The Iraqi parliament on Monday voted to lift sanctions imposed on Kurdish banks in November by the Iraqi Central Bank following the Kurdistan Region’s referendum. Local sources also confirmed that the Iraqi government has decided to send the Kurdistan Region 250 billion Iraqi dinars (about $210 million) for the salaries of Kurdish state employees, notably the health and education ministries, two ministries whose payroll lists were being audited by the Iraqi Central Government. The move is seen as a thawing of tensions between Erbil and Baghdad.

Meanwhile, An Iranian woman detained after defiantly taking off her headscarf and holding it on a stick in Tehran has been freed. The woman – whose name remains unknown – became the face of protests in the country in December, and images of her were widely shared on social media. Iranian officials have so far made no public comments on the issue.

Lastly, Multi-award winning screen actor Meryl Streep has applied to trademark her name to stop others exploiting it. The application, filed with the US Trademark Office, would give her exclusive rights to the use of her name in the entertainment industry, with Streep turning to the law to protect her name from unauthorised commercial use. Other celebrities who have done the same include rapper 50 Cent, football-and-fashion super-couple David and Victoria Beckham and heiress and socialite Paris Hilton.