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ICC charges Congolese warlord 'The Terminator'

The International Criminal Court confirmed on Monday that it had filed charges against former warlord Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator", for war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The judges "unanimously confirmed charges consisting in 18 counts of war crimes... and crimes against humanity," against Ntaganda, including rape, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers, the Hague-based court in a statement. The judges pored over 69,000 pages of evidence before concluding there were clear grounds to charge him with "a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population" between 2002 and 2003 when he was military chief of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). By then, he had become one of the founders of a new militant group, the M23, which had launched another armed rebellion in eastern DRC.

VA audit finds thousands of U.S. veterans waiting for health care

By David Lawder and Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Monday that around 100,000 veterans are experiencing long waits for health care appointments at VA facilities, with more than half of these waiting 90 days or more. In results of an internal audit ordered as the scandal over deadly VA wait times exploded last month, the agency said it found that schedule misreporting was widespread. In the May 12 to June 3 survey, the VA said it found that 57,436 new veteran patients had been waiting 90 days or more for an appointment. And it found that 63,869 patients over the past 10 years had requested appointments that have never been scheduled.

Clashes as Nigeria's former bank chief sworn in as Muslim leader

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Nigeria's new Muslim monarch, the Emir of Kano, was sworn in on Monday, after a second day of violence fuelled by suspicions that politics, not religion, was behind the appointment. Thousands of well-wishers turned out at the Kano state government headquarters as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was given his official letter of appointment to the influential role by governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi's nomination on Sunday sparked violence in the northern city, as supporters of the late emir's eldest son took to the streets armed with sticks and stones, setting fires in protest. The violence worsened on Monday, as they clashed with supporters of Sanusi and Kwankwaso, who had turned out in their hundreds wearing white robes and red caps to march on the seat of state government.

Vermont to raise minimum wage to $10.50, highest of any U.S. state

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Monday signed a law that will raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018, higher than any other U.S. state The move to raise the entry-level salary from $8.73 comes in a year when Democrats, including Shumlin, have sought to make worker pay an election issue. U.S. President Barack Obama pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wages to $10.10 per hour from its current $7.25 but failed to win support in either the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or Democratic-controlled Senate. Seven U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws this year raising their minimum wages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "States like Vermont realize that working people can't support their families on the current minimum wage, and we're moving ahead to do the right thing on our own," Shumlin said at a signing ceremony.

Obama administration to make push on American Indian voting rights

By Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Concerned that American Indians are being unfairly kept out of the voting process, the Obama administration is considering a proposal that would require voting districts with tribal land to have at least one polling site in a location chosen by the tribe's government, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday. Holder said the Justice Department would begin consulting tribal authorities on whether it should suggest that Congress pass a law that would apply to state and local administrators whose territory includes tribal lands. The announcement came as President Barack Obama was expected to travel to an American Indian reservation in North Dakota on Friday. Associate Attorney General Tony West on Monday will expand upon Holder's announcement in Anchorage, Alaska, where he will address a conference held by the National Congress of American Indians.

Clouds over French far-right party as father and daughter row

The unity of France's far-right National Front has cracked as founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter and party leader Marine engaged in an unprecedented public war of words, just as she is struggling to create a new EU eurosceptic group. The crisis kicked off last week when a video was posted on the National Front (FN) website in which Le Pen made an apparent anti-Semitic pun -- the latest in a series of controversial statements by the 85-year-old who has had multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity. But this time, members of the FN itself also rose up in anger, including Le Pen's daughter Marine, who took over the party leadership in 2011. She has sought to rid the National Front of its reputation for racism and anti-Semitism ever since, in a move known as the "de-demonisation" of the party.

Supreme Court rules against immigrants over visa eligibility

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that children waiting with their parents for immigration visas must go to the back of the line once they reach the age of 21. The court was divided 5-4 in deciding that only in limited circumstances does federal immigration law allow for children to retain their place in line after they become adults. People often have to wait for years for approval of their visa applications and the number of visas available is capped each year. The litigation is unconnected to recent reports of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border illegally.

Modi govt makes Indian economic revival 'paramount' goal

India's new government pledged Monday to fix the flagging economy and provide water, power and toilets to every home as it laid out its agenda following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's landslide election victory. In an address to both houses of parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee said India's economy faced "extremely difficult" times and that inflation was "unacceptably" high, as he outlined the government's legislative priorities. The speech, drawn up by Modi's new cabinet, included ambitious plans to overhaul India's dilapidated roads and build a high-speed train network and more airports. The speech also included goals contained in the election manifesto of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including creating 100 new cities to help millions flocking from rural areas every year searching for work.

