EU to help repair Auschwitz site

WARSAW, Poland - The European Union will give 4.2 million euros ($5.9 million) to help preserve Auschwitz, the former Nazi death camp that more than six decades after the World War II is in a state of serious disrepair.

Rafal Pioro, who heads Auschwitz's conservation department, said the EU promised the money recently to fund badly needed repairs on the camp's structures.

Museum officials and others are struggling to preserve Auschwitz, a vast complex of barbed wire, gas chambers, barracks, and watchtowers, that stands as historical evidence and as a symbol of Nazi evil. The site gets one million visitors per year.

"[The grant] is significant and will let us get started on our complex work on the camp," Pioro said yesterday. He estimated that the total preservation project would cost the equivalent of $64 million. Work is scheduled to begin this August. - AP

Gay penguins raise chick at zoo

BERLIN - A German zoo says a pair of gay penguins are raising a chick from an egg abandoned by its parents.

Bremerhaven zoo veterinarian Joachim Schoene says the egg was placed in the two male penguins' nest after its parents rejected it in late April. The males incubated it for some 30 days before it hatched and have continued to care for it. The chick's gender is not yet known.

Schoene said the male birds, named Z and Vielpunkt, are one of three same-sex pairs among the zoo's 20 Humboldt penguins that have attempted to mate.

Homosexual behavior has been documented in many animal species. The zoo said in a statement on its Web site Thursday that "sex and coupling in our world don't always have something to do with reproduction." - AP

Religious groups relent in scandal

DUBLIN, Ireland - Bowing to government pressure, 18 Roman Catholic religious orders whose members abused thousands of Irish children pledged yesterday to allow external audits of their finances and to establish a new compensation fund for victims.

The promise came after leaders of the orders held a meeting with Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who bluntly criticized their refusal to accept the magnitude of the harm they did by shielding those who emotionally or physically abused generations of children at workhouse-style schools run by the orders.

Later, the 18 groups said in a joint statement that they would "make financial and other contributions toward a broad range of measures designed to alleviate the hurt caused to people who were abused in their care."

Victims' advocates say the orders have been using sophisticated financial shell games to hide their true net worth. - AP

Elsewhere:

A London judge sentenced two men to life terms for what he called the sadistic and drug-fueled killings last June of two French students attending London's Imperial College. The two were bound, tortured, and stabbed in an apartment during a robbery. Between them, they were stabbed nearly 250 times.