JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- President Obama will deliver a tribute at Nelson Mandela's memorial service Tuesday at a stadium in the Johannesburg township of Soweto.
It was where South Africa's former leader made his last public appearance, in 2010, at the final game of soccer's World Cup championships, looking frail, wearing a fur hat, riding in a golf cart and beaming as he waved to the crowd.
The main speaker at the memorial will be President Jacob Zuma, who has won praise for his gravitas and dignity in the days since Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95, urging South Africans to emulate Mandela's example and to give him a fitting funeral.
The service will be broadcast on screens set up in squares, stadiums and meeting places across South Africa, while millions are expected to watch the event on television. The main stadium is expected to fill quickly, and those who are turned away will be asked to go to other venues with screens.
More than 90 world leaders are expected to...
MEXICO CITY -- Five men suspected of stealing a truck loaded with dangerous radioactive material in central Mexico have been arrested and ordered held for 40 days for questioning, an official said Monday.
A federal judge issued the order late Sunday. The men are part of a ring dedicated to stealing vehicles, the official said. They were arrested late last week.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said four of the detainees confessed to stealing the truck, unaware of its deadly cargo, and the fifth man purchased it from them.
A sixth person arrested with the group was a 16-year-old who was released because he is a minor.
All six were taken to a hospital with possible signs of radioactive poisoning but cleared Friday and released into police custody.
The truck was transporting medical equipment containing cobalt-60, used in the treatment of cancer, from a hospital in Tijuana to a nuclear waste storage dump north of Mexico City. Gunmen overpowered the driver in the early-...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military will fly about 850 African Union troops to the Central African Republic this week to assist French soldiers trying to quell street battles by rival militias in the country’s capital, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Two U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes will ferry the troops and their equipment from Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, to Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, a landlocked former French colony. The airlift operation is scheduled to begin by Tuesday and last until the end of the week.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian asked for U.S. help in a telephone conversation Sunday with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is a trip to the Middle East and South Asia, the Pentagon said in a statement.
“France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic,” the statement said.
The United Nations Security...
FOCHVILLE, South Africa -- In Fochville, a mainly Afrikaner mining town about 30 miles southwest of Johannesburg, not everyone wants to talk about the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
“No thank you,” said one white man, his face hardening at the mention of the name before he turned and walked off.
Another middle-aged white man stalked away swiftly: “I’m unemployed right now. He’s done nothing for me. I’ve got a negative point of view.”
A white-haired Afrikaner man glared and said that two minutes was too long for an interview on Mandela.
In the days since Mandela died, alarmist messages have been circulating on Facebook in the Afrikaans language, according to locals, reviving old warnings that black South Africans would butcher whites when the former president’s life ended.
The fear, associated with extremist right-wing white groups, is based on the theory that Mandela was the only figure of restraint in the ruling African National Congress. It&...
BEIRUT – Syrian government forces have regained control of a strategic town along the nation’s major north-south highway, state media reported Monday, as troops advanced in a sweeping offensive designed to secure the route and sever opposition supply lines from nearby Lebanon.
The dangerous highway is expected to be used as a corridor for the transport of Syria’s toxic stockpiles as part of a United Nations-backed plan to rid the country of its chemical armaments.
State news outlets reported that government forces had established “full control” of Nabek, about 50 miles northeast of Damascus along the highway, which links the capital to the central city of Homs.
Nabek was once home to about 50,000 people, but most are reported to have fled. News reports indicate the town was heavily damaged in weeks of fighting and shelling.
Nabek is the third town reported captured in recent weeks along the strategic corridor as government forces reportedly backed by...
KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said he would meet with his three predecessors Tuesday in an effort to resolve a political crisis that escalated with the storming of an opposition party headquarters by armed riot police.
Yanukovich announced plans Monday for what he said would be a nationally televised round-table discussion with the other three men who have served as president of Ukraine since it broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Yanukovich was also expected to meet with European Union envoy Catherine Ashton, who is expected to talk to both sides in Kiev on Tuesday.
The capital, Kiev, has been rocked by massive demonstrations in recent weeks after Yanukovich's decision to reject a proposed trade pact with the EU. By default, that leaves Russia as Ukraine's leading economic ally, angering Yanukovich's Western-leaning opponents.
The demonstrations continued peacefully Monday, although there were moments of tension.
Late Monday, riot police armed with...
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not attend the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela due to high travel costs, Israeli media reported Monday.
Netanyahu reportedly changed his plans to attend the ceremony after calculating expenses of a short-notice trip to South Africa, estimated at nearly $2 million for travel, security and logistical arrangements.
The price tag included chartering a private El Al plane for about $800,000 and dispatching an Israeli air force plane to carry security personnel and gear, at a cost of $910,000.
Attending the memorial is "unfortunately impossible," an Israeli official told local media.
