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First Thing: Oakland riots reprise; more xenophobia pla...



First Thing: Oakland riots reprise; more xenophobia plans

Last night: Russia and US exchange spies, Oakland smoulders, Farinas ends hunger strike, LeBron calls it quits on Cleveland. Coming up today: churches and Western Cape on xenophobia, CAA strike, Currie Cup kickoff, Soweto Carnival.

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
TGIF, 9 July 2010
The World Cup day that was

8 July: BaGhana BaGhana win the World Cup
Blame game continues over King Shaka chaos; Howard Webb to referee final; Rafael Nadal to support La Roja at the final, in person; BaGhana, BaGhana the real World Cup winners (if you fiddle the numbers); Pitch invader used wheelchair ruse to gain access.


While you were sleeping

The ten Russian spies caught in the United States pleaded guilty to acting as agents, and were promptly sentenced to time already served. In return, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pardoned four of his countrymen serving sentences for spying on behalf of the US. The American-based spies have already been deported; at least some of the Russian-held ones have already left that country.
Ria Novosti, ABC

Former Oakland policeman Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting Oscar Grant in the back as he lay on the ground in 2009. The incident, which was videotaped by several people, triggered days of rioting in the city. Several hundred protesters marched in Oakland to protest the verdict, police officers were pelted with rocks and bottles and at least one store was looted.
LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle

Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended his hunger strike of several months and will now be weaned off the intravenous drip that has kept him alive. He had originally demanded that 25 political prisoners be set free before he would take nourishment, but supporters say they convinced him that the planned release of 52 over coming months – and the fact that he is near death – are reason enough to start eating again.
Miami Herald, Catholic News Agency

Venezuela announced it had arrested two people for trying to cause a run on banks by spreading false rumours on Twitter. That charge could carry more than a decade of jail time under a 2001 law specifically aimed at protecting the country’s fragile banking system.
Reuters, AFP

LeBron James, the superstar basketball player whose coy refusal to announce his intentions has kept Americans fascinated for a week, revealed (on live television) that he’ll be joining the Miami Heat team for the next season. In response, residents of his home town of Cleveland burned copies of his famous number 23 jersey and threw stones at depictions of him.
MSNBC, Chicago Tribune



Unionised workers at the Civil Aviation Authority are to go on strike this morning. Air travel will not be immediately or even eventually affected, but if you were hoping to renew your pilot’s licence today or early next week, you’re bang out of luck.

The SA Council of Churches, whose members did some good work helping refugees after the attacks of 2008, has its own plans to prevent a repeat of that xenophobic violence. It’ll be talking to the media about those today.

The Western Cape government has also promised to talk about xenophobia, specifically reports of troubling recent incidents. That region seems to be the current hot-spot of anti-foreigner sentiment – or at least fear by foreigners that this is the case – so the local government response there could be key.

There’s still the little matter of the World Cup to wrap up, but the Currie Cup rugby tournament will start to gather the faithful from today. There are two games each today and tomorrow (though only the one featuring the Blue Bulls really matters), but none on Sunday. Because not even rugby administrators have enough hubris to try and compete with the World Cup final.

The Soweto Carnival starts at Maponya Mall at noon, then moves down to Walter Sisulu Square, where it’ll settle down to music and other performances.

Major newspapers in Italy won’t appear on streets this morning, and most journalists for other media will be on strike today in protest against a gag law being pushed by Silvio Berlusconi. Journalists say the law will limit media freedom to such an extent that they won’t be able to conduct important investigations; Berlusconi says he is trying to protect privacy and the judicial process.



Government anti-xenophobia plan: make foreigners toe the line, cite the World Cup
It is, quite frankly, not an awe-inspiring action plan. The revived high-powered Inter-Ministerial Committee on xenophobia says the best course is to remove the reasons for discontent in townships – by making sure corner-cutting foreign spaza shops don’t piss off locals, for example – and make sure regular policing is up to scratch. Other than that, it believes the only real problem is a lack of education.

Mobile books the South African way
Forget Amazon’s Kindle or the iPad, here’s a novel project that’s making literacy fun and could just change the way teen literature is published in Africa. We spoke to Mobile for Literacy creator, Steve Vosloo.

Analysis: Youth League, waking up from World Cup hibernation
Just as the planet’s greatest show is about to end, South Africa’s big political show is warming up its engines again, with a firm promise that the next couple of months will be interesting indeed.

Motoring – Mitsubishi Pajero Sport: Going everywhere – competently
The Mitsubishi and Pajero brands are synonymous with excellent all-terrain performance. After all, Pajeros dominated the gruelling Dakar rally for many years, until VW’s Touareg broke up the Mitsubishi party. The Pajero Sport, however, is not a true member of the Pajero clan – even though it’s a competent all-roader in most respects.

Brendah Nyakudya: Dumb and Dumber
The dismal failure of outcomes-based education proves the inherent flaw in lowering standards to meet pupils – or anyone else, for that matter – rather than raising pupils to meet higher and better standards.


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