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24 April 2014 06:30 (South Africa)
The Daily Maverick's First Thing: the latest edition

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

"Julius, you and I are not "revolutionaries". We both know that. We both shop at the same Louis Vuitton and Gucci shops...For people like us to call ourselves revolutionaries is an insult to history's real revolutionaries...If simply wearing a beret makes you a revolutionary then my mum and all her friends have been revolutionaries for far longer than you."

Patriotic Alliance President (and ex-con) Gayton McKenzie's open letter to Julius Malema has got more one-liners than a marketing executive's party. Read it before, during and after work. Your mood will thank you.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

While you were sleeping

It took all of a minute for a Kansas judge to grant a name change application allowing the former intelligence analyst and WikiLeaks informant Bradley Manning to be formally recognised as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence for distributing classified US government information. Although the ruling will result in name changes on Manning's record, it will not compel the military to treat her as a woman - something they have consistently refused to do, despite her requests. There are consequently no plans being made to transfer her from her all-male detention facility to a prison with a woman's unit. In a written statement, Manning said "Hopefully today’s name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we trans people exist everywhere in America today, and that we must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are."

While the world searches for signs of the wreckage of flight MH370 and for answers in the sunken Korean ferry, another mystery is proving easier to bring to the surface. The wreckage of City of Chester - a 19th century steamboat that sank after a collision in the San Francisco Bay - has been found near the Golden Gate Bridge, officials have confirmed. Researchers used sonar to locate the ship, which was encased in mud in waters about 66 metres deep. "We were incredibly excited," said science technician Laura Pagano, who was involved with the sonar scanning. "I think we all stood up and cheered." The wreck had been lost for more than a century and, although its discovery has historical value, there are no plans to raise the steamboat from its watery resting place. Let's hope our modern-day wreck hunt doesn't take 125 years. 

It's been a good start to the year for Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook profits have nearly tripled to $642 million for the first quarter. Sales during this period reached $2.5 billion, up 72% from last year. Compare that to Apple's story: they've reported healthy sales figures of $45.6bn...but that amounts to only a 5% rise from 2013. Still, we'd probably take Apple's $10.2bn profit any day. Sorry Mark, you've taken a healthy bite out of the market, but we still like them apples. 
Sky, USA Today

Real Madrid have edged closer to the Champion's League final, with a 1-0 home victory over defending champions Bayern Munich overnight. Karim Benzema struck after only 19 minutes after a smooth bit of Real teamwork on the counterattack. Real will have to make their slender single goal advantage work for them next week when they face Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said: "We need everything in the second leg; sacrifice, courage, quality. We have a small advantage but nobody knows what will happen."

Financial indicators:
Oil=$109.2  Gold=$1284.15  Platinum=$1405
R/$=10.59  R/€=14.63  R/£=17.77  €/$=1.38
JSE All Share=48 647.62 (+0.01%)  DOW=16 501.65 (-0.08%)  FTSE=6 674.74 (-0.11%)
Sources: Bloomberg

It's a big day in Parliament: The Nkandla ad hoc committee holds its first meeting. Keep the coffee flowing (it's cheaper than the gravy train). 

Hello number crunchers: the SA Reserve Bank releases the April 2014 Financial Stability Review in Johannesburg this morning, followed by Stats SA releasing the March PPI.

Feel like a spot of activism? We have two demonstrations going on today: retired Transnet employees protest over their pension payments at 8am in Pretoria andenvironmentalists protest Anglo American's coal-fired power station in Johannesburg at 10am. 

Catch our very own AU chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as she delivers a noon lecture on the role of research universities in the development of Africa at the University of Pretoria.

In Cape Town, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation will be holding an election debate with representatives from the ANC, DA and EFF at 105 Hatfield Street, 5pm. 

Barack Obama begins his state visit to Japan today.

Finally, it's the beginning of a two-day celebration for the annual World Press Photo Awards tonight. 

Fact of the day: Parents the world over have long fought the vegetable battle with unwilling kids, who soon learned that a sprout by any other name is still, unmistakably, a sprout. Leave it to luxury ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs to find the solution. Introducing vegetable ice cream, for sale (at the cost of a small fortune) from May 12 in Japan. The experimental “Tomato Cherry” and “Carrot Orange” flavours will contain half the milk fat of the brand's regular line. Practically health food, then...right?