[Updated 1:25 p.m., Dec. 9: Alon Liel, former general director of the Foreign Ministry and former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, suggested that cost was not the only consideration behind Netanyahu's decision. “It would simply have been wrong for Netanyahu to attend; it just wouldn’t have been right," he said in an interview. "The...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, shared memories of her father with the BBC and described the late elder statesman's "wonderful' last day, spent surrounded by members of his family.
"When the doctors told us, I think Thursday morning ... that there was nothing that they could do, and said to me, 'Maki, call everybody that is here that wants to see him and say bye-bye,' it was a most wonderful day for us, because the grandchildren were there, we were there," she said in an interview broadcast Monday.
"Even at the last moment, we were sitting with him on Thursday the whole day," she continued. "It was a wonderful time, if you can say the process of death is wonderful. But Tata [Mandela] had a wonderful time, because we were there."
Makaziwe said she told her father often in recent months that she loved him. "And maybe he would open his eyes for just a second and close those eyes," she said.
Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was unable...
The international effort to remove and destroy Syria's chemical weapons is likely to miss its Dec. 31 deadline for getting the most toxic of the poison gases out of the war-torn country, the mission chief said Monday.
"In view of the circumstances in this country, it will be quite difficult to meet this timeline," Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told a news conference in Oslo.
Uzumcu, in the Norwegian capital to collect his organization's Nobel Peace Prize, said that a Feb. 5, 2014, deadline for removing a second tier of chemical arms from Syria would also likely see "a few days' delay."
Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel forces have been fighting for control of strategic highways connecting Damascus to the coast. Because of the volume of chemical arms and substances to be removed, the evacuation must be in overland convoys to the port of Latakia for at-sea destruction.
The Damascus government announced on...
CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Nicolas Maduro’s socialists captured a majority of the mayorships in contention in weekend elections, according to preliminary results, a significant victory that analysts say will give him the political backing he needs to make policy changes in the coming weeks.
The ruling party, known by its initials PSUV, and its allies won in 196 of the 335 municipalities nationwide, according to a bulletin issued by the National Electoral Council. The opposition Democratic Unity alliance and other political groupings took 61. Results for 78 others remained to be declared Monday.
A total of 59% of eligible voters took part in Sunday’s balloting with the PSUV capturing 49% of the vote compared with nearly 43% for the opposition.
Opposition members took solace in that they appeared to have won in Caracas, the capital, as well as other big cities, including Valencia and Maracaibo.
Sunday’s vote was the biggest electoral test yet for Maduro, the...
MOSCOW -- In what some see as a new move to limit free speech and secure more control over information, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday dissolved a state news agency dating to the Soviet era and replaced it with a new body aimed at promoting the Kremlin's positions abroad.
RIA Novosti, created as the Sovinformburo in June 1941, two days after Adolf Hitler's Nazi army attacked the Soviet Union, was replaced with a new body called Rossiya Segodnya, or Russia Today.
That is the same name given to an English-language television network, called RT for short, that was launched by the Kremlin several years ago, apparently as a trial balloon to explore ways of transmitting the Russian government's message abroad.
RIA Novosti employed more than 2,300 people and in recent years had earned a reputation, even among Kremlin critics, as the most outspoken and objective state-owned news outlet. The agency said on its Facebook page that its liquidation would take place over three months and...
CAIRO -- A group of high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood were brought before an Egyptian court on Monday and promptly emulated their deposed leader, Mohamed Morsi, by insisting that the Egyptian legal system had no authority over them.
The 14 defendants, including top-level aides to the ousted Islamist president, face charges similar to those brought against Morsi himself, including inciting violence. Like the Morsi trial, Monday’s proceedings took place in a courtroom housed in a high-security prison.
Morsi’s courtroom appearance in November, his only one to date, was a chaotic affair, ending with the court case being postponed until January. Monday’s trial was also adjourned, until February.
One of the defendants, the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, told the judge that the defendants are “victims, not the accused,” according to official Egyptian media. Badie had not been seen in public since his arrest in August.
SEOUL--North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s spectacularly public ouster of his uncle, Jang Song Taek, could bring about more political turmoil as the purge extends to Jang’s coterie of powerful relatives and supporters.
The 67-year-old Jang has been a fixture in the country's hierarchy for decades and has people close to him entrenched throughout the Pyongyang regime—in fact as far away as Havana and Kuala Lumpur.
His wife is Kim Kyung Hui, the daughter of North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il Sung.
One of his nephews, Jang Yong Chol, the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, was called back to Pyongyang recently, South Korean intelligence told legislators last week. Also recalled was the ambassador to Cuba, brother-in-law Jon Yong Jin, a senior diplomat who’d previous served in Iceland and Sweden.
North Korean state television on Monday showed images of Jang being yanked out of his seat at a special session of the ruling Workers’ Party, an unprecedented...
SEOUL -- After nearly a week of international rumors, the North Korean government acknowledged Monday that it had purged the country's de facto second-in-command, who is the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un.
