AP Interview: Interpreter for deaf at Mandela memorial saw ‘angels,’ has been violent in past
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service said Thursday he saw “angels” at the event, has been violent in the past and suffers from schizophrenia.
Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.
Jantjie, who stood gesticulating three-feet (1 meter) from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.
But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.
The statements by Jantjie raise serious security issues for Obama, other heads of state and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who made speeches at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg’s black township. The ceremony honored Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon and former president who died on Dec. 5.
Gridlock takes brief holiday in the House, grips the Senate amid warfare over Obama nominees
WASHINGTON (AP) — A budget agreement between key Republicans and Democrats. Even President Barack Obama was on board. All without anyone threatening to repeal this or shut down that.
Gridlock, however briefly, took an early holiday in the bitterly polarized, Republican-run House.
But across the Capitol, the high-minded Senate remains in the grip of some of the worst partisan warfare in its history after majority Democrats curbed the Republicans’ power. A round-the-clock talkathon is the result, putting no one in the mood for cooperation. Majority Harry Reid threatened to shorten the Senate’s cherished Christmas vacation if need be.
A Republican called his bluff. “What’s new about that? What’s even threatening about that?” challenged Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.
Traditionally effective prods to action are often less so in the divided, crisis-managed Congress. Lawmakers have lurched from sequester to shutdown over spending, national health care and more in the two years since Republicans won control of the House with a sizable group of newcomers reluctant to compromise. Their approach proved costly — to the nation’s credit rating, to Congress’ standing among voters and to the GOP, which took the brunt of public blame for the partial government shutdown in October.
Health coverage disparities emerging among states embracing, rejecting federal health law
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The slow rollout of a new federal health insurance marketplace may be deepening differences in health coverage among Americans, with residents in some states gaining insurance at a far greater rate than others.
The demarcation may be as simple as Democrat and Republican.
Newly released federal figures show more people are picking private insurance plans or being routed to Medicaid programs in states with Democratic leaders who have fully embraced the federal health care law than in states where Republican elected officials have derisively rejected what they call “Obamacare.”
On one side of the political divide are a dozen mostly Democratic leaning states, including California, Minnesota and New York. They have both expanded Medicaid for lower-income adults and started their own health insurance exchanges for people to shop for federally subsidized private insurance.
On the other side are two dozen conservative states, such as Texas, Florida and Missouri. They have both rejected the Medicaid expansion and refused any role in running an online insurance exchange, leaving that entirely to the federal government.
Shadow of ex-PM Thaksin recedes as Thailand’s crisis deepens, though he remains powerful force
BANGKOK (AP) — Since being ousted as Thailand’s prime minister in a 2006 military coup, Thaksin Shinawatra has been a very busy man. The billionaire bought and sold England’s Manchester City football club, acquired a titanium mine in Zimbabwe, started a lottery in Uganda and acquired a Nicaraguan passport. He met with Vladimir Putin and Nelson Mandela.
But most of all, opponents say, he has been busy running Thailand from afar, pressing to return to power through schemes that have widened the country’s already dangerous political rifts and led to bloodshed on the streets.
His latest attempt to erase a 2008 corruption conviction and come home a free man was a gross miscalculation, igniting massive demonstrations in Bangkok against his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. His return now seems unlikely, but analysts say his wealth, powerful allies and a devoted following among the rural masses mean he will continue to exert significant influence.
And the 64-year-old Thaksin will probably remain the most divisive figure in modern Thai history, demonized by the middle class and urban elites as a cocky, corrupt upstart who challenged the traditional power structure, including the monarchy, and adored as a near-saint by have-nots for providing them with handouts and a sense of empowerment.
“He bought everything in this country. He would even buy your soul,” businesswoman Chinda Dhamawong said as she marched down a Bangkok avenue with thousands screaming, “Thaksin out!”
European Union, spurned by Ukraine’s president, embraces protesters seeking to oust him
BRUSSELS (AP) — Two weeks ago, the European Union’s foreign policy chief was at a summit in Lithuania, wooing Ukraine’s president with offers of preferential dealings with the world’s largest trade bloc. This week, she stood in Kiev’s Independence Square with protesters bent on ousting the same man.
The EU is seeking to bounce back after Ukraine rejected a deal with Europe in favor of a rival alliance with Russia. What had been a policy of courting President Viktor Yanukovych has become a more nuanced campaign to work both sides of the escalating dispute.
The images of Catherine Ashton clinging to the arm of Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk were a stark illustration of how the EU sees a fresh opportunity in the demonstrations that have divided the former Soviet republic.
“The people of this great country deserve better,” Ashton said Wednesday in Kiev.
But Ashton’s gesture also belied the fact that in the geopolitical battle over the direction of Ukraine, the 28-nation EU has so far been outhustled, and outmuscled, by Moscow.
American aviation schools, student pilots prepare for expected boom in drone-flying jobs
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Two student pilots are seated shoulder to shoulder before a bank of video monitors, maneuvering an unmanned aircraft by keyboard and mouse as the drone descends toward a virtual runway in a suburban landscape.
