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Dad of London Bridge victim says son was a ‘beautiful spirit’



The first victim of the London Bridge terror attack to be named has been praised by his father as “a beautiful spirit”.

Jack Merritt, 25, was one of two people stabbed to death by Usman Khan during the convicted terrorist’s rampage on Friday.

Khan, 28, was shot dead on the bridge, while wearing a fake explosives vest, by police.

Merritt, a course co-ordinator at Cambridge University’s criminology institute, was killed as he helped host an event near London Bridge to mark five years of a prisoner rehabilitation programme.

It was targeted by Khan, a former participant, who arrived armed with two knives.

“I am sad beyond words to report that a course co-ordinator, Jack Merritt, was killed,” Stephen Toope, Cambridge University vice-chancellor, said in a statement.

“Our university condemns this abhorrent and senseless act of terror.”

He added that a woman killed in the stabbing spree, who has yet to be named, was a former student, while one of three people injured was a member of its staff.

Merritt was reportedly a Cambridge University graduate who was working for its “Learning Together” initiative run by the Department of Criminology to promote prison-based education.

“He was an exceptional young man, and I’m only finding out the half of it now he’s gone,” David Merritt, the victim’s father, said in a series of messages on Twitter.

“I talked often with Jack about Learning Together & I was inspired by the stories he told me,” he added.

Khan had participated in the programme while serving some of his 16-year sentence for terrorism offences at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire, eastern England.

He was conditionally released from jail last December under so-called licensing conditions after serving around half of his jail term.

That has caused a political storm in Britain, which is in the grip of election campaigning ahead of voting on December 12.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – whose Conservatives have been in power for nearly a decade – is now vowing to end the practice and stiffen sentences.

David Merritt has criticised that response, writing in one social media message: “We don’t need knee-jerk reactions.”

In another post subsequently deleted, he said his son “would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”

It also described him as “a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog”.

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Coronavirus: World Health Organisation on China response




Dr Takeshi Kasai, World Health Organisation Regional Director for the Western Pacific, says China has a “stronger capacity” to deal with infectious outbreaks, compared to previous SARS outbreaks.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kasai also gave advice on measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including washing hands, employing proper cough etiquette and keeping a distance from those with symptoms.

He urged those with symptoms who had spent time in China to visit health facilities.

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Steady growth for subscription-based website design




It’s no secret that every business needs a great website, but the way in which businesses are commissioning these websites is changing. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in subscription-based website design, something we at Web Guru are no stranger to. In fact, our own all-inclusive web design package take-up grew by 500% in 2019 alone, while in contrast, our once-off package take-up fell by close to 100%.

Clearly, the demand for subscription-based services is growing, but why?

We live in the age of the subscription. From the likes of Netflix to workout apps and more, subscription-based services have forever changed the way we shop and live. From entertainment to personal care to business, subscriptions offer more access, convenience and choice. People don’t want to waste time. They want things to be easier so they can enjoy more time to do the things they love, or the things they need to get done.

Website design recently jumped aboard the subscription bandwagon, making it easier for business owners and entrepreneurs to create and maintain great sites. This includes various design assets, which can be costly and tedious for businesspeople who aren’t specialised in aesthetics. The only thing about web design subscriptions is that the price can vary greatly depending on the company you work with.

One of the most attractive perks of choosing a subscription over a more traditional once-off option is cost-savings. Everything is covered in one price, from the website design to the hosting, monthly maintenance and more – depending on your personalised requirements.

Honestly, subscription services for websites are a no-brainer. Every business needs a great website – and a subscription is a smart way for savvy entrepreneurs to save big bucks while ensuring their site is always #OnFleek.

This is the future of web design, and we’re pleased to be at the forefront of it.

Web Guru can help you build and maintain your website, your way – so contact us today for more information.

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It will be tough against Chippa United – Tembo – SABC Sport




SuperSport United will be looking to bounce back when they host Chippa United in a league match at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Friday night (kick-off is at 8pm).

Matsatsantsa suffered a setback when they lost to rivals Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 last Sunday.

