First Thing is an e-mail compiled by The Daily Maverick in the wee hours of the morning five days a week, the better to prepare you for your day. If you'd like to see it you can visit this page every morning. Or you could just ask and we'll deliver it straight to your mailbox. Subscribe here.
First Thing with Carla Lever
"Have you never heard of crafted prose? Style? Complexity of diction? It’s hard to believe an entire novel’s worth of pages could be filled up with the sort of short, stunted sentences you employ here...In short, your efforts have saddened me, Mr. Hemingway. I was hopeful that by 1925, the brutes would have stopped sending me their offerings. We at Peacock & Peacock, are looking to publish novels that will inspire. God knows, it’s what people need at this time. Certainly, what is not needed are treatises about bullfights and underemployed men who drink too much."
- We're not positive, but we reckon literary agent Moberley Luger might have lived to regret her 1925 rejection letter to an as-yet-unknown Ernest Hemingway.
Friday, 7 March 2014
Rapidly running out of diplomatic avenues, US President Barack Obama has ordered sanctions aimed at punishing those responsible for the Russian military incursion into Crimea. The sanctions will target key individuals (though not Putin himself) and will include travel bans and freezing of their US assets. In a move that has only escalated the crisis, Crimea's parliament on Thursday voted to join Russia and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision in 10 days.
The Winter Paralympic Games begin in Sochi - a region hotting up so spectacularly with its proximity to Ukraine that it's a wonder there's any snow left to skate on.
Bloemfontein: min: 14°, max: 30°, sunny
Elections 2014: And then there was no light
In PR terms, the ANC has had a rough ride in the approach to this year’s elections: deadly and rampant service delivery protests, corruption scandals, poor performance of the economy, successive fuel price increases, the e-tolling mess and of course, the king of all PR nightmares, the Nkandla security upgrades. As of Thursday, rolling nationwide electricity blackouts were introduced into the mix of things that induce frustration and rage among South Africans. The ANC says load shedding will have no effect its election campaign but for as long as the power supply remains vulnerable, electricity outages remain a reality. Someone will have to carry the burden of responsibility. So far it’s the consumer, who might, incidentally, also be a voter. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
HANNIBAL ELECTOR: Breakfast with Mamphele
The Agang leader has botched a marriage with the Democratic Alliance and is working on the fringes. Once the Great Hope, she is now an afterthought. What happened? RICHARD POPLAK eats and listens.
Pistorius Trial, Week One: The Reporting Hall of Shame Oscars
The Pistorius trial is putting enormous strain on journalists to churn out an incredible amount of content on a trial which pretty much anyone has full access to in other media. We feel it too, and we’re far from perfect ourselves – in fact, we were accused of straining for outlandish new angles on the case just this week. But it must be said that some of the news stories to come out of the trial so far are plumbing new depths of absurdity and desperation. We ain’t judging, we’re just observing. Okay, we’re judging. Here we award our first week’s Oscars for absurd reporting on the Pistorius trial. By REBECCA DAVIS.
So long, Biff, South Africa never deserved you
Even in his retirement, Graeme Smith is still dividing public opinion. There is the “good riddance” camp and the “good luck” camp. In death of a career, there is often unity, but not so for Biff. ANTOINETTE MULLER pays tribute to the captain South Africa never deserved.
In pictures: AMCU takes to the Union Buildings
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) strike at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin has entered its seventh week. On Thursday, 12,000 supporters marched to the Union Buildings. They presented a memorandum demanding Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu be sacked and President Jacob Zuma intervene to stop government’s antagonistic stance towards the union and help end the platinum negotiations. By GREG NICOLSON & THAPELO LEKGOWA.
The return of the playboy: a useful distraction for Libya’s embattled government
Saadi al-Gaddafi – playboy, would-be pro-footballer and third son of Brother Leader himself – is back in Libya after an uncomfortable exile in Niger. It’s a diplomatic victory for the new Tripoli administration, and a very welcome public relations coup at a time when they really need one. By SIMON ALLISON.
