Virginia probes abuses of migrant children at detention centre | News

Virginia’s governor ordered state officials on Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility. Governor Ralph Northam announced the probe in a tweet hours after the reported allegations. Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention centre in the US state of Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cell, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP). The report also cited an adult who saw bruises…

Sign language fluent gorilla Koko dies at 46 | USA News

Koko, a western lowland gorilla said to have mastered American Sign Language, has died aged 46, the California institute which studied her said on Thursday. “The Gorilla Foundation is sad to announce the passing of our beloved Koko,” the research centre said in a statement, adding she passed away in her sleep. Koko was among a handful of primates who could communicate using sign language; others included Washoe, a female chimpanzee in Washington state, and Chantek, a male orangutan in Atlanta. Her keepers said she understood some spoken English, too.…

Romania ruling party chief convicted over fake jobs scandal | News

Romania‘s high court on Thursday sentenced the leader of the ruling left-wing Social Democrat party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, to three-and-a-half years in prison over a fake jobs scandal. The court’s decision can be appealed but is expected to weaken his ability to influence national politics. Dragnea, 55, who is not yet in custody, is widely acknowledged to be Romania’s most powerful politician and is thought to hold substantial sway over the government of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. Dragnea wasn’t able to become premier himself because of a two-year suspended prison…

South Sudan armed opposition rejects ‘imposition’ of peace deal | South Sudan News

South Sudan‘s armed opposition on Thursday rejected any “imposition” of a peace deal and said more time is needed to secure lasting peace in the country and it would be necessary to address the root causes of a civil war after the first face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in almost two years. An opposition statement called Wednesday night’s meeting “cordial” and said both sides discussed the prospects for peace “in broad terms.” But it warned that the current model for the peace process is…

Political tensions loom over critical OPEC meeting | News

Vienna, Austria – OPEC ministers are gathered in Vienna to discuss global oil output, with analysts expecting a significant decision on production amid political tension between some member states. Saudi Arabia, which is a member, and non-member Russia are urging the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to lift production again, after 18 months of tight output control.  But Iran and other members have expressed opposition and had gone as far as threatening to veto the Saudi proposal. Friday’s ministerial meeting is expected to be one of the toughest in…

Central European countries to boycott Brussels’ migration meeting | News

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said leaders of the Visegrad Four countries of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will skip this weekend’s mini summit on migration in Brussels. He said such meetings of state leaders should be organised by the European Council, the bloc’s top decision-making body, not the EU Commission. The Commission will organise the smaller summit ahead of a full EU summit due next week, as an attempt to persuade other EU leaders to further curb immigration and restrict movement of asylum seekers within the European…

Saudi launches awareness campaign before female motorists drive | News

A mixture of excitement and fear has enveloped the religiously conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it awaits the lifting of a decades-long ban on women driving on June 24. In only three days the Saudi kingdom, which has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, will see women driving side-by-side as their male counterparts for the first time. In preparation for the historic event, Saudi Arabia launched on Thursday a three-day campaign called “place your trust in God and drive” to encourage female motorists and raise awareness about driving techniques…

Thousands celebrate International Day of Yoga | India

From the Himalayan region of Ladakh to the deck of an aircraft carrier, tens of thousands joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to celebrate the fourth International Day of Yoga, with a few wearing masks to bring attention to poor air quality.  Modi pushed for the annual event to be held worldwide after he came to power in 2014. The lifestyle industry centred on the ancient physical and spiritual discipline is estimated to be worth around $80bn. Countries such as Afghanistan, Japan and Peru held yoga sessions, while…

Turkey’s June 24 elections are about checks and balances | Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In April, when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for snap parliamentary and presidential elections to be held on June 24, more than a year earlier than planned, most analysts expected to witness a relatively dull campaign season. The decision had caught the opposition unprepared and fractured, with no apparent candidate to challenge the incumbent. Campaigning on the promise of stability and security and praising the transformation to the presidential system after the June 24 elections, Erdogan seemed slated for another easy victory. Yet, two months later, we are facing…