JOHANNESBURG - South Africans of all races flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honour Nelson Mandela as a large contingent of foreign dignitaries, including royalty, begin arriving in the country to pay their final respects to the liberation struggle icon. The government said Sunday that 53 heads of state and government as well as a broad range of eminent persons had confirmed that they would be attending a national memorial service and state funeral for the country's first black and democratically-elected president. South Africans of all races flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honour Nelson Mandela, unified in their love for a historic figure whose funeral is expected to be one of the biggest in modern times. At the Regina Mundi Church that was at the epicenter of the Soweto township uprising in 1976 against white rule, Father Sebastian J. Rossouw described Mandela as "moonlight," saying he offered a guiding light for South Africa.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - He was with Nelson Mandela during all those years the anti-apartheid icon was imprisoned on Robben Island. And, like millions around the world, he has been hit hard by Mandela's death. Yet this South African was not one of Mandela's fellow prisoners. Christo Brand was his jailer.
Yet Nelson Mandela, described so often as a gift, an icon, a legend and even a saint, was flawed like any other human. Mandela was aware of his failings, and he struggled to be recognized as a man rather than a representative of an immaculate ideal. He said many times that he was part of a collective that sought to eliminate the cruel system of white rule, even as understandably proud South Africans, some with commercial intent, craft more portraits, statues and commemorative knickknacks in his image and name more roads, buildings, schools and hospitals after him. His association with dictators like Moammar Gadhafi who had opposed apartheid suggested that Mandela made political compromises as a free man.
MIAMI - When insurance agent Kelly Fristoe recently spent 30 minutes helping a client pick a mid-level health plan and the federal marketplace website froze, he called the government's hotline and tried to finish the application. The Wichita Falls, Texas, insurance agent is one of many brokers around the country finding frustration as they try to help customers navigate the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces while earning the commissions they've long built their businesses around. Some insurers and insurance agents are calling on President Barack Obama's administration to allow them to bypass healthcare.gov and enrol consumers directly amid growing complaints about problems with enrolment information generated from the website. The so-called 'back-end' problems could mean that consumers who think they've successfully signed up for a health plan, may find themselves unable to access their coverage come January.
By Douwe Miedema and Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When U.S. regulators adopt the Volcker rule on Tuesday, they will make good on a promise by politicians to rein in banks' ability to gamble with their own money. The coordinated action by five separate regulatory agencies is seen sparking a court challenge as Wall Street tries once again to avoid one of the harshest elements of the post-financial crisis crackdown. The rule, championed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, was a last-minute addition to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and takes aim at a business that had been a big money spinner for banks before the crisis. "For something of this magnitude and this controversial ... there will be somebody who will challenge it," said Brian Cartwright, an advisor at consultancy Patomak Global Partners and a former general counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the agencies voting on the measure.
Bob Diamond, the former boss of Barclays , is set to return to banking by listing a shell company in London in the next few weeks to invest in the African financial sector, a source familiar with the matter said. Diamond, who was ousted from Barclays last year after the Libor rate-rigging scandal, is finalizing plans to list Atlas Mara, a cash vehicle set up with billionaire entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar, chief executive of Mara Group, the source said. The vehicle will be managed by Atlas Merchant Capital, the merchant bank Diamond has set up in New York with a view to expand into sub-Sahara African banks and financial services.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Cleveland man convicted of imprisoning three women for a decade committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell, two corrections consultants concluded following a review of his death released Tuesday. Ariel Castro's Sept. 3 death was likely not the result of autoerotic asphyxiation, an act in which individuals seek a thrill by choking themselves into unconsciousness, according to the report by the nationally regarded consultants.
"How I Met Your Mother" has made a habit of poking fun at Canada and last week's episode was sprinkled with more Canuck-related one-liners than a Tim Hortons doughnut. In the episode titled "Rehearsal Dinner," Barney and Robin (played by Neil Patrick Harris and Canadian actress Cobie Smulders) get closer to their big day, but hit a snag at the pre-wedding run through. Along the way there are jokes about Timmies, Wayne Gretzky, the Crash Test Dummies, our cold weather, and Alan Thicke even makes a guest appearance. They've begun with a tribute to the NBC show "Hannibal," based on the novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, which is surprisingly creepy and dark given that it airs on network TV, not on a cable network.
(Reuters) - The New York Yankees announced on Saturday they have signed former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal and have also locked up Japanese right hander Hiroki Kuroda for one more season. Ellsbury made the switch between the bitter division rivals after winning the World Series with Boston this year, agreeing to the deal which also has a $21 million team option for the 2021 season, with a $5 million buyout. He led the majors last season with 52 stolen bases and in 16 playoff games hit .344 (22-for-64), leading all postseason players in hits and runs (14) en route to winning his second career World Series.
(Reuters) - Sporting Kansas City won their second MLS Cup title in dramatic fashion on Saturday, coming from a goal down before beating Real Salt Lake 7-6 in a pulsating penalty shootout following a 1-1 tie after extra time. Aurelien Collin, who scored Sporting's equaliser in the second half, broke the deadlock in sudden-death with a thunderous shot inside the right post to beat Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Lovel Palmer, aiming to extend the sudden-death shootout, then hit the crossbar to send the home crowd into rapturous celebration on a freezing night at Sporting Park in Kansas City. ...
(Reuters) - World soccer body FIFA has revised kick-off times for seven group matches at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil, including four in the hottest venues. In a statement on their website (www.fifa.com), FIFA confirmed the 64-match schedule for the finals with amended start times for three fixtures in the Amazonian city of Manaus and one in Recife. These included England's Group D meeting with Italy in Manaus on June 14, and the United States' Group G clash with Portugal in the same city on June 22. ...
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil - FIFA switched the scheduled kickoff times of seven World Cup matches on Saturday after meeting with broadcasters, having refused earlier requests made by the FIFPro union to protect players' health. The main change involves England vs. Italy which was due to start at 9 p.m. local time (0100 GMT, 0300 Central European Time). Two more games in Manaus — Portugal vs. United States and Cameroon vs. Croatia — have been moved from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time. FIFPro, the international footballers' union, had pressed FIFA not to have the earliest kickoffs in the hottest and most humid weather conditions.
"What an honour it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family." — Idris Elba, who has the title role in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." "Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the twentieth century. His passing should re-ignite a worldwide effort for peace." — Paul Simon, whose acclaimed 1986 album "Graceland" was criticized by some for using South African musicians during a time when artists were boycotting the country.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A lawyer for Amanda Bynes says the actress has left an inpatient mental health treatment facility and is back with her parents. Attorney Tamar Arminak on Thursday confirmed the 27-year-old actress's release after several months of treatment. Bynes has been in treatment since July, when she was placed on a psychiatric hold after starting a fire in a driveway in her hometown of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Her mother, Lynn Bynes, was granted a temporary conservatorship over the actress, but the case was dismissed because Amanda Bynes' care was being overseen by a mental health court. Arminak wrote in a statement to People magazine that Amanda Bynes' treatment will continue and she is considering returning to school to study fashion design.