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EUROPE: Stem cell patents blocked

The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that scientists cannot patent stem cell techniques that use human embryos for research, a decision some scientists said could threaten major medical advances if it prevents biotech companies from turning a profit. The ruling sets Europe apart from much of the rest of the world, where there are no such restrictions. It arose from a lawsuit filed not by a religious group but by the environmental group Greenpeace. The decision from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was on the case of a University of Bonn researcher who in 1997 filed a patent on a technique to turn embryonic stem cells into nerve cells. Greenpeace challenged Oliver Bruestle's patent, arguing that it allowed human embryos to be exploited. The court said patents would be allowed if they involved therapeutic or diagnostic techniques that are useful to the embryo itself, like correcting defects. But the justices concluded that the law protects human embryos from any use that could undermine their dignity.

AFGHANISTAN: Going after the Haqqani

Afghan and NATO forces have stepped up their fight against the Haqqani, a militant network considered the most dangerous threat facing coalition forces, the nation's defense officials said Tuesday. The Haqqani are the main target of a days-long operation along the Afghan side of the Pakistani border, where the militants operate. The Haqqani group, linked to both the Taliban and al-Qaida, has been blamed for high profile attacks in the Kabul, including last month's 19-hour siege against the U.S. Embassy.

THAILAND: Fighting to save Bangkok

Floodwaters pressed toward Bangkok on several fronts Tuesday as residents joined soldiers in racing to pile sandbags and officials sounded an alarm about vulnerable areas east of the capital near Suvarnabhumi, the international airport. The city's northern perimeter is facing the brunt of runoff from inland areas where worst flooding in a half-century has killed 315 people.

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