“UK minister confuses Zambia with Zimbabwe. While in Zambia, at the funeral for Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president of Zambia. UK minister for what, you ask? For Africa.”
Said journo Sune Engel Rasmussen of the UK’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge’s slip of the tongue. Reminds us of the time we called the South American nation Argentinia on the podcast one morning…
TALIBAN GAINS GROUND
More than a thousand Afghan troops have fled Afghanistan’s northern Badakhshan province and crossed into Tajikistan as the Taliban continues to seize districts from government forces. Reports say the Taliban’s territorial gains in recent days have come mostly without a fight as government troops find themselves outnumbered. It’s sparked renewed concern about security in the country just days after the withdrawal of military support from the US and other coalition nations. The Islamist militants are now reportedly controlling about a third of the country’s nearly 400 districts.
BACK IT UP A BIT…
Under a peace deal brokered last year, the US agreed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban would work with the Afghan Government and prevent al-Qaeda or any other extremist group from operating from the wartorn country. In April, President Joe Biden set a deadline of 11 September to have all US troops out – the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the US that were coordinated from the country. On Friday, the US left Bagram airbase, formerly the centre of its operations in Afghanistan. Germany, Italy and Australia withdrew the last of their personnel from Afghanistan last week. And as the Afghan Government and its forces prepare to go it alone, the Taliban has seized swathes of territory.
SO WHAT’S THE WORRY?
That a civil war will follow. And there are concerns about the resurgence of terrorism originating in Afghanistan if the government falls. Around 1,000 mainly US troops could remain on the ground to protect the US embassy, reports say, but that idea is ruffling feathers… Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said no foreign forces should remain after the September deadline. “If they leave behind their forces against the Doha agreement, then, in that case, it will be the decision of our leadership how we proceed,” he said.
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ZUMA HIDES FROM JAIL SENTENCE
South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma has spoken out against attempts to jail him for contempt of court, likening the judges to apartheid rulers. Last week, the 79yo was sentenced to 15 months in jail after failing to appear at a corruption inquiry. “Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic, at my age, is the same as sentencing me to death,” he says. Set up by Zuma himself in 2018 after a series of scandals, the inquiry is investigating the misuse of public funds during Zuma’s 8-years in power. While the warrant for Zuma’s arrest was originally set for last Sunday, the date has been put back after hundreds of his supporters rallied outside his house, forming a human shield to prevent officials’ access. Zuma is also involved in another corruption trial over a 90s US$5 billion arms deal.
BID FOR SYDNEY AIRPORT ON THE RUNWAY
A consortium of superannuation-related giants have lobbed in an unsolicited bid to buy Australia’s busiest airport. They want a look at the books before committing, but the $22 billion offer amounts to $8.25 a share. That was 42% higher than the company’s share price at the end of last week but in the range of what it was pre-pandemic. That sent the company’s share price up 33% to $7.78 yesterday. If the bid is successful, it will become one of the country’s biggest company buyouts. For their part, Sydney Airport said the offer was too low and that the impacts of the pandemic will be “short-term”, so investors shouldn’t be dazzled. Sydney Airport is renowned for being one of the most expensive for airlines and travellers in the world. That was an issue when we could travel if you can remember that far back…
PANIC TURNS INTO TRUST
Supermarkets have topped the list of Australia’s most trusted brands, according to market research company Roy Morgan’s 2021 Risk List. Woolworths and Coles took out the top 2 spots while hardware giant Bunnings came in 3rd and Aldi 4th. Despite supply issues thanks to the periods of panic buying during the last 18 months, Roy Morgan boss Michele Levine said the retailers still “moved up the trust league ladder”. Other companies rounding out the trusted top 10 include (in order) Qantas, Kmart, Apple, Toyota, the NRMA, and the ABC. As for the least-trusted brands, several companies made the bottom 10 for the first time, including Amazon, Rio Tinto and Huawei.
PACK YOUR BAGS, YOU’RE GOING TO TOKYO...
Just 18 days out from the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Aussie squad has been finalised. Among the 472 athletes, 254 are women – the largest group ever. This year’s team is the 2nd largest – just short of the contingent sent to Athens in 2004. And there are a record 16 Indigenous athletes, including tennis superstar Ash Barty (who has booked a place in Wimbledon’s quarter-finals) and shooter Thomas Grice – they become the first Indigenous Olympic athletes in their sports. In total, Aussie Aussie Aussie will compete in 33 sports, including all 4 newbies – karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
There’s now a dedicated spot for traditional place names on parcels as part of a campaign from Australia Post. Just above the street address, the new line will be phased in as part of NAIDOC Week. And if you’re unsure of some of the notable ones, Network 10 is here to help…
Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn have celebrated 75 years of marriage. You’d get (much) less for murder…
And while we’re talking numbers, the Guinness World Records has anointed the world’s oldest man. Emilio Flores Márquez from Puerto Rico is 112 years and 326 days old, and his secret to a happy life is to have “an abundance of love and to live life without anger”. So wholesome…
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2.30pm (AEST) – The Reserve Bank’s decision on interest rates revealed
4.00pm (AEST) – Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe to brief the media on the current issues
Cannes Film Festival begins (on until 17 July)
Birthdays for the Dalai Lama (1935), George W Bush (1946), Sylvester Stallone (1946), Geoffrey Rush (1951), Hilary Mantel (1952) and 50 Cent (1975)
• the birthdays of Frida Kahlo (1907) and Nancy Reagan (1921)
• the release of Forrest Gump (1994)
• the release of Pokémon Go (2016)
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