News from throughout the world.
More than 90 thousand people have braved cold, wet conditions to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela at an open-air football stadium in Soweto, in Johannesburg.
The crowd included family members, more than 90 heads of state and governments, and tens of thousands of South Africans.
A host of leaders spoke at the memorial service, including US president Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Barack Obama paid tribute to the former South African President as a giant of history - and the last great liberator of the 20th century.
South African President Jacob Zuma was booed by some in the crowd when it was his turn to speak, after being dogged by controversy over a multimillion-dollar upgrade to his home.
Jacob Zuma thanked the world for its condolences and comforting embrace following the death of Nelson Mandela. He said Mandela's family, South African people, and the African continent feel stronger today because of the comfort provided by millions throughout the world.
Mr Zuma has vowed to continue building the country.
And a botch up saw just two members of the New Zealand delegation, initially being allowed into the leaders' enclosure at the Memorial Service.
John Key chose David Cunliffe, saying it was fair the wider New Zealand was represented.
David Cunliffe gave up his seat for Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, because of his contribution to the anti-apartheid movement.
Mr Cunliffe says the standout highlight for him was that, after being told only two of them would be able to make it inside the stadium - all of them eventually managed to get in.
- RBG NEWS/Newstalk ZB
New leaked documents from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks show New Zealand is standing firm on issues like intellectual property, while the US lacks support in many areas.
According to Auckland University Law professor, Jane Kelsey, two internal documents leaked to the Huffington Post were published this morning under the headline “Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Political Powers In Secret Trade Deal”.
The leak comes during the third day of the TPPA ministerial meeting in Singapore where the 12 countries said they wanted to close the deal.
One of the documents is a chart outlining the positions of each of the twelve countries on most of the major issues being discussed in Singapore - the other document depicts a brutally frank account of the substantive developments around the Salt Lake City round late last month.
Both documents expose deep, political and substantive tensions inside the talks, says Kelsey.
A consumer advocacy group in Washington DC says with the TPP talks shrouded in intense secrecy, the leaks provide the clearest view into the range of sensitive “behind the borders” issues that have spurred growing public opposition to the sweeping agreement in some participating countries.
"The leaked documents reveal that, going in to the Singapore talks, there were 119 contested issues in the TTP draft Intellectual Property chapter,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen.
“The United States has been largely isolated in pushing an agenda favourable to large pharmaceutical firms,” she said, “including extended patents, data exclusivity and other monopoly powers that would hike medicine prices.”
Lori Wallach says the memo and chart also reveal there is still wide opposition to the U.S. promotion of Hollywood and recording industry-inspired proposals that would extend copyright durations, limit innovation and access to educational materials, and force Internet providers to act as “copyright police”.
The chart shows New Zealand rejecting patent provisions, including criminal offences for unintentional breaches of copyright, or for "camcording" movies off the big screen.
And despite concerns the deal could undermine PHARMAC's role, the chart also appears to show New Zealand sticking to its guns on the issue.
However, Jane Kelsey says alongside the intellectual property text that Wikileaks posted last month, these latest leaked documents “give us a much clearer sense of what our government is doing inside the talks, even though it refuses to tell us.”
There are some worrying positions, she says, such as New Zealand’s lack of support for other countries - including the powerful rights that investors rely on to sue the government.
“Knowing the government’s position and how it lines up with other countries,” says Jane Kelsey “allows us to hold the government to account now, and if they sell out further in a final deal.”
Lori Wallach says the Obama administration’s do-or-die 2013 deadline for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is now under question.
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
Church services have been held across South Africa as the nation mourns Nelson Mandela,
The former statesman died last Friday at the age of 95 at his home in Johannesburg.
The sheer scale of events to mark his passing, however, appears quite overwhelming for South African authorities.
A national day of prayer and reflection today heralds a week of ceremonies leading up to Mandela's funeral on Sunday.
Chief reporter for ‘The Observer’, Tracy McVeigh, says managing the vast number of people wanting to pay their respects is becoming a logistical nightmare.
“Already the government is starting to put out requests asking people to, perhaps, stay in their local communities -and as for the actual funeral itself, it does look as though it will be quite difficult.”
Sixty heads of state and government have so far confirmed their attendance at the memorial service on Tuesday.
Dignitaries will include Barack Obama - along with three former American presidents - French President Francois Hollande, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Prince Charles will represent the Queen. Others include UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, Oprah Winfrey and singer-activist, Bono.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has joined the thousands of mourners across South Africa in her first public appearance since her former husband's death.
Mandela's second wife joined the congreation at the Methodist Church in the northern Johannesburg suburb of Bryanston. Friends say his death has left her distraught.
Speaking at the service, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said the nation must reflect on how to carry on his legacy.
"How far are we, in terms of creating a non-racial society? How far are we with regard to national reconciliation? How far are we, in terms of creating a non-sexist South Africa?”
