Interpreter for Mandela event: I was hallucinating JOHANNESBURG (AP) - The man accused of faking sign interpretation next to world leaders at Nelson Mandela's memorial has told The Associated Press that he has schizophrenia, had visions of angels coming into the stadium and was trying not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." Thamsanqa Jantjie also said he has been violent in the past. Jantjie, who stood gesticulating three-feet (1 meter) from U.S. President Barack Obama and others who spoke at the ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insists he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders for the deaf correctly. He also apologized Thursday for his performance that has received unanimous condemnation from numerous sign-language experts who said he had been merely signing gibberish.
Gridlock in the Senate, progress in the House 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.
Federal data show health disparities among states 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.
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Thailand's self-exiled ex-PM may never return home 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.
Spurned by president, EU embraces Ukraine protest 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.
Aviation schools prepare for boom in drone 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.
A wide-open field hopes for Golden Globes invites 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."
Kerry back to Mideast to push peace talks 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.
Celebrity tutors thrive in grade-fixated Hong Kong 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.
Calif. prostitutes may gain victim compensation 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.