Declaring that Jang Sung Taek was "soaked with the capitalist lifestyle," the Korea Central News Agency reported that he had been removed from all his posts and expelled from the governing Workers' Party of Korea. Jang had been seen as a moderating influence on the young Kim.
North Korean state news outlets said the political bureau of the Workers' Party met Saturday and "adopted a written decision to dismiss Jang from all of his positions, and release him from the party." Kim reportedly attended the meeting as well.
South Korea's state spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, reported last weekthat Jang appeared to have been overthrown, citing the recent public execution of two of his close confidants. The intelligence agency concluded that the executions couldn’t have...
NEW DELHI — India’s ruling Congress party took a drubbing Sunday when it was defeated in four state elections, a morale boost for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in advance of national elections expected by May.
While Bharatiya Janata maintained control of the governments in central Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states, as expected, it also tossed out the Congress party in western Rajasthan state and the capital of Delhi.
This doesn’t bode well for the ruling party in upcoming national elections, analysts said. “These election results have been mind-boggling,” said Satish Jacob, a journalist and political analyst. “No one can accurately predict what will happen in the general elections, but it looks clear to me that Congress will be wiped out.”
The biggest story in the closely watched Delhi race was the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party created less than a year ago and headed by reformer Arvind Kejriwal, which campaigned against...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — When South Africa’s national anthem swelled in the Regina Mundi church in Rockville, Soweto, on Sunday, retired teacher Liz Magubane was sure that somewhere, Nelson Mandela could hear them.
“That was the time when I felt like crying. I had tears in my eyes,” she said. “There were times when I would stand up and move my body a little bit, and enjoy it,” added Magubane, a member of a Roman Catholic Church group known as the Sodality of St. Anne, which does charitable work, visits people in prisons and helps orphans.
Symbolizing the national mood of mixed celebration and grief, there were moments when joyful music rose and people swayed in rhythmic unison, remembering their idol, described by the assistant parish priest Sebastian J. Roussow as “a light in the darkness.”
Magubane was not the only one uplifted by the spirit of joy in the church. U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard posted a video of a rousing gospel...
NEW DELHI — After several days of relative calm in Bangkok, the main opposition party raised the stakes Sunday by resigning en masse from parliament in protest over a government they claim is illegitimate.
By aligning with street protesters, the opposition Democrat party is threatening to deepen the country’s political standoff. The Democrats, who have not won an election since 1992, are betting that their political fortunes will be advanced by aligning with anti-government street protesters.
“The solution to our current problems needs to start with the showing of responsibility,” Democrat leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters in announcing the immediate resignations. “The prime minister has never showed any responsibility or conscience.”
WASHINGTON — In a pointed rebuttal to President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Iran can be forced to shed its nuclear program and urged the imposition of new economic sanctions.
One day after President Obama argued that Iran can’t be compelled to give up its entire nuclear infrastructure, Netanyahu insisted that military threats and economic penalties can compel Tehran to surrender what it views as a national treasure.
“We shouldn’t assume that more and tougher sanctions won’t lead to a better deal,” Netanyahu said in an address by satellite link to the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum, a Mideast policy conference organized by Los Angeles businessman and Democratic fundraiser Haim Saban.
Netanyahu called for an intensification of economic penalties on Iran and a halt to the easing of pressure on the Islamic Republic that he said has followed a preliminary international deal to curb its nuclear...
KIEV, Ukraine — Protesters toppled a monument to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin on Sunday during the biggest march and rally in central Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich galvanized his opposition by turning down a trade deal with the European Union.
The Ukrainian protesters blocked and barricaded government offices and said they were giving Yanukovich 48 hours to disband his government before they would march on his country residence near Kiev.
In turning down the trade deal with the EU, Yanukovich was effectively asserting that Russia remained Ukraine's key trade partner. The country is politically and geographically divided, to some extent, between those who favor ties to Russia and those who would like to see Ukraine more aligned with Western Europe.
That gave the toppling of the Lenin statue particular significance — despite the fact that most Lenin statues in Russia itself were torn down during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Statues of the Soviet...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- As Nelson Mandela neared death last week, doctors told his wife, Graca Machel, that this time he couldn’t be saved, South African media reported Sunday.
His wife Graca Machel told members of the Mandela family that he was sinking fast. President Jacob Zuma was told Tuesday that Mandela’s death was imminent, City Press newspaper reported.
Family members and close friends were ushered into his room in groups of two or three and emerged sobbing.
According to the City Press report, Mandela died after contracting a new bout of serious pneumonia, when fluid rapidly accumulated in his lungs, which had been damaged by recurrent infections. As his blood pressure sank dangerously low, it became difficult to siphon off the fluid.
At the end, Nelson Mandela was breathing without life support. His last breath “was his own” according to the Sunday Timesnewspaper. Other reports said he remained on breathing support, and was receiving dialysis....
WASHINGTON -- President Obama signaled Saturday that he was prepared to allow Iran to enrich uranium on its soil, saying that an eventual nuclear deal could be structured to ensure that Tehran’s program would be only for peaceful purposes.
