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While you were sleeping: 12 January 2016

While you were sleeping: 12 January 2016

Urgent evacuation of Syrian villagers required, Messi the Ballon d'Or winner, and Grindr gets a new financial match.

“I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise It won’t be boring”

At least 400 Syrians in the town of Madaya need to be evacuated. The UN’s New Zealand ambassador noted that many of the besieged Syrian towns’ inhabitants are facing near-fatal medical conditions and must be evacuated immediately. An immediate evacuation, however, requires the blessing of the Syrian state.

Grindr has found a financial match. The popular dating app for men, and only men, has sold a majority stake to Kunlun Tech Company, a Chinese gaming giant. Valued at $155 million, a 60 percent stake is set to be sold off to Kunlun, making for a rather hefty controlling stake. The transaction was ultimately a final attempt at growing the app beyond its current limits after many failed strategies.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has voided all decisions made by the national assembly. This decision was handed down on the opposition-controlled assembly until three banned members are removed. The three banned members are the focal point of internal irregularities involving their appointments, making for a South African level of legislative scandal.

Mexico’s attorney general has confirmed the Sean Penn’s interview of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was “essential” in aiding his capture. The drug kingpin’s arrest reverberated around the world, with much speculation focusing on Penn’s interview and Hollywood’s fascination with rather distasteful characters. Penn, who could well be investigated and charged himself, quipped “I’ve got nothin’ to hide.” Nothing to hide from Mexican intelligence personnel, it certainly seems.

Lionel Messi has been awarded his fifth Ballon d’Or. The FIFA awards ceremony held last night saw Messi win out over rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca team-mate Neymar. Having helped Barca in a historic 2014/2015 season, combined with Messi’s 58 goals, the football legend is now clear ahead of other Ballon d’Or recipients at five trophies. Thus far no word on whether Sepp Blatter was spotted near the buffet table.



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The net worth, in millions of dollars, of the late David Bowie.

Today in 1866 the Royal Aeronautical Society is formed. It is currently the world’s oldest such organisation in the world.

Fact of the day: Ewan McGregor has a brother, Colin, who is a serving pilot in the RAF. He flies Tornado fighter jets and has the callsign “Obi-Two”.


Bloemfontein: min: 19° max: 32°, sunny
Cape Town: min: 19° max: 34°, sunny
Durban: min: 22° max: 26°, cloudy
East London: min: 19° max: 22°, rainy
Johannesburg: min: 17° max: 29°, rainy
Kimberley: min: 21° max: 34°, rainy
Nelspruit: min: 17° max: 29°, cloudy
Pietermaritzburg: min: 15° max: 26°, rainy
Polokwane: min: 17° max: 28°, rainy
Port Elizabeth: min: 21° max: 31°, cloudy
Pretoria: min: 18° max: 30°, rainy
Marius Fransman’s sexual assault charge & Western Cape ANC’s tipping point

The ANC in the Western Cape will limp into the municipal election this year if it does not decisively deal with the serious allegation that its provincial chair, Marius Fransman, sexually assaulted a 20-year-old employee en route to the party’s 104th birthday celebrations last week. Also the party’s recently-elected provincial secretary, veteran activist Faiez Jacobs, who holds the keys to the party’s membership, was also placed on an illegal “precautionary suspension” after an altercation at the party’s head-office in December. Apart from its own internal divisions, the ANC will also face a further electoral threat with the announcement by NUMSA that it will be launching a workers’ party this year. By MARIANNE THAMM.

My days with Aladdin Sane

From the time I was 12 years old, the only person I wanted to meet was David Bowie. Apart from The Beatles, he had something of the late 60s moondust that fell off the music comet of that time, leaving a silver tail in a black velvet sky. It was a true magic that filled us with a feeling that anything was possible in the realm of The Thin White Duke, the Stones, Dylan, the Fab Four and many more. By BEEZY BAILEY.

Fees Must Fall: Reloaded

Last year students promised the fight to improve access to tertiary education would continue and on Monday multiple universities saw protests. GREG NICOLSON was at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Allan & Gill Gray Foundation – a South African good news story

In a political climate that is fraught with problems, crises of leadership and legitimacy, one family foundation is driving a philanthropic effort that has no precedent in South Africa. By SHELAGH GASTROW.

Editorial: We tried. We really, really did.

Back when the Daily Maverick was a sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin, we hoped to build an e-polis of ideas. We wanted to create a website where a bunch of talented journalists, high-profile columnists and regular folk thwacked around the issues of the day. We hoped that our comments section would play a central role in fostering healthy, robust, sharp-edged debate—a town hall in which all were welcome, regardless of the usual caveats. We felt that South Africa could be a lodestar for this sort of thing: our differences would melt away in the fire of intellectual engagement, and we’d forge a new, coherent identity because we were all so damned smart. It hasn’t quite turned out that way.

Analysis: Can third-term Kagame prove his critics wrong?

Like it or not, Paul Kagame will run for another term as president of Rwanda in 2017, and he’ll win. While there is plenty of reason to doubt the wisdom of this decision, there is also no arguing with the status quo. Now it’s up to Kagame to prove that he’s not an ‘eternal leader’, and that third terms don’t have to be a disaster. By SIMON ALLISON.

Op-Ed: Doom-and-gloom predictions of the impact of a national minimum wage are false

The institution of a national minimum wage in South Africa has the potential to raise the incomes of the poor, reduce inequality, and boost domestic spending, consumption, output and growth, all without a significant effect on employment. By GILAD ISAACS.

Tajikistan Early Warning: Internal Pressures, External Threats

Tajikistan’s economy is crippled, with the downturn in Russia adding to the difficulties because remittances are more than 40 per cent of GDP, and some 300,000-400,000 migrants returned home in 2015 with little hope of finding work. The rough economic climate, however, is fundamentally of the government’s making: years of endemic corruption have bled local businesses dry and limit the impact of donor aid. By the INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP.

While you were sleeping: 11 January 2016

Golden Globes sees Damon and Winslett win out. Trump rants again, and Tesla to slow down on autopilot.

Stephen Grootes: Jacob Zuma, clueless in control

On Sunday night our currency slid by nine percent in just one market session. Our leader says that it doesn’t matter, and that the markets “are never happy”. One party has now been in power for over twenty years, amid claims it is growing more dictatorial. People are growing poorer rather than richer. There is an intense drought, leading to fears about food security. Our national airline could be about to be grounded for lack of hard cash. Seventeen million rand has been stolen from the headquarters of our spy agency. How are we not Zimbabwe?

Ivo Vegter: The idealism of a renewable energy consultant

In a sharp riposte to my column on the appropriateness of nuclear power for South Africa, Dirk de Vos makes some excellent points. However, we do not live in an ideal world, and our policy choices perforce reflect this. His vision of distributed, private, smart grids is a wonderful dream for the future, but unlike third-generation nuclear power plants, they exist nowhere in the world today.

Gushwell Brooks: Public debate, a bridge too far in South Africa

Daily Maverick is the most recent casualty in the war to keep the spirit and purport of excellent news and analysis free from hate-speech in the public comment section. On Monday the online newspaper, announced that, like many other online media platforms before, it would be shutting down its comment section and would rather revert to the ancient system of letters to the Editor.

Pierre de Vos: Why free speech fundamentalists are undermining the case for free speech

Free speech absolutists – people who claim to support the right of others to say whatever they wish, no matter what the content of the speech or how damaging its effects on individuals or groups – are endangering the protection of the right to free speech with their demonstrably false, fundamentalist, views. If only for pragmatic reasons, they should reconsider their position.


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