First Thing: Northern Ireland troubles; back to school

By Andy Rice 13 July 2010

Last night: flood in China, violence in Northern Ireland, US bans deepwater drilling again, Fiji throws Australia out, plane crash with a twist, Bush beaches his boat, Fatso the crocodile is a softy. Coming up: the kids go back to their cages, ANC Youth League revolt continues (or not), Davies speaks to Robertson, Air Force shows off, Greece tries to raise more debt.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

While you were sleeping

Three people were confirmed dead and 56 are still missing after flood waters washed through the town of Xiaohe in the Yunnan province of China. Weeks of heavy rain still show no sign of abating.
Xinhua, AP

Northern Ireland police said they came under vicious and sustained attack in Ardoyne, with Catholic rioters hurling petrol bombs and bricks at them as they escorted a Protestant parade in remembrance of the Battle of the Boyne. One female officer was seriously injured, joining others who suffered wounds in previous attacks. They hope that will mark the peak of this year’s sectarian violence.
Guardian, CNN

The US government issued a new moratorium on deepwater drilling to replace an order struck down by the courts. It said the inability of the oil industry to conduct such drilling safely, and respond to blowouts, made the ban necessary. Oil companies and politicians in Louisiana, who say the ruling imperils more than a hundred thousand jobs unnecessarily, vowed to fight the order. BP, meanwhile, started testing of its latest cap on the blown well in the Gulf of Mexico.
USA Today, AP

Fiji declared Australia’s acting high commissioner to the island, Sarah Roberts, persona non grata, saying she had been interfering in its internal affairs and “conducting unfriendly acts”. Roberts took over as Australia’s top diplomat on the island after the previous high commissioner was thrown out in November, in a tit-for-tat spat with the military government of Fiji.
ABC, The Australian

A light plane crashed near an airport in North Carolina, killing the pilot and slicing off the legs of the co-pilot, who is in a critical condition. The only passenger was hospitalised with much less severe injuries. He is Kyle Henn, the brother of the American aid worker killed in Sunday’s bombings in Kampala.

The World Cup final drew the largest US television audience of any soccer game ever, measurement company Nielsen said, with an audience of 24.3 million. But it didn’t come close to rivalling the (American football) Super Bowl, which in February drew a viewership of more than 106 million.
LA Times, Houston Chronicle

Somebody ran George H.W. Bush’s fishing boat, the Fidelity IV, aground on a beach near his home in Maine in thick fog. And while we wouldn’t want to point fingers or anything, Bush himself was aboard at the time and is known to enjoy piloting his own boat.

Fatso the crocodile showed an unexpectedly merciful side after a man, thrown out of a bar for being drunk, scaled his enclosure at the Broome Crocodile Park in northwest Australia and tried to sit on him while giving him a pat. Police say Fatso, apparently unimpressed by the familiarity, inflicted some severe lacerations on the drunk’s leg, but (unlike the habit of saltwater crocodiles) let him go, and he was able to clamber back out again.
Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun

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There’ll be fewer roving packs of teenagers in the malls, but rush-hour traffic is going to see a nasty spike, because it’s back-to-school day for most pupils.

Lehlogonolo Masoga, the former ANC Youth League chairman for Limpopo, is due back in court to argue that disciplinary action against him should be set aside. Today will be particularly interesting, because the Youth League yesterday branded anyone who continues with legal action against the edicts of its national leadership a traitor, and insisted everyone needs to come back into the fold. So will Masoga fold?

Rob Davies, minister of trade and industry, is speaking to the businesspeople of Robertson in the Western Cape this morning. While he should be apologising to these businesspeople because, not being right at the heart of an urban area, they are being held back by high transport and telecoms costs caused by stupid government policies, he probably won’t.

The Air Force is showing off its new, improved and upgraded Pilatus Astra training aircraft. Expect lots of pictures of it in action, and lots of evasion on questions about whether there is money for the fuel to actually fly the craft for the rest of the year.

Greece is selling some government debt today, €1.25 billion worth of 26-week Treasury bills, to be exact. Why is that significant? Because this is the first time the country will try to raise money since it had to be bailed out of bankruptcy, and it needs this cash to help fund some repayments due in the next couple of weeks. Interest in and on these bills will a good indicator of how the market thinks things are going.

Economic data: June trade conditions from the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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After the World Cup Day 1: It’s over, but it ain’t over
Blatter gives SA nine out of 10; The soccer is over, let the Olympics begin!; Al Shabaab claims responsibility for Ugandan final bombings; Octopus Paul retires from fame and glory; Vuvuzela is the word of the tournament.

Resurgence of the moderates: why SA could still have a positive 2010
It seemed unlikely half a year ago, but the idiots and the racists were defeated – and the tenderpreneurs are in retreat. If we keep this up, the year may actually go down as one in which social cohesion improved. Maybe.

SA dodges the World Cup security bullet. Now what?
The terrorists didn’t make it to the party, the cops managed to keep the more violent criminals subdued, and even a sudden walk-out by stadium security staff caused barely a ripple. South Africa apparently learnt a lesson or two about security thanks to the World Cup. Now the question is whether those gains will translate into improved safety for locals, once the tourists go home.

Violence finally strikes the World Cup on the final day – but far away in Uganda instead of SA
Around the world, an estimated 700 million people peaceably watched the final round match-up between Spain and the Netherlands on television from Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, apparently totally without incident. Except, alas, in Kampala, Uganda. As hundreds of Ugandans gathered in a popular Ethiopian-style restaurant and a sports club to watch the match on large outdoor television screens, bombs at both venues killed at least 64 people and wounded many more.

The Raoul Moat saga: sick society or plain ‘roid rage’?
For almost seven days it seemed that the whole of Britain couldn’t take their eyes from their TV screens. The manhunt for bodybuilder and freed convict Raoul Moat, who’d embarked on a shooting spree, was the largest of the modern era, a live-action non-fiction Guy Ritchie film. So now that it’s all over, what did it mean?

Sipho Hlongwane: Why a good strugglista does not a good governor make
Take Telkom as an example. The entire telecommunications system in South Africa is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong! We have the ANC’s culture of hegemony to blame, as well as the fact that the party was born and raised in the struggle era. It is a liberation movement, and I can agree with DA leader Helen Zille on this one point: liberation movements generally don’t make good governments.

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