In an appearance sponsored by Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Obama said it was not realistic to expect that Iran could be forced to dismantle every part of its multibillion-dollar nuclear infrastructure. He said that in upcoming international negotiations Iran could be allowed a “modest” enrichment program, with strong international monitoring to assure that Tehran could not suddenly accelerate production to produce a nuclear weapon.
"If we could create an option in which Iran eliminated every single nut and bolt of their nuclear program and forswore the possibility of ever having a nuclear program, and for that matter got rid of all its military capabilities, I would take it," Obama said in a...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The moment would haunt Nelson Mandela all his life. It was 1948, and he was in a hospital watching his baby daughter struggle for life.
The child, Makaziwe, or Maki, died as he watched. She was 9 months old.
Mandela’s life was Kennedyesque in its combination of great political achievement and heartbreaking personal tragedy.
Mandela would also lose both his sons — in a car accident and to AIDS. And in 2010, on a day of great national pride, he missed the soccer World Cup opening after his great-granddaughter, 13-year-old schoolgirl Zenani, was killed in a car accident on the way home from the kickoff concert the previous night.
In South Africa’s brutal Robben Island prison, it wasn’t the bad food, the uncomfortable cell or the hard labor that tormented him. It was his separation from his family, particularly his mother and his second wife, Winnie, and their two daughters, Zeni and Zindzi....
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Members of Nelson Mandela's family spoke for the first time Saturday of their grief at losing a "great man, a pillar of the family," who was always humble, despite his global fame.
Mandela's family, deeply sensitive about the intense global media interest in his upcoming funeral, is walking a difficult line between a need for privacy to grieve, and the sense that Mandela belonged to to the world.
The family is deeply concerned about the possibility of photographs circulating of Mandela lying in state, according to a spokeswoman for the Government Communication and Information System. Cellphones and cameras will be banned for those who wish to view him lying in state.
Military doctors Saturday were preparing Mandela's body, government officials said.
"The pillar of the family is gone, just as he was away during that 27 painful years of imprisonment," said family spokesman Gen. Templeton Matanzima on Saturday. He read...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The brightly painted ferry sailed to the island prison like a dazzling bird swooping down to land. The prisoner caught sight of the vessel, far off on the shimmering sea.
The boat was his friend. It was bringing his family to see him.
It was Nov. 9, 1970, and the prisoner was Nelson Mandela, held on Robben Island for his leading role in planning bomb attacks.
"A visit to a prison has a significance difficult to put into words,” Mandela wrote in a letter to a friend in 1987. These were the “unforgettable occasions when that frustrating monotony is broken and the entire world is literally ushered into the cell."
Later that afternoon, watching the ferry steam away with his wife, who looked frail, Mandela felt desolate. The boat was no longer his friend, but his enemy.
"Though it still retained its brightness, the beauty I had seen only a few hours before was gone. Now it looked grotesque and quite...
In his lifetime, Nelson Mandela achieved almost mystical stature as the liberation hero turned national reconciler who helped transform South Africa from repressive white rule to a vibrant all-race democracy.
But as Los Angeles Times correspondent Robyn Dixon writes, Mandela was never comfortable wearing the mantle of a saint. He could be irritable, stubborn, aloof and was known to flirt with any pretty young woman he met.
The renowned peacemaker also embraced armed struggle to end the racist system of apartheid, persuading the leaders of the African National Congress to abandon their longstanding policy of nonviolence and form a secret military wing.
As the world tries to understand Mandela’s legacy, we asked followers on Twitter to share their thoughts and memories of a man who was both a great leader and profoundly human.
Keep sending your tweets to @latimesworld or use the comments section below.
[ View the story "Remembering Nelson Mandela" on Storify ] Remembering Nelson...
The women, who had been jailed since late October, were instead given suspended sentences of one year. In addition, seven underage girls who had been sentenced to a juvenile detention facility until they turned 18 were placed on probation.
Human rights activists hailed the decision, but said the heavy jail terms should never have been handed down to begin with.
In the five months since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup, thousands of his followers have been jailed for taking part in protests demanding his reinstatement. Lawyers for the women and girls said they had not engaged in any illegal act.
Authorities had accused them of property destruction, violent attacks on security forces and “instilling fear” in bystanders. However, public opinion was...
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says it has deported an elderly U.S. tourist and war veteran who was detained for more than a month over hostile acts Pyongyang says he committed during the Korean War.
North Korean state media says officials released 85-year-old Merrill Newman, a retired tech executive from Palo Alto, because he apologized for his alleged crimes during the Korean War and because of his age and medical condition.
It's not clear if his confession was coerced. A former group of South Korean guerrillas say Newman advised them as they fought behind enemy lines during the war.
Newman was removed from a plane Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities as he was about to leave the country after a 10-day tour.
North Korea had detained at least six other Americans since 2009.
