First Thing: Israel (reportedly) kills aid sailors; happy 100th, South Africa

First Thing: Israel (reportedly) kills aid sailors; happy 100th, South Africa

Last night: Israel kills aid sailors, India seeks Sri Sri attacker, Santos takes Columbia (round 1), Hobbit director quits. Coming up: Union turns 100, Zuma in French fight, fossil gets name, Elders rule, Swaziland protest, Moon future discussion.

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The Daily Maverick
Monday, 31 May 2010

Israel managed to intercept a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza, and reportedly killed at least two of those aboard, though that was not yet confirmed at the time of sending. The ships had tried to avoid navy interceptors and set up a daylight confrontation, to maximise publicity, but could not outrun the Israeli navy. The ships carry dangerous contraband banned from Gaza, like cement.
Al Jazeera, BBC

Indian police are still looking for a suspect – and a motive for what appears to have been an attempt on the life of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar. One of his entourage was lightly injured when at least one round was fired at the car carrying the Art of Living founder.
NDTV, Hindustan Times

Juan Manuel Santos easily won round one of the presidential elections in Colombia, but missed the required majority by three percentage points, which means a runoff election will be held on 20 June. Santos has promised to continue the US-supported fight against drug cartels that used to effectively run the country in the ’90s.
CS Monitor, Miami Herald

At least 73 people died in Guatemala due to Tropical Storm Agatha, most of them in landslides caused by heavy rains. Deaths were also reported in El Salvador and Honduras, and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated throughout the region.
Reuters, Bloomberg

They waited until the very last ball to do it, but the Proteas beat the West Indies by seven wickets to win the fourth one day international. Hashim Amla brought in nearly half the required 304 runs single-handedly.
Times Live, Cricinfo

Director Guillermo del Toro announced he has quit The Hobbit, a two-part prequel to The Lord of the Rings movies, because after two years the project still hasn’t been given the go-ahead by MGM. Peter Jackson remains involved, and there are still hopes that the movies could rescue MGM from bankruptcy. If they don’t get made soon, on the other hand, they could quicken the studio’s demise.
AP, Access Hollywood



It’s the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Union of South Africa, arguably the best date on which to peg the birth of the country. Though it wasn’t a particularly unified or racially inclusive country, so don’t expect overly emotive celebrations or anything.

President Jacob Zuma is in France for a France-Africa summit that reportedly almost got to the fisticuffs stage already. The big point of contention is the African Union’s position that the continent should have two seats on the UN Security Council, with full veto powers.

The anthropologists looking after Australopithecus Sediba (the newly identified hominid species unveiled in April) will announce the winner of a competition to name the actual fossil. Hopefully it will be something as catchy as Little Foot.

The Elders, the latest shadowy organisation to try and run the world (though in a benevolent, new-age kind of way) is having a non-secret but very private meeting in Johannesburg. After which they’ll come out and tell us what they’d like us to believe happened.

But given a choice, we’d honestly rather be a fly on the wall of another meeting between finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the CEOs and chairmen of commercial banks. They’ve been spending a suspiciously large amount of time together, recently.

Local activists are due to start a nine-day picket outside the Swaziland consulate in Johannesburg. They’ll be complaining about monarchy’s suppression of democracy in general, and also want to specifically highlight the start of the trial of Amos Mbedzi, who they describe as a political prisoner while the Swazi government calls him a failed terrorist.

The countries that are party to the International Criminal Court (but not pariah states like the USA) are meeting to talk about a possible expansion of crimes that fall under its jurisdiction. Another area of consideration is making the war crimes part of the convention voluntary, which will give the US one less excuse to avoid subjecting itself to multilateral justice.

A global meeting on the future of the Moon started in Beijing this morning. The  Lunar Congress will spend a little time discussing various national plans for exploration and missions, somewhat more time discussing future co-operation on cool projects like a robotic outpost, and most of its time stepping around the politics of claims and ownership.

Economic data: April money supply and credit numbers from the Reserve Bank, and the April trade balance from the tax man.



Sport through the ages, always more than just a game
Centuries ago, wars were put on “Pause” for the Olympic games. Today, sport is the new battleground as textured by patriotic fervour and loaded with political and ethnic fanaticism. Brace yourself for the coming two months, South Africa.

Rugby sets the perfect stage for soccer to show its beauty
Saturday’s historic final final in the Super 14 rugby tournament – next year 15 teams compete – showed rugby at its grandest and South Africans united as only once before. Suddenly, anything seems possible again.

Sunday Times reflects the world in Fifa World Cup
It may not entirely be South Africa’s “paper of record,” our equivalent of the New York Times, but it’s close enough. On May 30, with less than two weeks to go before kick-off, the Sunday Times crammed itself full of revealing World Cup stories – and in doing so took the temperature of a planet.

The Korean Peninsula: a place that just keeps on giving – in all the wrong ways
News coming out of Korea is increasingly disturbing. On 26 March, the Cheonan, a South Korean naval patrol craft, was literally split apart by an explosion most now believe was caused by a North Korean torpedo. This has not only halted nascent rapprochement between the North and South, but played upon old hostilities – and brought the shutters of secrecy down with a bang.

Cosatu threatens strikes during World Cup, should Sepp be worried? Nah, not really.
Cosatu is furious at the planned electricity hikes. It’s the one issue they really cannot stomach. They’re ready for a big national strike. We don’t know how this will end, but we’re fairly confident the World Cup is safe.

Breakthrough for media freedom in Zimbabwe
One of Africa’s greatest press predators (the one up north, on the other side of the Limpopo) is going to get a lot more local media coverage after the Zimbabwe Media Commission granted publishing licenses to five papers, including the long-banned The Daily News and Trevor Ncube’s soon-to-be-launched NewsDay.

Zapiro bares all on Muhammad cartoon in, you guessed it, another cartoon
The standard response of Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, when something he draws causes a reaction he considers to be unjustified is to publish another, more offensive cartoon. He hasn’t done that this time? Or has he?

Review: The Boys in the Photograph
When stage sets for a musical get more rapturous applause than the cast itself, it can mean one of two things. Either the sets are astonishingly good or the cast is astonishingly bad.

Review: Loud, proud and exuberantly African
Ten years ago “African Footprint” burst onto stage as a lively, lovely musical bubbling over with infectious enthusiasm. A decade later it’s as vibrant and captivating as ever, and so what if I’ve seen it five times already, I still sucked up every minute with glee.

Xhanti Payi: Lies, euphemism and the clash of cultures
There’s one racial generalisation I know I can make without fear of contradiction, and it is that black people consider white people to be less respectful towards elders – at least in the way black people define respect for elders.

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