7 November 2018


Democrats take House

The Democrats took hold of the US’s House of Representatives for the first time in eight years after gaining 219 seats in yesterday’s Midterm elections. However, the Republicans gained 51 seats in the Senate – where 35 were contested – to cement its hold there. The swing towards Democrats in the House elections, for 435 seats across the country, was fuelled by woman voters, Latinos and the young. See The Guardian here for digestible coverage of the whole thing. Also see ‘What We Say’ about, well, what we say will be the implications of the results.

Scuffle in kindergarten, er, parliament

It was all pretty confusing – not to mention childish – but parliament had to be suspended for five minutes because of scuffles between opposition politicians yesterday evening. It started with a war of words between the DA and EFF, with the former chanting ‘pay back the money’ in reference to the VBS Bank saga and the latter replying with ‘racists’. Then Agang MP Andries Tlouamma objected to something the EFF had said and told them to ‘fokof’, only to have a bottle thrown at him. Tlouamma and the EFF’s Nazier Paulsen got into a scuffle with a whole bunch of others either joining in or trying to separate them. Tlouamma and Paulsen were thrown out of the house.

VC what you did

UCT student Mlandu Masixole tweeted photos of a few pages of his honours paper, including the acknowledgements section, which he’d signed off with ‘One Settler One Bullet’. He was congratulated by all sorts of people, including UCT’s emoji-loving vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, aka @FabAcademic. She told the student she was more proud of him than he could imagine and tweeted three hands clapping, three hugs and three hearts, plus a fireworks gif and in case he hadn’t got the message a ‘Yass!’ and a ‘You Got This’ meme. She backtracked a bit eight hours later to say she wasn’t proud of the bullets, but of him completing the paper. The acknowledgements section was so full of spelling errors that we think Masixole probably didn’t mean One Settler One Bullet but One Sister One Ballad.

Who is pretending to be Cyril?

There is some confusion in the Presidency after someone – no-one seems sure who – filed a notice in the High Court in Pretoria to oppose a DA application for the President to drop ministers Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba from his cabinet. The Presidency, which has publicly distanced itself from the notice filed on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, is investigating.


Steinhoff probe widens

Bloomberg is reporting that Steinhoff International has provided the South African police with the names of three more Steinhoff executives to investigate in addition to former CEO Markus Jooste in their probe into the collapse of the company. They are, according to unnamed insiders, Dirk Schreiber, a German national who was head of finance in Europe, former chief financial officer Ben la Grange and ex-Company Secretary Stehan Grobler. The new information apparently arises from an ongoing PriceWaterhouseCoopers investigation. Steinhoff has officially said no names have been handed over.

Woolies workers reinstated – 16 years later

Dozens of workers dismissed by Woolworths in 2002 have been reinstated by the Constitutional Court after a challenge by the SA Commercial and Catering Workers Union to a labour appeal court ruling that only awarded them remuneration compensation for being unfairly dismissed. Woolies argued that their jobs no longer existed but the court said this was not so – they were cashiers, and there was no suggestion that the number of cashiers had decreased.


SABC sex pest shocker

The SABC’s management has been associated with gross incompetence over the years. Now it seems that they included in their number a bunch of sex pests. Yesterday the Commission on Gender Equality recommended that some cases of sexual harassment it uncovered at the SABC should be reported to the police. Releasing its report on its inquiry, chair Barbara Watson said the HR department failed the complainants – in all the cases they dealt with not one perpetrator was suspended or dismissed. Some of the alleged perpetrators were people in positions of leadership, but she could not say if they were executives. Well, we can confidently tell her they were all menaces.


Real, Man U for Super League?

German news magazine Der Spiegel claims seven of Europe’s top clubs have met with a view to establishing a European Super League. The magazine says leaked documents show that a new breakaway league featuring 16 teams has been proposed. The 11 founding clubs in the new format are said to be Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, AC Milan and Paris St-Germain. The five ‘guest clubs’ for the first season would be Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Roma and Marseille.

