May, Macron face no-confidence votes | Terror attack in France | Marx is player of the year | Oy vey, here comes Santa!


May Mayhem? Maybe

British Prime Minister Theresa May could be out of a job by the time you go to bed this evening. She faces a no-confidence vote this evening at 8pm (SA time) after 48 MPs sent letters calling for the secret ballot. If she loses her Conservative Party will immediately start choosing a new leader, who will also be Prime Minister. May vowed to fight the vote with ‘everything I’ve got’ and pointed out that it would plunge the Brexit negotiations she has been leading into chaos. Even more chaos, that is. On Monday May shelved a vote on the deal she had negotiated with the EU when it became likely she would lose.

Macron also in trouble

May might take some consolation from the fact that she is not alone. French President Emmanuel Macron will also face a no-confidence vote tomorrow over his handling of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests in France. The motion was tabled by three leftist MPs and backed by 59 members of the National Assembly. The leftists said concessions introduced by Macron to meet the protesters’ demands were ‘neither fair nor responsible’.

Terror attack in France 

Three people have been killed and at least 12 injured in a suspected terror attack last night on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. More than 350 police officers are hunting for a 29-year-old who fired into a crowd at the market. 

Trump, Democrats clash on TV

US President Donald Trump’s penchant for showmanship backfired on him when he invited television cameras to record a conversation between him and Democratic Party bigshots Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Well, Vice-President Mike Pence was also there but gave every impression of trying to be invisible – he didn’t say a word as Pelosi and Schumer goaded Trump into losing his cool. Here’s The Guardian’s version of a riveting discussion.

SAHRC probes Willemse case 

The SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) is going to hold an inquiry into the spat between former Springbok Ashwin Willemse and fellow SuperSport analysts Naas Botha and Nick Mallett. Willemse walked off the set during a live broadcast, saying he was tired of being patronised. A SuperSport investigation cleared Botha and Mallett of racism and referred the incident to the HRC. The commission will review the events of the day and examine whether Willemse’s ‘dignity or any other fundamental rights were infringed’.


Hlaudi with snow chance of presidency

Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng returned to the public broadcaster yesterday – not to reclaim his position (which he feels he deserves) but for a live interview to explain why he did nothing wrong. According to The South African website, SABC staffers hissed at Motsoeneng as he walked to the studio to take his seat for the interview. By all accounts Motsoeneng was a bully who interfered with editorial policy and left the SABC in a financial ruin – with more than 2,000 staffers now facing retrenchment. In the interview he was unrepentant, arrogant and out of touch with reality – which he went on to prove in a story published in the Sowetan today about his plans to unseat President Cyril Ramaphosa. Today’s menace is launching his own political party to contest the 2019 elections. ‘I am going to contest Ramaphosa because I want to be the president of the country. I don’t think Ramaphosa can defeat me,’ he said.


New Sars commissioner on way

Former SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane’s bid to get his old job back was brutally rejected by the North Gauteng High Court but he has indicated he will be taking the ruling on appeal to the Constitutional Court. Moyane was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now free to appoint a new commissioner. He has indicated that he will wait for and then digest the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into Sars’s final report before making the appointment. 

You’ve been Surve’d, Magda  

One of the more bizarre stories to come from Iqbal Surve’s grubby empire is the laying of attempted extortion charges against Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka. AEEI CEO Khalid Abdulla says Wierzycka approached him to buy back the shares that he and AEEI (the majority shareholder in Surve’s Sekunjalo) have in Sygnia at a substantially lower price. According to the charge, Wierzycka threatened to continue to write negative stories about Sekunjalo, AEEI and its associated company, AYO Technology Solutions if they didn’t buy back the shares. Magda responded to the news on Twitter with an eloquent: . After she finished laughing she told Moneyweb that this was a PR stunt to distract attention from what’s really going at AYO Technologies.


Marx is Players’ Player of the Year

South Africa’s professional rugby players have voted Malcom Marx the country’s best player. He picked up the accolade last night at the Players’ Choice Awards in Sandton. The Springbok and Lions hooker also won the Forward of the Year award while Aphiwe Dyantyi was voted the Backline Player of the Year and Pieter-Steph du Toit the Defender of the Year.  

