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ABC News - Nelson Mandela, the former South African president whose stubborn defiance survived 27 years in prison and led to the dismantling of the country's racist and brutal apartheid system, has died. Mandela was 95 years old.

South Africa's president says Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. Jacob Zuma says "We've lost our greatest son," South African President Jacob Zuma said in announcing Mandela's death.

Mandela had a number of issues with his health in recent years including repeated hospitalizations with a chronic lung infection. Mandela had been listed in "serious but stable condition" after entering the hospital in June before returning to home to receive continued medical care.

In April, Mandela spent 18 days in the hospital due to a lung infection and was treated for gall stones in December 2012.

Mandela's public appearances had become increasingly rare as he dealt with his declining health.

His last public appearance was in July of 2010, when he attended the final match and closing ceremonies of the soccer World Cup held in South Africa.

In 2011, Mandela met privately with Michelle Obama when the first lady and her daughters traveled to South Africa.

 

Mandela and the Legacy He Leaves Behind

One of the giants of the 20th century, Mandela's career was marked not only by his heroic resistance to racism, but also by his poised and soft spoken demeanor.

After enduring nearly three decades of prison, much of it at hard labor in a lime quarry, Mandela emerged as a gentle leader who became South Africa's first black president. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in ending apartheid without violence, and later became a global statesman who inspired millions people around the world.

Mandela was born in 1918, the son of a tribal leader, in a remote village in South Africa.

His tribal name, Rolihlahla, meant "troublemaker," a moniker Mandela would more than live up to in his lifetime.

In 1952, he emerged onto the national stage when he helped organize the first country-wide protests called the Defiance Campaign. That same year he opened the country's first black law firm.

Ruth Mopati, his secretary at the firm, wrote about the way he was then in the book "Mandela," saying, "He was able to relate to people with respect and therefore he was respected in return."

While Mandela's party, the African National Congress, had always been dedicated to non-violence, in 1960 the ANC was banned to prevent further protests after police shot dead 69 black protestors in what became known as the Sharpeville massacre.

The events radicalized the organization and led to the creation of the ANC military wing, for which Mandela became its first commander in 1961.

In 1962, Mandela was sent to prison on a charge of inciting a strike.

"At 1:30 in the morning, on March 30, I was awakened by sharp, unfriendly knocks at my door, the unmistakable signature of the police. 'The time has come,' I said to myself as I opened the door to find half a dozen armed security policemen," Mandela said.

Two years later, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the white government. Much of the next 27 years in prison were spent in the infamous Robben Island prison where he did hard labor in a lime quarry.

During his nearly three decades behind bars, Mandela would become a myth. The government even banned any use of Mandela's image or words, leaving a whole generation to grow up knowing little about the world's most famous political prisoner.

Read more...

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012. But nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter and hold back growth.

The Commerce Department's second estimate of third-quarter growth released Thursday was sharply higher than the initial 2.8 percent rate reported last month. And it was well above the 2.5 percent growth rate for the April-June quarter.

Almost the entire third-quarter revision was due to a big jump in stockpiles. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the economy, was the weakest in nearly four years.

When excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the third quarter, down from 2.1 percent in the spring. That's in line with the same subpar rate that the economy has seen since the Great Recession ended four years ago.

"There's no momentum here," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. He said overall economic growth could come in below 2 percent in the current October-December quarter.

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, agreed that inventories will hold back growth in the current quarter. But he disagreed that the report suggested the economy was not strengthening. He noted that business sales increased markedly, corporate profits rose, income grew and Americans saved more. The report adds "to the evidence that the recovery is gaining momentum."

Business stockpiles contributed 1.7 percent points to growth, twice the contribution reported last month in the first estimate. Companies are likely to cut back on restocking at the end of the year, especially if they don't see consumers stepping up spending.

In the third-quarter, consumers increased their spending at a tepid 1.4 percent annual rate. That was the slowest since the final quarter of 2009, a few months after the recession officially ended. Consumer spending typically drives 70 percent of economic activity.

But the spending activity in the third quarter was held back by flat spending on services. That may have reflected an unusually mild summer, which cut demand for air conditioning. One hopeful sign: Consumer spent on goods at the fastest rate since early 2012.

Other details in the report were mixed. Business investment in equipment was flat in the third quarter. Spending on housing construction remained strong, rising at an annual rate of 13 percent. Government spending edged up at a slight 0.4 percent annual rate in the summer. The biggest spending increase in state and local government spending since 2009 offset another decline in federal expenditures.

A number reports have offered some promise that the fourth quarter could be stronger than many economists are predicting.

In October, spending at retail businesses rose solidly, U.S. exports grew to a record level and employers added 204,000 jobs. November car sales rose 9 percent and are running at an annual rate of 16.4 million, the best performance of the year, according to Autodata Corp.

But early reports on holiday shopping have been disappointing. The National Retail Federation estimates that sales over the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend — arguably the most crucial shopping stretch for retail businesses — fell for the first time since the group began keeping track in 2006.

Faster growth could make the Federal Reserve more inclined to begin slowing its bond purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low and encouraged more borrowing and spending.

Many economists believe the central bank will not reduce the $85 billion-a-month pace when it meets later this month.

Read more...

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is pushing to extend jobless benefits to long-term unemployed Americans.

The argument is that if benefits don't get renewed by the end of the month, more than a million people will lose the assistance -- which will slow economic growth.

The government released a report Thursday. It says Congress has renewed benefits when unemployment was lower than the current 7.3 percent. New jobless numbers are due out Friday.

Democrats want to keep a program giving federal jobless benefits to people after their 26 weeks of state benefits run out. The Congressional Budget Office says that would cost an estimated $25 billion -- but estimates say it would also stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Read more...

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