WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
US, Iran tensions ratchet up
Fears of a military confrontation between the United States and Iran have increased after attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The American military last night released video footage of what it said was an Iranian military patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine attached to the side of one of the stricken tankers – implying that Iran was trying to remove evidence of its involvement in the attacks. A Norwegian and a Japanese tanker were set alight in the explosions yesterday, sending dark plumes of smoke into the air. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that intelligence indicated Iran was behind the attacks, but Tehran has vehemently denied this. The nearby Strait of Hormuz is a key passage for tankers ferrying oil and gas. The price of oil increased by about 4% globally immediately after the attacks.
Donald Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckerbee Sanders has quit after two years in the job but says ‘I love the president’. Sanders, who became notorious for doubling down on some of Trump’s more extravagant fibs, said she wanted to spend more time with her family. She will probably be best remembered for killing off the regular White House press briefings: they used to take place every week but today marks a record 94th day without one. Trump wished her well and said she was a ‘magnificent person’.
Here comes Boris
Brace yourselves: Boris Johnson looks set to become the British prime minister. The controversial and divisive figure yesterday won a vote among Conservative Party MPs to replace outgoing PM Theresa May by a landslide 114 votes to nearest challenger Jeremy Hunt’s 43. He’s not quite there yet, though: the party’s process for replacing a new prime minister involves several rounds of voting, with various candidates being eliminated along the way. Johnson, the former mayor of London, is fiercely pro-Brexit and popular among Conservatives, but opponents accuse him of being a populist and having little integrity.
Shock: EFF says sorry
Sit down before you read this: the EFF has apologised! This follows the scuffle at a parliamentary induction meeting where several of its MPs were filmed shoving ANC members. ‘As the EFF we are sending our apology, it was not our intention to react in the way we reacted,’ it said in a statement. The implication, of course, was that its MPs were reacting to some dastardly slur, but the fact remains that such an apology from the Fighters is unprecedented. Meanwhile, Speaker Thandi Modise’s office announced that no punitive steps would be taken. According to Eyewitness News it was felt that the stern reprimand dished out by Modise after the incident was punishment enough.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
High flying irregularities
Former SAA treasurer Cynthia Stimpel yesterday told the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture how executives at the state owned entity approved an allegedly inflated fee of R300-million for the services of BNP Capital for its work in securing a loan for SAA – and how her efforts to prevent the deal were thwarted. The R15-billion loan could have been sourced directly from banks for very much less, she said. Stimpel detailed a number of irregularities in the board’s processes and said she believed some members had deliberately stalled them in order to create a crisis that would allow them to make the BNP Capital appointment on an emergency basis. The board was chaired at the time by Dudu Myeni. The CEO was Musa Zwane. The Daily Maverick’s Jessica Bezuidenhout was at the hearing.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
NZ put the pressure on the Lions
The Highlanders and Chiefs ramped up the pressure on the South African quarter-final hopefuls with big victories in their Super Rugby matches this morning. The Highlanders scored an emphatic bonus-point 49-12 win over the Waratahs and the Chiefs destroyed the Rebel hopes with a 59-8 win. The result of the New Zealand dominance is that the Lions are now in danger of missing the quarter-finals. The Crusaders, Jaguares, Brumbies and Hurricanes are already certain of hosting quarter-finals next weekend, while the two South African derbies will finalise the visiting teams for the four quarter-finals. The Bulls, who are sure of going through, host the Lions and the Sharks visit the Stormers, and after today’s results the scenarios are relatively simple. The Lions need a bonus-point loss or a win to get into the playoffs along with the Bulls, Chiefs and the winner of the Stormers v Sharks match. If the Lions do not get a bonus point or more, the Highlanders will stay above them on the standings and the Johannesburg side will end ninth on the table. The loser of the Stormers v Sharks match cannot reach the quarter finals unless the Stormers lose with two bonus points.
Banyana go down again
The South African women’s football team suffered their second loss at the Fifa Women’s World Cup last night when they went down 1-0 to China. It was a brave fight from Banyana, but the South Africans were never able to do enough to put their opponents under pressure. In front of a crowd of 20 000, Banyana had just one shot on target all evening and had to fend off 17 attempts at goal from the Chinese. The match was decided five minutes before halftime when Li Ying scored. Banyana’s hopes of a possible place in the Round of 16 rely on beating Germany on Monday in their final group match. They need to win by a big enough margin to be one of the third-placed teams to go through on goal difference. Germany, with two wins, are already assured of going through to the next round while China and Spain will battle for the second guaranteed place in the playoffs from their group.
Caster wins, but is excluded
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court on Wednesday handed Caster Semenya another small win in her battle, but there was more disappointment for the World 800m Champion. The Swiss court yesterday confirmed their earlier decision to suspend the IAAF’s controversial testosterone rule pending the decision on an appeal by Semenya. This allows the double Olympic champion, and other female athletes with male chromosomes, to run in all events without being forced to medically alter their testosterone levels. However, it was not all good news. The Moroccan Athletics Federation this week denied Semenya’s entry into the 800m in the Rabat leg of the Diamond League on June 16. The IAAF does not organise the Diamond League events and the Moroccan organisers have not given any reason for declining the entry. Semenya is attempting to find out why she is not being allowed to compete.
Surely SA can beat Afghanistan?
South African will be desperate for the weather to play ball in Wales when they take on Afghanistan tomorrow. Little has gone right for the Proteas since the World Cup started with embarrassing losses, selection controversies, injuries and then bad weather all hampering South African hopes. It has meant that the ICC’s third-ranked ODI team is wallowing near the foot of the World Cup standings trying to keep pace with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Tomorrow’s match is one that should be a guaranteed two log points … if the Proteas get onto the field. Four matches, the most at any World Cup, have been abandoned due to bad weather.
