Conservation: A first-of-its-kind intensive count of western Africa gorillas found far more of the apes than conservationists previously thought. Maybe not for long: The same study found a 19 per cent plunge in that gorilla population in just eight years. Researchers spent a decade looking for lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and nests in what scientists said is the most accurate count for the apes in this primary region where they live, according to a study in Science Advances. They put the 2013 population at 362,000 gorillas. That's considerably more than the 150,000-to-250,000 estimate from the organisation that determines how endangered species are, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. But it's also significantly less than the 2005 assessment of almost 450,000 gorillas from the same research team.
Australia: An Australian mother and daughter were among the 71 people who lost their lives in London's Grenfell Tower tragedy. Victoria King, 71, and her daughter Alexandra Atala, 40, were the last two victims to be identified in November, after their remains were found in their 20th floor flat, the Australian reports today. However, this was only confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs this week after repeated requests since October about the June 14 tragedy. "The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can confirm that two Australian citizens died in the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017," a spokesman told the paper. The mother and daughter were long-term residents of the 24-storey tower in which King had celebrated her 71st birthday just two days before the fire.
Italy: Work at ancient thermal baths in Pompeii's ruins has revealed the skeleton of a crouching child who perished in Mount Vesuvius' eruption in AD 79. Pompeii's director Massimo Osanna said that the skeleton, believed to be of a 7- or 8-year-old child, was found during work in February to shore up the main ancient baths in the sprawling archaeological site. The skeleton was removed yesterday from the baths' area for study, including DNA testing to determine the sex. Experts think deadly volcanic gases killed the child.
Iran: The United States is not seeking to reopen or renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal but hopes to stay in it to fix its flaws with a supplementary agreement, US non-proliferation envoy Christopher Ford says. US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged yesterday to seek stronger measures to contain Iran, but Trump refrained from committing to staying in the 2015 nuclear deal and threatened Tehran with retaliation if it restarted its nuclear programme. "We are not aiming to renegotiate the JCPOA (nuclear deal) or reopen it or change its terms," Ford told reporters in Geneva. "We are seeking a supplemental agreement that would in some fashion layer upon it a series of additional rules — restrictions, terms, parameters, whatever you want to call it — that help answer these challenges more effectively.
Syria: Inspectors with the global chemical weapons agency have visited a second site in Syria's Douma and taken samples to help them determine whether banned toxic munitions were used there. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is investigating the deaths of dozens of people in the enclave outside of the Syrian capital on April 7. Samples taken from two sites will be returned to the OPCW's laboratory in the Netherlands and then sent on to affiliated laboratories for examination, the OPCW said. Those tests will determine whether or not chemical weapons were used. International donors today pledged an estimated US$4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria and neighbours sheltering its refugees in 2018, falling significantly short of the more than US$7b the United Nations is seeking.
Turkey: A Turkish court has sentenced 14 staff of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to prison on terrorism charges and acquitted three, one of their lawyers says, in a case that has sparked global outrage over press freedom under Tayyip Erdogan. The court handed down sentences ranging from 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 years to the Cumhuriyet staff, lawyer Ozden Ozdemir told Reuters. Another defendant in the case, who was not employed by the paper and had been charged for his activities on Twitter, got the stiffest sentence, 10 years, Ozdemir said.
United States: The Tennessee Waffle House where four people were fatally shot reopened today amid tears and solemn remembrance of the dead, as the company said it will donate a month of the restaurant's sales to help the wounded survivors and the families of the slain. Employees wore orange ribbons and hugged one another while a steady stream of customers came in to order food and show support.
Spain: A woman in Spain has found unexpected fame on social media after many found she bore a striking resemblance to US President Donald Trump. A journalist reporting on farming in northwestern Spain posted on Instagram a picture of Dolores Leis dressed in farm clothing with a hoe over her shoulder, prompting thousands of responses. The 64-year-old has since been asked to comment on pressing US policy and international issues — though she has shown more concern for a moth plague threatening her potato crops. "I say that it must be because of the colour of the hair," Leis told the La Voz de Galicia newspaper. She is different to Trump on one issue though — she doesn't use a mobile phone and has little interest in online chatter.
Austria: Since the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Soviet Chernobyl reactor, one in four thyroid cancer cases has been caused by radiation in the region, UN scientists report in their first such estimate. After reviewing various statistics and existing studies, the Vienna-based UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation said that around 20,000 such cancers were registered between 1991 and 2015 in the area surrounding the reactor, which takes in all of Ukraine and Belarus, as well parts of Russia. This figure covers people who were younger than 18 years at the time of the nuclear accident.
United States: A quarter-century after fleeing from the law, a man dubbed the last of Miami's "cocaine cowboys" was sentenced to 11 years in prison for playing a key role in one of the biggest drug trafficking operations of the violent 1980s smuggling era.
Gustavo Falcon, 56, was a fugitive for 26 years before his capture last April. Falcon, also known as "Taby," disappeared in 1991 when he was indicted along with his older brother Augusto "Willie" Falcon, Salvatore "Sal" Magluta and many others. Gustavo Falcon pleaded guilty in February to a single cocaine distribution conspiracy charge. Authorities say the gang smuggled 68,000kg of cocaine into the US and made an estimated US$2 billion during a time popularised by TV's Miami Vice show.
Germany: Germans of various faiths donned Jewish skullcaps and took to the streets today in several cities to protest an anti-Semitic attack in Berlin and express fears about growing hatred of Jews in the country. The kippa protest was triggered by the daytime assault last week of two young men wearing skullcaps in an upmarket neighbourhood in the German capital. The attack, in which a 19-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker is a suspect, drew outrage in Germany and sharp condemnation by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Venezuela: Spanish authorities acknowledged today that they've arrested a married couple with links to Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez in a case of suspected corruption.
Officials in Madrid said they detained the pair at Venezuela's request. The two are Claudia Diaz, a one-time nurse of Chavez who later climbed the ranks at the National Treasury to head the country's accounts from 2011 to 2013, and her husband, Adrian Velasquez Figueroa, a member of the presidential palace's security detail. Venezuelan Attorney-General Tarek William Saab had announced the arrests in early April, but officials in Spain at first denied it. Venezuelan officials are seeking them on suspicion of corruption revealed in the Panama Papers. A Spanish judge is expected to hold a hearing tomorrow on the married couple's possible extradition to Venezuela.