Congregations are being asked to reflect on the strength of a man who emerged from 27 years in prison.
Crowds of people have spent the weekend singing, dancing and chanting outside his former home - remembering and reflecting on the enormity of what he achieved.
However, with his passing, says Tracey McVeigh, there are fears about what his death will mean for the country's future.
"People are really starting to feel that vacuum and how they are going to fill it - if it can be filled - and really quite worried about what that lack of Mandela being here, being in the country, could mean."
Mr Mandela's body is to lie in state in Pretoria for the next three days.
He will be given a state funeral on Sunday, December 15th.
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
Nelson Mandela has died.
The announcement has just been made in South Africa by President, Jacob Zuma.
The South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 - the first black South African to hold the office.
Born to the Thembu royal family in 1918, after attending university Mandela became involved in anti-colonial politics. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. He subsequently served 27 years in prison.
A controversial figure for much of his life Mandela gained international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, receiving more than 250 honours - including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin.
He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation.
On his 80th birthday in 1998, he married his third wife, Graça Machel, widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and ANC ally who was killed in an air crash 12 years earlier.
In February 2011, he was briefly hospitalised with a respiratory infection, then re-hospitalised for a lung infection and gallstone removal in December 2012.
On 8 June 2013, his lung infection worsened, and he was re-hospitalised in Pretoria in a serious condition.
On 1 September 2013, Mandela was discharged from the Pretoria hospital to his Houghton home in Johannesburg where he passed away.
In announcing his death, South African President, Jacob Zuma, said:
"He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 2050 on December 5th. He is now rested - he is now at peace. "
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
A human rights watchdog believes North Korea may be expanding its system of oppressive hard labour at prison camps.
Amnesty International has published a report on the communist regime, entitled "North Korea: Continued Investment in the Infrastructure of Repression". The lobby group's report analyses two of the country's biggest political prison camps or 'kwanliso' using satellite images, as well as new testimonies from former prison staff.
Many of the kwanliso inmates are imprisoned because they are related to alleged political criminals and considered 'guilty by assocation'. A thorough assessment of new satellite images of Kwanliso 15 and 16 concluded there is on-going development at the prisoner camps, including new housing blocks, production facilities, and relentless security.
In 2011, an estimated 20,000 people were believed be imprisoned at Kwanliso 16. Now the latest images from May 2013 show a slight increase in that prison's population, with new housing blocks clearly visible.
Conversely, it appears accommodation facilities in Kwanliso 15 have decreased.
The recent images of the prison camp indicate 39 housing blocks have been demolished in the two years since Amnesty International last assessed satellite pictures of it in 2011; only six new housing blocks have been built. The decrease in Kwanliso 15's housing could indicate a slight reduction in the kwanliso prisoner population, but Amnesty International is unable to verify inmate numbers or the fate of the missing detainees.
A former security official from Kwanliso 16 interviewed by Amnesty last month revealed the horrors he had witnessed at the labour camp - dangerous working conditions, human rights abuses of men, women and children, and cruel methods of execution. Satellite images of both Kwanliso 15 and 16 also show increased industrial activity such as mining, logging and agriculture, pointing to increased hard labour, and growing demands on the prisoners.
"The gruesome reality of North Korea’s continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed. We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those prisoners of conscience held in political prison camps and close the camps immediately."
Rajiv Narayan, East Asia Researcher - Amnesty International
- press rls/ RBG News
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has unveiled his government's legal argument for independence from the UK, ahead of a referendum next September.
Mr Salmond says Scotland's future is now in Scotland's hands.
The 670-page "white paper" sets out detailed plans for currency, taxation, childcare, welfare and other issues facing an independent Scotland.
British Prime Minister David Cameron's government is campaigning to retain the more than 300-year-old union between England and Scotland.
The referendum will be on September 18.
- RBG NEWS/Newstalk ZB
Yale University in the United States is in lockdown, after reports of a gunman roaming campus.
Police are searching the Ivy League school for a man witnesses say is carrying a long gun, while staff and students are taking shelter.
New Haven Police Officer David Hartman says they don't believe it's a hoax, and they are treating the situation as very serious.
An anonymous caller claimed his roommate was headed to the Ivy League school's campus intending to shoot people.
No one has been injured and no shots were fired, said David Hartman.
The department received an 911 call at 9:30 a.m. from a man on a pay phone near Yale's campus, who stated that his roommate was en route to the Yale University campus "with the intention of shooting people," Hartman told reporters.
"We have not yet identified that caller," Hartman said. "He did not identify himself when asked, he did not remain on the 911 line when asked."
Police shut down several blocks around the school, located in downtown New Haven, 80 miles northeast of New York City.
Some 11,250 students attend the prestigious university.
- RBG NEWS/Newstalk ZB
Iranian leaders have received a heroic welcome on their return from Geneva where a deal has been sealed on the country's nuclear programme.
