First Thing: smoothish ride for the Gautrain; World Oceans Day

First Thing: smoothish ride for the Gautrain; World Oceans Day

Last night: Gautrain rides, BP tightens the screws, Texas fireworks, Mexico finds 55 instead of 25, Australia regrets Barrack. Coming up today: World Oceans Day, Green Passport, World Cup transport plans, BRT settlement of sorts, 80,000 cellphones for govt.

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The Daily Maverick
Tuesday, 8 June 2010

There were long queues outside both parking entrances and ticket booths at the Gautrain Sandton station well before the sun rose, as a crowd gathered to ride the historic first public train to depart. But, despite the crush, ticketing was reportedly going smoothly.
Gautrain on Twitter

BP said it is now capturing anything from a quarter to two thirds of the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico as it continues to tighten up the cap placed over the blown oil well there. That cap will eventually be replaced by a better version still, with the prospect of close to 100% success.
AP, Reuters

Workers drilling holes for electricity pylons struck an underground natural gas pipeline in Texas, causing a spectacular explosion that, remarkably, killed only one man. The blast was heard 30 kilometres away and the burning gas created a flare dozens of meters high for hours before the pipeline could be shut down.
NBC, Dallas News

Mexican police pulled 55 bodies – twice the number thought interred when the site was first discovered – out of a mineshaft in the south of the country, uncovering yet another dumping ground for the victims of drug violence. Only a handful have been identified so far.
AFP, Telegraph

Shortly after the US President again cancelled a scheduled trip to Australia, the gift shop at that country’s Parliament House destroyed 200 commemorative mugs bearing the name of Barrack Obama. The name of the US President is, of course, spelled with a single R.
The Australian, SBS



It is World Oceans Day, which looks like it will soon be a day of mourning for the passing of commercial fishing stocks, even if more grim predictions about the effect of ocean acidification turn out to be hyperbole. If you aren’t familiar with it, do check out the World Wildlife Fund’s local sustainable seafood initiative.

There’s a big launch today for the Green Passport project, a joint venture between a bunch of international organisations and the department of environmental affairs that will basically allow all parties to deny that the World Cup is a giant atmospheric-carbon factory. Because if we can teach people to walk rather than drive after they’ve flown for 14 hours to come and see a match or two, maybe they’ll take that message back home after they’ve flown 14 hours to get there.

Lots of last minute World Cup transport news today. Johannesburg, which has a less than sterling record in managing traffic at all, never mind around big events, has promised to talk about its latest plans for the tournament. At exactly the same time, transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele will be talking about almost exactly the same thing, except on a national level

In not entirely unrelated news, Joburg city is also supposed to provide details on a deal it has reached with at least some of the taxi drivers out of pocket, and disgruntled about it to the point of violence, because of the new bus rapid transit system. Which is unlikely to be the end of that particular mess, but every little bit helps.

It will be the onerous task of communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda to hand over 80,000 cellphones today, though he won’t have to shake every hand individually. He’s just giving them to the police and the health department, which are supposed to share them out. The phones come from the three cellular operators and are part of the tax they pay for access to spectrum. Will they be put to better use than, say, a direct cash payment into the national treasury? No. But such a cash payment wouldn’t make Nyanda look as good, you see.

Economic data: second quarter business confidence numbers from the Bureau for Economic Research.



Mexican fans celebrate for the last time before inevitable Bafana mauling
As their predestined defeat at the opening match of the World Cup draws ever closer, the delusional Mexican delegation on Monday continued to insist that its team stands a chance of at least a draw. Maybe it’s just as well that they get their celebrations over and done with now, because by Friday night it will all be tears

Analysis: Time for Barack Obama to get angry
The US president’s cool, calm and collected persona has worked in his favour, so far. But with growing anger over the BP oil spill, the public wants him to take a decisive lead on the issue – and show that he gives a damn. And if Obama works himself into a state of righteous indignation while he’s at it, so much the better.

Analysis: Will the fake Cope please shut up
A Cope press release on May 30 contained the phrase: “Whilst widespread media comments may seek to cause uncertainty…” No guys, you’re not going to get away with blaming the media for this one. The fact is, Cope is fully capable of self-destructing all on its own, without any help from the fourth estate.

Zuma’s family affairs: how much is too much information?
Unless you’ve been marooned in Fifa-land a few days early, you’ll know by now that our president’s love life is not going to leave our front pages for some time. In fact, we have to ask if the Presidency is trying to keep it there, with the unhelpful statement on Friday that reports about his wife MaNtuli cheating on him were “part of a campaign to undermine his right to privacy and dignity”. That rag is a rather nice shade of red to most hacks, and Zuma is likely to feel their vengeance over the next few days.

Analysis: Just how much of a VIP is the US VP?
As South Africa prepares for the visit of the US Vice President Joe Biden, the man who is a heartbeat away from being the most powerful politician in the world, we take a look at his office and assess its real powers through history.

Sipho Hlongwane: This we cannot blame on culture
As much as many might prefer to bypass the latest Zuma scandal, it cannot be done, simply because it once again shows in the starkest of ways, that South Africa’s uncomfortable marriage of culture, tradition and constitutionality has to be sorted out.

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