The death of revered South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela has spurred reflection on the global state of human rights in the years since his transformation from political prisoner to president and elder statesman.
Those striving to build on Mandela's vision of equality and mutual respect see a world that is profoundly more free, fair and accountable than the one that existed when he walked out of prison in 1990 to wage the final battle in the war on apartheid.
Human rights horror stories persist in many places around the world, most disturbingly in Syria, where nearly three years of civil war have left more than 100,000 dead and devastated the home life and livelihoods of millions. Even countries like Myanmar, where military dictatorship has given way in the past few years to pluralism and social reform, the progress has been uneven, rights advocates say.
But Mandela's inspiring leadership of South Africa from institutionalized racism to...
From a speech in the 1950s evoking the suffering of South Africa’s black majority to his expression of humility when released from prison, Nelson Mandela’s words etched the drama of his people.
“The living conditions of the people, already extremely difficult, are steadily worsening and becoming unbearable....
“The farm laborers are in a particularly dire plight.... You will recall how human beings, wearing only sacks with holes for their heads and arms, never given enough food to eat, slept on cement floors on cold nights with only their sacks to cover their shivering bodies. You will remember how they are woken up as early as 4 a.m. and taken to work on the fields with the indunas [foremen] sjambokking [whipping] those who tried to straighten their backs, who felt weak and dropped down because of hunger and sheer exhaustion. You will also recall the story of human beings toiling pathetically from the early hours of the morning till sunset, fed only on mealie...
MEXICO CITY -- He allegedly raked in millions of dollars to give drug traffickers easy access to the United States. The cocaine flowed north, prosecutors say, and the money in his pocket bought him elegant houses and a couple of private jets.
Tomas Yarrington, former governor of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, has been indicted by U.S. federal prosecutors on a host of drug-trafficking, money-laundering and racketeering charges.
He is one of the highest-ranking former Mexican officials whom the United States has attempted to prosecute in many years. And the case could pose yet another touchy problem between the two nations, even as they reassess their relationship after the ascension a year ago of a new, less-U.S.-friendly Mexican administration.
The accusations also highlight the deep penetration of drug-cartel corruption in state governments, especially along the border. Tamaulipas touches the southern tip of Texas.
Yarrington, who was governor of Tamaulipas from 1999 to 2004...
BEIRUT — Syrian rebels are demanding the release of 1,000 female government detainees in exchange for the freedom of a group of Greek Orthodox nuns being held by opposition forces, according to an account published Friday in a pan-Arab newspaper.
The proposed swap indicates that the nuns are now hostages -- contradicting earlier opposition assertions that the sisters were evacuated for their own safety during heavy fighting early this week in Maaloula, a Christian landmark town outside Damascus.
Hostage-taking and kidnapping, often with sectarian overtones, have become defining characteristics of Syria’s more than 2-year-old civil conflict. The fate of two kidnapped Christian bishops, believed seized by opposition forces in April, remains publicly unknown.
[Updated at 2:50 p.m. PST Dec. 6: In a video broadcast Friday on the Al Jazeera satellite network, several of the nuns took turns speaking and appeared in good health, though it was not possible to verify the authenticity...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is a giant in the world of liberation heroes, up there with Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
But unlike Gandhi, who said that nonviolence and truth were inseparable, and King, who famously declared that violence was immoral, Mandela embraced armed struggle to end the racist system of apartheid.
To many South Africans, particularly within the African National Congress, Mandela was a great man partly because of his willingness to use violence, not in spite of it.
Many believe apartheid would have endured much longer if he hadn’t rebelled and overturned the ANC’s long-standing nonviolence policy.
As a young man, Mandela’s favorite sport wasn’t a team sport like soccer, with strict limits on contact. Boxing was what thrilled him. As a young politician, his rhetoric was angry, uncompromising and inspiring. His aim was to...
From European royal palaces to impoverished African townships, anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was remembered Friday for his tireless fight against injustice and racism and celebrated for the better world he left behind.
Former South African President Frederik W. de Klerk, with whom Mandela negotiated an end to the brutal racist regime in his homeland, recalled the man who succeeded him as head of state as "a force for reconciliation and social justice" to the end.
"It was an honor for me to have been able to work with Mr. Mandela in the process that led to the adoption of the interim constitution and our first democratic elections in April 1994," De Klerk said in a statement of condolence.
"Although we were political opponents, and although our relationship was often stormy, we were always able to come together at critical moments to resolve the many crises that arose during the negotiation process."
Despite Mandela's death Thursday, the last white leader of South Africa declared...
LONDON -- Britain began flying in military supplies for French forces in the Central African Republic on Friday as residents of the strife-torn country looked to international peacekeepers to stave off further sectarian killings.
The need for increased international intervention grew more acute this week because of a deadly spate of violence between Christian and Muslim groups in the capital, Bangui. About 100 people were reported killed in clashes Thursday during raids by Christian militias on Muslim neighborhoods, part of the deepening chaos in the country since Muslim rebels toppled President Francois Bozize in March.