Zim’s first away win in 17 years

Zimbabwe rattled through the Bangladesh batting line-up to claim their first Test win away from home in 17 years – their last win on tour came in 2001, also in Bangladesh. It was Zimbabwe’s first Test win in five years since they beat Pakistan in Harare. Yesterday Bangladesh resumed on 26 and lost their first wicket with the score on 56. Just 41 overs and 113 runs later Zimbabwe had bowled them out for 169 to give them a 151-run win.

Better than six of the best

36 is the holy grail of runs off a single over, right? Wrong. Joe Carter and Brett Hampton, helped by two no-balls, managed to smash 43 off a six-ball over bowled by South African-born 21-year-old Willem Ludick. It was a Ford Trophy match in Hamilton, New Zealand, and the pair were batting for Northern Districts. The sequence of runs was 4, 6nb, 6nb, 6, 1, 6, 6, 6 as Carter and Hamilton put on a 178-run partnership. That over proved the difference between the teams as Northern Districts won by 25 runs. The previous highest score in on over was 39 by former Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura off Alauddin Babu in a Bangladesh Premier League match in 2013.

Nigel Owens to ref Boks

Welshman Nigel Owens will referee Saturday’s rugby Test between France and South Africa at Stade de France in Paris. After a crucial mistake by referee Angus Gardner on Saturday, which cost South Africa a chance of kicking for the win against England at the weekend, there is huge interest in the officials for the match against France. Englishmen Matthew Carley and Tom Foley will run the line and their compatriot Rowan Kitt will be the television match official.


Students go with the flow

While some UCT students are pissing people off (see ‘VC what you did’ above) others are taking the piss – literally. Students have created the bio-brick – the world’s first brick made from human urine. The students collected urine from specially designed male urinals at the university’s engineering building and mixed it with sand and bacteria. Bio-bricks are made in moulds at room temperature, removing the need for high temperature kilns. ‘You take something that is considered a waste and make multiple products from it. It’s about rethinking things,’ Dr Dyllon Randall, the lecturer who supervised the project, told The Guardian. Randall described urine as liquid gold.


McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) has achieved some viral fame for this tweet after visiting the polls in the US yesterday.
My wife and I got back from voting and found our 5yo in tears that she didn’t get to come. So I took her to the polling place and gave her a little patriotic talk about America and democracy. 

On the way back she told me she thought mom had said we went ‘boating’.

A number of people responded with their own stories and some pictures, including Willie Geist (@WillieGeist), who tweeted this:


Today’s clue compiled by @7upislemondade is, Finally – more to benefit by arrangement? (3,6,4) 

The solution to yesterday’s outstanding clue, They are often stoned when love is involved! (6), is OLIVES – an anagram of ‘love is’ (‘involved’ is the anagram indicator) and with their pits olives, of course, are often stoned.


According to the New Yorker, a simple fact emerged last night: the period of serious investigation of Donald Trump is about to begin. The publication predicts a list of investigations Trump is likely to face now the Democrats have taken control of the House.  Meanwhile, over at the Spectator, the publication says, sure the Democrats have retaken the House, but the Republicans had a great night when it came to Senate races.

** Special note: The New York Times has lifted its paywall for a two-day bonanza of reading. Get to the site to read its best material from the past year. 


Republicans in the US are calling the midterm election results a ‘split decision’ after they held the Senate with a slightly increased majority and the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. They are wrong: just 35 Senate seats were contested and Democrats had little hope of turning over the Republican majority anyway. The House election was held across the country for all 435 seats and the Democratic win is a setback for Donald Trump and his Republicans. Besides a rejection of Trump’s divisive rhetoric, it will make life exceedingly difficult for a president who likes to get his way. Instead, Democrats in the House now have the power to block legislation they don’t like and – by exercising the House’s right of oversight – to hold Trump himself to account. This will, for example, mean that the president could be forced to make his tax returns public. There are other issues that the Democrats have indicated they might want to probe, including Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 election and the loss of thousands of lives in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. It also raises the spectre of impeachment, particularly if special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings – expected within days – are damning of Trump. Interestingly, Trump said on the eve of the election that he regretted not being able to adopt a ‘softer tone’ as president. The electorate’s message to Trump and the need to co-operate with Democrats in future might just force him into reassessing his messaging and general approach, but that seems a faint hope.

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