First Thing with Simon Williamson: Romney clinches GOP nomination

By Simon Williamson 30 May 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012. 

The Republican race for the US presidential nomination ended in Texas on Tuesday when Mitt Romney passed the required 1,144 delegates, awarded by state, securing his passage as the nominee. With 87% of Texan precincts reporting, Romney held 69% of the vote ahead of Ron Paul in second place with just over 11%. The more competitive primary race in the state is to choose the Republican candidate to take the place of retiring senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a moderate Republican – her seat is being contested by the not-uncommon battle between establishment and Tea Party Republicans. The senate race was too close to call at the time of writing.

Tunisian judges began striking on Tuesday in protest against the mass sacking of 81 magistrates who were allegedly buddy-buddy with the previous regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The protesters said they will continue to strike until all of the judges are re-hired – which means Tunisia currently has no justice system. The ministry of justice has also made noises to the effect that it won’t budge either. Overall this merely adds fuel to the already fiery population, angry over a stagnating economy and lack of jobs.
Reuters, link

South Korea’s current account surplus took a smacking in April after a slowdown in exports, primarily phone chips and oil products. The month’s surplus was $1.78-billion, nearly half of the revised $2.97-billion recorded for March. Europe is hurting Asia’s fourth-largest economy the most – April exports to Europe fell 20% year-on-year. According to the BBC, South Korean companies are looking at increasing sales in Asia, with Europe’s fortunes unlikely to change anytime soon.

The front-runner for Mexico’s presidential seat, Enrique Pena Nieto, saw his biggest drop in polls, by 2.3 points to 35.6%, a mere month before Mexico heads to the ballot boxes. Although Pena Nieto has suffered the drop, this is only one poll and still gives him a commanding lead (well outside the margin of error of 3.1%) over leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in second place and the incumbent conservative candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, both of whom are polling between 20% and 21%.

Five Wives vodka has been banned in the US state of Idaho because of its “offensive” name. The alleged reference to polygamy is thought to offend Idaho citizens, 25% of whom are Mormon. The church banned the practice of marrying multiple partners over 100 years ago, but some seem to remember enough that a nerve was struck. The hooch is legal in next-door Utah, also densely populated by Mormons, as well as Wyoming which borders both states.
APSalt Lake Tribune

Inter signed Andrea Stramaccioni as their permanent coach on Tuesday after an impressive ending to the season after he took over from Claudio Ranieri, who led a disaster of a campaign up until he was sacked mid-season. Stramaccioni, only 36, was promoted to the premier squad from the youth team and led Inter to sixth in the final standings. Club president Massimo Moratti announced Stramaccioni was given a three-year contract.

Financial indicators:
Oil=$107.36  Gold=$1554.40  Platinum=$1425.15
R/$=8.307  R/€=10.374  R/£=12.965  $/€=1.249
JSE All Share=33440 (+1.0%)  DOW=12580.69 (+1.0%)  FTSE100=5391.14 (+0.7%)
Source: Moneyweb and Bloomberg

The department of environmental affairs will host a workshop on rhino conservation from 08:00 and a media briefing from 13:00, distracting us from real issues like The Spear.

Speaking of The Spear: The ANC and management of the Goodman Gallery will brief the media on the agreement struck between them yesterday – which will be pleasant as both sides seem to hold a different view of what that agreement actually is.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will find out on Wednesday whether he will be deported to Sweden to face charges of sexual abuse. Seven of the UK’s senior judges have taken four months to make the call in this year-and-a-half-long legal battle. Assange, who fled Sweden before investigations were complete, has maintained his innocence.

Bloemfontein: 4°-20°, clear
Cape Town: 10°-18°, partly cloudy
Durban: 18°-23°, 44% chance of rain
East London: 15°-19°, partly cloudy
Johannesburg: 7°-17°, clear
Nelspruit: 10°-25°, clear
Pietermaritzburg: 6°-23°, partly cloudy
Polokwane: 8°-24°, clear
Port Elizabeth: 14°-19°, partly cloudy
Pretoria: 8°-21°, clear
Source: Weather24

News: The real stories, lost in The Spear continuum
As the nation is whipped into a frenzy over Brett Murray’s painting, real life continues throughout South Africa. It just isn’t being reported right now. MANDY DE WAAL looks at some of the stories lost to that painting.

Facing extradition, Julian Assange chooses his master
On Wednesday, after a marathon legal battle, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will know whether he is to be extradited from the UK to face sexual assault charges in Sweden. If he loses, his next stop may be the US, where potential espionage charges await. But Assange already gave up the moral high ground in April, when he threw in his lot with Vladimir Putin. By KEVIN BLOOM

Analysis: Mangaung doesn’t matter. Or does it?
Six months before the ANC’s big Mangaung conference and already the political lobbying, machinations and conspiracies are reaching massive levels of intensity. But does any of it matter and, if so, to whom? By CHRIS GIBBONS

Used goods: Will the new law work?
Second-hand goods tell stories of their own. They speak of the romance and mystery of bygone times as much as they speak of the desperation that drives sectors of the second-hand industry in South Africa. KHADIJA PATEL visited Brixton, Johannesburg, to find out how efforts to regulate the second-hand trade have impacted business there.

E-education: A virtual dream for many public school students
For almost a decade, government has had on the cards plans to bring information and communication technology into the classroom. For a number of reasons, the plans have yet to be realised. As a result, many public school pupils continue to be at a significant disadvantage. By OSIAME MOLEFE

Streeter: Ain’t no pennies from heaven
Penny Streeter does not sound like a woman you want to keep waiting. She employs over 27,000 people across two continents. Her company, the A24 Group, took in £70-million last year. The Queen gave her an OBE. Yet here I am, verging on half an hour late for our appointment, thanks to a pile-up on the M1. By REBECCA DAVIS

Didion: Holding on to the Blue Nights
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: losing a child. Worse, after a while you start forgetting aspects of that child. One of the ways to ensure some semblance of memory is to write about it, and that has its pitfalls too. By DIANE AWEBRUCK.

From exiled to exalted, Marlon Samuels’ second coming
Exiled in 2008 by the ICC for his involvement in bringing the game into disrepute, Marlon Samuels was written off by many. But he’s back and he’s looking bloody brilliant, says ANT SIMS.

J Brooks Spector: An Immodest Proposal
Look, it’s time to move the national conversation forward. So we’re going to suggest something a little less radical than Jonathan Swift’s proposal to fatten kids and eat them to fight hunger. We’re saying let’s have two really shocking things: art education and – shock! horror! – a national, nude-art exhibition.

Greg Nicolson: Dear Spear marchers – Today’s only a start
The reaction to The Spear has brought to the fore the narrative of pain caused by colonialism and apartheid. Those stirring the pot may be doing so for political gain, but we need to be reminded of the country’s brutal past. The challenge is now to balance narratives of past dehumanisation with the injustices of the present.

Ivo Vegter: SKA – Be grateful Karoo residents didn’t object
An editorial in EngineerIT magazine floats the idea that a decision on shale gas drilling was delayed because of fears it might derail South Africa’s application to host the Square Kilometre Array telescope project. SKA supporters ought to be thankful Karoo residents weren’t more hostile, given the fact that its local benefits are probably less than that of “fracking”.

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