Macron vows to rebuild Notre Dame | Moyane can’t quiz Gordhan | SA hotels take on Airbnb | It’s Ronaldo vs Messi again


Notre Dame gutted 

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral after it was gutted by an eight-hour fire last night, and two of France’s richest men have pledged 350-million euros for the effort. Images of the iconic cathedral and Parisian landmark circulated around the world as massive flames burst through its roof and toppled its spire. The fire was finally brought under control early this morning, with firefighters managing to save the main bell towers and outer walls from collapse. One firefighter was seriously injured during efforts to spirit religious artefacts and artwork out of the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece. The cause of the fire has not been established yet, but may have been a result of restoration work. The building is visited by an estimated 13-million tourists every year. Across in the United States President Donald Trump helpfully suggested that ‘perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out’. Below is an aerial image showing the interior of the cathedral ablaze, taken by a French police drone. The Guardian has live updates from Paris and is reporting that saved artworks will be donated the the Louvre museum.  

Mashaba booed off stage by Alex residents

Johannesburg DA Mayor Herman Mashaba’s belated attempt to address the unhappy residents of Alexandra township came to nought last night when he was booed off the stage in nearby Marlboro. According to reports from the scene, Mashaba and his team were also pelted with paper and empty bottles. Mashaba had resisted calls to address protesters last week, after which President Cyril Ramaphosa headed in there and suggested the mayor was scared. Mashaba chose to address the disgruntled community last night to explain his Integrated Development Plan, but was thwarted. The mayor later accused the ANC of bussing people to the meeting with the express purpose of disrupting it. He also hit back at Ramaphosa, asking when the president planned to meet the families of the Marikana massacre. Ramaphosa has been accused of having a hidden hand in the massacre through his then mining interests, and of insensitivity towards the victims.

Resurrected man dies 

Elliot Moyo became renowned across South Africa when he was supposedly ‘resurrected’ from the dead by pastor Alph Lukau: the photograph of him sitting bolt upright in his coffin after the pastor ministered his magic sparked a thousand memes. Sadly, however, it seems he has now died. Zimbabwean newspaper B-Metro reported that Moyo – real name Thabiso Proud Mlanje – died earlier this month in Zimbabwe from suspect food poisoning. The publication carried a photo of an ailing Moyo/Mlanje and a relative mourning at his grave in Dandana Village.

Zondo ‘no’ to Moyane

Tom Moyane will not be getting a chance to cross examine Public Works Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. Today Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo turned down the request from the ex-Sars commissioner, saying the test for cross-examination is whether it is necessary and relevant to the commission’s work. Moyane had not ‘at all’ responded to certain important parts of Gordhan’s statement which implicated him, or had not responded ‘adequately’. He also had not identified which bits of Gordhan’s evidence he disputed.


Tongue-tied, tuneless and tone deaf

Kurt Darren has become the latest musician to commit anthemcide. The Afrikaans pop star was called to sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica at the Varsity Cup rugby final last night in Stellenbosch and promptly fumbled, bungled and butchered the anthem. In 2009 reggae artist Ras Dumisani mutilated the anthem when he belted out a tuneless rendition of it before a match between the Boks and France. Two years later, Just Jinger frontman Ard Matthews murdered the anthem during the announcement of the Springbok squad to go to the World Cup. Darren woke up this morning to a storm of outrage but was unapologetic and couldn’t see what the fuss was about. ‘I just messed up one line,’ the tone deaf singer told a radio talkshow host. Perhaps Darren, Dumisani and Matthews should form a band – The Nkosi Killers! By the way, Maties did to Tuks what Darren did to the words of the anthem – slaughtered them. 


Exodus of the super-rich 

Fin24 reports that about 3,000 super-rich South Africans have left the country in the past 10 years. It bases this on a research by an organisation called New World Wealth, which defines the super-rich as those with a wealth of $1m or R14m. According to the research, most of the migrants went to the UK, Australia and the US. Australia was also the top destination for high net-worth migrants from countries around the world, it said. Mauritius was the only African country to gain such individuals in 2018.

SA hotels take on Airbnb

SA’s hotel industry is calling on government to regulate Airbnb which they argue is ruining their business model. The Tourism Amendment Bill, just published, says ‘short-term home rentals’ will now be legislated under the Tourism Act. The amendment will allow the minister to specify ‘thresholds’ when it comes to Airbnbs that could include limits on the number of nights that a guest can stay or even how much income an Airbnb earns.


Gunners misfire into top four

In the ever-changing race for next season’s Champions League spots, Arsenal scrambled back into the top four with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road last night. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early goal was almost comical after Ben Foster took his time clearing a backpass. The Watford keeper’s indecision allowed the Arsenal striker to get close enough and the ball ricocheted off his outstretched foot into the net. Watford’s woes were compounded a minute later when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red after his forearm caught Lucas Torreira in the face. The result takes Arsenal one point below third-placed Spurs, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference and two points clear of Manchester United. Tonight Cardiff travel to Brighton in a key battle for the final relegation spot.

