TIME South Africa

We’ll Know the Oscar Pistorius Verdict on September 11

Oscar Pistorius Is Tried For The Murder Of His Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during closing arguments in his murder trial in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pool—Getty Images

The verdict will mark the end of a five-month trial

The judge in Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial will issue a verdict in the Olympic runner’s case on September 11, the Associated Press reports. The verdict will mark the end of a five-month trial that has captured the attention of people around the world and turned an inspirational athlete into an embattled killer.

Pistorius was charged with shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013. During the trial, Pistorius admitted to shooting Steenkamp, but he claimed he had mistaken her for an intruder.

Both sides wrapped up their closing arguments this week. Judge Thokozile Masipa, whose personal story and trailblazing attitude has added to interest in the case, said it will take her a month to review the evidence and come to a decision.

Pistorius thanked those who stuck with him throughout the trial in a tweet shortly following the trial’s closing:

[AP]

TIME South Africa

Final Arguments Begin in Oscar Pistorius Trial

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius leaves court in Pretoria, South Africa in his ongoing murder trial on July 7, 2014. Jerome Delay—AP

In the final arguments of Oscar Pistorius' sensational trial, prosecutors say the Olympic athlete intentionally shot and murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

(PRETORIA, South Africa) — The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial said Thursday that the double-amputee athlete’s lawyers have floated more than one theory in a dishonest attempt to defend against a murder charge for his killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel made the allegation during final arguments in the sensational trial in a Pretoria courthouse, where the fathers of the Olympic runner and Steenkamp, a model and television personality, were in court for the first time since the trial began in early March. They sat at opposite ends of a long bench in the gallery.

Nel said a criminal trial was a “blunt instrument for digging up the truth” but that he was confident of his case. He then said defense lawyers had argued that Pistorius acted in self-defense, fearing an intruder was in the house, but also raised the possibility that the once-celebrated athlete was not criminally responsible, accidentally shooting Steenkamp through a closed toilet door because he was “startled.”

“It’s two defenses that you can never reconcile,” Nel said.

The prosecution has argued that Pistorius intentionally shot Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013 after a quarrel. The defense has previously contended that he fired by mistake, thinking he was about to be attacked by an assailant in the toilet and that Steenkamp was in the bedroom.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius faces three separate gun-related charges, one of which stems from his alleged firing of a shot in a crowded restaurant called Tashas in Johannesburg, months before he killed Steenkamp. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Thursday, some of the state’s written arguments as well as transcripts of past testimony appeared on screens in the courtroom. One section questioned Pistorius’ defense case:

“Is it putative self-defense? Is it an act of sane automatism? Did he have criminal capacity to act? Or was it all an accident as in Tashas Restaurant where he had the gun in his hand and it purportedly discharged itself?”

Because South Africa has no trial by jury, Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide with the help of two legal assistants if Pistorius committed murder, is guilty of a negligent killing, or if he made a tragic error and should be acquitted. The runner faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder, and also would be sent to prison for years if guilty of murder without premeditation or culpable homicide.

Earlier, Masipa told Nel and chief defense lawyer Barry Roux that they had only until the end of Friday to complete their final arguments in court.

“Unless, of course, you want to work on a Saturday and perhaps Sunday, after church,” she said, smiling.

___

Imray reported from Stellenbosch, South Africa.

TIME brics

The BRICS Don’t Like the Dollar-Dominated World Economy, but They’re Stuck With It

World For Money
Thomas Trutschel—Photothek/Getty Images

The latest summit of the world’s leading emerging markets took more steps toward replacing the U.S.-led global financial system. But change will come very, very slowly

When the BRICS get together for their annual summit — as they did last week in Brazil — they always make a lot of noise about changing the way the global economy works. They have good reason to be frustrated. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are gaining in economic power and crave the political clout to match, but standing in the way is a global financial system organized by the West and dominated by the U.S. They’re forced to conduct their international business in the unstable U.S. dollar, making their economies swing back and forth with the winds of policy crafted in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The West has ceded influence in institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only grudgingly. To them, today’s financial system is out of touch with the changing times, and ill-suited to support the world’s up-and-coming economic titans.

So in their summit, from July 14 to 16, the five BRICS announced two major initiatives aimed squarely at increasing their power in global finance. They announced the launch of the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai, that will offer financing for development projects in the emerging world. The bank will act as an alternative to the Washington, D.C.—based World Bank. The BRICS also formed what they’re calling a Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a series of currency agreements which can be utilized to help them smooth over financial imbalances with the rest of the world. That’s something the IMF does now.

