ZURICH -- For decades, Switzerland was the place where money went to hide. Cash sent to its mountain aeries was protected by some of the strictest secrecy laws in the world.
But with the euro crisis forcing Switzerland's revenue-starved neighbors to search out new sources of money, the Alpine country's bank vaults are suddenly looking irresistible. In recent months, the nation's strict banking secrecy has been under assault from countries such as Germany and Britain as never before. Experts say that the last veils may soon be dropped altogether, bringing the hush-hush tradition to a final end.
Just last week, the council that serves as Switzerland's executive branch met to discuss new steps toward banking transparency after having been threatened with painful isolation if it did not agree to reforms. Later this month, the upper house of Germany's parliament is set to vote on a treaty with Switzerland that would require the banking stronghold to withhold taxes from the accounts of German residents. Similar deals have been signed recently with Austria and Britain, and the possibility is being discussed with others.
BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi court handed the country's fugitive Sunni vice president a new death sentence on Sunday after finding him guilty of ordering his bodyguards to attack Shiite pilgrims, the latest verdict in a trial that has fueled resentment among Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.
It was the third case in which Tariq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death since last spring. All verdicts have been delivered in absentia, since Hashemi is in exile in Turkey after fleeing in December 2011 when the Shiite-led government leveled accusations against him.
MOSCOW -- More than 5,000 young nationalist protesters took to the streets of the Russian capital on Russia's annual Day of National Unity holiday Sunday, denouncing President Vladimir Putin and demanding his ouster.
Carrying imperial Russian black, yellow and white flags, and wearing Cossack uniforms including black boots, hoods and masks, they marched peacefully for four miles before rallying in front of Gorky Park.
In contrast to many previous liberal opposition rallies, the march was allowed by the Moscow government and police stood aside.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Italy's prime minister pledged Sunday not to abandon Afghanistan as his country pulls out its troops, saying Rome will "transform" its support but not leave altogether.
Mario Monti met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Italian troops during the visit. Italy currently has about 3,500 troops in Afghanistan, most in the west of the country, and those are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.
BERLIN -- A German newspaper claims the European Central Bank is lending Spanish banks billions of euros under conditions more generous than its rules allow.
Weekly Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that the ECB is accepting Spanish government bonds as top-tier collateral in return for (euro) 16.6 billion ($21.33 billion) in loans to Spanish banks. The banks are straining under the weight of bad debt from the 2008 collapse of Spain's real estate sector.
The paper, which bases its claims on publicly available documents, says the ECB's own rules mean most of the government bonds should be considered lower-level collateral or not accepted at all.