Aaron Gabrielson and Andrew Regenhard, aviation students at the University of North Dakota and self-proclaimed video-game junkies, could just as well be sitting on a couch playing Xbox. But instead of tapping their fingers on a controller, they’re learning to fly the plane and use onboard equipment that includes a camera with a zoom lens.
“Some people argue that nothing is going to be like flying an actual airplane. Granted, looking down and seeing you’re 5,000 feet above the ground is pretty exciting, but I’ve always been addicted to video games, and this is awesome,” Regenhard said.
Mastering the Corsair simulator is the first practice course for the two trainees, who are among hundreds of student pilots nationwide preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet. They and their classmates are eager to cash in on the booming market for drone operators that’s expected to develop after more unmanned aircraft become legal to fly in U.S. airspace, which could happen in the next few years.
The university’s unmanned aircraft degree program, the nation’s first, exploded from five students in 2009 to 120 students last year. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Kansas State have since added similar programs. Dozens of other schools offer some courses in what’s known as UAS — unmanned aircraft systems — which range from drones as big as small planes to 2-foot-wide mini-helicopters.
Celebrity tutors thrive in Hong Kong’s pressure cooker race for university admission
HONG KONG (AP) — When the Hong Kong school year began in September, tutor Tony Chow arranged to have his face plastered on the sides of double decker buses to raise his profile.
For many of Chow’s students, the advertisements may be the closest they’ll ever get to him.
The 30-year-old teaches English grammar to thousands of secondary school pupils, who attend his after-school lessons or watch video replays of them at Modern Education’s 14 branches. Chow is a celebrity tutor in Hong Kong, where there’s big money to be made offering extracurricular lessons to parents desperately seeking an edge for their children preparing for the city’s intense public entrance exam for university.
Global student rankings out last week highlighted the city’s cutthroat academic atmosphere. Hong Kong teens, along with Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, dominated the list compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. American students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading.
Students in East Asian societies have long relied on so-called “cram schools,” but Hong Kong has taken them to a new level in recent years, with the majority of students attending the city’s nearly 1,000 tutorial centers. Academies use brash marketing, dressing their tutors in miniskirts and high heels or leather jackets to make them look like pop stars. Advertisements for these “tutor kings” and “tutor queens,” as they are known in Cantonese, are splashed on giant roadside billboards, on the sides of shopping malls and on newspaper front pages.
A wide-open field hopes for invitations to the Golden Globes’ party
Will the Golden Globes nominations bring focus to an awards season that’s so far been blurry?
The best-picture contenders are many, with early honors being given by various groups to the space odyssey “Gravity,” the slave epic “12 Years a Slave,” the futuristic romance “Her,” the con-artist caper “American Hustle” and the folk tale “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Also in the mix: the finance world comedy “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the Somali pirate tale “Captain Phillips,” the HIV drama “Dallas Buyers Club,” the father-son road trip “Nebraska,” the making-of “Mary Poppins” story “Saving Mr. Banks,” the Civil rights history “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “August: Osage County,” the starry adaptation of Tracy Letts’ prize-winning play.
Perhaps we’ll get more clarity on the season when the nominations for the 71st annual Golden Globes are announced Thursday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana and Aziz Ansari will be on hand to read the results.
Since the Globes divide many of their categories in two, between drama and comedy or musical, there’s a lot of room for all of the above movies — even if some films will have to contort themselves to slide into one category or the other.
Kerry returning to Mideast to push security ideas, peace talks with Israelis, Palestinians
WASHINGTON (AP) — Continuing a furious pace of shuttle diplomacy aimed at securing an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by spring, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the Middle East on Thursday on his ninth trip of the year.
In closed-door talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and Friday, Kerry will be following up on elements of a West Bank security plan, ideas for which he unveiled on his most recent visit to the region just last week, and other points of potential progress. Kerry’s latest visit comes amid Palestinian unhappiness with the security plan and few, if any, tangible signs of progress.
“This is an ongoing discussion,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday, two days after Kerry met with each side’s top negotiators in Washington. “Certainly we expect they will talk about security, as they will discuss other issues.”
Kerry, along with special U.S. Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk, met separately and then together for about three hours Monday with chief Israeli negotiator Tippi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, Psaki said. Livni and Erekat were in Washington for a Mideast conference in which President Barack Obama, Netanyahu and Kerry all participated. Kerry also spoke Wednesday by phone with Netanyahu.
On Monday, though, a senior Palestinian official railed against U.S. attempts to broker a broad outline of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, saying Kerry is breaking a promise to try to negotiate a final agreement in the current round of talks.
Proposal would have prostitutes who are raped or beaten get paid from Calif. victims fund
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California officials are considering whether to change a decades-old anti-crime regulation and allow prostitutes to receive money from a victim compensation fund if they’re raped or beaten by a john or pimp.
Under the current system, those harmed in violent crimes can be paid for medical costs and related expenses, but prostitutes are excluded because their activities are illegal.
California is the only state in the nation with such a provision, said Jon Myers, deputy executive officer of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.
“We’re kind of all alone on that,” he said. “The idea, back in the late ’90s, was to get tougher on crime.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and organizations representing sex trade workers want the rules changed.
Article source: http://www.kansas.com/2013/12/11/3173760/ap-news-in-brief-at-558-pm-est.html