TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1200 GMT

COMET LANDING

DARMSTADT, Germany — The European Space Agency's unmanned Rosetta probe successfully released a lander toward the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, putting it on its final seven-hour journey to a historic rendezvous with the fast-moving lump of dust and ice.. By Frank Jordans and Christoph Noelting. SENT: 480 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: Confirmation of landing, if successful, expected around 1603 GMT.

With: COMET LANDING-TIMELINE

BANKS-FINES

LONDON — U.S., British and Swiss regulators have fined five global banks $3.4 billion for attempting to manipulate foreign exchange markets — the latest penalties for an industry previously criticized for rigging interest rates and for their role in triggering the global financial crisis. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority say that Citibank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC Bank and UBS had agreed to settlements totaling almost $3.4 billion. By Danica Kirka and Marcy Gordon. SENT: 820 words, photos.

With: BANKS-FINES-Q&A

UNITED NATIONS-US-TORTURE

GENEVA — A U.N. panel began grilling American officials Wednesday over the country's compliance with a key anti-torture treaty, raising a series of alleged violations and admitted "lapses" since the 9/11 attacks. At the start of a two-day hearing, Alessio Bruni of Italy, one of the panel's chief investigators, told the high-level U.S. delegation that it must answer for alleged violations ranging from CIA rendition at so-called black sites to police brutality and Guantanamo Bay conditions. He asked what concrete measures have been taken to implement President Barack Obama's "clear" directives against torture. By John Heilprin. SENT: 300 words.

NETHERLANDS-BLACK PETE

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands' highest administrative court has refused to wade into the increasingly acrimonious national debate around "Black Pete," the sidekick to the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus. The court says it is still open to local groups to file civil or criminal complaints against local celebrations. By Mike Corder. SENT: 300 words, photos.