programming, noted: “We are committed to celebrating the global impact of hip-hop culture.

“By introducing the Best International Flow category, artists of all backgrounds, regardless of location, will have an opportunity to reach BET’s audience of over 90 million viewers worldwide.

“We congratulate each international nominee and look forward to celebrating their talent and contributions during the BET “Hip Hop Awards” 2019.”

The statement further added that Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, will serve as the Executive Producer of the BET Hip Hop Awards along with Connie Orlando, BET Head of Programming and Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, Vice President of Specials, Jesse Collins Entertainment.

Below is the complete official list of BET “Hip Hop Awards” 2019 nominees:

Best International Flow

FALZ (NIGERIA)

GHETTS (UK)

KALASH (FRANCE)

LITTLE SIMZ (UK)

NASTY C (SOUTH AFRICA)

SARKODIE (GHANA)

TORY LANEZ (CANADA)

Best Hip-Hop Video

21 SAVAGE – A LOT FEAT. J. COLE

CARDI B – MONEY

CITY GIRLS – TWERK FEAT. CARDI B

DA BABY – SUGE

MEEK MILL – GOING BAD FEAT. DRAKE

TRAVIS SCOTT – SICKO MODE FEAT. DRAKE

Hot Ticket Performer

CARDI B

DABABY

DRAKE

MEGAN THEE STALLION

THE CARTERS

TRAVIS SCOTT

Album of the Year

ASTROWORLD – TRAVIS SCOTT

CHAMPIONSHIPS – MEEK MILL

CUZ I LOVE YOU – LIZZO

FATHER OF ASAHD – DJ KHALED

IGOR – TYLER, THE CREATOR

REVENGE OF THE DREAMERS 3 – DREAMVILLE

Video Director of the Year

BENNY BOOM

BRUNO MARS

FLORENT DECHARD

CALMATIC

DAVE MEYERS

EIF RIVERA

TRAVIS SCOTT

Lyricist of the Year

2 CHAINZ

DRAKE

J. COLE

MEEK MILL

NIPSEY HUSSLE

YBN CORDAE

MVP of the Year

CARDI B

DJ KHALED

DRAKE

J. COLE

MEGAN THEE STALLION

NIPSEY HUSSLE

Producer of the Year

DJ KHALED

LONDON ON DA TRACK

METRO BOOMIN

MUSTARD

SWIZZ BEATZ

TAY KEITH

Best Collab, Duo or Group

21 SAVAGE – A LOT FEAT. J. COLE

CARDI B & BRUNO MARS – PLEASE ME

DJ KHALED – HIGHER FEAT. NIPSEY HUSSLE & JOHN LEGEND

LIL BABY & GUNNA – DRIP TOO HARD

LIL NAS X FEAT. BILLY RAY CYRUS – OLD TOWN ROAD (REMIX)

TRAVIS SCOTT – SICKO MODE FEAT. DRAKE

Single of the Year

ACT UP – Produced by EarlThePearll (CITY GIRLS)

BIG OLE FREAK – Produced by LilJuMadeDaBeat (MEGAN THEE STALLION)

MONEY – Produced by J. White Did It (CARDI B)

OLD TOWN ROAD (REMIX) – Produced by YoungKio (LIL NAS X FEAT. BILLY RAY CYRUS)

SICKO MODE – Produced by Rogét Chahayed, CuBeatz, OZ, Hit-Boy & Tay Keith (TRAVIS SCOTT FEAT. DRAKE)

SUGE – Produced by Pooh Beatz & JetsonMade (DABABY)

Best New Hip-Hop Artist

BLUEFACE

DABABY

LIL NAS X

MEGAN THEE STALLION

RODDY RICCH

YBN CORDAE

Best Mixtape

JACK HARLOW – LOOSE

KEVIN GATES – LUCA BRASI 3

MEGAN THEE STALLION – FEVER

RODDY RICCH – FEED THA STREETS II

WIZ KHALIFA & CURREN$Y – 2009

YBN CORDAE, YBN NAHMIR, YBN ALMIGHTY JAY – YBN: THE MIXTAPE

Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse

21 SAVAGE – WISH WISH ( DJ KHALED FEAT. 21 SAVAGE & CARDI B)

CARDI B – CLOUT (OFFSET FEAT. CARDI B)

CARDI B – TWERK (CITY GIRLS FEAT. CARDI B)

J. COLE – A LOT (21 SAVAGE FEAT. J.COLE)

RICK ROSS – MONEY IN THE GRAVE (DRAKE FEAT. RICK ROSS)

RICK ROSS – WHAT’S FREE (MEEK MILL FEAT. RICK ROSS & JAY-Z)

Impact Track