The defeat has left them trailing log leaders Kaizer Chiefs by a whopping 13 points. SuperSport coach Kaitano Tembo is expecting a tough match.

The MTN8 champions have been given a major boost with the announcement that utility player Aubrey Modiba’s contract has been extended to four more years.

PSL Champions Sundowns were looking to sign him in this current transfer window. Modiba is currently injured and Tembo is hoping that he recovers soon.

Report by Vincent Sitsula

The post It will be tough against Chippa United – Tembo appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa’s news leader..

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Golden Arrows vs Kaizer Chiefs: Tactical preview




Steve Komphela hosts his former club, Kaizer Chiefs, and looks to stop their march to the Premiership title knowing that set-pieces could be a crucial factor.

Kaizer Chiefs come into this game with the incentive that a victory will increase their lead to ten points atop the PSL table, whilst Golden Arrows could end the weekend anywhere between 6th and 11th spot depending on the result in this game and how teams around them perform.

Arrows Setup

So far this season, Komphela has largely used a 4-3-2-1 shape. Without genuine wingers, the width is provided by the very adventurous fullbacks, and to prevent leaving just two defenders back, one central midfielder drops into the backline when the team is building up. That man is usually Gladwin Shitolo, whose ball-playing ability is crucial to the side.

Further forward, it is usually two players in support of the vastly under-rated Knox Mutizwa. Those two players have changed regularly and Komphela will decide whether the guile of a Danny Venter is needed or the pace of Lerato Lamola working the channels.

With Kaizer Chiefs also not using genuine wingers, this could see a congested, narrow affair in midfield. Amakhosi could therefore simply bypass that area altogether and look to hit their two target men as early and as often as possible.

Set plays key against Kaizer Chiefs

Perhaps one of the most important areas in deciding this game will be set-pieces. Golden Arrows’ assistant coach, Mandla Ncikazi told the media as much on Thursday, saying:

“Credit to them for [Samir] Nurkovic, [Leonardo] Castro and [Erick] Mathoho in set-pieces. They are a real threat. I think 90% of their goals come from those situations – and we cannot take that away from them.”

Although 90% is an exaggeration, Chiefs are indeed dead-ball specialists. Aside from the three giants mentioned, Daniel Cardoso, Willard Katsande and even new signing, Anthony Akumu bring incredible height at attacking the deliveries of George Maluleka and Lebohang Manyama.

Eight of Chiefs’ last 13 goals scored in league action have come from set-plays, including netting four in one game against Stellenbosch, two against Highlands Park and their solitary goal in last week’s 1-1 draw at Black Leopards. That game saw Samir Nurkovic head home Manyama’s delivery.

Arrows don’t have a particularly tall side and could again use inexperienced goalkeeper Sifisio Mlungwana. They could therefore find themselves being very susceptible from those situations.

Options Increased?

For this game, Chiefs should not only have Akumu ready for selection, but Maluleka returns from suspension and this game was initially pencilled in as the return date for Khama Billiat too. Amakhosi have kept their cards close to the chest regarding the latter’s availability and he looks highly unlikely to start regardless.

However, having him on the bench would give better game-changing options than just Ernst Middendorp’s go-to alternation: Dumisani Zuma. He has come on as a sub in 16 of the side’s 18 league matches, but with less impact in recent outings. He has also been introduced at half-time in many matches, therefore not giving the coach much room to manoeuvre in the final 20-30 minutes.

Predicted line-ups:

Golden Arrows (4-3-2-1): Mlungwana; S. Dube, Sibisi, Mathiane, Lunga; Shitolo, Phiri, Makhubela; Mtshali, Lamola; Mutizwa.

Kaizer Chiefs (4-3-1-2): Akpeyi; Moleko, Mathoho, Cardoso, Ntiya-Ntiya; Maluleka, Katsande, Baccus; Manyama; Castro, Nurkovic. Protection Status

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What a Walrus tells us about the future of edtech




Python is one of the most widely taught programming languages, and its latest 3.8 release has been met by some intense community debate, primarily because of the October update’s new operator, the Walrus, ‘ := ‘.

