The South African government admitted it made a "mistake" in choosing a sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial who was later exposed as a fake by experts, and who claimed to be schizophrenic. Experts said Thamsanqa Jantjie's signing in front of US President Barack Obama and other world leaders amounted to little more than "flapping his arms around," prompting an apology from the government. Admitting Jantjie was "not a professional sign language interpreter," junior minister for disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said that "we can only apologise to the deaf community". Jantjie insists he is qualified and a "champion of sign language," but said his behaviour was down to a sudden attack of schizophrenia, for which he takes medication.
By David Lawder and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A breakthrough budget deal that avoids a government shutdown in January and blunts automatic spending cuts easily won passage in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, laying the groundwork for two years free of funding crises. The 332-94 bipartisan vote sends the measure to the Senate, which is expected to pass it next week despite the objections of conservative political groups that say it violates their core goal of cutting government spending. The deal sets spending levels for two years, a significant break from the recent pattern of short-term funding bills that require extension every few months, always under the threat of a government shutdown like the 16 day closure in October. It follows three years of bitter partisan warfare over spending, taxes and President Barack Obama's healthcare law that twice brought the nation to the brink of defaulting on its obligations.