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By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Ed Cropley JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African sign language interpreter accused of gesticulating gibberish during a memorial to Nelson Mandela defended his "champion" performance on Thursday, but said he may have suffered a schizophrenic episode while on stage. The interpreter, identified as 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg's Star newspaper he started hearing voices in his head and hallucinating, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world. Millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie interpreting on Tuesday at the Mandela memorial attended by leaders from around the world, but South Africa's leading deaf association on Wednesday denounced him as a fake, saying he was inventing signs. I think that I've been a champion of sign language," he told Talk Radio 702.
Apple Inc on Thursday said it sent medical experts to contractor Pegatron Corp's Shanghai factory last month after a 15-year-old employee died of pneumonia. Apple has taken various measures in response to criticism that its products were made in sweatshop-like conditions, since employee suicides at supplier Foxconn in 2010. Last year, it commissioned the Fair Labor Association to investigate suppliers' factories. "While they (Pegatron) have found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones," Apple said in a statement.
By Caroline Humer and Lewis Krauskopf NEW YORK (Reuters) - As a deadline approaches for people to sign up for medical insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, some insurers and state-run online marketplaces are giving shoppers an extra week to pay their first premiums. The Obama administration could face a new crisis over the healthcare law should a significant number of consumers discover that their preferred insurer does not have a record of their new policy. Aetna Inc, which is selling health insurance on exchanges, or marketplaces, in more than a dozen states, will allow consumers to pay premiums as late as January 8. The Connecticut exchange, Access Health CT, said some shoppers can pay as late as January 7.
By Sara Webb AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Every year Singaporeans and Malaysians choke on smoke when farmers and plantation firms in neighboring Indonesia clear the land with fires during the dry season. Last summer, Philips diverted stocks of air purifiers from Hong Kong and China to the area in time for the worst pollution in 16 years. The switch of supplies was emblematic of a more nimble approach fostered by Chief Executive Frans van Houten that has helped Philips reinvent itself in healthcare, lighting and consumer goods and revived the company's fortunes. ...
By David Lawder and Thomas Ferraro WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday were falling in line behind a bipartisan two-year budget deal, indicating that the normally rambunctious group of lawmakers is not spoiling for a year-end fiscal fight. Despite conservative groups' denunciation of the plan and public opposition from some members associated with the conservative Tea Party movement, the Republican-controlled House was planning to vote on Thursday to pass the deal, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking Republican told Reuters. A key House panel, on a 9-3 vote, cleared the legislation for debate and votes in the full House. The Republican-controlled Rules Committee refused to allow Democrats to offer an amendment to extend federal unemployment benefits that expire later this month.
Chinese authorities have told pilots who fly to Beijing they must be qualified to land their aircraft in the low visibility bought about by smog, state media said on Thursday, as the government tries to reduce flight delays due to pollution. Beginning January 1, pilots flying from the country's 10 busiest airports into the Chinese capital must be qualified to use an instrument landing system on days when smog reduces visibility to around 400 meters (1,315 feet), the official China Daily said, citing China's civil aviation regulator. Despite investing billions of dollars in new airports and advanced Western-built aircraft, China suffers a chronic problem with flight delays, partly because of the country's often wildly-fluctuating weather and partly because the military tightly controls most of China's airspace.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California will have an extra two months to reduce crowding in its prison system, a panel of three federal judges ruled on Wednesday, in the latest twist in a decades-long dispute over conditions and medical care for inmates. California prisons have been in the national spotlight for the past year as officials wrestled with crowding and concerns about the state's use of long-term solitary confinement for prisoners with suspected gang ties, which led to a hunger strike this year. The state has been under court orders to reduce inmate numbers since 2009, when the same panel ordered it to relieve overcrowding that several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have said was to blame for inadequate medical and mental-health care. California Governor Jerry Brown has repeatedly said he believes that the state has fixed its problem.
WASHINGTON (AP) — With time running short, the nation's health care rolls still aren't filling up fast enough.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tens of thousands of women each year might be able to skip at least some of the grueling treatments for breast cancer — which can include surgery, heavy chemo and radiation — without greatly harming their odds of survival, new research suggests.
LONDON (AP) — Global efforts to curb malaria are stalling after a drop in funds to buy bed nets, according to the latest report Wednesday from the World Health Organization.