Siya Kolisi wants to bring change to South Africa

This week, in one of South Africa’s poorest communities, work starts on a new rugby field for children to play on.

On its own, the field at Mbekweni Youth Centre near Cape Town might not feel very significant. But for South Africa’s first black rugby captain, Siya Kolisi, it’s the start of something.

Two months on from his side’s World Cup victory, the 28-year-old believes his work off the pitch is becoming as important as his work on it.

It’s the celebrations which followed the Springboks’ win that Kolisi wants to hold on to. He tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: “I’ve never seen anything like that in my lifetime. That’s why we are doing lots of work to make sure it maintains and keeps on going.

“This is the momentum you’ve got to use. Hopefully we can do stuff right now that could mean change for decades.”

But he admits that it’s only in the last few days that he’s sat down to watch back that 32-12 victory over England.

“It was most special because of the period we are in as a country. We need it more than anyone else.”

His motivation comes from his own remarkable story. Kolisi grew up in one of the most deprived parts of Port Elizabeth. He was raised by his grandmother who cleaned kitchens to ensure the family survived. He had to go to one of his first rugby trials in his boxer shorts as he didn’t have proper kit.

There’s more of South Africa’s recent history which you need to understand to get the scale of the Kolisi story. The South African team which won the 1995 World Cup had only one black player. The 2019 team had 12 in the squad with him as captain.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in a country where the gap between rich and poor is so obvious – and the difference one man can make, as always, remains to be seen.

Historically, a much higher proportion of black South Africans have lived in poverty. In the first half of the last decade, the proportion of black and coloured (the term used in the country for people who are mixed-race) people in poverty increased, according to the government’s own data.

“I have to do more than just play and I have the platform to do that,” Kolisi said.

“Some just give financially but for me, it means a lot to me, because where I come from shaped me as the person I am today.”

“I’m only doing a little bit of it. I hope it inspires other people.”

This week, Radio 1 Newsbeat is reporting on the people, politics and culture of South Africa almost 30 years on from Nelson Mandela’s release.

When we meet Siya, he turns up on his own and parks his car outside. There’s no entourage – a bit of a surprise for one of the most recognised names in world sport right now.

He’s just signed up to be represented by Jay-Z’s talent agency, Roc Nation, which he describes as “ridiculous”.

“We listen to his music and his life is like what we grew up with – what he had to fight through. And he shares that in some of his music.”

It sounds like a big moment in the Kolisi story but, for him, maybe not as big as running into Jurgen Klopp in Cape Town. Like many here, Kolisi is a huge Liverpool fan.

“I went to dinner with some friends including Faf du Plessis (the South African cricket captain), he’s a very close friend of mine and he’s never seen me freak out like that. I nearly fell off my chair.

“I understand why his players play for him like that – because of the person he is and how much he invests himself into other people.

“It’s just like coach Rassie (South African rugby coach Rassie Erasmus). I think coach Rassie is amazing. I could see the resemblance of the two coaches. It’s nice to work under him because he plays the same level as we play now and he always teaches some of his mistakes he made and the learnings and the good things he’s done. I’d love to see how it’d be if they meet.”

As well as the project to open sports fields, the star is supporting work to improve schools.

“I know what it feels like to not have proper rugby fields and facilities. My goal is to make sure that one day everyone has a fair opportunity and all the schools play against each other, like kids who are disadvantaged play guys from the suburbs.”

He’s talking football, cricket and netball as well.

“I want to start opening computer rooms and improve bathrooms too. When I was in school, you didn’t want to go to the bathroom because the bathroom was so horrible, so we’re hoping to change that too.”

There’s huge ambition from Kolisi to bring change in South Africa – a country still struggling with equality more than 25 years after the end of apartheid, the law which forced communities to live separate lives.

“I know we have challenges and everyone does but I can’t sit here and complain and moan because this won’t change. This is a beautiful country. In the areas where I grew up, areas are struggling – people are still happy, some are hopeful and all they want is an opportunity. I’m hoping some of us can give that opportunity.