Bloemfontein: min: 3°, max: 17°, sunny
Cape Town: min: 9°, max: 22°, sunny
Durban: min: 16°, max: 23°, shower

East London: min: 11°, max: 16°, rainy

Johannesburg: min: 4°, max: 19°, sunny
Kimberley: min: 6°, max: 17°, mostly sunny
Nelspruit: min: 12°, max: 30°, sunny
Pietermaritzburg: min: 7°, max: 20°, showers
Polokwane: min: 11°, max: 27°, sunny
Port Elizabeth: min: 10°, max: 19°, showers
Pretoria: min: 7°, max: 22°, sunny
Source: AccuWeather


HANNIBAL ELECTOR: Flappy Zuma—the video game that will swing your vote
Want to get a sense of just how impossible the political reality of Jacob Zuma-led South Africa has become? Why not play Flappy Zuma? RICHARD POPLAK did, and he found that sometimes the tamest game in the world could make Grand Theft Auto look like a nursery school teaching tool.

Lies and damn lies: The Northern Cape (or looking for votes in all the hot and dry places)
When Gertrude Stein returned to her hometown of Oakland and couldn’t find her childhood home, she famously, gnomically said that there was ‘no there there’. Stein was lamenting the growth and urbanisation of Oakland and the ‘painful nostalgia’ she felt. The Northern Cape is not Oakland; there’s quite a lot of there there and most of it isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The province is, however, poised for a fair bit of change and a clump of new investments in mining and energy. Is its political landscape facing a similar reconfiguration? By PAUL BERKOWITZ.

Analysis: South African media on World Press Freedom Day 2014
As we approach World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, it’s worth reflecting on how we are doing as a country in the press freedom stakes, relative to other countries but also with regard to whether we’ve improved or digressed within the past few years. All things considered, it does not look good. By JULIE REID.

Cents and Invisibility – the new debate about power, inequality and money
A new book by a French economist and a nearly-book length report by two American political scientists, the first on who controls the wealth of the world and the second why the powerful are, well, powerful, have catapulted into the limelight in both academic and public discourse on who runs what and why. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a first look at this evolving debate.

‘It’s not good at all’: SA's unemployed speak out
In February 2014, the South African job market lost 118,397 jobs. According to the Adcorp Employment Index, it was the largest monthly loss in almost three years. While unemployment is rife, citizens battle to understand why there are no jobs. RA’EESA PATHER reports for SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014 from Cape Town.

GROUNDUP: ‘We are the whipping boys’ – Khayelitsha cops
While the Marikana hearings drift through the doldrums in Rustenberg, at Khayelitsha’s Lookout Hill another commission into police failings is cautiously gathering momentum. The O’Regan-Pikoli Commission of Inquiry is a timely and consolatory reminder of the judicial efficiency South Africa is capable of. By Richard Conyngham for GROUNDUP.

Yaya or no-no? A call for a little African football appreciation
Yaya Toure caused a storm in a teacup this week when he told the BBC’s Football Focus he didn’t think African players received enough recognition. But his comments were mostly taken out of context and spoke more of the desire to prove that Africa – and its players – were on the map and could compete with the best players in the world. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

PIERRE DE VOS: Elections: How can we level the playing field?
In a constitutional democracy, a representative institution (like a legislature) is said to gain its legitimacy through a free and fair election (and the election campaign, which precedes it) that ultimately determines the composition of the legislature. However, it is far from clear that an election in a modern democracy in a capitalist state can ever be completely free and fair.

MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Wine and status: Fashion, performance, and other shifting markers
The fine wine scene in South Africa is remarkably dynamic: most of the names which twenty years ago were front-of-mind have been replaced by relative newcomers, a function as much of a fascination with the new as it is a measure of quality or performance. On its own this would simply suggest that the market – or at least the consumers and commentators who drive its fashions – is a unfaithful creature. If the power to remain on top is never really with the performer, then status is arbitrary, and there's no real point in making an effort.

Did Oscar Pistorius lie on the stand?
Early on in his testimony, murder-accused Oscar Pistorius was questioned by his advocate Barry Roux about a Vaal River boating accident in which Pistorius was involved in 2009. The Daily Maverick has subsequently learned from eyewitnesses to the direct aftermath of the accident that at least one aspect of his testimony to the court may have been false. By REBECCA DAVIS.