Sky on the limit

Cycling’s Team Sky may just have one more season of controversy before being disbanded. After 10 years, British media company Sky announced yesterday it was ending its partnership with the team which has won six Tour de France titles – but has also been the centre of controversy over therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs). A British parliamentary report had found the team crossed an ‘ethical line’ by using the TUEs loophole to administer drugs to enhance performance. The team may continue under a different name if a new sponsor can be found.

‘Kohli forced Kumble resignation’

A leaked e-mail has revealed that Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli played a significant role in former captain Anil Kumble’s removal as head coach last year. The e-mail in question was between Diana Edulji and Vinod Rai, two members of India’s Committee of Administrators, and suggests that tensions between coach and captain led to Kumble resigning in spite of an excellent coaching record. The mail claims Kohli sent a series of text messages to the CEO of the Indian Cricket Board highlighting the captain’s misgivings about Kumble. It also alleges that ‘rules were broken’ so Kohli’s friend Ravi Shastri could take over as coach.


Oy vey, here comes Santa!

Like all Santas, Santa Rick will spend the next couple of weeks with children on his knee, asking whether they’ve been good. But unlike other professional Santas, Santa Rick wears a yarmulke under his red hat. Santa Rick is 66-year-old Rick Rosenthal, an Orthodox Jew from  Atlanta. ‘I’m a better person and a better Jew because I’m Santa,’ he told the Jewish Times. For Rosenthal, Santa is a non-religious spiritual figure who provides trust, reassurance and comfort to the young and old. Rosenthal began playing Santa when he was 16 but his career really took off seven years ago when he was shopping at Home Depot and noticed a little boy staring at him transfixed. ‘I knew what he was thinking and I said, “Don’t tell anyone you saw Santa buying tools for the elves at Home Depot.”’ Rosenthal decided to turn pro and works all year round, running a Santa school and doing parties, weddings but no bar mitzvahs yet and has not mistakenly uttered oy! oy! oy! instead of ho! ho! ho!. ‘When I’m Santa, I’m Santa. I’m a spiritual guy who believes in the world being a better place,’ he said. 


If you have 60 seconds to spare, here’s something to entertain and amaze you. Tweeted by  Physics&Astronomy Zone (@ZonePhysics) it is a construction of moving parts that uses everyday objects and marbles – to genius effect


Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) is the winner again for this:

Booty, Tit, Booby, Hooter, Nitwit, Twit, Waddle, Tinkle, Bebop, Egghead, Ass and Twerp are the 12 funniest words in the English language, according to the University of Warwick.


Today’s topical clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan,‏ Is, Is her seat rickety? (7)

The solution to yesterday’s wordsum clue, Western beer’s part of UK (5) is WALES – W (western) + ALES (beer’s).


On February 14, Jaime Guttenberg, a student at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, was murdered when Nikolas Cruz opened fire on his former classmates, killing 17. The day the students returned to class the CEO of Dick’s, Edward Stack, went on Good Morning America and said that the sporting-goods retailer,with stores in 47 states, would no longer be selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. And if customers were under 21, Dick’s wouldn’t sell them any guns at all. Stack wanted to start a conversation about gun safety in America. What he got instead, reports Outside Online, was a firestorm.


Yesterday we listed several stories which suggested the fight against graft is being taken seriously in South Africa at last. It is a heartening development after years in which the overwhelming characteristic of our national leadership was venality. But we aren’t out of the woods yet: the fact that Tom Moyane is taking his fight against President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Constitutional Court is one indication of a fightback, as was Jacob Zuma backing the axed Sars commissioner in his most recent court bid to get his job back. And who might be behind Moyane’s apparently limitless legal budget? Three brothers in Dubai, perhaps?  Whatever the case, it is evident that the country is still on a knife edge and much needs to be done to correct the mayhem wrought by the Zuma years. There might, however, be light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully it will get brighter in 2019 (if Eskom lets it).

Dear Reader,

The silly season for news has arrived – it’s getting very quiet out there – and we need a break, so we are going to have one. From next week, and for three weeks after that, we are going to reduce our efforts to one offering a week – on Fridays. We will return to five newsletters a week from January 14. 

We wish you all a great holiday
Chris, Jonathan and Martine

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