Its main purpose is to optimise code, and so far, community reaction has been interesting to watch, with users at odds over how to use the new operator, and whether it serves a unique or useful function.

The release of this toothy operator shouldn’t just have the Python community talking ‒ in fact, I think it has wider implications for the space of technology as a whole, and particularly for those in edtech like myself.

After all, it’s important for both the students we are charged with and our industry that we’re preparing for the future with a well-honed present. Take, for example, the recent CES and all the game-changing new tech trends it showed off to the world.

Is South Africa’s tech space taking these changes and trends into account? What languages are we teaching to future programmers, and will these still be relevant in five to 10 years?

Then there’s the question about our current tech space in SA. We might have new tech, but there’s the difficult question of whether our industry is actually making use of it. This phenomenon of ‘right tech, wrong time’ has been seen in the humble roots of Netflix and YouTube.

The main implication of the new Walrus is change ‒ or more importantly, how we deal with it.

If a new programming language convention ‒ or even an outright new technology ‒ were to come out in today’s South Africa of high unemployment, low economic growth and restricted Internet access, how do we make up that lost ground?

The main implication of the new Walrus is change ‒ or more importantly, how we deal with it.

South Africa’s tech space needs more than just a strong foundation for its future programmers; it requires one that is also flexible and proactive.

There’s no doubt that in any given environment, a long-established order has its place. In education, for example, a set curriculum is a beneficial thing.

At beginner levels it creates a concrete set of fundamental principles that need to be mastered in order to work with the coding language in question.

At intermediate levels, a curriculum can demonstrate the set avenues for expanding one’s mastery of code into employing other frameworks, bring more depth and nuance to basic programming knowledge, and allow students to pick a ‘stream’ for specialisation.

As the analogy goes, you can’t build skyscrapers without concrete. However, the other side of that analogy can’t be ignored: concrete is very difficult if not impossible to change once it’s set.

So too, does an unchanging, inflexible curriculum create a learning environment that enshrines routine, and that doesn’t keep students proactive to new ideas.

The importance of flexibility

In traditional tertiary education programmes, your curriculum is set nearly a year-and-a-half in advance. What happens when new operators and functions are introduced into a coding course that uses set-in-stone, long-term content modules?

Tech education of the future needs to stay on its toes and be tightly tied to community developments, so that the next generation of coders can create the most efficient code using the most up-to-date methodologies.

It reminds me of how English majors at uni would turn up their noses at American spelling of words, only to enter a 21st-century workplace where writers and editors have to know both versions in order to edit and localise (or is that localize?) writing for different territories.

Then there’s the unavoidable question of what happens to a coding education industry where 52% of young people are unemployed and cannot afford education. In such a context, four-year-long, unevolving curricula are just untenable.

At the heart of the work I do is the idea that it shouldn’t cost you a quarter of a million rand and four years where you’re not getting work experience for you to get a job in tech ‒ and at the very least, that significant investment should make you a master of new functions and operators like the Walrus in their nascency.

Whatever the community debate around the Walrus, the road to preparing young programmers to work in the industry needs to be right in the middle of these discussions ‒ if only so that graduates aren’t playing catch-up a month before graduation. 

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Coronavirus Live Updates: Travel Restrictions Widen as Official Death Toll Rises




The authorities greatly expanded a travel lockdown in central China on Thursday, essentially penning in more than 22 million residents in an effort to contain a deadly virus that is overwhelming hospitals and fueling fears of a pandemic.

The new limits — abruptly decreed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season — were an extraordinary step that underscored the ruling Communist Party’s deepening fears about the outbreak of a little understood coronavirus.

Chinese health officials reported on Friday that there had been 26 deaths from and 830 cases of the coronavirus, a sharp increase.

The official death toll increased by more than a half-dozen in 24 hours, while the number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 200.