Syria Red Crescent, ICRC deliver rare aid in rebel Aleppo

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Syria's Red Crescent have made rare aid deliveries in rebel-held territory in northern Aleppo province with government consent, a spokesman said Monday. "Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), we were able to deliver food assistance and other essential items such as kitchen sets, hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses to an area called Arum in western Aleppo that is under opposition control," ICRC spokesman Ralph El Hage told AFP. Although the seven-truck convoy carried enough aid for 30,000 people, El Hage said that "relative to the needs in the area this is little." He said the delivery came a day after the organisation delivered medical aid to two government hospitals and two others in rebel-held parts of Aleppo city.

Israel's Lieberman slams ministers over policy cacophony

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday lashed out at fellow ministers for espousing contradictory solutions to the conflict with the Palestinians, maintaining Israel needed one binding diplomatic plan. During back-to-back presentations, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel should seek to resume peace talks with the Palestinians despite the establishment of a Hamas-backed unity government; Interior Minister Gidon Saar spoke in favour of maintaining the status quo; Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Villagers bury dead nearly a week after Boko Haram attack

Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) - More than 100 bodies have been buried almost a week after a Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, local leaders said Monday, but added that many more victims of the attacks had yet to be found. Lawan Abba Kaka and John Gulla, from Attagara in Borno state, said nearly 110 people had now been interred after Islamist militant fighters stormed the village and at least three others nearby on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno in April, has in recent months stepped up its insurgency, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence. Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in Nigeria's Senate, said burials had taken place in nine villages: 42 in Attagara, 24 in Aganjara and 20 in Agapalwa.

Iran, Turkey pledge cooperation despite split over Syria

Iran and Turkey on Monday pledged to work together to stop extremism and bloodshed in the Middle East despite their deep differences over Syria's civil war. "Iran and Turkey, the two important countries in the region, are determined to fight against extremism and terrorism," Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told a news conference in Ankara. He said the instability in the region benefited neither the neighbouring countries, nor the world, and said Turkey and Iran agreed to work together.

Clinton kicking off high-profile book tour

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is embarking on a book tour this week that will feature overtones of a potential presidential campaign in 2016 and could offer a window into the former Secretary of State's stamina and how she might present her rationale for another White House bid.

Obama aims to expand student loan relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is signing an executive order that lets borrowers pay no more than 10 percent of their monthly income in student loan payments.

Well-off Syrians create slice of home in Dubai

As Syria's conflict drags on, refugees who fled to the UAE have recreated a slice of home in the Gulf state, from popular Syrian restaurants to Damascus's iconic Hamidiyeh market. "This place attracts us because it makes us feel as if we are in Damascus," says Waleed Ayoub, a customer. Like millions of his countrymen, Ayoub has left Syria, where peaceful protests for political change in March 2011 turned into a full-on civil war after a brutal government crackdown on the protesters. With its mock up of the arched ceiling of Damascus' main old souq, Al-Hamidiyeh is one of many new restaurants and shops in the United Arab Emirates catering to Syrians nostalgic for their homelands.

Gap to be first US retailer to sell 'Made in Myanmar' goods

High street giant Gap is to become the first American retailer to source garments made in Myanmar, the US embassy in Yangon said, over a decade after sanctions against the former junta slashed the country's textile industry. The US embassy said products made at two Yangon factories would be in Gap stores by this summer, in the latest sign of growing interest from multinationals in the fast-changing former pariah state. Most Western embargoes on Myanmar -- which previously blocked exports from the Southeast Asian nation -- have been lifted in response to wide-ranging democratic reforms introduced in 2011. "The garment industry stands poised to become a significant source of jobs, exports and opportunity for the people of this country," the US embassy said in a statement.

S.Africa govt in final bid to help end platinum strike

The world's largest platinum producers and striking South African miners were holding last-ditch talks under government mediation Monday in a bid to end a crippling five-month strike. Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who in recent days injected fresh impetus into the stalled talks, said that Monday's negotiations were the last his meditators would be involved in. Ministry spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe would not be drawn on the state of the talks Monday apart from telling AFP "we believe that they are talking to each other in good terms". After months of standing on the sidelines, the government stepped in at the end of May to try break the deadlock between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the platinum mining firms.