First Thing: Al-Qaeda’s number three dead; World Cup concert boycott

First Thing: Al-Qaeda’s number three dead; World Cup concert boycott

Last night: Al-Qaeda leader is dead, Lahore hospital attack, Chinese workers revolt, Philippines floods, Quit Facebook flops. Coming up today: World Cup concert boycott threat, no World Cup problems, Bafana World Cup squad, and some non-World Cup stuff too.

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The Daily Maverick
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Al-Qaeda announced the death of Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who has been described by the US as the group’s chief operating officer. He was considered third in command of the global network and probably died in a missile attack by a drone aircraft (possibly along with his wife and several children), although neither side have yet released convincing information on the cause of death.

A small group of gunmen stormed a hospital in Lahore and killed at least four people and perhaps as many as a dozen. It is believed that they intended to either rescue or kill one of the attackers responsible for Friday’s assault on the mosques of a minority religion (in which more than 80 people were killed) who was in the intensive care ward of the hospital at the time.
Reuters, New York Times

Honda offered workers at a joint venture factory in China a 24% pay increase in what it hopes will end a strike there. However, at least some workers are holding out for a bigger increase. The rare industrial action is considered a harbinger of things to come throughout the country, even though a culture of worker activism isn’t exactly well established.
Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg

As many as 40,000 people may be evacuated from villages in the southern Philippines, where severe flooding is threatening to get worse. Roads are already becoming impassable, however, and it is not clear whether the government can find the means to move everyone affected.

Japan confirmed that Australia has formally launched a bid before the International Court of Justice to stop Japan’s whaling programme, as it has threatened to do for some time. Japan called the action “extremely regrettable”, and a small minority of anti-whaling groups are worried that, if lost, the action could set a dangerous and difficult to overturn precedent.
AP, Japan Today

After an outpouring of anger over changes to its privacy rules, wide-spread gnashing of teeth and extensive wailing, the Quit Facebook Day campaign announced that just under 33,000 people had actually closed their accounts with the social network. That equates to a fraction of the user base so small it can’t be expressed without using scientific notation.
VentureBeat, WBZTV

New Zealand uncovered a suspected illegal slaughtering syndicate, at least in part to an incident involving a car, four men and 14 sheep. Police found the bound animals crammed into a single car after the occupants fled it on foot.
NZ Herald, Hawke’s Bay Today



A bunch of unions, (those for creative workers, students, and young hooligan aspirant members of the ANC among them) will be calling for a boycott of the World Cup kick-off concert on 10 June. They’re angry about some stuff, and also some other stuff, and basically don’t want anybody to go and party. To be honest we couldn’t care less about their grievances – but we, and the foreign media, are extremely interested in what threats they may make against those who don’t heed the boycott call.

A little later in the day the local organising chiefs of the World Cup and sworn enemies Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan will totally ignore that boycott threat and again speak at length about how everything is ready and everybody is happy and the streets have all been paved with gold for visiting fans.

Depending on whether you are interested in the politics or the game itself, you may be more interested in the final Bafana Bafana squad announcement. Will Carlos Alberto Parreira have any surprises left, after being watched so closely for so long? Ask us again tomorrow.

Parliament’s communications portfolio is scheduled to hear from everybody involved – the SABC, Sentech, and regulators – with the migration to digital television broadcast signals. Which has suddenly become murky again, with extended deadlines and accusations of conflicts of interest and other unnecessary drama.

It’s the official start of hurricane season in the United States today, so start preparing for reports of storms, their disruption of oil drilling operations, their impact on massive oil spills loitering about the Gulf of Mexico, and maybe the devastation wreaked on low-lying cities.

Economic data: Standard Bank’s residential property gauge for May, and the Kagiso purchasing managers index for the same month.



Happy 100th birthday, South Africa, sort of
A case can be made for wishing our country many happy returns today. Or not. South Africa’s history means there are several dates vying for the distinction of being our birthday or national day.

Cope: the post-mortem
As is the case with many divorces, the once-happy couple, Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa, ended the poorer for what’s happened. Lekota for having been shafted in public, Shilowa for being exposed as a “thief”. But before the party remnants move on, there are some lessons to be learnt from Cope’s implosion.

Dennis Hopper, Hollywood’s ultimate maverick, takes his final ride at 74
He was a supremely talented and brilliantly crazy actor, director, wild man and a consistent discoverer of the attractive side of madness. His creations ranged from genius to banal, from meaningful to just plain awful. But while others dreamt about that fabled “maybe, one day”, Hopper sucked the marrow out of life.

SA’s Nobel literature laureates speak to Europe
JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer remain, by a country mile, South Africa’s most respected literary figures. They both gave important talks in Europe recently – although, for a disturbing reason, Coetzee’s may have been more important.

David Gemmell: Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink
If incompetence among government pooh-bahs were a resource our country could tap into, we’d have no more concerns about energy, water, land or health. But incompetence is mostly the very problem itself.

Sipho Hlongwane: Cope may be dead, but hope lives on
No amount of goodwill can sustain a weak side, and two different teams set out to prove exactly that last week. The first was the Stormers, Super 14 hopefuls who, despite the backing of an entire province of trendy fans, were soundly beaten by the Blue Bulls (curses be). The second one was that political black hole, the Congress of the People.

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