On Thursday morning, the authorities imposed a travel lockdown in Wuhan, the industrial city of 11 million at the epicenter of the outbreak. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights to Wuhan, leaving thousands of people stranded. Later in the day, officials said they would also halt public transportation in the nearby cities of Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang and Chibi, which are together home to more than nine million residents. And by Friday, restrictions had extended to Xiantao, Qianjiang and Enshi, three other cities that include large rural populations.

Two deaths have been confirmed outside the virus epicenter.

One patient died in the province of Hebei — more than 600 miles north of Wuhan — after contracting the coronavirus, the provincial authorities announced on Thursday.

Another death was confirmed in Heilongjiang, a province near the border with Russia more than 1,500 miles from Wuhan.

The disease had also been diagnosed in patients in Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

In Wuhan, where the outbreak began, anxiety and anger prevailed as worried residents crowded into hospitals and teams of medical workers in hazmat suits sought to identify the infected.

Hospitals and medical workers at the center of the outbreak made urgent appeals for supplies, as stocks of surgical masks and other equipment quickly flew off shelves.

“Shortage of medical supplies, request help!!!” the Wuhan Children’s Hospital said Thursday in a post on Weibo, a Chinese social network.

The hospital asked for donations of surgical masks, disposable garments, protective goggles and gloves.

Several other hospitals, including the Hubei General Hospital, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Central Hospital of Wuhan posted similar notices.

The central government on Thursday acknowledged the severe strain on resources, and the Ministry of Finance announced an urgent allocation of one billion renminbi, about $144 million, for epidemic prevention and control work.

State news media also carried reports of people volunteering to help ease the strain on health workers.

Young doctors at the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University volunteered to take on additional shifts or to take over from colleagues with children, the state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A team of 30 volunteers in Wuhan mobilized to drive doctors to and from hospitals, while others have offered to help the local Red Cross answer phone calls and publicize requests for help from hospitals, according to a report by the China Business Journal.

Many infectious disease specialists say that cheap, disposable masks that cover the nose and mouth can help prevent the spread of infections if they are worn properly and used consistently.

But there isn’t much high-quality scientific evidence on their effectiveness outside health care settings, experts say.

Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, chairwoman of the public health committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said surgical masks are “the last line of defense.”

The masks will, however, block most large respiratory droplets from other people’s sneezes and coughs from entering your mouth and nose, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Coronaviruses are primarily spread through droplets, he said.

Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said a study during an outbreak of the SARS coronavirus found that any type of protection — whether a mask or a respirator — reduced the risk of infections in health care workers by about 85 percent.

“The most important message was that the risk was lower if they consistently used any mask,” he said.

But washing hands — frequently and before eating — is universally recommended. Hand sanitizer is effective against respiratory viruses.

The American and British governments on Friday urged travelers to avoid the city of Wuhan and the surrounding area amid growing signs that the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus is worsening.

The American Embassy in Beijing advised travelers from the United States to avoid Hubei Province, where Wuhan is the capital. It said the State Department had already ordered nonemergency government personnel to leave the city. It further warned that the Chinese government might prevent travelers from arriving or leaving.

The notice from the State Department was a Level 4 advisory, the sternest warning the United States government issues regarding travel. Other Level 4 warnings issued by the State Department include travel to Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and Yemen, among other places.

The warning is a step up from Washington’s earlier cautions. Just a day before, the American government had been advising travelers to “exercise extreme caution” when traveling to the Wuhan area.

The British government in a notice dated Thursday similarly advised against all but essential travel to Wuhan.

The warnings came as the Chinese government on Thursday began widening travel restrictions to cities surrounding Wuhan. The tougher restrictions apply to cities including Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhejiang, affecting millions more people. The Hubei government has imposed some of its own travel restrictions across the province.

Reporting was contributed by Chris Buckley, Javier Hernández, Vivian Wang, Austin Ramzy, Elaine Yu, Tiffany May, Russell Goldman, Gillian Wong, Paulina Villegas, Steven Lee Myers, Denise Grady, Karen Zraick, Roni Caryn Rabin, Carl Zimmer and Rick Gladstone. Amber Wang, Albee Zhang, Claire Fu, Elsie Chen, Yiwei Wang and Zoe Mou contributed research.

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