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SA Cancels Zim Special Permits, Holders Given 12-Month Grace Period – New Zimbabwe.com

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The Citizen


MINISTER in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele on Thursday confirmed that Cabinet has taken a decision not to renew the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permits (ZSPs).

During a media briefing on the outcomes of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, Gungubele said Cabinet decided to no longer issue extensions with the Special Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) set to end on 31 December this year.

“Cabinet considered the much talked about ZEP and also noted the fake news being spread on these permits. The first Zimbabwean special dispensation started in 2009 and was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit.

“It provided for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a five-year period. In 2014, the dispensation was extended by three years and called the Zimbabwean Special Permit.

“The current ZEP was initiated in 2017 and comes to an end on 31 December 2021. Following its deliberations, Cabinet decided to no longer issue extensions to the Zimbabwean special dispensations,” the Minister said.

However, Gungubele said Cabinet decided on a 12-month grace period at the expiry of the current ZEP.

The Minister added that the holders of this permit should apply for “other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation” in the grace period.

“At the expiry of this 12-month period, those who are not successful will have to leave South Africa or be deported,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association has revealed that more than 250 000 Zimbabweans have asked the courts to declare them permanent SA residents, following the expiry of their ZEPs.

Permit evolution

In April 2009, Cabinet approved what was known as the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP), allowing permit holders to work, conduct business and study in South Africa.

According to Home Affairs, 295,000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit and just over 245,000 were issued.

This was an attempt to regularise the residence status of those Zimbabweans residing illegally in South Africa due to political and economic instability at home.

Those permits began expiring in December 2014, prompting Home Affairs to introduce a new permit scheme, the ZSPs, which were valid for three years.

Nearly 198,000 ZSPs were issued, according to the Department of Home Affairs. When the ZSPs expired in 2017, they were replaced by ZEPs.

These permits, like their predecessor, allowed Zimbabweans to work, study and conduct business in South Africa, but were not renewable and did not entitle the holder to apply for permanent residence.

According to papers before the court, these permits were issued in terms of Section 31 of the Immigration Act, which allows the Minister of Home Affairs to grant foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a “specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist” that justify the decision.

The applicants in the case say the ZEP is a permanent residence permit valid for a specific period of time as allowed by the Immigration Act, and that they are therefore entitled to ID documents.

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A Brief Period of 'Blindness' Is Key to Us Seeing Fine Details – ScienceAlert

When we’re looking at the world around us, our eyes are constantly readjusting and reassessing what we’re seeing – and new research shows how these shifts also involve a very brief period of ‘blindness’ when our vision is automatically blocked.

The research looks at the foveola, a tiny part of the retina that we use to see fine details. When we’re looking for someone in a crowd, or trying to see a road sign at a distance, it’s the foveola that we’re relying on to report back to the brain.

Our eyes make small and rapid gaze shifts called microsaccades when we’re looking closely at something, and the new study shows how these microsaccades also temporarily disable our vision – which overall seem to improve vision.

“We observed that microsaccades are accompanied by brief periods of visual suppression during which we are essentially blind,” says Janis Intoy, a vision scientist from the University of Rochester in New York and the study’s co-lead author.

“Our results show that the very center of gaze undergoes drastic and rapid modulations every time we redirect our gaze.”

How and when we shift our gaze is crucial to good vision – think of it like rotating a telescope to get a clear view of your surroundings. And the way the eye temporarily goes blind during larger gaze shifts, like looking to and from a computer screen, has already been documented and given the name saccadic suppression.

Here the researchers wanted to know if smaller gaze shifts worked in the same way.

Six volunteers tried to look for ‘fleas’ jumping on a ‘patch of fur’ on a computer screen. The volunteers were actually just looking at dots on a “naturalistic noise-field background” that simulated the fur of an animal. The volunteers would press a button on a joypad as soon as they saw ‘fleas’ jump.

A specialized eye scanner was used to record the foveolas of the participants while they were looking at the ‘fleas’ – and this revealed that they were unable to see the digital fleas immediately before and immediately after gaze shifts, even when they were apparently looking directly at them.

What this study doesn’t do is delve too deep into why this might be happening – but it’s likely to be a way of keeping our vision fixed and stable while our gaze is roving around, the researchers suggest. Further experiments should be able to reveal more.

“This brief loss of vision likely occurs so that we do not see the image of the world shifting around whenever we move our eyes,” says Intoy. “By suppressing perception during saccades, our visual system is able to create a stable percept.”

The eye scanning revealed that vision recovered rapidly at the center of the eye after these brief bursts of blindness, and then continued to improve – overall, vision in the eye was improved after the saccade or rapid movement of the eye.

These tiny moments of vision suppression happen so quickly that we’re not conscious that they’re happening, and nor are we aware of all the microscopic gaze shifts that go on while we look at what’s around us.