The British government said it would dispatch three cargo flights to the CAR this month to help France transport equipment for use by the 1,200 soldiers it has pledged to try to restore calm. About 600 French troops are already in the CAR, alongside 2,500 African peacekeepers.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council authorized expanding the French and...
JERUSALEM -- U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, concluding his latest effort to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on Friday, sounding encouraged about progress despite ongoing tension between the parties.
"We are closer than we have been in years" to bringing peace to the region, Kerry told the press Friday morning before departing Israel for Washington.
After arriving in Israel on Wednesday night, Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times and once with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He said he was encouraged by the "continued commitment of both leaders," and advised observers to be patient. "The fact that there is no information doesn't mean the talks are not productive," Kerry said, reminding that the parties agreed to refrain from publicly discussing the negotiations.
Despite sharp disagreements, Kerry insisted both leaders have the "same endpoint in their sights: two nations for two peoples, living side by side in peace and prosperity."
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- From the glitzy shopping malls of upscale suburban Sandton, north of Johannesburg, to a trash-strewn corner in a crowded Soweto street, South Africans rich and poor, influential and jobless, black and white, united Friday to mourn the man they knew simply as "Tata," or father.
After months of illness marked by fervent prayers that Nelson Mandela would miraculously recover, South Africans of all backgrounds and races, by the end, were reconciled to his release Thursday from the suffering of his sickbed.
As Mandela united the nation in great moments, such as the first democratic elections in 1994, a feeling of unity swept the nation Friday, bringing South Africa closer to elation than grief.
"I felt sad, but also a little relieved, because he was struggling with this illness for some time. So he has peace," said Annelice Govender, 30, an unemployed mother of two who learned of Mandela's death when she heard the...
MOSCOW -- Former Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov was charged with negligence Friday in a case involving the construction of a road to a building that has been identified as the lavish dacha of his brother-in-law.
Serdyukov, 51, a former furniture salesman in St. Petersburg, was the first first civilian defense minister of Russia, appointed to the position by President Vladimir Putin in 2007 to undertake sweeping reforms of the nation's armed forces. He is now the first current or former member of Putin's government to be charged with a crime, officials said.
Serdykov's actions resulted in losses of $1.75 million to the state, according to Vladimir Markin, Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman who also implied that in the course of the ongoing investigation, more serious charges could still be pressed.
“Serdyukov gave an oral order to his subordinates to build at the defense ministry's expense a highway from the village of Krasa in the [southern] Astrakhan region...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- After 10 days of national mourning, anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela will be buried on Dec. 15 in a private service in his home village of Qunu, President Jacob Zuma told journalists Friday.
The former president, who died Thursday, will be accorded a state funeral in Pretoria after lying in state in the Union Buildings, the seat of government, for three days beginning next Wednesday, Zuma said.
Huge crowds are expected as South Africans and visitors try to see Mandela for a last time and pay respects to the man who peacefully negotiated an end to the brutal system of apartheid.
Zuma declared Sunday a day of prayer and reflection. Somber prayer meetings are to be held in churches across South Africa.
The major memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday at Soweto's 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium, where Mandela made his last public appearance, at the final of the World Cup in 2010.
Smaller memorials are expected in...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- On a street corner in Soweto, David Mohale sat in the warm summer sun Friday, remembering the life of the man who brought him freedom, the hero of the nation's anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela.
He also thought of his youth, and his own mortality.
"You see what I am. I'm old too. I can can go any time myself," said Mohale, 86. "He's waiting for me there.
"I feel so much sorrow because he was a good man, who learned the people how to live together. He want everybody must be free, you see, and respect each other.
"I respect and I like what he done to get the people together, not fighting like other countries."
In another part of Soweto, on Vilakazi Street, outside Mandela's former home, evangelical church bishop Madela Mashinini, 47, sheltered from the sun under a large purple umbrella, watching young people dancing, singing and chanting as they paid tribute to Mandela. He said it reminded him of his childhood,...
The boy was snatched by the girl in the building’s elevator Nov. 27 as the boy’s grandmother tried to maneuver his tricycle out of the closing elevator doors at the ground floor, apparently planning to take him outside.
Closed-circuit television showed the girl, her hair in pigtails and wearing a backpack, throwing the small boy repeatedly onto the floor and kicking him.
The 18-month-old later either fell or was thrown from the girl’s 25th-floor balcony.
The toddler survived the fall, which was broken by bushes in the lawn of the apartment complex. The boy is listed in critical condition with multiple fractures and a pulmonary hemorrhage. He is supposed to undergo surgery next week.
The boy’s father, a migrant construction worker, wrote on a blog posting...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- As many South Africans woke up to the news that Nelson Mandela had died, it was Mandela's fellow Nobel laureate who provided the most comforting words.
Mandela's legacy, Desmond Tutu said Friday, would carry on. The sun would continue to rise.
