EUROPE

EU Parliament Backs Limits on Stem Cells

STRASBOURG, France -- The European Parliament supported a ban on creating human embryos for stem cell research, including through cloning, a move that business said could hurt the continent's biotechnology industry.

The decision yesterday by the European Union's assembly still requires approval from each of the 15 EU member states to become law.

The original bill before the assembly was designed to guarantee safety standards, but the assembly added 50 amendments restricting the use of stem cells.

Supporters of the ban defended their position on ethical grounds.

"From the moment of the conception, you create all the individual characteristics of a person . . . in my thinking you cannot kill that," said Marialiese Flemming, an Austrian Christian Democrat.

Stem cells are the source for tissue and organ growth in human beings. Research is designed to repair damaged tissues and find cures for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other ailments.

Although stem cells can be taken from adults, research on those taken from human embryos have proved to be the most promising. Opponents of the restrictions warned that writing them into law would hold back medical progress.

Associated Press

German Police Raids Target Islamic Group

BERLIN -- German police raided more than 80 buildings across the country in a crackdown on suspected members of a banned Islamic group, seizing computers, bank account details and documents.

The raids in 11 states began at 6 a.m., the Interior Ministry said in a statement. It did not say whether there were any arrests.

Germany banned the 50-year-old Hizb ut-Tahrir organization in January, accusing it of promoting anti-Jewish sentiment in universities and elsewhere. It was the third such group to be banned in Germany under anti-terror legislation adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

"Today's measures are a clear warning to everyone that we will act against violent propaganda and anti-Semitic agitation. . . . This organization wishes to sow hate and violence," said Interior Minister Otto Schily, who ordered the raid.

Schily has said the organization denies the right of Israel to exist and promotes the use of violence, including the killing of Jews and their expulsion from Israel.

Reuters

ASIA

Indonesia Threatens Force in Province

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia threatened to resume full combat operations in the restive province of Aceh as clashes between troops and rebels killed four people, putting yet more strain on a shaky peace pact.

The security minister said the military chief would present a battle plan to the president next week -- in case it should be needed -- after what he said was a snub from the Free Aceh Movement to talk about a Dec. 9 peace agreement.

"We are seeking a way out so that this so-called wide-scale military operation will not happen. But if peace efforts . . . fail, the military solution is inevitable," said the official, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The warning to the separatist movement follows the withdrawal of 100 peace monitors to Aceh's capital after attacks this week on their posts across the region on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

Reuters

for the record

Forensic experts said they have unearthed the biggest mass grave found so far dating from Argentina's brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship. The team, which helped find the body of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia six years ago, found what appeared to be the remains of 40 people in a cemetery in Cordoba, 500 miles west of the capital, Buenos Aires.