Rose a late bloomer at US Open
Three birdies over the final three holes by Justin Rose took a share of the lead away from South African Louis Oosthuizen after the first round of the US Open at Pebble Beach. Rose ended on six under par after his putter set up a 65 at the tricky coastal course. Rose’s run of three birdies up to the 18th meant Oosthuizen was a shot behind on five under with Americans Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Aaron Wise. Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot two under and is in a tie for 16th, while Tiger Woods ended on one under in a tie for 28th. Joining Woods on that score is South African amateur Jovan Rebula, the nephew of Ernie Els, who is a shot behind the leading amateur, Norwegian Viktor Hovland.
Full list of weekend live TV here
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Director offers $150,000 to accuser
The.news.letter previously reported that the director of Oscar-winner Bohemian Rhapsody was dropped from the production after four young men came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against him. Now director Bryan Singer has offered to pay $150,000 to one of them to settle a rape accusation – although he says this is not an admission of guilt and is a ‘business’ decision.
Kak and cool
Here’s a story of contrasts. The.news.letter is not a great fan of the Kardashians but they do sometimes provide moments of entertainment. This week South Africans had fun when Khloe (middle name Alexandra) posted photos of her sister Kim’s personalised gift to her – monogrammed bags of undoubtedly great expense saying: KAK. Well yes, our sentiments exactly. On the other end of the spectrum is British actress Daisy May Cooper who turned up at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards recently wearing a dress made entirely of trash bags, with a trash can lid fashioned into a hat. Her entire outfit, featured on a short NowThis clip, cost R120, and she gave away the money she would have spent on a red-carpet dress to a food bank.
A former British commando has made a grim donation to a remote Canadian hotel – his severed toe. The BBC reports that 47-year-old Nick Griffiths posted his big toe to the Downtown Hotel in Yukon after he lost it to frostbite competing in an extreme winter marathon there last year. The ex-Royal Marine promised to donate it in the hope of returning to Yukon to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail with his very own toe. The cocktail’s famed ingredient is a human toe. The locals say: ‘You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.’ Sourtoe Cocktails have been served since 1973, when Yukon riverboat captain Dick Stevenson discovered a preserved toe in an abandoned cabin.’We couldn’t be happier to receive a new toe,’ said Downtown Hotel general manager Adam Gerle. ‘They are very hard to come by these days.’
TWEET OF THE DAY
The fabulous Friday tweeter this week is Souvik Kr. Maj (@SouvikKumarMaj3) with this comment on the cricket:
Expected result of ICC Cricket WC 2K19 …
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: Use of fossil fuels provide a clue to Actimel! (7,6)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, He wants weird capital (7) is TSHWANE, an anagram of ‘he wants’ (‘weird’ is the anagram indicator).
THE BIG READ
Africa has never lacked civilizations, nor has it ever been as cut off from world events as it has been routinely portrayed. Writing in the New York Books Howard W French looks at some remarkable new books about the continent that he says ‘admirably complicate our understanding of Africa’s past and present’. It’s a fascinating and instructive read.
WHAT WE SAY
What made us gulp?
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane channeling Donald Trump and going on a bizarre Tweet binge saying she’d been appointed by God. Jacob Zuma, who appointed her, is nodding his head.
And after we gulped we gasped…
Trying to work out what the PP meant in a preliminary report finding President Cyril Ramaphosa guilty of ‘inadvertently and deliberately’ misleading Parliament about the R500,000 Bosasa donation. Accidentally on purpose?
Speaking of doing something accidentally on purpose…
From ‘covfefe’ to ‘finding lasting peach’ to ‘an unpresidented act’, Donald Trump tweeted another whopper this week when he insisted that meeting the ‘Prince of Whales’ shows he can discuss everything with foreign powers. We guess he just wanted to show us that he is a president with a porpoise. Let’s hope he doesn’t grab anyone by the octopussy!
What got us popping popcorn?
The EFF-ANC scuffle during the induction session for MPs. There are more red overalls in parliament so expect more fireworks (and less finding solutions to unemployment, poverty, crime etc).
What made us take a deep breath?
The shooting of six members of the police’s anti-gang unit during an operation in Cape Town.
What made us sigh deeply?
The rain that saw the Proteas-West Indies match abandoned, making it virtually impossible for South Africa to advance to the next round of the World Cup. On the other hand, it means that we have been saved the embarrassment of losing every single match of the tournament.
What made us roll up our sleeves?
Blood Donor Day, which is today. If you can spare 20 minutes – and you can – go and donate at a Blood Donor centre and save a life or three.
Who did we award the Menace of the Week to?
The unlikable Vicki Momberg, who was convicted of crimen injuria last year for using the k-word 48 times against police officers and 10111 operators who were trying to help her after a smash-and-grab incident. She is appealing against her conviction and two-year jail sentence and blaming everyone for her woes. In a television interview, she blamed programmes, ‘like the Trevor Noah show’ for promoting the k-word. Her fellow k-bombing menace Adam Catzevelos, who was also in court this week, said he was racist in a ‘moment of madness’. In the TV interview Momberg claimed she was suffering from ‘temporary insanity’. She’s half right.
What made us proudly South African?
Banyana Banyana! While the Proteas have been punching below their weight at their World Cup in England, across the channel in France Banyana Banyana have been punching above theirs. They haven’t had the investment they deserve but the team that is ranked 50th in the world is playing with guts and gusto at their debut World Cup. Last night they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by a team ranked 33 places above them.