31 May 2019
During May, we’re publishing and promoting the.news.letter, a digest of essential daily news produced by veteran journalists Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here to subscribe to the.news.letter. Enjoy!
North Korea’s special envoy to the US, who is said to have paved the way for nuclear talks with Washington, has reportedly been executed over the failure of the summit between North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and Donald Trump. A South Korean newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, claims Kim Hyok-chol and four foreign ministry officials were executed at Mirim airport in March. Another senior official, apparently US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s counterpart in the run-up to the summit, had been subjected to forced labour. North Korea has not responded to the claim. The Guardian has the story here.
The ANC will be taking up the ruling DA’s unusual offer to chair the Western Cape legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), it said today. The ANC caucus leader in the province, Cameron Dugmore, said: ‘The ANC has accepted that invitation. We will be taking up that position and we will after the necessary process make an announcement as to who that particular individual will be to take up that critical role.’ The offer is an unusual one in that Scopa is charged with making sure that the government is run in a clean and ethical manner and the chair has considerable powers to hold the executive to account. Might the offer and the ANC’s decision to accept signal an entirely new way of governing?
So what are they smoking down there in the Western Cape? Here’s a clue: the City of Cape Town has set aside parcels of land for the growing of medical cannabis. The first plant dedicated to producing this product will be built in Atlantis, north of Cape Town. ‘The City of Cape Town’s council decision to release this erven in Atlantis is testament of our commitment to partner with the private sector to explore new opportunities to grow the economy,” the city said. More similar projects will follow.
Pravin Gordhan has hit back in the furore over his reappointment as public enterprises minister. Speaking after being sworn-in yesterday, Gordhan said he would be seized by the task of cleaning up state-owned enterprises. He lashed out at the EFF-driven Twitter crusade that is being directed at him, saying it was a co-ordinated fake news campaign similar to that launched by UK PR firm Bell Pottinger on behalf of the Guptas. He said he would not be intimidated by it. The EFF has charged that Gordhan’s appointment was unconstitutional because of the public protector finding against him and it saw it as a ‘declaration of war’. Meanwhile, deputy public protector Kevin Malunga said the finding should not exclude Gordhan from being appointed to the cabinet because there was no criminal finding against him.
You might be wondering who are the 14 ministers or deputies who failed to hold on to the their jobs in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reshuffle. Here News24 lists the ‘dis-appointees’.
Only three African countries have not yet signed a free trade agreement that came into force yesterday, creating a single market for goods and services by removing existing trade barriers across the continent. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be officially launched on 7 July across 52 of the continent’s 55 countries and is expected to boost regional and international trade, although all details have not yet been agreed. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has so far refused to sign – saying it needs to consult further.
Global markets were down today after Donald Trump made the surprise announcement – in a series of tweets – that the US is introducing a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports to pressure the country to do more to curb immigration into the US. The new tariffs come into effect on June 10 and Trump has threatened to raise them gradually ‘until the illegal immigration problem is remedied’. The eventual tariff would be 25% and would stay in place until illegal immigration across the southern border was stopped. Mexico is the biggest US trade partner for goods.
Ben Stokes produced a superb match-winning all-round performance to lead England to a convincing 104-run victory over the Proteas in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup yesterday. After winning the toss and opening the bowling with spinner Imran Tahir, the South African were able to contain, but could never dominate, and England reached 311 in their 50 overs. Stokes’ 89 off 79 balls was vital in giving England a good total to defend. As has been the case so often in the past couple of years, the Proteas batsmen were unable to build their innings and the regular fall of wickets meant South Africa could only reach 204. Stokes was man of the match for his batting, fielding (two run-outs and a spectacular one-handed catch just inside the boundary) and two wickets for 12 from just three overs. The Proteas are in action again on Sunday when they must put the disappointment of the opening defeat behind them and make sure they beat Bangladesh.
The crucial Super Rugby derby clash between the Lions and Stormers tomorrow will be missing some of its stars. However, even without the big names on the field there is enough riding on the result to ensure there will be no shortage of intensity at Ellis Park. The Lions will be without Warren Whiteley, who is injured, and Elton Jantjies, who is being disciplined for ‘breaching team protocol’, but will welcome the return of Malcolm Marx. The Stormers have lost captain Siya Kolisi (knee injury), Pieter-Steph du Toit (shoulder) and Kobus van Dyk (knee). The two teams are eighth and ninth on the log, on equal points, which means tomorrow’s clash could decide the quarter-final position. The Sharks also face a tough task tomorrow when they come up against the high-riding Hurricanes. The Durban side has been the most inconsistent team in an unpredictable season, but a win against the Hurricanes will give them a chance to push for a home quarter-final. The Bulls drew 22-22 with the Blues this morning in the penultimate match of their tour to Australia and New Zealand.
Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow night in a Champions League final neither team should be contesting. Both sides looked well beaten in their respective semi-finals before producing two of football’s greatest escapes to claim their unlikely places in the final. Liverpool overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona and Tottenham pulled off their own miracle in Amsterdam after trailing 3-0 on aggregate. If the semi-finals are any indicator of the final, fans are in for a cracker in Madrid tomorrow. Liverpool are favoured to win, but no matter who is in front, the semis are proof that nobody cannot relax until the final whistle has blown.
Full list of weekend live TV here.
