Students and faculty from Western Carolina University’s School of Stage and Screen will be staging the hard-hitting drama “Really Really” beginning Thursday, March 22, and continuing through Sunday, March 25, in the Studio Theatre of WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.Written by New York-based playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo, the fictional story centers on the consequences of a big party at an elite university, when a female student accuses a male member of the school’s rugby team of an act of sexual aggression.In a 2012 article for The Washington Post, Jessica Goldstein wrote that Colaizzo’s play “occupies the intersection between violence and intimacy, perhaps the most terrifying crossroads imaginable.” The plot, Goldstein wrote, “hinges on an allegation of a sexual nature that may or may not be true, because everyone involved has memories of that night that are foggy like a window after a rain, blurred by beer and sleep and, perhaps, a subconscious desire to forget.”Performances at WCU are set for 7:30 p.m. March 22-24 and at 3 p.m. March 25. The play is intended for mature audiences only and includes a scene with a graphic depiction of rape that some audience members may find disturbing. The play is not suitable for younger audiences.The production, part of the School of Stage and Screen’s Mainstage theatre season, will be directed by Colin Wasmund of the school’s faculty.Tickets are $15 for WCU faculty and staff, and seniors, and $20 for all others. For tickets or more information, call the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or visit bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.
Mobile transaction machines are becoming popular. (Image: Bongani Nkosi) The mobile swipe-card machine industry is booming and looks set to grow further, as more businesses and consumers in South Africa realise how convenient and safe the devices are.An increasing number of establishments are enlisting the services of such machines, said Paul Kent, managing director SureSwipe – an independent supplier.The gadgets have gained popularity as local consumers have become more confident in using them.“It’s almost unheard of for a business not to have a portable swipe-card machine,” Kent said.Debit cards are being used more and more in swipe machines, as opposed to credit cards – although the latter still dominates the market. Debit card users now account for about 30% of the market share, Kent said, but he predicts that by 2012 the market will be 50% debit and 50% credit cards.Debit-card usage is “around 30% at present and growing fast”, he added.The machines, also known as speedpoints, have grown in popularity over the last 12 months as new, faster technology has been introduced. About two years ago the industry was still using “first-generation machines that were not as reliable”, said Kent.Swipe-card machines are very popular in the hospitality sector, Kent said. These days one doesn’t need actual cash when eating out or even enjoying a drink at a bar, as a waiter can bring the handy device to your table.Grocery outlets, both big and small, have also introduced the machines in some of their branches. Furniture and clothing stores are using them too.“For consumers, the peace of mind of watching the transaction taking place in front of them, and the convenience of the machine being brought to their table, if they are at a restaurant, … is a significant advantage,” Kent said.“This market is growing rapidly and soon we might tell our grandchildren that once cards were taken from us and swiped some distance from us,” he added.Rental agreementSwipe-card machines are supplied by all four major banks in South Africa – Absa, Standard Bank, FNB and Nedbank – and groups like SureSwipe. Kent said the industry standard is for suppliers to rent out the devices and provide internet connectivity for them.He said they charge businesses R400 (US$58) per month to rent out a mobile machine and R250 ($36) for a fixed machine. Internet connectivity is R119 ($17.20) per month for a portable machine and R180 ($26) for fixed one.“This is the industry standard. With these machines, rental is more expensive than connectivity.”Machines currently available in South Africa take between 10 and 20 seconds to complete a transaction. Kent said his organisation is now eyeing machines that are much faster, like those recently introduced in Brazil, which “cut the time of a swipe to less than three seconds”.New mobile phone technology is changing the way payments are made overseas. Kent said that in the US, consumers can make purchases using their smartphones.With these gaining significant market share in South Africa as well, the country may not be too far away from adopting such payment methods.“The technology is advancing rapidly – from wireless links to satellite transmission – and even capacity to swipe using smartphones,” Kent said.Preventing fraudThe prevailing concern for retailers is that swipe machines use sim cards for internet connectivity, which Kent said can be taken out and used in any mobile phone. “For instance, a waiter could take this out and use it in his or her cellphone to make personal calls. It is quite difficult to do this, but not impossible,” he added.Another concern is that older credit cards can be used without the consent of the owner, as they do not require a secret pin code for machine transactions – but banks are aware of this and have started introducing a pin system for such cards.Debit cards are generally safer, as a user always needs to enter his or her secret pin number when buying or withdrawing money.If a credit card is lost or stolen, it needs to be reported to the police and bank as soon as possible, so it can be barred.“If the credit card company has frozen the account, the machine will decline the card and the credit card company will receive an alert about the transaction,” Kent said. “Overall, credit-card swipe machines can also prevent fraud or criminal activity.”