“In everything I do, I want South Africa to be part of the conversation.”

Apple rejects claims it did not provide assistance in Pensacola shooting probe

Apple Inc on Monday said it rejects “the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance” in the investigation into a shooting in Pensacola, Florida, last month.

Apple’s comments came after U.S. Attorney General William Barr called the fatal shooting of three Americans by a Saudi Air Force officer at a Florida naval base “an act of terrorism” and called on the technology company to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock two iPhones involved in the case.

In its statement, Apple said it responded to all queries from law enforcement officials and turned over all information that it had access to. The company said it received the first inquiry on Jan. 6 but was not notified of a second iPhone until Jan. 8. It also said its engineering teams “recently had a call to provide additional technical assistance” to the FBI.

This Harry Potter mod built inside Minecraft is seven years in the making

How long has it been since the last great Harry Potter game? (It’s been eight years since the last Lego Harry Potter, if you’re actually counting.)

While we wait and wand-er what Warner Bros. is working on next, we have this – a seriously impressive Harry Potter mod built within Minecraft.

Built by a team of Potterheads under the name of The Floo Network, this mod is based around an enormous map of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

But there’s far more to it than just a recreation of Hogwarts. This mod includes magic spells and wands, NPCs and missions, boss fights and more.

Recreations of other parts of the Wizarding World will also be included, such as the Ministry of Magic, Hogsmeade and King’s Cross Station. Actually, a good bit of central London is included!

Speaking to IGN, lead developer Wednesday Frog explained the current project – some two years old – is based on an older Hogwarts map. Overall, work on what you see below dates back nearly seven years.

The mod itself is not public yet – the video below simply states it is “coming soon” – but you can follow development progress on the team’s Discord (and for access to that, you’ll need to donate to their Patreon).

Back in late 2018, footage appeared online which appeared to show an ambitious new big budget role-playing game set in the Harry Potter universe. Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Software as being behind the project, which we’re expecting to be officially announced sometime in the not-too-distant future for release on the next round of consoles.

Somebody has speedrun the entirety of Ring Fit Adventure in 18 sweaty hours

Regardless of where you sit on the fitness scale between Irrepressibly Active Amy and Sedentary Sally, the very notion of 18-hours non-stop exercise is probably one that fills you and your muscle tissue with a nameless, quivering dread. But that’s exactly the kind of marathon session that some speedrunners are putting themselves through in an attempt to set a record-breaking run of Ring Fit Adventure.

Ordinarily, Ring Fit Adventure’s surprisingly lengthy campaign – which received much acclaim for its engaging blend of physical activity and light RPG-style design when it released last year – would be tackled in sensible sessions ranging from a few minutes to an hour. However, as reported by Vice, some speedrunners are now starting to feel Ring Fit Adventure’s allure, and have begun tackling the game with their irrepressible record-setting mindset.

For the most part, speedrunners have so far attempted to best Ring Fit Adventure on a per-level basis, trying to secure the best times in each of the game’s 23 worlds. Inevitably, however, some are craving more, and are now starting to go all in, challenging themselves to race through the entire experience as quickly as possible.

One full-game challenger, Adam “Ventifer” England, told Vice that he initially wanted to speedrun an RPG, but the idea to play Ring Fit Adventure stuck after a joke with a friend. England took the day off work for his attempt at the end of last year, stocking up on water, vitamin water, and protein shakes to see him through. His complete run, which included “five or six” bathroom breaks and is viewable above, took 19 hours, 30 minutes, and 11 seconds.

However, that impressive (if somewhat foolhardy) feat of endurance is not the fastest time on record. Currently, that title is held by a Japanese player calling themselves Sakinyan, who managed to defeat Ring Fit Adventure’s final boss in 18 hours and 55 seconds with exercise intensity set to ‘one’, as you can see below. Sakinyan was forced to abandon a follow-up attempt, with intensity maxed out at 30, after an extremely sweaty 11 hours and 16 minutes.