Ronaldo v Messi debate continues

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are surely the two best football players of their generation and the debate over who is the greatest is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. So, it is somewhat fitting that both are in action tonight hoping to guide their respective teams to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Messi has failed to savour the same level of Champions League glory as his great rival, which makes Barcelona’s second-leg quarter-final against Manchester United this evening just a little more important to the Argentinian maestro. Barca enjoy a 1-0 advantage from the opening leg at Old Trafford and are massive favourites to build on that and so secure their place in the last four. Ronaldo will be hoping to find the net again for Juventus as they attempt to improve on the 1-1 result against Ajax from the first leg.

New ‘Dakar’ venue

The completely mis-named Dakar rally comes closer to home when the 2020 event is held in Saudi Arabia. The event, which was held predominantly in North Africa for 30 years, moved to South America in 2009 after terrorist threats in 2008. From next year the event will enjoy at least a five-year stay in the Middle East after ASO, the event owners, signed a deal with the country which dominates the Arabian Peninsula. There are however sure to be many who object to the move, particularly after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the country’s treatment of women.

Tiger’s win was bettor’s best bet

One man who was almost as pleased as Tiger Woods with the former number one’s fifth US Master victory was 39-year-old James Adducci, who collected $1.19-million on a bet after the tournament. Adducci, a self-employed day trader with a mortgage on his house, two student loans and two car loans, bet ‘everything I had that I could afford to lose’ a week ago on Tiger winning. The first-time sports gambler flew from Wisconsin to Las Vegas to place the $85,000 bet at William Hill – and flew straight home.


The GoT in numbers

Some of the buzz surrounding the screening of the first episode of Season 8 of the Game of Thrones has been quantified, revealing that a record 17.4-million viewers in the US alone tuned in for Sunday’s premiere of the fantasy series, up from 16.1-million viewers who watched the first episode of Season 7. It also was HBO’s biggest night ever for streaming, the network said. On social media, the premiere drew more than 5-million Tweets on Sunday, and 11 million mentions throughout the course of the weekend. Season 7 averaged 32.8-million US viewers per episode – when delayed viewing was counted – and HBO said it expected the Season 8 average to top this ‘considerably’. But despite the hype, it turns out that Americans love their football more even than the GoT: the annual NFL Super Bowl attracts about 100-million viewers.


Comic’s stroke of misfortune 

British stand-up comedian Ian Cognito told his audience, ‘Imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh’ and then added, ‘Imagine if I died in front of you lot here.’  A few minutes later the 60-year-old standup comic sat down on a stool, had a stroke and died. Show organiser Andrew Bird told the BBC that when Cognito sat down and fell silent, everyone in the crowd, Bird included, thought he was joking. ‘I was thinking, he’s having such a good gig.’ The members of the audience sat there for five minutes watching him, and laughing. Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, was highly respected among fellow comedians. Entertainer Jimmy Carr tweeted of Cognito’s onstage death: ‘That’s commitment to comedy.’


Today’s top tweeter is Phillip de Wet (@phillipdewet) for this observation:

Anecdotal evidence suggests that approximately half of all voice calls in South Africa right now are either from pre-recorded @MmusiMaimane or from real-life mini-Maimanes in what must be a call centre covering a floor area similar to the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is Spilling monk’s Sangria cost loads! (1,5,6) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue Champion writes good anagrams! (5,5), is TIGER WOODS – an anagram of ‘writes good’ (‘anagrams’ is the cunning anagram indicator) and Tiger Woods is the ‘champion’


Something to Bragg about

In 1989 Charles Leonard found himself at a Billy Bragg concert in London. Leonard, a South African journalist, managed to meet Bragg, a punk-folk rocker and solid leftist, and gave him a beautiful black and white Freedom Charter T-shirt and asked him to come and play in South Africa. Bragg said he would, but never did. (Well, not yet anyway.) In this excellent essaypublished on the New Frame, Leonard writes about the meaning of that T-shirt, political violence in the 1980s, and the power of solidarity. As an official Bragg superfan, Leonard hasn’t given up on his plan to entice the Bard from Barking to come play in South Africa. 


Sport is often held to be something that provides good lessons and examples to youngsters (and the rest of us), but it is probably closer to the truth to suggest that nowadays it serves best as decent escapism while making some people very rich. But hang on a moment: did you watch Tiger Woods winning the US Masters on Sunday evening? That was sport transcending its own limits: a once-disgraced man seeking, and finding, redemption; an ageing athlete defying the passage of time and a series of potentially career-ending injuries; extraordinary will; calm under what must have been nearly unbearable pressure; the racial backdrop to it all (and a few incidents of racism over the years); an emotional welcome from his young son after the final hole… It was extraordinary, and even Woods’s fiercest critics must surely have melted. The win marked Woods’s first in a major for 11 years, and that in spite of setbacks that would have broken many others. Let that sink in. And perhaps marvel that the human spirit can fight back against and overcome all that. And maybe watch that match on Saturday with a little more empathy for the individuals out there on the field: they all have their own stories.

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