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Sculpture recalls fate of Jewish refugee ship

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) -- A new monument was unveiled Thursday in eastern Canada marking the country's decision to turn away a steamship carrying Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939.

The luxury liner MS St. Louis was first turned away by Cuba, then the United States and finally Canada before returning to Europe just before the outbreak of war. Of the 900 German Jews aboard, almost a third died in the Holocaust.

The sculpture by Daniel Libeskind, called the Wheel of Conscience and unveiled in Halifax, is the centerpiece of a $476,000 national project aimed at educating Canadians.

"It tells the story of a tragedy, a dark period of Canadian history, where anti-Semitism and anti-immigration policies led to the murder of hundreds of people and the suffering of hundreds of others," Libeskind said.

The large memorial is a steel cylinder tipped on its side, with four spinning gears on its face.

The words hatred, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism appear on each gear. A map showing the ship's voyage is etched on the cylinder's edge.

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Boy George thanked for stolen icon's return

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Cyprus' Orthodox Christian Church on Thursday thanked former Culture Club singer Boy George for returning an icon of Christ that it says was stolen from a church in the breakaway north of the divided island.

Boy George agreed to return the 18th century icon he bought from a London art dealer in 1985 after being presented with proof of its true origin, the church said in a statement posted on its website.

"Before this, I had no idea who Boy George was," said Brussels-based Bishop Porfyrios, who led efforts to recover the icon. "He was positive about returning the icon."

The church said it was alerted about the icon's whereabouts by an informant who saw the singer with it on a Dutch TV show in November.

Boy George, who said he was unaware of the icon's history when he bought it, handed the icon over to Bishop Porfyrios in London on Tuesday.

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Defense talks planned at North Korea request

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea said Thursday it accepted a North Korean proposal to hold high-level defense talks a day after the leaders of the U.S. and China called for better communication between the two Koreas.

The talks could prove significant if Seoul and Pyongyang can put aside military and political tensions that soared to their worst level in years in 2010 and lay the groundwork for a resumption of long-stalled international negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear programs. Lower-level defense talks last year foundered over the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in disputed waters.

The agenda should include North Korean assurances that it will take "responsible measures" over the ship sinking, a South Korean spokesman said.

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