Beatles fans are in for a treat after a 1966 film of the group performing ‘Paperback Writer’ has been found and a remastered version will be released tomorrow in Birmingham in the UK. The Fab Four were performing on the UK TV music show Top of the Pops and were recorded by a fan on a wind-up camera, capturing the 92-second clip which landed up in his attic. It has lain there among a bunch of other 8mm reels for decades. After he recently came across them, Chandler donated them to Kaleidoscope, a group that restores old film and television. The reels also include performances by Dusty Springfield, The Hollies, Ike and Tina Turner, Tom Jones, The Shadows and The Troggs. The Beatles’ Top of the Pops appearance took place two months before their final performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in August 1966.
A security camera video has emerged showing former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi being held up at gunpoint at a petrol station in Fourways, Johannesburg, yesterday. Police have confirmed they are investigating and that Agrizzi was robbed of items valued at R378,000. The Citizen reported that Agrizzi said he believed the hit was linked to his evidence on state capture at the Zondo commission – the hitmen had told him to ‘stop talking’, he said. You can watch the two-minute video courtesy of News24 here.
An American fugitive agreed to surrender if his Wanted poster received 15,000 Facebook likes. Police in Torrington, Connecticut, said 29-year-old Jose Simms has seven arrest warrants and failed to show up for a court appearance. Lt. Brett Johnson posted on the department’s Facebook page that Simms had contacted him through Facebook to strike a ‘like’ deal. Johnson tried to get Simms to agree to 10,000 likes but Simms wanted 20,000 and they split the difference. Johnson thought that getting the likes would be difficult but was doable. ‘So please, “like” this post, and while you’re at it share it, Tweet it, Instagram it, Snapchat it, WUPHF it, (Thanks Jared! Pronounced Woof, it’s a reference to the television show, The Office… nevermind :D), or use whatever other platforms are out there that I don’t know about… Let’s get it!!’ Despite the Facebook post receiving 30,000 likes, Simms has yet to turn himself in.
Today’s winner of the prestigious Friday award is hotshot South African consumer journalist Wendy Knowler (@wendy knowler), for this:
How does a cabin attendant at the drinks trolley signal to her colleague in the galley that the woman in 18D has changed her mind and would now like the chicken meal? If she’s the one on my BA flight last night she flaps her arms funky chicken style.
To which she added:
She wouldn’t say what she does for veg.
And Ms Debs (@debbieflorence) responded:
& beef? Slaps her rump once …
And Michael Benjamin (@Almostconvinced):
I will not ask about vegan. No
Today’s cryptic clue is Saw her husband reportedly becoming a superhero (9)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, Person that’s injured two boys (6), is VICTIM – VIC + TIM (the names of two boys) gives the definition for ‘person that’s injured’.
The death toll on Mount Everest has climbed to 11 this year. Ed Dohring told the New York Times he had dreamed his whole life of reaching the top of Everest, but when he summited (after walking around a dead woman’s body), he saw climbers pushing and shoving to take selfies. If you’ve already reached your NYT’s monthly free-article limit and can’t wait for tomorrow here are two other pieces about the mountain’s deadly climbing season: When photos of the queue of climbers lining up to reach the peak went viral, ABC’s James Longman thought, ‘Oh my God, they are all going to die.’ CBS interviews Jim Davidson, an expedition leader, about what it’s like to scale the world’s tallest mountain and the factors that led to the death toll.
What made us say, ‘Quitters know when to stop’?
World No Tobacco Day, which is today. If you smoke, don’t light up today – and then you just have to not light up ever again. Save yourself and save a lot of cash.
Speaking of struggling for air, which word did we refuse to say but we all thought very loudly yesterday?
We still can’t say it, but it starts with a ‘ch’ and ends with an ‘oke’.
What did we find sobering?
This stat from StatsSA: Nearly half of children in South Africa have never read a book or drawn with a parent or guardian.
What made us sick?
A video of 76-year-old Martha Marais, a patient, who was tied to a bench on the floor at Mamelodi Hospital in Gauteng. Her daughter can be heard crying out, ‘This is my mother, this is not a dog.’
Who is spilling the beans?
SA’s Prime tweeter Helen Zille who is washing the DA’s dirty laundry on social media.
What made us lift our eyebrows?
The Cat getting the cream … David Mabuza becoming the country’s deputy president.
And then what made us watch as our eyebrows lifted so high they fell off our faces and ran out the door?
Good leader Tannie Pat getting a cabinet nod. Good … grief.
What made us go, good riddance?
Bathabile Dlamini being excluded from the cabinet …
Who attacked the president?
The EFF – they called him a ‘constitutional delinquent’ for including Pravin Gordhan in the cabinet.
Who defended the president?
Tito Mboweni. Not from the EFF attack, but from journalists. He ordered the media to stop calling Cyril ‘Cyril’ because he said that’s disrespectful. We don’t think Cyril minds – he seems to be above all that formalities nonsense.
Who did we give the menace of the week award to?
Juju Malema has been on a menace roll. He threatened investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk, telling his followers to ‘Go for kill fighters, hit hard …’ She’s been joining the dots about the VBS looting. He also ordered President Ramaphosa not to include Gordhan in his cabinet. The court dished up some just deserts when it gave the EFF a snotklap and ordered that it pay R500,000 and apologise to Trevor Manuel for defaming him.
And what made us proudly South African?
That 14 of the 28 cabinet ministers are women, making South Africa the third African country (after Rwanda and Ethiopia) and the 11th country in the world with a gender equal cabinet. As Moussa Faki, the chair of the African Union Commission, said: True development can only be achieved if it involves men and women equally.
We welcome your insights, observations and compliments (especially your compliments) so please send them to [email protected]
the.news.letter is produced by Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here for all the gory details about us.
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