JAY NAIDOO: That Lula Moment: A question of leadership and integrity
As our 5th democratic elections approach, public debate on the leadership to make South Africa a better place for all citizens has become fierce. While no change is driven by a single individual, it is useful to ponder lessons from what has become known globally as the “Lula Moment,” the period when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was president of Brazil (2003 – 2011).
ONKGOPOTSE JJ TABANE: Dear President Museveni… Let’s talk frankly
It’s one thing to distinguish yourself as a hero in the fight against Apartheid. But if years later, you turn around and bring up bigotry of another flavour, you are asking to be brought down – and fast.
DOMINIQUE HERMAN: The emphatic infinity of Li Edelkoort's emptiness
Men in beards, pleats with trainers, patisserie, bibs and greenish (not green). These are some of trend forecaster Li Edelkoort's favourite things. Whatever.
Analysis: Who’d be a witness in the Pistorius trial?
Spare a thought for the witnesses in the Pistorius murder trial. In coming forward to do their civic duty, they must face not only sustained interrogation by some of South Africa’s fiercest lawyers, but also the stress of doing so while being watched or heard by an international audience. If you’re Michelle Burger’s husband Charl Johnson, you’re now also looking at having to change your cellphone number. It’s hardly an enviable prospect – but they still have it luckier than many. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Requiem for Cosatu
On Friday the National Union of Metalworkers of SA is expected to provide a full answer to a request by Cosatu for reasons why it should not be “suspended or expelled” from the federation. As we’ve suggested before, this is the latest act in a rather long and overly extended ballet, where everyone knows the final outcome, but is going to extend the misery nonetheless. Cosatu will split. The misery continues. But it’s only now that the full impact of this on workers is really beginning to be felt. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Joseph Stiglitz: It WAS the economists, stupid!
Economist Joseph Stiglitz seems a politician’s economist. Unlike those economists that President Harry Truman had so famously railed against with his cry, “For God’s sake, will someone please send me a one-handed economist!” after he had heard one too many of those “well, on the one hand, but on the other hand” formulations, Joseph Stiglitz seems never to have been afraid to say exactly what he thinks about things – and his presentation at Discovery Leadership Summit in Johannesburg was no exception. J. BROOKS SPECTOR listened to the lecture and then spoke with him afterwards.
The persistence of the past in the present
There’s undoubtedly been some improvement in the quality of life since 1994, but it can’t be denied that there’s a certain sense of déjà vu. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Pistorius Trial, Day 3
There are, mercifully, slightly dryer conditions in Pretoria today as we await the commencement of the third day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. REBECCA DAVIS is on hand to bring you updates from the North Gauteng High Court throughout the day.
Platinum strike: The negotiation table's depressing emptiness
Six weeks after the start of the Association Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) strike began at Impala Platinum (Implats), Lonmin and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) negotiations have made little progress. In fact, they’ve stopped. While AMCU has finally shown it’s willing to play ball, there’s no love lost between the union and the platinum producers. By GREG NICOLSON.
Africa Check: A guide to understanding and reporting on opinion polls
Not all opinion polls and surveys are created equal. But all too often news websites, newspapers and radio and television stations fail to properly interrogate them. Just as a single-source news article will lack credibility, so does a news report based solely on the results of a snapshot poll or a survey. Journalists should always question how a poll or survey was done, and dig deeper. Context, additional comment and analysis are vital. Researched by Raymond Joseph and Julian Rademeyer for AFRICA CHECK.
China’s Kunming attack: When the cracks are exposed
After the brutal knife massacre in a Chinese train station on Saturday, Chinese authorities have promised to go after the “terrorists” with everything they’ve got. But it’s not the terrorists they’re really worried about: the real concern is the great crack in the foundation of China’s economic and social development that the attack has revealed. By SIMON ALLISON.
S'BU. ZIKODE: The poor are punished for demanding our constitutional rights
The word 'democracy' has often been misunderstood. It has been misused to legitimise certain projects in a way that is incorrect and misleading. For many shack dwellers and other poor people in South Africa, democracy has meant free corruption for members of the ruling party, a life mired in the mud and fire of shacks, illegal evictions and forced removals to transit camps.