First Thing with Styli Charalambous: UN Security Council condemns Syria attack

By Styli Charalambous 28 May 2012

A round-up of global news while you were sleeping and upcoming events for the day, as seen in our daily newsletter for Monday, 28 May 2012.

While you were sleeping

The UN Security Council condemned the Syrian government, in the “strongest possible terms”, for the massacre of 116 people in the town of Houla. Nearly 50 children were among the casualties, that saw government forces unleash heavy artillery on the residential area on Friday. In a rare public statement, Israel joined the USA and Britain in condemning the attacks, which President Bashar al-Assad’s spokespeople have termed a “tsunami of lies” against his administration.

Lloyds of London are preparing for Grexit (Greece’s exit from the euro zone) by reducing its exposure to the region by “as much as possible”. Lloyd’s have put in place a plan to switch to multi-currency underwriting, should the euro zone break-up, causing a £60-billion investment write-down for the insurer alone. 

IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, won’t be breaking plates and sipping ouzo anytime soon after the backlash of her statements made on Friday where she suggested Greeks had avoided paying their taxes and that it was now payback time. Greek politicians were up in arms at the insinuations, claiming that Lagarde had insulted the Greek people and that the truth really does hurt.

Tropical storm Beryl was nearing Hurricane status as it approached the states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina dumping several inches of rain and bringing Port Elizabeth-strength winds with it. Flights and ferry services have been cancelled ahead of the holiday today, after storm warnings were issued. Ironically, many areas in the expected flight path of the storm are experiencing severe drought and are in dire need of the rainfall, proving it never rains but it well, you know, pours. 

Jacques Kallis helped Kolkata Knight Riders lift their maiden IPL championship trophy in a thrilling final in Chennai. Set an imposing target of 191 to win by the home-team, Chennai Super Kings, Kallis shared in a 136-run second wicket partnership with Manvinder Bisla to guide KKR to the win by 5 wickets and two balls to spare. The final was a fine advertisement for the shorter format of the game and an opportunity for King Kallis to shove humble pie down the throat of critics who said he couldn’t adapt his game to the demands of high-scoring T20 play. Kallis scored 69 runs off just 49 balls. How do you like them apples?

The second major tennis tournament of the year kicked-off on the red clay courts of Roland Garros yesterday. Andy Roddick and Jurgen Melzer were the highest seeded men’s casualties on Day 1 with no scares on the women’s side of the draw, besides some of the grunting sounds from centre court. South Africa’s Kevin Anderson was locked in a five-set thriller at 7-7, with Rui Machado of Portugal, when poor light stopped play in Paris. 
Roland Garros

Financial Indicators

Gold: $1,575;  Oil: $107;  Platinum $1,433
GBP/USD: 1.57;  USD/ZAR: 8.32;   EUR/ZAR: 10.48; GBP/ZAR: 13,07
JSE ALSI: 32,992 (-0.16%);  DJIA 12,454 (-0.6%);  FTSE 5,351 (0.03%)
Source: Reuters


Coming up today

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last two weeks, a little court hearing about a big spear continues at the South Gauteng High Court. In a case that has hogged the South African media limelight with more twist and turns than a Beyonce perm, the ANC continues in its quest to have the painting and all its reproduced images declared unlawful, even though it has already been splashed across the pages of the interwebs. Expect more wailing, condemnation of the media and unexpected nervous break-downs.

A host of Pulitzer prize winners will be announced today in New York. The awards honour achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. Established in 1917 by Hungarian immigrant and publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, the awards are administered by Columbia University in 21 categories ranging from breaking news to music and poetry.

It’s Memorial Day today in the USA, a federal holiday honouring American soldiers. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it began after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers but has now being extended to honour all fallen American soldiers. The celebrations come against the backdrop of anti-war sentiment held by a third of post 9/11 war veterans who feel the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars “were not worth the cost”.
CS Monitor

Economic data: Japan unemployment, retail sales & household spending data

Weather for today

Joburg: sunny & cool, 7°-16°C
Cape Town: morning clouds, 10°- 19°C
Pretoria: sunny & cool, 8°-19°C
Durban: sunny & mild, 12°- 23°C
Port Elizabeth:sunny & mild, 11°-23°C
Bloemfontein: sunny & cool, 6°-19°C
Source: Weather24

In case you missed it

The realpolitik of SKA
South Africa’s successful bid to host the lion’s share of the Square Kilometre Array is an incredible achievement and cause for celebration. But a political phantom has lurked over the decision to split the ambitious project between the bidding nations. ALEX ELISEEV goes backstage in search of the illusive compromise.

