Global Scan

The interpreter scandal at Mandela's memorial takes a bizarre turn

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Credit:

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama gives a speech as a man passing himself off as a sign language interpreter stands nearby during a memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at the FNB soccer stadium in Johannesburg December 10, 2013.

The man who stood near world leaders at Nelson Mandela's memorial service wasn't just an incompetent sign language interpreter. He was delusional and perhaps dangerous.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, said he was suffering from delusions — "hearing voice" — during the service, which caused him to provide interpretations that amounted to nothing. But The Telegraph reports he was previously convicted of theft and may have faced charges for rape and murder.

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In Ethiopia, one town's economic success is seen as a threat

The small community of Awra Amba has found a way out of the extreme poverty that afflicts many villages in Ethiopia. Its residents have double the average income, higher literacy and lower mortality. But instead of gaining respect, PRI's The World describes how its neighbors are hostile.

The problem for those in Awra Amba is that, by working hard, they are breaking cultural norms. Women there do what is traditionally viewed as men's work. And the villagers don't put their energy into religion. In fact, they don't stop work for religious holidays or a day of rest. 

Here's how to make the 'click' sound when you refer to Mandela's home village

The BBC presents a short guide to the unique click sounds used in South Africa’s Xhosa language — the language used by Mandela’s ethnic community, and the one used in the name of his home village of Qunu. And if you master that, you might want to try a Xhosa tongue twister.

What exactly does being 'free' mean in Russia?

Remember when we told you about the Arctic 30 — Greenpeace activists and journalists arrested while protesting a Russian oil platform? We reported that Russian courts had released them on bail. Well, it seems Russia is redefining what it means to be "free" on bail. Al Jazeera reports yes, they are out of prison, but no, they are not free to go home. 

In spite of paying bail in the millions of dollars, the defendents, who are charged with hooliganism, must now stay in the country for months awaiting trial. That's in defiance of a ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which told Russia to release the group once bail was paid.

_Z_ in Tunisian stands for inspiration, with a satirical twist

Political baptisms happen in all sorts of ways. For a Tunisian architect, it started after seeing blueprints for a massive development for the wealthy in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. PRI's The World tells the story of how this event turned the architect into the anonymous cartoonist and blogger _Z_, admired by many compatriots and hunted by Tunisian authorities.

_Z_ has been an advocate for democracy and expected to "come out" after Tunisia unleashed the Arab Spring with its revolution — a revolution that _Z_ helped inspire. But now Islamist government leaders are not happy with his satirical pokes at them.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Cairo's suburbs were given a blanket of snow in the last 24 hours — the first time snow has fallen in the Egyptian capital in years, according to Ahram news. The snow was accompanied by unseasonably cold weather, with overnight lows hovering right above freezing.

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