"The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day and the next. ... It may not appear as bright as yesterday, but life will carry on," the retired Anglican bishop said in a statement.
"To suggest that South Africa might go up in flames -- as some have predicted -- is to discredit South Africans and Madiba's legacy," Tutu said, using Mandela's clan name, a term of affection and respect.
Crowds gathered outside Mandela's home in suburban Houghton and the house where he lived in Soweto to mourn the loss of the former president and to celebrate his life.
The nation's newspapers ran dedication pages, and the South African presidency had its own tribute page.
The political party that...
WASHINGTON — A somber President Obama paid tribute Thursday to the man he credits with his political awakening, saying Nelson Mandela’s dignity and sacrifice “transformed South Africa and moved all of us.”
“He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today he has gone home,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House shortly after South African officials announced Mandela’s death. “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.”
The first black president of South Africa played a significant role in the coming-of-age story of the first African American U.S. president. Obama credits Mandela’s fight against apartheid for sparking his political consciousness.
Speaking before reporters Thursday, Obama recounted that “the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or...
Logan Gentry said his friend Ronnie Smith, who was fatally shot while jogging in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, did not fear his experience abroad.
Smith, 33, joked with everyone, while also caring for others and looking for ways to serve them, Gentry said.
“He didn’t like the heightened violence [in Libya] at all, but he wasn’t afraid,” Gentry said in an email. “Part of me wonders, ‘Why were you out running in that environment?’ But he would probably say, ‘Why not?’ He enjoyed life and feared very little. It is what made him so great.”
Smith was shot by an unknown assailant or assailants as he jogged in an affluent central neighborhood of Benghazi, not far from the U.S. Consulate where an attack in September 2012 killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed that teacher Ronald Thomas Smith II was shot and killed in Benghazi and offered condolences to his...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Some came in what they were wearing when they heard that Nelson Mandela had died -- their pajamas. Some draped themselves in South African flags. Others brought candles, flowers and pictures of him.
Hundreds of people gathered outside his house in the early morning Friday, in a gathering striking for the absence of weeping and tears. It was more of a spontaneous celebration of the man's life and the gifts he left South Africa.
A few vuvuzelas -- the South African trumpet normally found at football matches and celebrations -- blasted into the night. A group of candles on his lawn, united to form a small blaze, carefully watched by police.
Susan Radebe, 46, a bank administrator, cried when she heard on the late-night television news that the country's first black president had died Thursday at age 95.
"It was just unbelievable, but at the same time I was like, 'Let me let him go because it's time. I have to accept it...
WASHINGTON -- At the South African Embassy in Washington, mourners left bouquets of roses in front of a statue of Nelson Mandela that was unveiled in honor of the revered civil rights champion just three months ago.
Although the statue was shielded by a chain-link fence because of construction in front of the embassy, part of the cordon was opened to allow visitors to place bouquets and candles in memory of Mandela after word of his death Thursday reached the U.S. capital.
"I see his death as a sad time for all of us," said Peter Boyce, 50, a political consultant and Barbados native who lives in Washington. "But yet still in his death I see a rebirth because it gives us an encouragement to remember his work and add to his work, add to his legacy -- don't be marred with anger, but to forgive and to move on and to work harmoniously together as a people."
FULL COVERAGE: Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela dies
Tears streamed down Jan Smart's face as she spoke of Mandela's legacy and...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — An irritable man who got cross when he couldn’t have his favorite brand of mineral water? A fusser who obsessively folded his daily newspapers just so, who got annoyed if things weren’t lined up in their precise order? An aloof man who nonetheless flirted with any pretty young woman he met?
Could these accounts really tally with one of the world’s most beloved men, Nelson Mandela?
In his lifetime, Mandela always insisted that he wasn’t a saint, and by all accounts was quite irritated with the gilded view of him as an almost mystical figure.
He even asked the Nelson Mandela Foundation to avoid using images of his face, which had become a kind of trademark, and focus on other things, such as his hands. He ordered them to make room for other people’s voices and memories. But the idolatry endured.
The myth had a price, said Verne Harris, project leader at the Nelson Mandela Center of...
WASHINGTON -- The death of former South African President Nelson Mandela brought swift and heartfelt reaction from members of Congress, many of whom had personally interacted with the anti-apartheid leader, and others who were inspired in their own public service by his life from afar.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called Mandela "an unrelenting voice for democracy."
"Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president,” Boehner said. “He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, the Democratic minority leader, said Mandela’s long life was “a story of courage, a triumph over fear, a whole-hearted faith in the power, promise and possibility of the human spirit.”
“May his story long remind us to always look forward with optimism to the future,” she said.
