First Thing: Monday, 24 May 2010

First Thing: Monday, 24 May 2010

SA destroys Israeli nuclear "ambiguity"; roads need love too.

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The Daily Maverick
Monday, 24 May 2010

Newly released documents from South Africa for the first time provided proof positive that Israel has had nuclear warheads for more than three decades. Minutes of a meeting between PW Botha, then minister of defence, and his then-counterpart Shimon Peres, shows that an in-principle agreement was reached in 1975 for Israel to sell nuclear weapons to SA, though the deal was never consumated.
Guardian, Haaretz

Kingston was placed under a state of emergency and the government urged civilians to flee certain neighbourhoods as open warfare erupted between gangs and police. One police station was set on fire after being overrun by gunmen and several people have been injured, although no deaths have yet been reported. The gangs are trying to prevent the extraction of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, considered Jamaica’s drug kingpin, to the USA.

The US government threatened to entirely take over attempts at caping the spewing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico if BP does’t get it’s act together, as political pressure mounts on the Obama administration. Sarah Palin, a famous pro-drilling advocate, accused Obama of being in bed with big oil, while Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal lambasted the government response that is failing to protect the coastline and fishing industry there.
LA Times, Voice of America

Fergie, the Duchess of York, apologised for being caught soliciting a bribe (from what turned out to be an undercover reporter) of more than £500,000 for arranging access to her ex-husband and UK trade envoy, Prince Andrew. Fergie said she was in financial trouble but that did not excuse “a serious lapse in judgment”. Though she made clear to the apparent rich businessman that Andrew does not accept money himself, and even though he has denied all knowledge of the meeting, the incident is expected to undermine his position.
Reuters, Sky

The US and China started a crucial meeting where they’ll try to bury the axe on issues such as the value of the yuan and a response to North Korea’s apparent sinking of a South Korean warship. If they fail to overcome animosity it will be bad news for both countries, something both sides have acknowledged.
AFP, Reuters



The Mail & Guardian is in court on two different counts today, and both cases clearly show why the office of the Public Protector should be disbanded and the money given to the M&G. In one case, the paper will be arguing for the release of a report on the 2002 Zimbabwean elections, which both the Mbeki and Zuma administrations have tried to suppress because it apparently shows SA culpable in not stopping the banditry of Mugabe and company.

The M&G’s second beef is with the World Cup Local Organising Committee. It wants the release of LOC tender documents, so we can all see how it is spending money. The LOC will argue that it is a private body and need disclose nothing. The M&G will point out that if it walks like a part of government and talks like a part of government, it can be held to the rules of government transparency.

Transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele is holding a summit on roads today and tomorrow, the entire point of which seems to be impressing upon various people that, seriously, guys, roads work better when you frigging maintain them. It’s part of his plan to ring-fence some provincial and municipal income for spending on roads, because apparently nobody thinks tarmac is exciting enough to do so of their own free will.

The communications department is holding a workshop where proto community television stations will get to beg for government money by promising to enhance existing synergies within the local content production industry and telling other, well, lies.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is in Turkey for an official visit with a startling array of ministers in tow: defence, mining, tourism and education among them. Tomorrow he gets to pay homage to Atatürk, and later this week his business people will talk to Turkish business people about whatever it is business people discuss at these things.

The International Telecommunications Union has a conference on development starting in Hyderabad. If all goes according to schedule, the conference will adopt a four-year plan of action to improve communication technologies everywhere, but especially in the left-behind parts of the world.

In what will bring the honeymoon to a crashing halt, Britain’s new Conservative–Liberal Democrat will today announce just where it will find £6 billion to slice off government spending. The new administration has been making lots of promises it simply can’t keep without bankrupting the country, so the response is going to be ugly.

Economic data: business cycle indicators from the Reserve Bank, and a whole lot of tourism numbers plus April insolvency data from Statistics SA.



Soweto and Bulls love each other, but logistics bode ill for World Cup
More than a few whities got a tour of a township for the first time in their lives on Saturday, and South Africa is perhaps just a little more united than it was before that. But God help us if we don’t figure out how to get crowds to and from stadiums within the next couple of days.

The Brendan Jack unofficial, Fifa-unendorsed guide to the 2010 Soccer World Cup

Sepp Blatter’s spectacle is here. Just about. Which means intrepid tourists – unfazed by mild insurrections, crumbling roads, strikes, crime or the myriad botherations that make South Africa wonderfully unique  – are packing. Here’s what to pack, where to go and how to apologise for colonialism.

Muhammad cartoon about Muslim humour failure earns M&G death threats
The Mail & Guardian beat an attempt to prevent it from going onto newsstands this Friday, on a technicality. But that didn’t prevent the death threats.

Attempts to create a Swazi martyr run into a little problem: nobody cares
Not even the death in detention of a campaigner for democracy in Swaziland could rouse South Africans to join a protest in Johannesburg on Friday. As a small group tried to express their outrage at the death of Sipho Jele, they found themselves outclassed by Football Friday celebrations.

Analysis: ANC’s campaign to save its branches belies years of neglect and incompetence
As Jacob Zuma, wearing his ANC president’s hat, launched the “Imvuselelo” campaign on Thursday, there was a sense of an admission of how profoundly the party has become a top-down organisation that may or may not represent its members’ true ideals.

It’s all over in a year: May 21st 2011 doomsday cult rocks on
According to the calculations of Harold Camping, a US-based octogenarian, the world will end on May 21st, 2011. Camping has been wrong about this once before, but on his second go he’s got a global community of believers following him, from California to Japan to Ghana. What have they got planned for the one-year-to-go party?

US Senate passes biggest, baddest regulatory changes since the Great Depression
On Thursday, the US Senate plucked up its courage and passed its version of the controversial financial reform package. It is bold, brave and risky, but then again, tough times demand tough solutions.

Scientists open the secret door to the kindergarten of good and evil
The perennial nature-versus-nurture debate has taken on a whole new tack with researchers from Yale showing that babies appear to have a basic moral code from as early as six months.

Xhanti Payi: To perform or not to perform – the strange world of ministerial ‘performance’
President Jacob Zuma  wants his ministers to sign “performance agreements”. Does this mean they never had any idea of what their jobs were before, or is this just a cheap points-scoring ploy?

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