Holloway suspect released

An Aruban judge yesterday ordered the release of Joran van der Sloot, the last of three suspects re-arrested last month in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, ruling that the evidence was not strong enough to continue holding him. The three were the last people known to have seen Holloway alive before she vanished on May 30, 2005, but have denied any role in her disappearance.

Germans look to ban Scientology

Germany's top security officials said yesterday they consider the goals of the U.S.-based Church of Scientology to be in conflict with the principles of the nation's constitution and will seek to ban the group. The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people.

Shortage stops medical tests

Thousands of patients are facing delays in crucial medical tests because of a shortage of a radioactive substance, technetium-99, used in those examinations - all because of the shutdown of one nuclear reactor in Canada. The substance is used in at least 15 million medical scans a year in the United States, by one estimate. The unexpectedly long shutdown of a nuclear reactor producing technetium in Chalk River, Ontario, is the cause.

CompUSA to shutter, with sales

Consumer electronics retailer CompUSA said yesterday that it will close its store operations after the holidays following sale of the company to Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a restructuring firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed. CompUSA operates 103 stores, which plan to run store-closing sales during the holidays.

Museums deny art is Nazi loot

New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation asked a court yesterday to declare them the rightful owners of two Picasso paintings that a Jewish scholar claims were the rightful property of a relative persecuted in Nazi Germany. The two institutions said they took the step to fend off an expected lawsuit from Julius H. Schoeps, a German who has been waging a legal fight to recover artwork and property once owned by his great uncle. Schoeps demanded on Nov. 1 that the museums hand over both works, "Boy Leading a Horse," which is in MoMA's collection, and "Le Moulin de la Galette," in the Guggenheim's collection.

Priests out on a Buddhist limb

New Delhi authorities are investigating allegations that senior priests at Bodh Gaya, Buddhism's holiest site, chopped off a branch from Buddha's enlightenment tree, apparently to sell as souvenirs, a lawyer said yesterday. Pranay Kumar Singh, a lawyer who has filed a complaint in a local court, said the suspects, who include the chief priest of the Buddhist temple at the site, planned to sell pieces of the branch to pilgrims, who are known to pay up to $10 for a single leaf of the tree that provided shade for Buddha's contemplation.

Famed composer dies

Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose innovative electronic works made him one of the most important composers of the postwar era, has died in Berlin at age 79. *

- Daily News wire services