But while the agreement worked out between six world powers and Iran is being hailed on both sides as a break-through - a Middle East expert is comparing it to Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler in 1938.
Under the deal, Iran retains its right to enrich uranium - but at a level that ensures it cannot make nuclear bombs - in return for an easing of economic sanctions.
Iranians see an economic light at the end of their sanction-plagued tunnel, while the West hopes it has hit pause on Iran's nuclear programme.
Iranians believe they have got everything they demanded, but CNN's Reza Sayah says it is not that clear cut.
"Some of the biggest sanctions that remain are those that have to do with oil exports and banking restrictions - but even so, Iranian leaders are depicting this agreement as a win for themselves."
Sayah says what has been achieved is some degree of trust between the sides to build on over the next six months as a more permanent agreement is thrashed out.
Reuters correspondent, Fredrik Dahl, who covered the talks, says Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has changed the landscape in negotiations since his election in June, and this is a significant breakthrough.
"Both sides - the six world powers lead by the US, and Iran - have described this as a very important first step."
But Middle East Forum Director, Daniel Pipe, disagrees - describing the agreement as a foreign policy disaster.
Pipes' says Barack Obama has made many foreign policy errors in the past five years, but this ranks as one of his worst ever steps.
"The wretched deal offers one occasion when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.”
With the U.S. government forfeiting its leadership role, he says, the Israelis, Saudis, and perhaps others are left to cope with a bad situation made worse.
According to Israel National News, Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, reacted sharply to the deal in his weekly cabinet meeting.
"Implications of this agreement threaten many countries - including, of course, Israel."
Netanyahu says Israel is not bound by the agreement. "What we achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake."
INN says earlier this month Israeli public opinion overwhelmingly supported an Iran strike.
Reporter, Tora Dvorin, said the Israeli government has consistently rejected the "bad" deal, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday had said "all options are on the table" when it comes to a possible response.
“War has now become a much more likely prospect,” says Pipes.
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
According to a British study thousands of Syria's most vulnerable are being killed in the nation's on-going civil war.
"Stolen Futures: The hidden toll of child casualties in Syria" by Hana Salama and Hamit Dardagan, shows 11, 420 children have died in the almost two-year conflict.
Dardagan says the most disturbing finding of the report is not just the sheer numbers of children killed, but the way in which they are being killed. He says many died after being bombed in their homes and communities during day-to-day activities.
The study’s authors says most of the casualty figures in circulation originate from a small number of Syrian civil society groups which began recording deaths and human rights violations in response to the conflict, and are to varying degrees aligned with the opposition movement in Syria.
Instead of simply issuing statistics, say Salama and Dardagan, the groups publish detailed lists of each individual killed - in most cases including their name and the circumstances of their death, with the category of weapon that caused it.
Of the children killed, boys outnumbered girls by more than 2 to 1 overall - the highest number was recorded in Aleppo.
By far the primary cause was explosive weapons, killing 7,557 (71%) of the 10,586 children, whose specific cause of death was recorded.
Small-arms fire was the cause of death for 2,806 (26.5%) - including 764 cases of summary execution and 389 cases of sniper fire, with clear evidence of children being specifically targeted.
Their study also reveals at least 112 reported cases of children tortured and killed, including some of infant age.
Combined databases record the deaths of 128 children from the chemical attacks in Ghouta on August 21st.
Salama and Dardagan say the very specific details recorded, and their open publication, lend the casualty recording projects a degree of credibility. Nonetheless, they recommend the figures be treated with caution and considered provisional.
They recommend that all armed forces and groups operating in the Syrian conflict refrain from targeting civilians - but the highest priority, they say, should be given to removing children from all the inherent dangers of war.
- RBG News/NewstalkZB
Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons could be destroyed at sea if other countries refuse to dispose of them on home soil.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) revealed last week that the UN joint mission's first inspection of the production facilities declared by Syria confirms those sites have been rendered inoperable. However, Damascus still needs to eliminate over 1000 tonnes of sarin, mustard and other nerve agents, which are too dangerous to dispose of amid the ongoing conflict in the country.
1,300 tonnes of weapons are still in limbo, after Albania's Prime Minister declared his country will not host their dismantling as per the plan suggested by OPCW last week at the United States' behest. Mr Edi Rama's announcement came on November 15th, the same day that the OPCW accepted Damascus' proposals for destroying its weapons cache.
Using Albania had been one of several solutions suggested by the 41 member states of the Organisation’s Executive Council, as it revealed the next stage of plans for Syria's chemical arsenal. A final roadmap to disposal will be approved by December 17 in the hope that all the illegal weapons will be destroyed by the middle of next year.
The OPCW intends for the chemical weapons to be transported outside Syrian territory for destruction in the 'safest and soonest manner', and the operation to be completed no later than 30 June 2014.
- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News