First Thing: Dutch take a step to the right; World Cup kickoff kicks off

First Thing: Dutch take a step to the right; World Cup kickoff kicks off

Last night: Dutch step to the right, Kandahar explosion, NZ's porn minister, Chicago win Stanley Cup, last ever Big Brother. Coming up today:World Cup kickoff, Caster Semenya redux, Biden in SA, soccer stuff, cellphone VOIP, Nato negotiates, Islam in Oz.

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The Daily Maverick
Thursday, 10 June 2010

The VVD party claimed victory in elections Dutch elections, and will now probably run the country for the first time ever, albeit by way of a coalition government. The incumbent Christian Democrats were humiliated by a decline of nearly 50% in support, making it less popular than the far-right and anti-Islam Freedom Party. Coalition negotiations will begin today.
DutchNews, Globe and Mail

An explosion at a wedding in Kandahar killed at least 39 people and left twice that many injured. Although attacks by Taliban forces are almost commonplace in that province of Afghanistan, they are almost always aimed at military targets. Authorities are still investigating the cause.

New Zealand’s former minister of buildings and construction and a possible future leader of the Labour party in that country, Shane Jones, has been dubbed minister of pornography after confirming he had used his government credit card to buy access to adult movies. He is unlikely to be the only leader to be embarrassed this week; thousands of pages detailing ministerial spending since 2003 were released to the media this morning.
TVNZ, The Press

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the second most important prize in ice hockey, by 4 to 3, in overtime. If the Philadelphia Flyers had taken the trophy it would have been for the first time since 1975, but the Blackhawks went one better; they have not won it since 1961.
AP, USA Today

13 people were locked into a house for what producers have promised (can we hear a “hallelujah!”) will be the last ever Big Brother reality TV show, at least on British television. The cast includes a squatter, a Christian minister and a soldier who lost an eye and both legs in a Belfast explosion.
Guardian, Daily Mail



The World Cup kickoff concert is on in Soweto tonight. Remember, you’re supposed to be boycotting it because local artists have some grievance or another. If you are ignoring that call, like everybody else, watch out for the exact moment when Freshly Ground is finally discovered by a billion-odd people around the world.

The Caster Semenya saga is underway again, but this time at least it looks like there is an end in sight. Semenya will be at a media briefing this afternoon that will also feature sport minister Makhenkesi Stofile and Semenya’s pack of attack lawyers.

US vice president Joe Biden arrives in Johannesburg this afternoon, while his boss has to stay home and glare threateningly at BP and Iran. Biden isn’t doing anything exciting today, but his wife has a HIV-themed appearance scheduled at a day-care centre.

Everyone in soccer is holding a press conference on South African soil today. Look out for the ones by the local organising committee about last-minute preparations, the one by Fifa about its policy conference, and Bafana Bafana’s explanation of how they’ll do their best to go easy on the hapless Mexicans in a show of good sportsmanship.

Internet Solutions will this evening launch a brutal attack on the bottom lines of Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, with a voice-over-IP product launch for mobile phones. This one is aimed at corporates, but its the real start of a war that will eventually mean we’ll all save a lot of money. Except if you are an MTN or Vodacom shareholder, in which case don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Nato is going to come under heavy fire at a meeting that starts in Brussels today. Defense ministers of its constituent countries are getting together to fight it out over proposals to change the command structure and basically make it less of a bureaucracy and more of an effective fighting force. But just about every country there wants to cut military spending to help stem deficits, and Nato is a politically safe place to start.

Yusuf Islam, who is still better known as Cat Stevens because he released just about all his work under that moniker, is due to start a comeback tour in Australia. Right-wing politicians have called for him to be denied entry into the country, and there should be a small mob or two protesting his Muslim ways at some of the concert venues.

Economic data: April manufacturing and production numbers from Statistics SA, annuals from Transnet, and the Q2 building confidence survey from First National Bank.



Sandton loses its mind as pre-victorious Bafana take a ride
In any other country it would have been just a gathering of fans to wish their team well, albeit a very large gathering. In Europe they may have sung a mournful tune, and in the Americas they would have waved flags. In South Africa they did permanent damage to the hearing of passengers in jet airliners passing 20,000 feet overhead.

Analysis: The Presidency, our anthem and unnecessary rules
Come on now, South Africa. We have to get this anthem-singing thing right. We’re going to be doing a lot of it from Friday so let’s ensure we’re all doing it properly. To help us, the office of the presidency has set out concrete guidelines.

High court decision delivers a knockout to Fifa Local Organising Committee
Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail & Guardian, must be feeling pleased with himself these days, and so should local media. The newspaper won not one, but two significant legal battles related to the freedom of access to information in as many weeks.

Malawian gay couple’s beautiful thing, and its ugly consequences
Quite frankly, we don’t care if Steven Monjeza is gay or straight – or bisexual or transsexual or asexual; other people’s sexual preferences are none of our business. But when he starts spewing forth homophobic rhetoric – starkly opposed to his previous stance – then it becomes our business to sit up and take notice.

US voters celebrate Women’s Day
Did the voters in primary elections scattered across the US somehow conflate election day with women’s day? In hard-fought battles in California, Arkansas, Nevada and South Carolina, among other states, women are the apparent victors in several key elections.

Best young fiction writers in the world?
For the writers included on the New Yorker’s 20 under 40 list, Monday was a very good day. That was the day they saw the most respected magazine in the world name them amongst the most respected young writers in the world. For the young fiction writers not on the list…uh, New Yorker who?

Jacques Rousseau: Roll up! Roll up! Welcome to the World Cup!
South Africa missed out on a golden statuette at the Oscars this year, but from histrionic Italians to impassive Germans to the unstoppable army of the Democratic Republic of the Living Dead there should be no shortage of drama for the next month.

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