The little Nkandla ad hoc committee that could – but most certainly won’t
As the election day approaches, it is not the last-minute rush of activity by political parties which will take centre stage, but rather what the 12-person Parliamentary ad hoc committee does when they consider President Jacob Zuma’s response to the Public Protector’s report on the upgrade to his Nkandla residence. The problem, of course, is: what exactly is the president’s response to the report? The opposition wants Zuma to be subpoenaed before the committee; the ANC probably knows this will be political suicide days before the polls. While there will be fierce resistance to any further damage to the ANC, Nkandla will continue to haunt the party as Zuma’s first term peters out. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

Lies and damn lies: What would it take for the ANC to lose Gauteng in 2014?
Check the question again. It’s not asking whether the party should lose the province, or how likely it is that it will fail to reach the 50%-of-the-vote threshold. It just wants to know what series of events would be needed for this to happen. Whether you think this is an imminent or fantastical outcome, whether the prospect fills you with hope or dread or dismissive contempt, none of these things are important for the analysis. By PAUL BERKOWITZ.

Platinum strikes: Discussions to determine platinum belt, AMCU’s future
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) strike in the platinum belt has now been going for three months. The union was locked in discussions with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin late on Tuesday night. These discussions will determine whether employees go back to work or the longest strike in the democratic era rolls on. Either way, it’s going to be costly. By GREG NICOLSON.

GroundUp: Justice for poor people? A trial that tells it all
While Oscar Pistorius’s trial is one of the most watched in history, the trial of Angy Peter and Isaac Mbadu has been running at the same time. It tells us far more about crime, policing and justice in South Africa than the Pistorius one. By Joel Bregman for GROUNDUP.

Rome: Explaining the city of saints
Hotels in the Eternal City are booked out this week and city officials expect up to one million people to gather as Pope Francis canonises Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday 27 April. The mass which will be celebrated for the canonisations is scheduled to take place in St. Peter’s Square outside the Basilica, where the mortal remains of the two men rest. Thousands are expected to watch the proceedings on big screens which will be erected in Rome while millions more will follow on television around the world. Why are these two men being canonised and does it really have any meaning today? By RUSSELL POLLITT.

Analysis: The Bentiu massacre is South Sudan in microcosm
There are 200 bodies rotting in the streets of Bentiu, a horrible little frontier town in South Sudan, put there by rebels who claim to be saving the place. At stake is oil, and power, and the egos of Big Men who sacrifice others in pursuit of their own petty ambitions. In many ways, the town is a gruesome metaphor all that is wrong with the world’s newest nation. By SIMON ALLISON.

Letter to the Editor: Pieter-Dirk Uys
Where were these voices of dissent against the ANC when they were really needed, when they could still make a big difference a few years ago? A letter to the editor from PIETER-DIRK UYS.

Football: The unbearable lightness of firing David Moyes
David Moyes’ tenure at Manchester United is over after a string of poor results. It isn’t really a surprise, despite Alex Ferguson being the “stick with your manager” type. Far too many unpalatable results has led to his undoing. But to remember him only as the guy who fluffed it when he took over from Fergie would be grossly unfair. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

ONKGOPOTSE JJ TABANE: Dear Comrade Ronnie Kasrils, let's talk frankly
Comrade Kasrils, you have rattled the cage, all right. There is a need to shake the complacency in our movement, I admit. You have a good idea, but it is badly executed.

KALIM RAJAB: South Africa's 15 defining milestones
A few weeks ago, my fellow columnist Sisonke Msimang delivered a stunning address at the Daily Maverick Gathering. Talking about the key events in her adult life, which had led to her now changing her political allegiance, she also painted a sobering portrait of “the dangers of exceptionalism”. Rather than unattainable expectations of exceptionalism, she argued, South Africans would do well to accept a more realistic truth - that as a nation, we are not exceptional. We are neither favoured, nor are we scorned. We simply are.

GUSHWELL BROOKS: Good news for a change - especially for informal traders
Operation Clean Sweep left many informal traders in Johannesburg destitute for weeks. But, in a break with the bad news, these traders have secured a victory in court – and can once again follow the route to productive entrepreneurship.