It’s only thanks to highly precise scanning tools that we’re able to get such a close look at the mechanisms going on in our eyes – and ultimately, understanding more about them can help scientists work out treatments and fixes when something goes wrong.

“In our lab, we have the high-resolution tools to study vision at this small scale, whereas other research has historically focused on the peripheral regions of the eye, where such precision and accuracy are not required,” says neuroscientist Michele Rucci from the University of Rochester.

The research has been published in PNAS.

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Dinosaur Tail Found In Chile Could Point To Discovery Of New Species – NDTV

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Dinosaur Tail Found In Chile Could Point To Discovery Of New Species

Paleontologists have discovered 80 percent of the dinosaur’s skeleton.

Santiago:

Chilean paleontologists on Wednesday presented their findings on a dinosaur discovered three years ago in Patagonia which they said had a highly unusual tail that has stumped researchers.

The remains of the Stegouros elengassen were discovered during excavations in 2018 at Cerro Guido, a site known to harbor numerous fossils, by a team who believed they were dealing with an already known species of dinosaur until they examined its tail.

“That was the main surprise,” said Alexander Vargas, one of the paleontologists. “This structure is absolutely amazing.”

“The tail was covered with seven pairs of osteoderms … producing a weapon absolutely different from anything we know in any dinosaur,” added the researcher during a presentation of the discovery at the University of Chile.

The osteoderms — structures of bony plaques located in the dermal layers of the skin – were aligned on either side of the tail, making it resemble a large fern.

Paleontologists have discovered 80 percent of the dinosaur’s skeleton and estimate that the animal lived in the area 71 to 74.9 million years ago. It was about two meters (almost seven feet) long, weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and was a herbivore.

According to the scientists, who published their research in the journal Nature, the animal could represent a hitherto unknown lineage of armored dinosaur never seen in the southern hemisphere but already identified in the northern part of the continent.

“We don’t know why (the tail) evolved. We do know that within armored dinosaur groups there seems to be a tendency to independently develop different osteoderm-based defense mechanisms,” said Sergio Soto, another member of the team.

The Cerro Guido area, in the Las Chinas valley 3,000 km (1,800 miles) south of Santiago, stretches for 15 kilometers. Various rock outcrops contain numerous fossils.

The finds there allowed the scientists to surmise that present-day America and Antarctica were close to each other millions of years ago.

“There is strong evidence that there is a biogeographic link with other parts of the planet, in this case Antarctica and Australia, because we have two armored dinosaurs there closely related” to the Stegouros, said Soto.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Google Pixel mail-in repairs have allegedly twice resulted in leaked pics and a privacy nightmare – The Verge

After game designer and author Jane McGonigal sent her Pixel 5a to Google for repair, someone allegedly took and hacked her device. This is at least the second report in as many weeks from someone claiming they sent a Google phone in for repair, only to have it used to leak their private data and photographs. McGonigal posted a detailed account of the situation on Twitter on Saturday and advised other users not to send their phones in for repair with the company.

In October, McGonigal sent her broken phone to an official Pixel repair center in Texas. She tweeted later that Google said it never received the phone, and during the ensuing weeks, she was charged for a replacement device.

But according to McGonigal, FedEx tracking information shows the device arrived at the facility weeks ago. Late Friday night — a few hours after she says she finally received a refund for the device — someone seems to have used the “missing” phone to clear two-factor authentication checks and log in to several of her accounts, including her Dropbox, Gmail, and Google Drive.

The activity triggered several email security alerts to McGonigal’s backup accounts. However, she speculates that whoever has the phone may have used it to access her backup email addresses and then dumped any security alerts into her spam folder.

“The photos they opened were of me in bathing suits, sports bras, form-fitting dresses, and of stitches after surgery,” McGonigal writes. “They deleted Google security notifications in my backup email accounts.”

In a statement emailed to The Verge, Google spokesperson Alex Moriconi says, “We are investigating this claim.” It’s still unclear whether the device might have been intercepted within the repair facility or while it was in transit, or who has it now. Google’s official repair instructions recommend backing up and then erasing a device before sending it in. Still, as Jane McGonigal points out, that’s either hard or impossible, depending on the damage.

The whole situation reminds us of the security concerns whenever we hand over our devices for repair, and unfortunately, such activity has precedent. In June, Apple paid millions to a woman after repair technicians posted her nude photos to Facebook. Apple recently said it would start selling DIY repair kits, giving users the chance to fix their own phones, or at least have the task done by someone that a user trusts, as opposed to sending it in or dropping it off at an Apple Store.

For Pixel phones, your options for official service are either via mail-in or, in some countries, local service through an authorized provider. In the US, Google partners with uBreakiFix franchises. Whatever phone you have, the options for repairs are still somewhat limited, and you end up having to trust that no one with bad intentions will get their hands on your phone while it’s out of your possession.

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