Clearly, the idea is to create institutions and processes to supplement — and perhaps eventually supplant — the functions of those managed by U.S. and Europe. And they would be resources that they could control on their own, without the annoying conditions that the World Bank and the IMF always slap on their loans and assistance. Carlos Caicedo, a Latin America analyst at consulting firm IHS, noted, for instance, that the New Development Bank “has the potential to match the role of multilateral development banks, while offering the BRICS a tool to counterbalance Western influence in international finance.”

In theory at least, the BRICS possess the financial muscle to make that happen. Four of the BRICS — China, India, Brazil and Russia — are now ranked among the world’s 10 largest economies. (South Africa, not a member of the original constellation of BRICs as conceived by Goldman Sachs, comes in a distant 33rd.) Yet the reality is more problematic. The BRICS at this point are simply not committing the resources necessary to make anything but a dent in global finance.

Research firm Capital Economics estimates that the New Development Bank, with initial capital approved at only $100 billion, could offer loans of $5 billion to $10 billion a year over the next decade. Though that’s not an insignificant amount, it’s far lower than the $32 billion the World Bank made available last year. The situation is the same with the currency swaps. Set at a total size of $100 billion, the funds available would be a fraction of those the IMF can muster.

That’s assuming these initiatives ever get off the ground. This sixth BRICS summit is the first to produce anything beyond mere rhetoric, and it remains to be seen if they can cooperate on these or any other concrete projects. Despite their common distaste for the U.S.-led global economy and desire for development, the BRICS share as many differences as similarities. They have vastly diverse levels of development and types of political systems, and the bilateral relations between some of them are strained. India and China, for instance, routinely spar over disputed territory, while Brazil sees China as much as an economic competitor as partner.

Beyond that, all of the BRICS have serious economic problems to deal with at home. The new government in India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be hard pressed to implement the reforms necessary to jumpstart the country’s stalled economic miracle. Growth in Brazil, South Africa and Russia has been even more sluggish. China’s growth has held up, but it suffers from rising debt, risky shadow banking and excess capacity. And now Moscow has to contend with sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe over its aggressive policy toward Ukraine. It may soon face even greater isolation as the world probes its connections to the separatists in Ukraine, who reportedly downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 with the loss of nearly 300 lives.

Meanwhile, whether they like it or not, the BRICS will be stuck operating by the rules of the U.S.-led world economy for the foreseeable future. There is simply no other currency out there that can replace the U.S. dollar as the No. 1 choice for international financial transactions. China has dreams of promoting its own currency, the yuan, as an alternative, and has made some progress. But the yuan can’t truly rival the dollar until China undertakes some fundamental financial reforms — liberalizing the trade of the yuan and capital flows in and out of the country. That’s far-off. And until then, China’s massive reserve of dollars forces it to continually invest in dollar assets. Even as Beijing bickers with the U.S. over cyberspying and regional territorial disputes, it has been loading up on U.S. Treasury securities — buying at the fastest pace on record so far this year.

Still, the steps taken during this latest BRICS summit point to what may be the future of the global economy. Though their initiatives may be small and tentative now, they signal an intent to remake the global financial system in their own interest as they continue to grow in economic power. Perhaps one day it’ll be the U.S. that does the complaining.

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius Involved in Bar Altercation

Oscar Pistorius Is Tried For The Murder Of His Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius leaves North Gauteng High Court after the judge ordered that he should undergo mental evaluation on May 14, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Christopher Furlong—Getty Images

His representatives say Pistorius was approached and harassed

Still on trial for murder, Oscar Pistorius had a run-in with a wealthy businessman at a trendy South African club Saturday night.

South Africa’s Eye Witness News names businessman Jared Mortimer as the other party in the altercation, and reported that he alleges Pistorius was intoxicated and insulted his friends prior to poking him in the chest.

Pistorius’s people had a different account of the contre-temps. “We can confirm that Oscar was at the said venue with one of his cousins. They sat in a quiet booth in the VIP section when they were approached by an individual who has now been identified as a Mr. Mortimer,” Pistorius’ spokesperson Anneilese Burgess told ABC News.

“The individual, according to my client, started to aggressively interrogate him on matters relating to the trial… An argument ensued during which my client asked to be left alone. Oscar soon thereafter left the club with his cousin. My client regrets the decision to go to a public space and thereby inviting unwelcome attention.”

