First Thing: 28 May 2010

First Thing: 28 May 2010

Maoists strike; Bafana Bafana gets a fan club.

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The Daily Maverick
TGIF, 28 May 2010

A passenger train out of Calcutta was derailed by an explosion, believed to have been caused by Maoist rebels, and was then hit by another train. At least 20 people were killed, and the death toll is expected to rise.
Hindustan Times, Press Trust of India

Jamaican authorities said the hunt for alleged drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke has cost at least 73 lives so far, without any sign of the target yet being found. Residents of an neighbourhood that has effectively been under siege for days accused police of killing innocents, including children, and of hiding the true, much higher, number of deaths.

After a couple of false starts, the US Air Force launched a Delta rocket carrying the first of a new generation of GPS satellites. The new bird replaces one launched in 1996, and now well beyond its expected lifespan.

Sprinter Ben Johnson claimed he was sabotaged in the steroid drug test that stripped him of his 1988 Olympic gold medal and world record. But he also seemed to be claiming that steroids don’t make you run faster, and that others were shooting up too, which seems to indicate he won’t be professing innocence as such.
Track Alerts, Reuters

The Australian government granted itself an exemption from its own rules, under provisions for a national emergency, to allow it to run an advertising campaign in support of its proposed super tax on mining companies. Attacks on the views of parties or groups may not be funded by taxpayers in that country, but the government says an active campaign of misinformation by mining companies (fighting rapacious tax rates) justifies just that.
The Australian, ABC

Bafana Bafana beat Columbia, ranked number 34 in the world, by two goals to one in their Soccer City friendly. Even though the Columbian side showed no signs of food poisoning, jet lag, altitude sickness or other ailment. They boys are now unbeaten in their last ten games.
Times Live, Colombia Reports



Zombie political party Cope will start a big national conference, as planned, but it will now be a policy conference rather than an elective conference. If everyone still agrees to that compromise by the time they sit down and don’t form a splinter party, of course; with Cope you just can’t tell.

The Bafana Bafana fan club will be launched in Johannesburg this morning. How many ways will it find to separate fans from their money, and who will subsequently pocket that money, you ask? Indeed.

The June petrol price will be announced at noon. Petrol will be just under 25 cents per litre cheaper, and diesel should come in at around 12 cents less per litre.

Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and his fellow accused should hear today whether they will be charged with culpable homicide or with murder for the deaths of four children in Soweto during their car race.

Nepal will tonight almost certainly enter a constitutional government that will leave it without a functioning government. The country’s interim constitution expires tonight, and the three main political parties are deadlocked not only on a new constitution, but even on extending the interim one. That, in turn, threatens the peace process that brought Maoist rebels into the mainstream.

Economic data: central government debt numbers from the Reserve Bank.



SA gets Muhammad cartoon controversy (mostly) right
Let’s not be overly modest about it. Elsewhere in the world newspapers and Muslims still aren’t on speaking terms after similar incidents. When the Mail & Guardian met with Muslim leaders, this week, everybody left happier than they were walking in.

John Vlismas on the post-Fifa apocalypse, Sepp Blatter and Helen Zille
South Africa’s smartest and most foul-mouthed funny man is back from London where he took a team of this country’s top comedic talent to play at the Royal Albert Hall. Called Bafunny Bafunny, and not to be confused with our national soccer team (though at times they cause just as much laughter), the troupe is now taking its act to Durban, Cape Town and Jozi.

Cope cuts the red wire and the ticking has stopped – for now
Like an underpaid doctor at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Cope has stitched together a deal that is really a plaster over a gushing wound. But it may hold for this weekend’s conference. If it goes ahead. There are a lot of “ifs” around Cope at the moment.

Motoring – Mazda MX-5 Roadster: Freedom on four wheels
There’s a certain allure to the prospect of piloting a car without a roof down a twisty road: The slipstream buffeting your face, the exhaust note rudely ringing in your ears, the smell of hot metal and burning rubber confirming that you’re giving it stick. It’s the ultimate expression of freedom on four wheels.

Andy Rice: Language Luddites Unite! (hopefully)
For a street-fighting counter-culture anarchistic insurgent, Jerry Rubin had a surprisingly elegant way with words. Co-founder with Abbie Hoffman of the Youth International Party (or Yippies), the 1960s radical movement, Rubin whiled away the hours between anti-Vietnam War protests and frontal assaults on the Chicago police by committing his anti-establishment thoughts to paper, published subsequently as the infamous Yippie manifesto, “Do It! Scenarios of the Revolution”.


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