I’m not sure that any of this sounds particularly wise from a health and safety perspective (especially if you’re not already well-versed in extreme exercise), but, as always with speedrunning, it’s hard not to be impressed at the sheer dedication to a cause.

Eurogamer’s Emma Kent was recently transfixed by a more sedate form of speedrunning during this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick charity event, which came to a close this weekend, raising £2.3 million ($3.13m) for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Kimia Alizadeh: A guide to Iran’s defecting athletes From

The announcement by Iran’s only female Olympic medallist, Kimia Alizadeh, that she will defect is the latest in a series of high-profile changes of nationality from the country’s top athletes.

The defections have been for a variety of reasons and across many different sports. Here are some of the most significant.

Kimia Alizadeh

Alizadeh made history when she competed in taekwondo at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Aged only 18, she beat Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic 5-1 in the bout for the bronze in the -57kg category. It made her the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal.

But in the wake of that success, she felt the country’s authorities were using her success as a propaganda tool.

Now 21, she disappeared last week, with rumours circulating she was seeking to settle in the Netherlands.

Though she has not confirmed where she is, she has announced in an Instagram post that she left Iran because she did not want to be part of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery”.

“I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools,” she wrote.

She has described herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran”.

As significant as Alizardeh’s defection is, it is not even the first major Iranian sporting defection of 2020 – less than two weeks into the year.

Two leading figures in Iranian chess, Shohreh Bayat and Mitra Hejazipour, have both been expelled for removing their hijab in competitions outside of the country. This action is considered defiance of Iran’s compulsory Islamic dress code.

Bayat is an international chess referee – Asia’s only Grade-A arbiter at that – and previously was the first woman to be general secretary of a sports federation in Iran. She said she would not be returning to Iran after photos were published showing her not wearing the compulsory headscarf during Shanghai Women’s World Championship 2020 games.

When the photographs first emerged, Bayat’s father said her headscarf had fallen accidentally. But pictures later showed her without it at other games. Nigel Short, the vice-president of the International Chess Federation (Fide), posted one of the photos on Twitter saying Bayat is “a great ambassador for her country”, and Bayat retweeted it.

Her father now says she is “worried about going on with her activities in Iran” and is seeking to continue in another country.

Meanwhile on 2 January, the Iran Chess Federation expelled veteran female chess grandmaster Mitra Hejazipour for removing her scarf during the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow.

Hejazipour, who said she will now compete in a private capacity and live in France, was told she “has no place in the Islamic Republic’s national team any more”.

Meanwhile at the end of 2019, the world number two junior player, Alireza Firouzja, competed under a Fide flag instead of the Iranian one.

Visa to pay $5.3 billion to buy fintech startup Plaid

Visa Inc said on Monday it agreed to buy privately held software startup Plaid Inc in a $5.3 billion deal that will boost the payments giant’s access to the booming financial technology space.

The transaction highlights how traditional financial firms are willing to pay top dollar to acquire businesses which have established strong positions servicing the digital and cashless economy.

Plaid’s technology lets people link their bank accounts to mobile apps such as Venmo, Acorns and Chime, with the San Francisco-based firm saying its systems have been used by one in four people with a U.S. bank account.

The $5.3 billion price given in Monday’s statement is double what Plaid was reportedly valued at during its last fundraising, when it took a $250 million Series C round that was announced in December 2018.

It was later revealed by Plaid that both Visa and rival Mastercard Inc were investors in that round.

“Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world,” Visa Chairman and CEO Al Kelly said in Monday’s statement.

“The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions and consumers.”

Founded in 2013 and currently connecting with over 11,000 financial institutions across the United States, Canada and Europe, Plaid will be able to use the acquisition to leverage Visa’s global brand in expanding its own business, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Visa expects the deal to close in the next three to six months and benefit its adjusted earnings per share at the end of the third year.

Visa said it will fund the deal using cash on hand as well as debt that will be issued at a later date. The acquisition would not impact upon Visa’s previously announced stock buyback or dividend plans.

Visa and Plaid respectively used Lazard and Goldman Sachs as their financial advisors.

