13 July 2018

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Orange shadow falls over UK

An orange ‘baby Donald Trump’ balloon hovered over London today as thousands of protesters took to the streets to direct their anger at the US president. Earlier, Trump had managed to offend many Brits by giving an interview to The Sun newspaper in which he criticised UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit and said she had not taken his advice on how to manage Great Britain’s divorce from the European Union. A consequence, he told the newspaper, was that the US would not be able to make a trade deal with the UK. He also said Boris Johnson – who quit May’s cabinet this week – would make a good prime minister and that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was doing a ‘bad job’ combating terrorism. This extraordinary break with protocol attracted opprobrium from across the political spectrum in the UK but Trump later accused The Sun of, you guessed it, ‘fake news’. He also said he would back May on her Brexit strategy. Tomorrow Trump is due to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Space ‘scope spotlight

The R4,4-billion MeerKAT – a 64-dish radio telescope – was unveiled today in the Northern Cape and will probe the nooks and crannies of space to help us discover some of the universe’s deep dark secrets. This excellent feature in The Conversation explains why the launch is a big deal for Africa, and why the MeerKAT – and astronomy – matter.

KZN conference call

The ANC’s much-disputed elective conference in KwaZulu Natal is to go ahead. This follows high court rulings which last year dissolved the provincial executive committee and recently interdicted the conference from taking place. However, the party’s provincial task team announced yesterday that disgruntled members had withdrawn the court application which gave rise to the interdict. The conference could prove to be a crucial measure of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s support in the region – and of his ability to hold the broader party together.

Protests increase

According to Municipal IQ, a data and intelligence service that monitors these things, there have been 144 major protests recorded since January. In the whole of 2017 there were 173 demonstrations. Today there have been protests in Hermanus (in the Western Cape), Kimberley (Northern Cape) and Centurion (Gauteng), where a highway was blocked and cars stoned.

Clever Trevor

South African comedian and now US TV talkshow host Trevor Noah has been nominated for three Emmys (the American television awards). ‘Wow, I visited Russia for three days and now The Daily Show is nominated for three Emmys. Next time I should stay for a week and then run for president. To all the people who voted for us and to all who watch our show I could not be more grateful,’ said Noah on Instagram.

Consultant’s independence queried

GroundUp has been following the saga of the granting of a West Coast prospecting application and reports that environmental activist Suzanne du Plessis has raised concerns about the independence of consultant Adriaan du Toit, who compiled the report on which basis the application was recently granted. You can follow the story here.

HAPPY SNAPS

In an effort to counter some of the world’s negativity we ask people what makes them happy. the.news.letter will feature a Happy Snap every Friday

Happy Snap 02: Tashreeq Sauls, 51, Steenberg

Tashreeq Sauls, 51, Steenberg

Every morning when I open my eyes I am at my happiest. It might sound strange to say but it makes me happy because it means I get to spend another day with the important people in my life; my family.

Nine years ago I had stomach cancer. It was horrible. I thought I was going to die. But I made it.

I don’t need money to make me happy. I just need to open my eyes – that makes me happy every single morning.

WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Let’s talk about SAX

South Africa Express (SAX), which had been grounded due to safety concerns, could be soon back in business. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said he was satisfied with the progress SAX airline had made to ensure it was airworthy. The airline said it had ‘undergone a stringent and rigorous process to meet the regulator’s high standards’.

In other business news, PwC report on executive remuneration released this week revealed that SA’s top CEOs earn, on average, 64 times the wages of workers. Fin24 interrogated the details of the report.

IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Tall story, high hopes and lofty expectations

Today South African Kevin Anderson is playing American John Isner in the Wimbledon semi-finals. Anderson is 2.03m tall (6ft 8 inches) and Isner a mere 2.08m (6ft 10 inches) and whoever wins – we’re naturally rooting for Anderson – will be the tallest Wimbledon finalist ever. The winner will get to play either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.
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Anderson is not the only South African doing well at Wimbledon. Capetonian Raven Klaasen and partner Michael Venus of New Zealand are through to the men’s doubles final tomorrow, where they will meet Americans Mike Bryan and Jack Sock. And that’s not all: South African wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane is through to the Wimbledon semi-finals, where she plays Diede de Groot from the Netherlands today.
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Talking of South Africans, the country’s cricket team has their backs to the wall against Sri Lanka after two days of the first Test in Galle. South Africa responded to Sri Lanka’s first innings 287 with a disappointing 126 and at stumps today Sri Lanka were 111/4 in their second innings – 272 runs ahead with six wickets standing.
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On Sunday the biggest sporting event on the planet takes place when France and Croatia clash at 5pm in the soccer World Cup final. You can read some excellent previews from The Guardian here. England and Belgium meet tomorrow in the play-off for third place, a game about which very few really care.
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The Tour de France is meanwhile proceeding along with little drama (other than the French fans giving defending champion Chris Froome of England a hard time). The early stages this year have mostly been flat, meaning the main contenders have little opportunity to gain an advantage. Expect that to all change on Tuesday when they get into the mountains.

WHAT WE THINK

Down here on the southern tip of the African continent it might seem as if Donald Trump’s general buffoonery will not have much of an impact. The American president is, however, intent on changing the existing world order, and not in a way that will make the planet a better place. His animus towards the liberal, human rights-orientated Western order that has evolved since World War Two is evident, as is his warmth towards autocrats such as Russian president Vladimir Putin and Philippines premier Rodrigo Duterte. This has undermined institutions such as NATO and the United Nations and weakened multilateral initiatives like the Paris climate agreement and others. His attitude towards immigration and African ‘shithole’ countries also suggest he is a racist, a factor that may be playing itself out in the US’s foreign and trade policies. His sabre rattling over North Korea and childish bragging about the US’s military strength also indicate he may not be averse to armed intervention. Hopefully the American citizenry will dump Trump after one term (or he’ll be impeached before that), but there is no telling how much damage he could do in that time. One thing we can bank on, is that the ripples will definitely reach these shores.

THE WEEK THAT WAS

What made us say mazaltov

SA cricketers Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk who got married.

What has left us puzzled

The bombs in Durban. WTF?

What made us say,
‘That? You spent buckets of cash on THAT?’

Absa’s new logo.

What outraged us

The announcement that 16 young men had died in botched circumcisions in the Eastern Cape this winter.

What made us shake our head

ANC deputy S-G Jessie Duarte’s attempt to silence anyone who criticises her.

What made us proudly South African

2-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 – Kevin Anderson doing the impossible, overhauling Roger Federer from two sets down in a monumental upset – and then being so humble about it.

What gave us the feeling of déjà vu

Woolworths announcing it was recalling a frozen savoury rice product after a listeria outbreak in Europe.

What we gave a thumbs-up

Spur putting up ‘breastfeeding welcome’ signs in their restaurants

What Twitter gave a thumbs-down

Fake accounts –  and started culling them, which saw Western Cape Premier Helen Zille lose 21,665 followers and EFF leader Julius Malema drop 27,495 followers.

THE BIG READ

Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole believes that the children in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump, but a trial run for fascism.

 

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