Nelson Mandela dies: South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. Mr Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities. He had been receiving intensive medical care at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.
6 December 2013
Nelson Mandela’s death may, in the short term, unite South Africa in ways that have never been seen before.
The sentiments expressed by well-wishers of all races and backgrounds outside the hospital in Pretoria as he lay critically ill for nearly three months – the wall of deeply personal messages, the paintings, the choirs who came from across the country to sing for Mr Mandela – were a reminder of his unifying influence. We can clearly expect so much more in the coming days in this country where the emotional charge is so powerful.
This unity may coalesce around a determination to push South Africa further down the road of non-racialism, of equality of opportunity and the eradication of poverty, all of them among Nelson Mandela’s most cherished ambitions for the country.
But South Africa is only months away from a general election, 20 years after the historic one of 1994. And Nelson Mandela’s ANC has been facing unprecedented levels of criticism, with new parties surfacing to challenge its hold on power since the days of apartheid.
Will the Mandela legacy help the ANC fend off the challenges, or will his passing – in the longer if not the shorter term – lead to significant change within the ANC itself. 2014 could point the way towards his political legacy.
Croatia voters back same-sex marriage ban: Croatian voters have backed proposals to ban same-sex marriages in a referendum. Two-thirds of those who voted approved proposals to change Croatia’s constitution to define marriage as ‘a union between a man and a woman’.
2 December 2013
Government proposals to formalise rights for same-sex couples prompted the petition. Around three-quarters of a million people signed it – out of a total population of just over 4 million. The Catholic Church is a key part of Croat identity – and many people are socially conservative.
The referendum is an enormous embarrassment for Croatia’s government. It tried – and failed – to block the vote through the courts.
Success is a relative concept. Croatia appeared to be moving in a different direction to other western Balkan countries when it joined the EU in July. Now, like its neighbours, Serbia and Montenegro, it has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
‘Love test’ predicts good marriage: Scientists have invented a new “love test” that they believe could predict the success of a relationship. The research, published in the journal Science, suggests that a reaction to an image of a partner could give a useful indication of the future state of a marriage.
29 November 2013
The researchers interviewed more than 100 newly-weds, all of whom said they were very happy with their partner – as one might imagine.
However, a test of their unconscious feelings towards each other showed that some of them had negative emotions which they haven’t admitted to – even to themselves.
The test involved showing one of the couple a photograph of their partner for a third of a second. They then had to answer as quickly as possible whether certain words such as great, awesome, horrible and scary were positive or negative words.
If they had unconscious negative feelings towards their partner, they were quick to identify the negative words, and vice versa.
Researchers found that those with unconscious negative feelings had them gradually surface and they admitted to being unhappy in follow-up interviews three or four years later.
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