Pistorius’s murder trial for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, will resume Aug. 7. The Paralympian says he shot Steenkamp by accident.

Since the occurrence, Pistorius has been tweeting inspirational quotes:

[ABC News]

TIME Books

Nadine Gordimer: 5 Essential Reads from the Award-Winning Author

Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer on June 12, 1983 in Paris Ulf Andersen—Getty Images

Where to start with the author, who has died at 90

Over the course of more than six decades, the Nobel-winning South Africa author Nadine Gordimer, who died on Sunday at 90, wrote more than a dozen novels and many more short stories. It’s a daunting oeuvre, throughout which she often returned to themes related to apartheid. For those daunted by her extensive bibliography, here’s where to start:

Face to Face

Year: 1949

Gordimer’s first novel was still a few years away, but Face to Face — a collection of short stories — was the young author’s first book.

Telling Times : Writing and Living, 1954-2008

Year: 2010

Telling Times wasn’t Gordimer’s last book (in 2012, her novel No Time Like the Present was published) but it’s the place to look for Gordimer’s nonfiction. The compendium of a half-century of work ranges from autobiography and travelogue to reflections on South African history and the great leaders of her time. The New York Times review of the book said that, even though a collection so vast is bound to have ups and downs, the work “reveals the power of ‘engagement,’ in the broad and humane sense.”

Burger’s Daughter

Year: 1979

One of her best-known works, Burger’s Daughter concerns the life of a young daughter of South African anti-apartheid activists and how politics affects the personal. Along with A World of Strangers and The Late Bourgeois World, it’s one of the three Gordimer works banned by the South African government; Burger’s Daughter was the subject of a 1980 book about that nation’s censorship practices. Gordimer later said that she wasn’t surprised the book was banned, but that “if you are a writer you must write what you see.”

The Conservationist:

Year: 1974

Gordimer won the Booker Prize — one of literature’s most prestigious — for this novel, about a rich South African man who buys a farm in order to find meaning in his life. The work was later shortlisted for the extra-prestigious “Best of the Booker” prize.

Loot

Year: 2003 for the collection of the same name; the story is copyright 1999.

For those who want to read her work right away, this is the way to go: the short story “Loot” is available for free on the Nobel website.

TIME South Africa

Leaked Video Shows Pistorius Re-enact Events of Girlfriend’s Killing

Video commissioned by athlete's legal team shows him going through the motions of what he says happened that night

+ READ ARTICLE

Video footage of Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius re-enacting the events that he says led to the shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013 were broadcast by Australia’s Channel 7 on Sunday.

In the video, commissioned by the athlete’s legal team, Pistorius shows how he moved through the house without his prosthetics while carrying a gun. He has said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder before shooting her four times with a 9-mm pistol through the bathroom door, the Hamilton Spectator reports.

The 27-year-old athlete’s sister, Aimee, acts a body double for Steenkamp, and Pistorius is seen picking her up and carrying her as he said he did with Steenkamp’s body the night she died.

Filmed in Pistorius’ uncle’s house (the actual shooting occurred at Pistorius’ own home), the video was created by Cleveland-based forensic animation firm the Evidence Room. Pistorius’ lawyers say the footage was obtained illegally by Channel 7.

“We wish to make it very clear that the material that has been aired was obtained illegally and in breach of the non-disclosure agreement with the Evidence Room,” said one of Pistorius’ lawyers, Brian Webber, in a statement Sunday.

Martin Hood, a South African criminal lawyer, told the Spectator the video could be damaging to Pistorius, as it shows that he is more mobile without his prosthetics than his defense team has suggested.

The prosecution claims Pistorius shot Steenkamp following a heated argument. If Pistorius is found guilty of premeditated murder, he could face up to 25 years in jail.

[Hamilton Spectator]

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius at Risk of Suicide, Psychologist Says

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria, on July 2, 2014.
Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria, on July 2, 2014. Gianluigi Guercia—AFP/Getty Images

After a month of psychiatric evaluation, a report claims the Paralympian is suffering from PTSD after he shot and killed his girlfriend last year

Oscar Pistorius is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and could commit suicide, according to a psychologist’s report heard at his trial Wednesday.

