First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

While you were sleeping: 20th February 2017

South Africa

South Africa, World

While you were sleeping: 20th February 2017

Iraq begins battle for West Mosul, Trump backtracks on Swedish terror comments, and Afridi announces retirement.

Monday, 20th February 2017

“We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.”
Amy Tan


The 1979 British satire Monty Python’s Life of Brian was the story of a young Jewish man born on the same day and in the stable next door to Jesus Christ. Later in life, he gets mistaken for the messiah and his mother’s house is mobbed. Brian’s mother exclaims: “There’s no messiah in here. There’s a mess all right, but no messiah.” Like his namesake in the parody, Brian Molefe is seen as the “chosen one” by his political backers. But Molefe’s entry into the Cabinet would only add to the mess, and President Jacob Zuma will be gambling with his own future if he dares to dabble with the finance ministry.


Iraq begins new phase of war against Isis

West Mosul is now quite literally in the sights of Iraqi forces. A new part of the country’s campaign to liberate the region from Islamic State began over the weekend, taking 15 villages on Sunday. The objective for Iraqi forces is to take Mosul’s airport, a key asset that could allow for an expanded reach throughout the area. The campaign to liberate Mosul is now in its fourth month.


Trump takes back Sweden comments

President Donald Trump has blamed Fox news for his own statement justifying a travel ban due to terror attacks in Sweden. On Saturday Trump said: “Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” The Swedish foreign ministry asked what Trump was talking about, who in turn shifted the blame to Fox news, where the world’s most influential leader apparently takes all his global intelligence from.


Extradition order approved for Kim Dotcom

MegaUpload tycoon Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the United States from New Zealand according to a court order approved today. Dotcom’s lawyers have vowed to resist the order to send their client to the States to face numerous piracy charges. For the millionaire, a life of arrest in New Zealand may get considerably more uncomfortable.


Afridi announces retirement

Legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi has announced his retirement from international cricket. Afridi had already moved on from Test cricket in 2010 and ODIs in 2015 but had held on to a small Twenty20 role until 2016. Afridi leaves a legacy of 398 one-day internationals with 8,064 runs while taking 395 wickets.




The single most boring day in modern history. According to a computer algorithm, the only notable news events consisted of an election in Belgium and the birth of a Turkish academic.



Today in 1877 Swan Lake made its debut. The ballet began at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Marie Curie’s research papers remain highly radioactive to this day.



Analysis: Zuma’s Great Gamble




Explaining Mandela’s Strategy in 1994

A column by BEN TUROK


BFN: min: 16° max: 22°, rainy
CPT: min: 17° max: 30°, sunny
DBN: min: 19° max: 23°, rainy
EL: min: 18° max: 23°, cloudy
JHB: min: 16° max: 25°, rainy
KIM: min: 18° max: 25°, rainy
NLP: min: 17° max: 25°, rainy
PMB: min: 16° max: 19°, rainy
PE: min: 20° max: 24°, cloudy
PTA: min: 18° max: 26°, rainy

Financial Data
JSE All Share=52,223.54
FTSE 100=7,299.96


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted