Once a British colony, South Africa was ruled by an oppressive minority white government well into the twentieth century. A long and largely peaceful struggle finally ended the harsh, institutionalized racial segregation, known by its Afrikaans name Apartheid (meaning apartness) in the early 1990s.
One man became the face of the struggle of the majority of South Africans and their ultimate, hard-won victory – Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is born in Mvezo, South Africa, on July 18, 1918. As a young man, he participated in protests against the government. Later, he joined the African National Congress and was instrumental in setting up the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
Arrested for his role in organizing protests and civil disobedience movements, Mandela became more and more involved in the revolution to end his country's separatist, oppressive rule.
Madiba, as he was often referred to, once said, "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones."
In turn, Mandela's lengthy incarceration and experiences led to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules. It lays down rules "to treat all prisoners with respect for their inherent dignity and value as human beings, and to prohibit torture and other forms of ill-treatment."
In total, Nelson Mandela spent around twenty-seven years in prison. Instead of becoming bitter and vengeful, he spent the time studying, reflecting and meditating to emerge a compassionate human being. Deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's teachings, Mandela assimilated and emulated many of them in his fight for equality and freedom. He chose the path of non-violence and became an advocate of unity and reconciliation.
He is quoted as saying, "It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."
As sad as it is to acknowledge, people have treated fellow humans abhorrently through various instances in the past. While none of it can be undone, one can avoid repeating them. On the one hand, humans are exploring space tourism. On another, the world is fighting a non-discriminating virus that has spared no race or nation. Yet, even today, in places near and far, individuals and societies are judged, oppressed, humiliated, and wronged based on the color of their skin!
The United Nations declared July 18 "Nelson Mandela International Day to commemorate this special man and his extraordinary life." It is a recognition of Mandela's values and his dedication to the service of humanity in: conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty; the promotion of social justice. The resolution acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.
Nelson Mandela is a beacon of hope for all those who believe all men are created equal. His life is a lesson in endurance, forgiveness, and unity.
China's economy is expected to slow further later this year, as the ruling Communist Party, which remains fixated on quelling popular discontent with its rule, has put itself in a bind.
Global material prices have recently risen in response to rising hopes for economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Still, it appears that the Chinese government has not allowed the country's companies to raise their sales prices to avoid public outrage.
As a result, many smaller domestic firms have been forced to declare bankruptcy because they have been unable to pass on higher production costs to customers.
Smaller Chinese firms have been "struggling with cost increases," while larger firms have been "frightened by a possible tightening of government regulations," according to a scholar studying the Chinese economy at a Beijing university.
China's economy expanded 7.9 percent year on year during the April-June period, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of growth, official data showed, highlighting the Asian power's steady recovery from the virus shock.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator has accused the United States and the United Kingdom of holding prisoner exchange talks "hostage" following Iran's announcement that nuclear talks should be postponed until the country's new government takes office.
Iran is preparing for a power transition to Ebrahim Raisi's incoming administration in early August, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said, and thus months-long talks in Vienna to restore the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers must wait.
The U.S. or U.K. governments made no immediate comment.
Iran and the United States have acknowledged that they are in indirect negotiations – facilitated by Switzerland – to finalize a prisoner exchange. Both parties indicated last week that negotiations had advanced.
Chinese investigators, accompanied by Pakistani counterparts, visited the site of a bus explosion earlier this week that killed 13 people, including nine Chinese workers.
The bus was blown over a ravine by a blast in northwest Pakistan on 16th July.
Pakistan initially blamed a mechanical failure but later stated that explosive traces had been discovered and that terrorism could not be ruled out.
The Chinese workers killed on the bus were employed at the Dasu hydroelectric project, which is part of the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which aims to connect western China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar.
Editor's note: We are following this story as part of our coverage of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
New research from the University of California, Berkeley, pinpoints the brain regions that drive rats to prioritize their nearest and dearest in times of crisis. It also suggests humans may share the same neural bias.
The findings, published in the journal eLife, suggest that altruism, whether in rodents or humans, is motivated by social bonding and familiarity rather than sympathy or guilt.
With nativism and conflicts between religious, ethnic, and racial groups on the rise throughout the world, the findings suggest that social integration, rather than segregation, may promote human cooperation.
"We discovered that the distressed rat's group identity has a profound effect on the neural response and decision to assist, elucidating the biological mechanism of ingroup bias," said the study's senior author Daniela Kaufer, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and integrative biology.
Watch the video here.
"Overall, the findings suggest that empathy alone doesn't predict helping behavior, and that's really a crucial point," Kaufer said. "So, if you want to motivate people to help others who are suffering, it may be that you have to increase their feeling of belonging and group membership and work toward a common identity."
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