The man who battled apartheid, spent decades in prison and emerged to become the first black president of South Africa died Thursday. As the world remembers Nelson Mandela, here are some of his most famous moments, as well as some that are lesser known:
The clip below shows Mandela upon his release from prison Feb. 11, 1990. Then-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is seen walking with him hand- in-hand as they greet television cameras and shouting crowds:
Mandela told the court at his 1964 sabotage trial that he hoped to see the realization of "the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. ... But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” This audio clip of his words was distributed via YouTube by broadcaster David Tereshchuk, who credited the British Library for saving the recording for posterity:
Independent Television News billed this clipas the first televised interview with...
"We've lost our greatest son," South African President Jacob Zuma said in announcing Mandela's death, which occurred at 8:50 p.m. at Mandela's home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton.
At the White House, President Obama praised Mandela as an inspiration and a paragon of moral strength "that all of humanity should aspire to."
"Like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. And so long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him," Obama said of the man whom he met only once, in Washington in 2005. Mandela was too ill to receive visitors during the president's June visit to Africa.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Mandela "a singular...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – President Jacob Zuma appealed to fellow South Africans to live up to Nelson Mandela’s ideals and realize his vision of a united country as he announced the death Thursday of the country’s beloved former leader at the age of 95.
"Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell," Zuma said in a somber late-night televised address to the nation.
In recent days, Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe, appeared to prepare the nation for this moment. On Tuesday, she said Mandela was on his "deathbed" at his home in Houghton, a Johannesburg suburb.
Zuma said Mandela would have a state funeral and all the flags in the nation would be lowered to half staff until he was buried.
"Let us express each in our own way the deep gratitude we feel for the life spent in the service of this country," Zuma said.
He said South Africa had "lost its greatest son."
"Although we knew that...
WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Thursday paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the former freedom fighter and barrier-breaking president “transformed South Africa and moved all of us.”
"He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today he has gone home,” Obama said in brief but emotional remarks at the White House shortly after South African officials announced Mandela’s death. “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages."
Obama referred to his own distant connection to Mandela and the fight for racial equality. The president noted that his first experience with political activism -- “the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or policy or politics” -- was a college protest against apartheid.
“I would study his words and his writings. The day he was released from prison it gave...
MEXICO CITY -- Authorities sought at least two thieves on Thursday who had seized a truck with radioactive material in central Mexico, while a family who found and took home the exposed stolen container was under medical observation, officials said.
The truck was hijacked Monday by gunmen who intercepted it north of Mexico City. It was transporting a large amount of highly active cobalt-60, a radioactive substance used in the treatment of cancer, from a hospital in Tijuana to a nuclear waste storage dump near the capital.
The substance can be used in the making of dirty bombs, a fact that raised alarm here and abroad, especially given the presence in Mexico of violent drug trafficking and extortion gangs who might be eager to get their hands on such a valuable product.
With a six-state search underway, the thieves apparently abandoned the truck north of Mexico City on Wednesday but made off with the lead box containing the radioactive material. For unknown reasons, they ditched it in a...
BENGHAZI, Libya -- Relatively few Americans remained in this eastern Libyan city as street battles raged and Islamic militants made ever-bolder forays in recent weeks. But Ronnie Smith, a chemistry teacher at an English-language school, stayed on, planning, colleagues said, to return soon to the United States for the Christmas holidays.
Smith, 33, from Texas, was gunned down Thursday by an unknown assailant or assailants as he jogged in an affluent central neighborhood of Benghazi, not far from the U.S. Consulate where an attack last September killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Shaken colleagues at the International School, which has an American-style curriculum, said they were told by school administrators that Smith had been shot multiple times as he was taking a run -- part of his regular routine, they said -- in the Fuweyhet district. There was no immediate claim of responsibility in the attack, and it was not known whether Smith was targeted as an...
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela, South Africa's beloved first black president and anti-apartheid hero, has died after suffering recurring lung infections that were the legacy of tuberculosis contracted in prison during his long fight against oppression, President Jacob Zuma said in a televised address late Thursday. He was 95.
Although out of the limelight in recent years because of the infirmities of age, Mandela, or Madiba, the clan name by which he was affectionately known to many South Africans, remained a revered symbol of the fight he led against the nation's apartheid regime.
Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital in June for the fifth time in two years. Although he was sent home three months later, family members said he had been living in a sterilized bedroom rigged as an intensive care unit with doctors tending to him around the clock.
Even on what his daughter, Makaziwe, termed his "deathbed," Mandela remained an...
ROME -- Pope Francis is forming a commission of experts to advise the Holy See on protecting children from abusive priests, keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood and caring for the victims of abuse, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley said Thursday.
The initiative is Francis’ first concrete step in response to the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church in recent years, costing millions in legal fees and sparking a steep decline in church attendance.
It remains unclear, however, whether the commission will address complaints by victims groups that the Vatican has failed to make bishops accountable for covering up for abusive priests.
Although Francis has won plaudits for reinvigorating the Catholic church, he has been criticized for not coupling his strong appeals for mercy and charity with equally firm admonishments of abuse.
“Pope Francis has massive power and many options. But he’s choosing to not use that power to protect children,&...