Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Six people were killed and around fifty vehicles set on fire in an attack on a Nato convoy just 10 kilometres outside Islamabad. Attacks on supplies heading from Pakistani ports to Afghanistan are a regular occurrence, but the region around Islamabad was previously considered pretty safe.
Reuters, Al Jazeera
A billion dollars worth of highly concentrated cocaine was seized in The Gambia, along with cash, weapons and a dozen suspects. The two tons of drugs were apparently being trans-shipped to Europe.
BBC, Daily Mail
For the second time in three days a natural gas pipeline in Texas exploded, in another accident involving people digging where they shouldn't have been, but this time two people were killed and several injured (and there were fewer cameras to capture the fireball). This time around a bulldozer scraping together road base material struck a pipeline, causing the explosion.
The little black taffeta dress that (the then still) Diana Spencer wore on her first outing as the fiancee of Prince Charles – to the outrage of courtiers – sold for £192,000 on auction, nearly four times the predicted maximum. The buyer, Chile's Museo de la Moda, promised to eventually donate it back to the UK royal family.
Remember that bracelet Lindsay Lohan was ordered to wear, the one that monitors whether she had been drinking? It has cost her $100,000. Lohan's bracelet sent out an alert some time after the MTV Movie Awards, telling authorities she had consumed alcohol. As a result her bail payment was forfeited, and she has to pay new bail of $200,000. She has already denied the violation, and blamed it all on the media.
LA Times, AFP
Around mid-day Bafana Bafana will start the first of its victory parades, rolling through the streets of Sandton in an open-top bus while adoring crowds fling flowers and encouraging words (and perhaps intimate items of clothing) at the players. Some may say it is premature, but given the certainty of victory both throughout and ultimately, it's probably a good idea for them to get some waving-and-smiling practice in before the fact.
Later in the afternoon President Jacob Zuma is due to meet the Bafana squad, securing himself a place in the inevitable movie that will one day be made about the team's glorious 2010 victory, which will end with little white kids playing soccer on a dusty field. Doesn't sound like Zuma will be arriving by helicopter, though; that would be a little Invictus.
The 60th Fifa Congress, essentially a big policy meeting for the federation, opens later this afternoon. It'll focus more on 2014 than this tournament, but there'll also be the usual politics, and dirty politics at that, which we've come to expect from Fifaland. With leaks aplenty this would have been a big story, except for that little soccer tournament starting at the end of the week, which will kinda overshadow everything else.
The legal battles between various parts of that formerly promising political party, whatsitsname, you know, something about People, continue of course. But another congress we've all forgotten about is also facing breakaway issues. A Cape Town court will apparently hear a case about different parts of the Pan-Africanist Congress claiming the rights to the name, with both its remaining members apparently claiming ownership.
The Independent Communications Authority today starts a series of hearings into its proposed mobile interconnect rates which, as we learned a couple of months ago, pretty much singlehandedly keep cellphone calls expensive. It's going to be one heck of a fight, but ultimately it won't mean much, because cellphone operators are about to have their lunch stolen. We'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
There are general elections in the Netherlands today. Three months ago we thought they'd be all about immigrants and Islam. And, indeed, we'll be watching the support for far right parties closely. But with Greece (and the EU) in trouble, it's suddenly all about the money again – though that too will push voters farther to the right than they've gone before.
The Vatican is hosting a world meeting of priests, with clergy coming from all the corners of the globe where it still holds sway. Official discussions will be theological in nature, but behind it all will be fierce battles around the central political issues in the church right now: female ordination, celibacy, and abuse.
Economic data: the may trade conditions survey from the SA Chamber.
Zoom with a view: Google's Street View hits .ZA
As of Tuesday morning, South Africa is finally represented on the Street View map. Who says we’re not benefiting from the World Cup? Now we’ll be able to explore the stadiums (in 3D nogal), without leaving ikhaya.
Then what? The Economist's SA correspondent on life beyond the World Cup
She’s been here for 18 months, and in that time local correspondent for The Economist Diana Geddes has developed a view on South Africa that’s unapologetically bleak. Do we need to hear it? We think, for our own good, that we do.
Crowds fail to throng to Gautrain on day one
The operating consortium will be grateful that it was so boring. On its first day of public operation carrying fare-paying passengers, the Gautrain worked pretty much as advertised. And the small glitches were nicely papered over by the fact that virtually nobody was using it.
Analysis: ANC drops talk of charges against Vavi after crashing into Cosatu wall
As news of the ANC’S top six gagging the insanity of trying to charge the leader of their biggest alliance partner filters out, it’s obvious the decision was not based on kindness or goodness of heart. The reality is that, for the first time in many years, the ANC has met an opponent it cannot beat.
The great global swine flu swindle
Two separate, but equally damning reports published in Europe, show the World Health Organisation may have created unnecessary panic about swine flu, and wasted vast sums of public money by declaring a pandemic, driving governments to stockpile drugs.
John W Campbell, most potent force in science fiction you never heard of, now a centennial man
Chances are, unless you’re a hardcore science fiction fan, you’ve never heard of John W Campbell Jnr. But if you’ve read Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke or Robert A Heinlein you were touched by his influence. Campbell’s the guy who put science into sci-fi.
Yet more primary elections test the mood of US voters
In 11 American states, candidates have made their last frenzied appeals to voters in primary elections that will pick a range of Democratic and Republican candidates to face off in the November midterm general election.
Ivo Vegter: The stupendous Gautrain, a rare marvel!
Feverish gushing about the Gautrain during its media launch drowned out everything I wanted to know. But then, I'm a crabby bastard.
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Main photo courtesy of Elbfoto