The report, which was read out by the Olympic athlete’s defense lawyer Barry Roux, claimed he was traumatized by the death of the girlfriend he claims he accidentally killed, the BBC reports. Pistorius was charged with Steenkamp’s murder after he repeatedly shot her on Feb. 14, 2013. The athlete claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

“The degree of anxiety and depression that is present is significant, he is also mourning the loss of Miss Steenkamp,” Roux read out. “Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risk for suicide.” This new report follows one heard by the court Monday that said Pistorius wasn’t suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing.

The prosecution, led by Gerrie Nel, has alleged that double-amputee Pistorius deliberately shot the model and law graduate after the couple had an argument.

Neither prosecution nor defense has challenged this second report as both sides can use it to their advantage. The prosecution, led by Gerrie Nel said the report shows Pistorius can recognize right and wrong and so can be held responsible for his actions.

Roux said the report, a culmination of a month of psychiatric evaluation, showed Pistorius had a history of feeling insecure, in part because of his reliance on prosthetic legs. It also found no signs of narcissism or explosive rage that can characterize abusive men, he said.

Pistorius has denied the murder charge. If convicted he faces a minimum jail sentence of 25 years.

[BBC]

 

TIME South Africa

Psych Eval Rules Pistorius Wasn’t Mentally Ill When He Shot His Girlfriend

Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial has resumed.

+ READ ARTICLE

A psychiatric evaluation has determined that former Paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius was mentally capable when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

The high-profile murder trial in South Africa will resume after a month-long break, which allowed the assessment to take place.

The new development is a blow for the 27-year-old’s legal team, as it undermines earlier expert testimony for the defense that an anxiety disorder may have affected their client’s actions that night.

If convicted, Pistorius could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.

TIME

Here’s How 9 Other Countries Celebrate Father’s Day

People around the world observe Father's Day.

Father’s Day as we know it in America emerged out of the efforts of a woman in Spokane, Wash. in the early twentieth century who believed that that there ought to be a mother’s day equivalent for America’s fathers. The holiday on the third Sunday in June has always taken a back seat to its May counterpart—Father’s Day only became an official holiday in 1972—but it has in fact taken root, in one way or another, in countries around the world.

After looking at how the world celebrates its mothers a month ago, here’s how 9 nations commemorate their fathers:

Brazil

The host of the World Cup will have something to celebrate even after the last goal is scored: Father’s Day is held on the second Sunday in August in honor of St. Joachim, the father of Mary.

Russia

The Father’s Day equivalent in Russia is a celebration that has evolved from a military commemoration to an unofficial tribute to all men. On Feb. 23, Defender of the Fatherland Day, parades celebrate the Russian Armed Forces while men can expect to receive small gifts from men receive gifts from the women in their lives.

India

Father’s Day in India is still an emerging holiday and, by those who observe it, is celebrated in much the same way and on the same day as in the United States.

France

Father’s Day in France is held on the third Sunday in June and can trace its recent history to a company that makes lighters and marketed them as gifts for smoking fathers. Today, lighters are typically replaced with drawings or small gifts. But the idea of honoring one’s father can also be linked to the much older celebration of Saint Joseph on March 19 (other countries, like Spain, still observe Father’s Day then).

Thailand

The Southeast Asian country celebrates mothers on the birthday of Queen Sirikit on Aug. 12—and fathers on the birthday of the widely admired King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The King gives an annual speech, while tradition has it that Thais give their fathers and grandfathers the Canna flower, which is considered to have a masculine association.

Australia

Aussies celebrate Father’s Day on the first Sunday in September, which is also the first Sunday of spring there.

Mexico

Just like it does for Mother’s Day, Mexico puts on more festivities to honor its fathers than its northern neighbors. On the third Sunday in June, though it’s not an official holiday, Mexicans give gifts to their fathers and celebrate with food and music. Some also participate in the 21 kilometer race in Mexico city, the “Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan.”

Germany

Germany does things a bit differently. On the 40th day of Easter, Ascension Day, German men have a tradition of celebrating Father’s Day by organizing hikes and other gatherings—and making sure to be well-supplied with food and alcohol.

Canada

An American import, Father’s Day in Canada is an unofficial celebration held on the third Sunday in June.

 

TIME World Cup

The Best Vuvuzela Account on Twitter’s Finally Back After 3 Years

Breaking a silence since 2011

It’s baaaaaaaack.

Actually, though the Twitter account is back in action, there’s no sign that South Africa’s vuvuzela—scourge of many an eardrum at the last World Cup—is making a comeback in Brazil this year.

But Brazil has it’s own instrument of aural destruction. Behold and prepare: the caxirola.

Oh boy.

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