OPINIONISTA – Israel to African immigrants: ‘You’re not welcome here’
There’s a problem in Israel, and for once it doesn’t have much to do with Palestine. Instead, right-wing Israelis have found a new target: black African immigrants, otherwise known as the ‘cancer’ that threatens to “destroy our country”. By SIMON ALLISON

Love, sex and the fear of a small woman, Zanele Muholi
There might well be a correlation between the defacement of The Spear in Johannesburg and a burglary in Cape Town. In the latter, five years of photographs have been stolen. But they are no ordinary photographs, for they depict naked black women being in love – with each other. By GREG MARINOVICH

IPO lawsuit: Remember when Facebook was the biggest thing on the planet?
It’s hard to be right, it really is, because the temptation to prove to others that you were is tough to resist, and when you can’t resist it you just come across as arrogant and boorish. But we were right. In February, we questioned the hype around the Facebook IPO, and look what’s happened now – a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled investors has just landed on all the rich people’s desks. By KEVIN BLOOM

OPINIONISTA – Malema steals the show, all over again
In commemoration of Africa Day, Unisa hosted the 3rd annual Thabo Mbeki lecture on Thursday night. Four former African presidents discussed the politics of development, but the real story of the night sat in the front row. Julius Malema, in a red T-shirt sporting the face of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, seemed especially to enjoy the thinly veiled barbs against the current ANC leadership. By KHADIJA PATEL

Traditional leaders and the fuel that fires homophobia
As the National House of Traditional Leaders lobbies for gay rights to be excised from the Constitution, and the chair of the Constitutional Review Committee sprouts anti-gay statements, lesbians and gays continue to be subject to violent attacks. MANDY DE WAAL speaks to constitutional law professor Pierre de Vos about human rights and irresponsible politicians who fuel homophobic hate in South Africa.

OPINIONISTA – African art: Divergent views
On the furthest tips of the African continent, artistic expression has found utterance this month, but with vastly different outcomes. In South Africa, the only issue our society currently seems to be grappling with is the incendiary work by Brett Murray. Then there’s the work of the renowned Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla, which has been causing waves in the Middle East, Dubai and now London with his latest exhibition, My Family.By KALIM RAJAB

Cape Town’s vision 2040
Given the recent fallout between the two, you would hardly expect Cosatu to endorse anything the Democratic Alliance does. But the union did on Wednesday, with one major qualification: Cosatu claims it was originally an ANC idea. But whose idea it is hardly matters when it’s this good and so long overdue. By OSIAME MOLEFE

OPINIONISTA: Censor you, Censor me, let’s all Censor together
When his argument fell to pieces defending his presidential client, advocate Gcina Malindi needed time to collect his thoughts. So he came up with a brilliant ploy. He burst into tears. GUSHWELL F BROOKS casts a dry, almost censorial eye over the first day’s proceedings at the High Court.

Zuma Spear Case, Day 1: Chaos in the court, calm outside
The first day of the hearing into the urgent application brought by President Jacob Zuma against the Goodman Gallery and City Press was eventful, though not for reasons anyone would have anticipated. Zuma’s advocate broke down and wept, prompting the judge to adjourn. Outside, the crowd was rather unusually subdued. By SIPHO HLONGWANE & GREG NICOLSON

Kill the bogeyman, Save Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has the inordinate ability to court controversy and whip up emotion in South Africa. He remains the unbeaten crowd-puller who can rally the troops to fight his battles. With internal strife crippling the ANC, a sudden campaign to save Zuma from “racists” and malicious media people who mock his private parts is a welcome boon. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY

OPINIONISTA – Italy: We need a hero
In good and evil, Italy has produced an epic proportion of history’s fruits. The Western system of laws, the Catholic Church, banking, financial instruments, insurance, fine music, fashion and good eating all spread worldwide from there. But now, it needs a hero. By MARIO AMBROSINI

Open Forum: Cultural norms vs Constitutional rights
With the Traditional Courts Bill before Parliament, Contralesa sounding off about gays, and a certain artwork sitting before the High Court, it’s a good time to consider the balance between protecting cultural norms and constitutional rights. A discussion on Thursday about cultural and religious fundamentalism gave an interesting pan-African perspective on the matter.By REBECCA DAVIS

Sport: Onside/Offside
In a new weekly feature, we take a look at who had it bad and who had it good in this week’s sports news. By ANT SIMS


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Photo: People gather at a mass burial for the victims purportedly killed during an artillery barrage from Syrian forces in Houla in this handout image dated May 26, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout. 


Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!

No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.

Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.

It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.

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Our Burning Planet

No Tomorrow, Part One: Gwede Mantashe, climate suicide & the ANC’s 2019 election manifesto

By Kevin Bloom

Popsicles were originally going to be called "Eppsicles" after their inventor Frank Epperson.