While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 31

Trump says he's willing to talk to Iran without pre-conditions

US President Donald Trump said on Monday (July 30) he would be willing to meet Iran’s leader without pre-conditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying, “If they want to meet, we’ll meet.”

Asked at a White House news conference whether he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: “I’d meet with anybody. I believe in meetings,” especially in cases where war is at stake.  

Trump’s remarks represented a marked softening in rhetoric from a week ago, when he lashed out at Rouhani in a tweet, saying “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”


Zimbabwe begins counting votes after first post-Mugabe election

Counting began in Zimbabwe on Monday (July 30) in the first election since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, a watershed vote that could welcome a pariah state back into the international fold and spark an economic recovery.

The election is a two-horse race between 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who is vying to become Zimbabwe's youngest head of state.

Mnangagwa is viewed as the frontrunner, though the latest opinion polls showed a tight race. There will be a runoff on Sept. 8 if no candidate wins more than half the votes.


World's biggest king penguin colony shrinks 90 per cent

The planet's largest colony of king penguins has declined by nearly 90 per cent in three decades, alarmed researchers said Monday (July 30).

The last time scientists set foot on France's remote Ile aux Cochons - roughly half way between the tip of Africa and Antarctica - the island was blanketed by two million of the flightless birds, which stand about a metre tall.

But recent satellite images and photos taken from helicopters show the population has collapsed, with barely 200,000 remaining, according to a study published in Antarctic Science.


Seven family members found dead in eastern India: Police

Seven members of a family in eastern India were found hanging inside their home, police told AFP Monday (July 30), in what they said was a suspected case of mass suicide - although two victims were infants.

The family were living in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, and the dead included two women and three men alongside the two children.

"Initial investigations point to suicide. We have also recovered suicide notes pointing to the family's financial situation," Anish Gupta, senior superintendent of Ranchi police told AFP.


High tensions in Italy after series of racially-motivated attacks

A rise in reports of racially-motivated attacks in Italy in recent weeks has led to unease in the country but far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has dismissed claims of growing racism as “nonsense”. 

In the latest publicised attack on Monday (July 30), a young black Italian athlete was subjected to a drive-by assault while walking home in northern Italy – provoking an outpouring of condemnation from opposition politicians who accused Salvini of creating a climate of hatred. 

Daisy Osakue, a 22-year-old discus thrower who was born in Italy to Nigerian parents, suffered injuries to her eye after an egg was thrown at her from a car.  The damage to her eye in the attack, which Osakue believes was racially motivated, could impede her ability to compete in the European Championship in Berlin next week.