North Carolina man sought for allegedly pistol-whipping girlfriend who wouldn’t break into house with him

A North Carolina man who allegedly pistol whipped his girlfriend after she refused to break into a house with him is on the run.

Alexander Wayne Gillett fled on foot after the alleged assault in western Orange County Friday morning, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s office.

The 27-year-old woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, sought help around 11 a.m. following the alleged assault. The woman said she and Gillett received a ride to the area Thursday night and Gillett told her they were going to camp out and hunt coyotes. On Friday morning, she said Gillett informed her of his plan to break into and burglarize a home. The woman said Gillett told her that he saw on Facebook that there were valuable items inside the home.

The woman said she argued with Gillett after she refused to participate in his plan to break into the house and he hit her several times with a handgun. He also damaged her cellphone by submerging it in water, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gillett should be considered armed and dangerous, the sheriff’s office said.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood advised people be cautious about what they post on social media platforms.

“The suspect in this case saw valuable items listed for sale on Facebook,” Blackwood said in a statement. “He searched for an address associated with the seller’s name and arrived at a very specific target. I encourage people to avoid such risks.”

Investigators have filed warrants against Gillett for assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a female, interfering with emergency communications and possession of a firearm by a felon. Gillett is also wanted in Guilford County on multiple charges, including burglary, safecracking, kidnapping and assault by strangulation, the sheriff’s office said.

Gillett is six feet tall and was last seen wearing a black beanie, gray hooded jacket, gray pants and camouflage knee-length boots. His hair is short in the back and long in the front.

No official date for Zion Williamson return, Pelicans reportedly want one more practice

Zion Williamson‘s NBA debut could happen Thursday when his Pelicans take on the Jazz, but New Orleans tried to quiet those rumors on Monday night saying that nothing has been set yet. Via Will Guillory of The Athletic.

New Orleans is in Detroit on Monday night, then flies home and does not play again until Thursday. That certainly would leave time for a Wednesday practice and the possible Zion debut Thursday.

However, like any smartly run team, the Pelicans are not going to commit to a timeline.

If you want more footage of Zion looking close, here you go (this is from Saturday).

Zion reportedly did workout pregame in Detroit but did not dunk. Williamson has been out all season following surgery to repair his right lateral meniscus during training camp.

Vaping May Lead to Asthma, Chronic Lung Disease, Says Study

Inhaling heated tobacco vapor through e-cigarettes may lead to increased chances of asthma and chronic lung disease, according to a study which cautioned that vaping may lead to a rise in nicotine addiction among the youth if public health education on its harmfulness is not intensified.

The researchers, including those from Johns Hopkins University in the US, said the odds of developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were six times greater among people who reported they both vaped and smoked tobacco regularly, compared with those who said they didn’t use either. While e-cigarettes may be safer than combustible cigarettes, the study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, adds to growing evidence that vaping also carries health risks. As part of the study, the scientists used the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national survey data gathered by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2016 and 2017.

It consisted of telephone interviews of more than 4,00,000 adult participants and provides data on health-related risk behaviors, and chronic medical conditions. The researchers analyzed data from those who said they had smoked less than 100 combustible cigarettes in their lifetimes. Of these, about 3,100 reported using e-cigarettes, and separately 34,074 people reported having asthma.

According to the researchers, the average age of e-cigarette users was 18-24, and about two-thirds of all the e-cigarette users were men. Approximately 57 percent of the users reported they were white, and about a fifth were Hispanic, and 12 percent were black. Almost 11 percent of the e-cigarette users reported having asthma, compared with 8 percent of those who had never used e-cigarettes. Those who said they were currently using e-cigarettes were nearly 40 percent more likely to report having asthma compared to those who said they’d never used vapes.

Participants who self-reported using e-cigarettes occasionally were 31 percent more likely, and daily users were nearly 73 percent more likely to report asthma, compared with non-e-cigarette users.

