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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mandela turns 95 and get praise worldwide

Anti-apartheid leader and former South African president Nelson Mandela turned 95 on Thursday. His birthday will be celebrated with speeches from world leaders such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Madiba, as he is known by his countrymen, is “steadily improving” from a lung infection, according to his doctors. He was put in hospital for treatment six weeks ago. This is Mandela’s fourth stay in hospital in six months. President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela earlier on. “I was able to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and he was able to smile,” Zuma told reporters. Mandela is seen by many South Africans as a moral beacon and a symbol of racial reconciliation. About 20 American cities will also mark Mandela Day. There will also be ceremonies around Capitol Hill.

Manning faces possible life sentence for “aiding the enemy”

A military judge in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning decided that the whistleblower should face a charge of “aiding the enemy.” If found guilty, the man who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents might spend the rest of his life in military custody with no chance of parole. Manning, a 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst, admits to giving the data to WikiLeaks, but denies he aided any enemies. He pleaded guilty to 10 lesser offenses which could put him in jail for 20 years. According to the judge, Col. Denise Lind, documents given to WikiLeaks reached Osama bin Laden after being published on the Internet. The government said it will not pursue the death penalty for Manning.

Nokia revenues slide 24%

The struggle in the handset business made Finland’s Nokia end the second quarter with an operating loss of €115m, with revenues falling 24% to €5.7bn. Those results made Nokia’s shares fall by 3% in early trading on the Helsinki stock exchange. It could have been even worse if it weren’t for the mobile company’s Lumia smartphones, which have outsold rival BlackBerry. Analysts are now concerned about Nokia’s future viability if the handset business doesn’t make an U-turn. Operating losses at Nokia total €4.1bn in the past nine quarters. The Finnish company used to be the largest maker of mobile phones in the world, but has been taken down by Apple’s iPhone and the rise of Android phones, which are popular in developing markets. Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture in the mobile infrastructure business, has had operating profit of €8m on revenues of €2.78bn. Nokia took full control of the business after the quarter ended.

Russian court convicts opposition leader

A lawyer who is critical of Russia’s public corruption was found guilty of stealing money from a state-controlled timber company. Aleksei A. Navalny, 37, was sentenced to five years in prison, but even former allies of President Vladimir Putin suggested the situation had more to do with Navalny’s intentions to run for mayor of Moscow than anything else. Navalny became popular on the Internet and in social media by calling Putin’s United Russia party as the group of “swindlers and thieves.” He and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov were accused of embezzling $500,000. Judge Sergei Blinov barred the defense from calling 13 witnesses. The verdict prompted calls for a boycott of the Moscow mayoral election and future national votes. Former finance minister Aleksei Kudrin said on Twitter that the decision on Navalny was “looking less like a punishment than an attempt to isolate him from social life and the electoral process.”

Fed stimulus tied to economy’s health, Bernanke says

Before the Senate Banking Committee, chairman Ben Bernanke said the Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost the U.S. economy are tied to the job market’s health and inflation. He also said there is no “preset course” for the $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program. Bernanke assured the benchmark short-term interest rate could be held near zero even if unemployment in the U.S. falls below 6.5 percent. The Fed’s low interest rate policy encouraged more borrowing and spending in the American economy. Bernanke’s remarks came on a day other data offered bright signs for the American economy. New claims for jobless benefits fell last week and factory activity picked up in the Mid-Atlantic in early July.

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