31 July 2014 The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has processed close to 5 000 new applications since President Jacob Zuma signed a law re-opening South Africa’s land claims lodgement process. Zuma signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2014 at the end of last month, allowing people who were removed from their land under apartheid rule, but who missed an earlier deadline for lodging claims for compensation, to do within the next five years. It is estimated that at least 3.5-million South Africans were forcibly removed from their land as a result of the Native Land Act of 1913, which effectively reserved 87 percent of land in the country for the white minority. To date, an estimated 1.7-million people have benefitted from the country’s restitution programme. Briefing members of Parliament’s portfolio committee on rural development and land reform at the department’s regional office in Mowbray, Cape Town on Wednesday, Chief Land Claims Commissioner Nomfundo Gobodo said the process had gone smoothly since re-opening. “As at 25 July 2014, the claims captured over the past four weeks increased to 4 917. The electronic lodgement system has been stable and all 14 lodgement sites are fully operational.” Gobodo said it was difficult to anticipate how many claimants would lodge new claims going forward, but that her office had the capacity to facilitate all claims. Most new claims are expected to come from individuals and communities who were left out of the previous claims round – between 1994 and 1998 – but have since become aware of their rights. Claims that could not be finalised during the pre-1998 round would be prioritised, Gobodo said. The department will deploy mobile offices to rural areas to help people who might not be able to afford transport to prepare their claims. The offices will ensure that claimants have everything they need to lodge a valid claim – including information on the people on whose behalf they may be claiming – to insure their claims are not disqualified for technical reasons. Phumzile Ngwenya-Mabila, the chairperson of the portfolio committee, said the MPs’ had decided to visit the Mowbray centre in order assess the lodgement process and the progress made since the second phase was opened. Source: SAnews.gov.za
Baron Paul Condon, former head of the ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), has set the cat among the pigeons with his disclosure that match-fixing and spotfixing in cricket was not only rampant in the 1990s and the first decade of this millennium, but also that most international teams were involved in this.He has also been emphatic that spot-fixing has its roots in county cricket, and was further fuelled by the growth of T20 cricket.It would not be impertinent to ask what Condon did to arrest this problem in his near-decade long stint as chief of the ACU. Indeed, why did it take him so long to make these observations public even as the game was being torn asunder by corruption? It would be a disservice to the sport if his research findings and assessments had been stored away as memorabilia for posterity, not affirmative action when he was heading the ACU.Nevertheless, Condon’s revelations have busted the myths that match/spot fixing is essentially a sub-continental phenomenon to which players from other countries are only innocent (or silent) bystanders.Ever since late Hansie Cronje’s nefarious activities were accidentally exposed by the Delhi police in 2000 (Condon’s appointment as ACU chief was a consequence of this), there has been sustained typecasting that the sub-continent is the hub of match-fixing.While the rise of the Asian illegal betting mafia has been well documented and is a fact, the assumption that only players from this region would be largely corrupt is ill-founded: it doesn’t take a degree to understand that greed is independent of race, colour or nationality.advertisementWith cricket boards ranged against each other in a power struggle, or for reasons of dubious national interest, the collective will to fight the menace was lacking and many offenders went scotfree. While a relook at some old cases (as the Delhi police has claimed it will in the Cronje matter) would still be worthwhile, in a broader sense, I think the second aspect of Condon’s revelation – where he mentions domestic cricket as the springboard for corruption – may be more significant in salvaging the future.Condon talks of how corruption is perhaps commonplace in English county cricket. Sharp practices on the county circuit (Imran Khan using a bottle cap to scuff the ball, others like John Lever using vaseline to get extra shine from Essex to Test matches in India) are well known, but Condon says that cheating for money too had crept in via spot-fixing.Domestic cricket in other countries too has not been above suspicions. The early part of this season has been engaged in unraveling the mystery behind Goa captain Swapnil Asnodkar inexplicably declaring his team’s innings in the sixth over when the victory target was 130 from 19. Corruption, it is widely believed, is institutionalised in Pakistan’s domestic cricket. Unsavoury reports have also emerged about problems in Australian cricket.Players who get away by cheating at the domestic level are more likely to be emboldened to do it at the global level too. The flip side is that players who don’t make it to the highest level and miss out on the massive financial rewards, could be tempted into hanky-panky because nobody is watching. The decision by the Australian and Pakistan boards to have an anti-corruption unit monitoring domestic cricket has not come a day too soon. It might not help in eradicating corruption completely. But every little bit helps.
MONTREAL — Quebec’s largest school board has voted to delay application of Quebec’s controversial new secularism law for at least a year to allow for consultations with parents, unions and other stakeholders.However the Quebec government has said the law passed Sunday banning religious symbols for teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority takes effect immediately.In a motion passed Wednesday, the Commission scolaire de Montreal outlines plans for consultations with governing boards, parents’ committees, unions and various associations to determine what changes need to be made to board policies.Catherine Harel-Bourdon, the board chair and an outspoken critic of the new law, says the board will also need to train hundreds of managers to enforce the law and to avoid having it applied unevenly in different schools.Teachers and principals hired after March 28 — the date the bill was tabled — are prohibited from wearing religious symbols on the job.A spokesman for the English Montreal School Board noted that before the bill was even tabled the board voted not to implement the planned restrictions on religious symbols. He said the board will likely discuss the matter at a meeting next week.The Canadian Press