First Thing: China battles its own spill; wireless broadband spectrum delay

Last night: China's own mega-spill, BP chief to resign (or maybe not) as company sells assets, Ban Ki-moon accused of undermining the UN, Yahoo does okay but Apple does great, Australia bans gay alien schlock zombie porn. Coming up today: Icasa on wireless broadband spectrum, parliament hears about SAA and acid water and xenophobia, Gauteng dead-baby report back.

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Discovery Summit
The Daily Maverick
Wednesday, 21 July 2010

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While you were sleeping

The Chinese government said the oil slick caused by a pipeline explosion in the Yellow Sea now covers a 180-square-kilometres patch of ocean, but that it intends completing cleanup operations before it reaches international waters. Many details, including the cause of the explosion late last week, the amount of oil spilled and the environmental impact remain unknown, or at least not shared by the authorities.
Bloomberg, Xinhua

Reports from London suggest that BP CEO Tony Hayward will be resigning within the next three months, even as the company insists he has board support and will stay put. BP meanwhile announced a $7 billion sale of assets to Apache, including $5 billion in cash due by the end of July, to help fund cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
BBC, Reuters

A leaked memo from the departing head of the United Nation’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, which polices corruption within the organisation, accused secretary-general Ban Ki-moon of undermining the office, reducing transparency and effectively weakening the UN. That has brought the spotlight back onto instances of corruption, such as the oil-for-food program, and at least one US politician is now calling for that country to withhold money from the UN unless it reforms.

Yahoo, which owned the interweb before Google came along, reported a 51% increase in net profits over its second quarter even though revenues increased only 2% to $1.6 billion. Apple, on the other hand, reported a 78% rocketing in net profit for its third quarter and said revenues had hit $15.7 billion, which is up nearly two thirds. The company made almost as much money selling iPads as it did Macs.
SF Chronicle, AFP

Melbourne International Film Festival organisers said they would not be screening Canadian schlock gay (alien) zombie porn movie LA Zombie after all, because Australian censors had effectively banned it. The movie is due to be screened for the first time in Switzerland next week.
ABC, Sydney Morning Herald

Discovery Summit

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has promised to talk about the fate of what was supposed to be a near-future auction process for some radio spectrum that will be fantastically useful in providing wireless broadband services. Operators are unhappy with the way the process is running, the communications minister is unhappy with the way the process is running, and the whole thing may now be scrapped, or at least postponed. Which, for the man in the street, would mean higher bandwidth prices for longer, yet again.

Parliament is due to see three different but equally fascinating issues come before portfolio committees. The Water Research Commission is scheduled to brief the environment committee on acid mine drainage, a potentially crippling problem in Gauteng. The justice committee is due to hear from the SA Human Rights Commission about xenophobic violence – in 2008. Though the lessons learnt from those attacks could come in useful round about now. And SAA will have some explaining to do when it comes before the public enterprises committee, with the forensic report into mismanagement and overspending on the agenda.

The Gauteng health department is to release the results of an investigation into the deaths of premature babies at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital. Maybe, just this once, we’ll get an actual assessment that will lead to improvements rather than a defensive quoting of statistics. But don’t hold your breath, especially if you require a ventilator.

Cape Town Tourism has a scheduled media briefing about the impact of the World Cup, which could just be interesting. Especially in regard to how many tourists the city attracted relative to the smokestacks of Johannesburg.

Economic data: building sector numbers for May from Statistics SA.

Discovery Summit


A pre-Olympic bid reality check: You can’t just buy a nation’s brand
Forget the fancy brand strategists, the money-hungry spin doctors and the expensive advertising campaigns. What builds a nation’s image is policy and policy alone. Pretending anything else matters is a scam. More so – it’s stealing from the taxpayers.

Analysis: As Masoga is expelled from ANC Youth League, Malema heads deep into the darkness
In an equivalent of a bully going straight through a restraint order, Julius Malema expelled Lehlogonolo Masoga from the Youth League on Monday. That, despite all the out-of-court settlements brokered by the ANC. And, not content with breaking one deal, Malema is now hell-bent on defying a court order in another.

The Washington Post reveals a sobering truth about America’s post-9/11 counter-intelligence build-up
After two years of research, one of the world’s remaining beacons of investigative journalism, The Washington Post, has started publishing a series that paints the most complete picture of the US’s counter-intelligence network after 9/11. The picture, built using only publicly available information, is far from pretty.

World’s biggest toys flock to Farnborough Airshow
Every two years, the cream of aviation gravitates to the Farnborough Airfield, southwest of London, to hawk, gawk, buy or just bathe in the beauty of flying machines. This year’s show may also serve as a gauge of the global economy.

Lord Black of Crossharbour gets bail, rides again
Conrad Black, convicted fraudster and the man who was once the world’s third most powerful newspaper baron, has just been granted bail by the United States Court of Appeals. Was he wrongfully convicted? Here’s real-life theatre at its finest.

Sipho Hlongwane: Why I put off my 67 minutes this year
On Sunday, we celebrated the 92nd birthday of Nelson Mandela and people across the globe marked it by devoting 67 minutes of their time in the service of the disadvantaged. Yet I couldn’t help wondering whether we aren’t destroying something even more precious than the memory of Mandela’s achievements: A sense of what was sacrificed in the struggle for democracy.

Ivo Vegter: Stop the handouts – end xenophobia
South Africa is not unique. The problems of violence and discrimination against immigrants is everywhere, and everywhere it has the same causes.

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