“As a physician, I am most worried about those who use both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes because they may end up taking in the most nicotine, which may do the most damage,” said Albert Osei study co-author from Johns Hopkins University. “Through public health campaigns, we finally had smoking levels down in some populations, but now with the current vaping epidemic, I foresee a whole new previously tobacco-naive, young generation becoming dependent on nicotine if we do not intensify public health education efforts,” Osei added.

Top UK Websites’ Annoying Pop-Ups Aren’t Even Doing GDPR Right, Study Finds

It’s been more than a year and a half since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, but the internet’s still a long way from getting compliance right.

That’s the takeaway from “Dark Patterns after the GDPR,” a new report by researchers from MIT, UCL in the United Kingdom, and Denmark’s Aarhus University. After monitoring the data-collection “opt-in” popups of hundreds of UK websites, they found that only 11.8 percent of the 680 sites researchers analyzed met the “minimum requirements” that the researchers set forth for a site to be GDPR compliant—specifically, that consent for user data collection through cookies and other technologies must be freely and explicitly given, while at the same time being as easy to revoke as it is to give.

It turns out that one of the biggest culprits, when it comes to consent mismanagement, pop up as soon as someone opens a page. The popups asking for users to consent to web tracking (which, realistically, everyone likely clicks anyway), are often run by ad-tech middlemen known as Consent Management Platforms, or CMPs. It turns out that these CMPs often get tripped up when it comes to garnering “explicit” consent—often inferring consent by, say, a user ignoring the popup or closing it.

After scraping the Alexa-ranked top 10,000 websites in the UK, the researchers found the most prevalent CMPs on the market were made by just five companies: QuantCast, OneTrust, TrustArc, Cookiebot, and Crownpeak.

Among the sites displaying popups generated by these give actors, nearly a third—32.5 percent—were guilty of assuming that different user actions were just as good as clicking that “consent” button, despite the fact that this isn’t recognized by EU law, according to the researchers. Meanwhile, 9 percent of the sites accepted more than one form of these “implicit consent” variables, including: “just visiting the site, navigating within the site, revisiting/refreshing the page, scrolling or clicking on the page or closing the pop-up or banner.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the paper’s authors go onto explain that the websites working with these CMPs are still able to choose from these implied consent options even after they indicate that the CMP should check whether a visitor’s IP is within the scope of the EU, which would make that visitor protected by GDPR.

Aside from assuming consent, these CMPs don’t make opting out of tracking easy, according to the study. More than half (50.1 percent) of the sites surveyed didn’t have an option to “reject all” of the cookies or trackers on a webpage. Even for the sites that did have one, researchers found, more than three-quarters of the sites made it as easy to “reject all” than to “accept all” of those trackers—which, at times, numbered in the hundreds for a given website.

It’s not surprising that the web still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to consent-based compliance. As for collecting user data, there’s a ton of links in the digital supply chain all playing a certain role at any given time. The induction of GDPR into law makes one thing very clear: Those links need to play by these new rules, or risk a hefty fine.

Less clear are the responsibilities each link has when it comes to consent. For example, if a website is GDPR compliant, but their CMP isn’t, who should take the fall? If that same website is working with an outside vendor to give intel about a user’s data, and that vendor isn’t compliant, who should be held responsible?

This is the murkiness that ultimately led some of these ad-tech middlemen to pull out of the EU entirely when GDPR first passed—and now, more than a year later, it hasn’t gotten much better. While advertising powerhouses like Facebook and Google are able to overhaul massive infrastructure to ensure that any of that responsibility is absolved on their end compliance-wise, it makes sense that the smaller players—like the sites surveyed in this study—are still left with some holes.

Back in May, Laura Jehl, partner in the privacy and data protection practice at law firm BakerHostetler told CNBC, “In the beginning, a number of [EU] regulators informally said ‘we know you guys aren’t ready for GDPR, and to be honest, we’re not really ready either,’” implying that this of grace period would soon be coming to an end. But between puny fines being lobbed at the tech giants for their own GDPR misdeeds, and missing guidelines for the rest of us, it looks like we’re nowhere close to ready.