World news in brief - August 27, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 6:14am


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UniCredit subsidiary faces sanctions inquiry

MILAN - US authorities are investigating UniCredit's German unit HVB as part of a crackdown on possible violations of sanctions on Iran that has already cost Standard Chartered a hefty settlement. UniCredit said the New York County District Attorney's Office, the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control were leading the investigation. A person familiar with the situation said the investigation involved possible breaches of Iran sanctions. Reuters

UK rescinds threat to enter Ecuador embassy

QUITO - Britain has withdrawn a threat to enter Ecuador's embassy in London to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, President Rafael Correa said, taking the heat out of the diplomatic stand-off. Ecuador was furious after the British government warned it might try to seize Assange, who has been holed up in the building for more than two months trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault. Reuters

Asylum seekers won't eat at Christmas Island

SYDNEY - Up to 100 detained asylum seekers were on hunger strike in Australia after being informed they would be transferred to a remote Pacific island under a tough new refugee policy. An immigration department spokesman said around 100 being held at the Christmas Island detention centre had launched the strike after they were told they would be sent to Nauru. They will be among the first group transferred to the tiny Pacific island to await the processing of their refugee claims under the new policy, which Canberra hopes will deter a record flow of people-smuggling ships. AFP

Botched art restoration draws crowds in Spain

MADRID - It's been dubbed the "world's worst restoration", but a 102-year-old church painting of Christ that now resembles a pale monkey is drawing visitors by the hundreds to a sleepy Spanish town. The northeastern town of Borja garnered global attention after residents decried the well-meaning restoration efforts of Cecilia Gimenez, who is described as being in her 80s and made a horribly botched attempt to restore a flaking oil painting of Christ wearing the crown of thorns. "The previous painting was also very pretty, but I really like this one," a woman who travelled to Borja said. AFP

Murdoch urges critics to 'give Harry a break'

LONDON - Media mogul Rupert Murdoch came to the defence of Britain's Prince Harry, urging critics to "give him a break" over photographs of him frolicking naked in a Las Vegas hotel suite. Australian-born Murdoch tweeted the message after his top-selling British tabloid The Sun printed the images of 27-year-old Harry in defiance of orders from the royal family. AFP

Police revisit '82 blast at Israeli consulate

SYDNEY - Australian police reopened inquiries into the 1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney and a Jewish club, reportedly after interviewing an extremist jailed in the US over a blast on a Pan Am flight that year. No one was killed but two people were injured in the attacks on the consulate and the Jewish Hakoah sports club in Bondi on December 23, 1982 - crimes that are unsolved for 30 years. Police published photos of two male suspects, after a review of the Sydney bombings reportedly led them to Mohammed Rashed, in jail for a blast on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu. AFP

Scottish priests slam gay marriage plan

LONDON - Scotland's Catholic priests condemned plans by the devolved government in Edinburgh to legalise gay marriage. The letter by Scotland's Catholic bishops, which was being read in each of the Church's 500 Scottish parishes, urges followers to fight efforts to "redefine" marriage. Scotland last month became the first part of Britain to legalise same-sex marriage, but stressed churches would not be forced to host gay weddings. AFP

British parliament may shut for vital repairs

LONDON - Britain's iconic houses of parliament in London could close for up to five years while essential repairs are carried out, The Sunday Times reported. The newspaper said several options were on the table while the plumbing and wiring are refurbished and the building is purged of asbestos, including leaving the Palace of Westminster for good. A spokesman for parliament's lower house of commons said the results of the study would be considered by the end of the year. AFP

Surrogate, 49, gives birth to her grandson

MADAWSKA - A 49-year-old US woman has given birth to her grandson after her daughter was prevented from becoming pregnant because of a heart condition. Linda Sirois gave birth on August 13 for her 25-year-old daughter, Angel Hebert. Sirois said she's offered for years to become a gestational surrogate for her daughter if a doctor said she shouldn't become pregnant. AP