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First Thing: India wants MTN again; Fifa takes over sta...



First Thing: India wants MTN again; Fifa takes over state

Last night: India stalks MTN, Ozzie water spout, BP saws away, South Korea elections, US owes $13,050,826,460,886.97. Coming up today: Fifa takes over courts, health, Parliament; SA flotilla response; farm attack publicity; (fake) mission to Mars.

First Thing is an e-mail we make sure lands in your inbox well before 7am every weekday morning. Signing up is quick, free, and easy, and you can do it right now.


Trouble with formatting? Click here to read it online. 
The Daily Maverick
Thursday, 3 June 2010

A single report based on a single source kicked off speculation that Indian telecoms company Reliance Communications may want to merge with MTN, despite the recent failure of fellow Indian company Bharti to do the same thing. India’s Economic Times also reported that the MTN board had already agreed to examine a proposal from Reliance.
Economic Times, Reuters

A water spout left the ocean, charged up a beach and destroyed or seriously damaged scores of buildings in the town of Lennox Head on Australia’s New South Wales coast, leaving behind some spectacular video. Police described the fact that not a single person was killed as a miracle.
The Australian, ABC

BP’s latest effort to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico got underway again, after several hours of manoeuvring freed a diamond-blade saw that had become stuck while cutting into a riser pipe. Sawing off the pipe cleanly is critical, so that a containment cap can be tightly sealed onto it.
Reuters, Houston Chronicle

South Korea‘s ruling Grand National Party effectively lost local elections held this week, with results showing its support has dropped by half compared to four years ago and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party snagging more key posts than the GNP. Analysts say security concerns, and the sinking of the Cheonan corvette, boosted the GNP somewhat, but its hard-line stance towards North Korea simply isn’t popular.
Yonhap, Bloomberg

The US treasury announced that on 1 June that country’s debt stood at $13,050,826,460,886.97. Or $13 trillion, if you want the short and politically explosive version. That is just under 90% of annual gross domestic product
Washington Times, CBS



In case you’ve forgotten, there’s a soccer tournament starting next week, and as of now increasingly large portions of the state machinery will be put under Fifa control or subverted to serve its interests. Today the biggest part is made up of 56 courts that will be dedicated to hearing matters related to the World Cup. That includes both true instances of crime, and new-crimes like selling non-approved beverages within sight of Fifa officials.

Also largely given over to Fifa will be the national health infrastructure, such as it is. Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi is due to open the medical nerve centre of the tournament in Pretoria, and provide details of emergency and general health measures for the duration of the tournament.

And the National Assembly will spend the afternoon enthusing a just how awesome the World Cup preparations are, with deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as cheerleader-in-chief.

The first organised local anti-Israel protest since the attack on the flotilla heading for Gaza is due around Parliament at around noon. We’re not expecting it to be particularly big, but that depends on just how much anger there is towards Israel.

Gauging the sentiment towards Israel within government will be easier. Ebrahim Ebrahim, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, will brief the media on what his department promises will be “a comprehensive response” to the flotilla incident. Some countries have expelled ambassadors, some have called for an independent investigation, others have expressed disapproval. Where will South Africa fall on that scale? Somewhere just off centre, we think.

The youth arm of the AfriForum movement plans to launch an “international awareness campaign” around farm murders. Needless to say that will be seen as somewhat less than patriotic, especially right now

Six men will be locked into a tiny module this morning, and unless something goes seriously wrong they won’t be let out again for the next 520 days. The multinational team of volunteers are simulating a mission to Mars and will have to contend with limited rations, delayed communications and pretty much everything else except stuff that can’t be faked, like zero gravity.

Economic data: the May business confidence index from the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.



Eskom turns a profit, explains just how bankrupt it is about to become
The last financial year was kind to Eskom. Partially thanks to the recession and lower demand, and partially thanks to no longer getting screwed by BHP Billiton, it turned a nice little profit. Which is utterly dwarfed by even the interest payments on the debt it is taking on. Something has got to give, it warns, and it isn’t wrong.

Analysis: ANC’s reckless, dangerous Cosatu gambit
Reports on the latest gash in the alliance, over the ANC National Working Committee wanting to charge Zwelinzima Vavi with misconduct, have left many a journalist head-scratching. Are they actually certifiably insane? Like off-the-wall Idi Amin do-lally?

New non-political Taxpayers’ Movement wants more train, less gravy
Ever notice how South African political debate focuses on points-scoring or name-calling, with hardly anyone mentioning the people who foot the bill for corruption and excess? People like you and me who pay for politicians’ salaries, cars, first-class travel and other assorted luxuries? Well, the Taxpayers’ Movement is aiming to change that.

John Perlman, SA soccer’s real hero
When John Perlman was presenter of the AM Live show on SAfm, it was one of the most hard-hitting and influential radio programmes in the country. His famous run-in with the broadcaster’s politburo left him weary of political games, so he founded an NGO. Now the one-time cynic is a full-time believer.

Al and Tipper Gore reveal their inconvenient truth
The Gores’ union used to be perceived as the last marriage likely to fail. Until it did. Perhaps it’s testament to the depth of their relationship that the (former) couple are trying to downplay the inevitable fuss surrounding their separation.

Jacques Rousseau: Thought police, never a good thing
Between religious intervention to keep us safe during the World Cup and quixotic jousting at the windmills of Internet pornography, we could be in more peril from ministers, secular and clerical, than the evils against which they would protect us, lesser mortals. 

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