Rights court rules against DNA law

LONDON - Europe's top human rights court yesterday struck down a British law that allows the government to store DNA and fingerprints from people with no criminal record - a landmark decision that could force Britain to destroy nearly one million samples on its database.

Rights groups say the ruling could have even wider implications for the storage of other sensitive and personal data. The case originated when British police refused to destroy DNA samples of two Britons whose criminal cases were dropped.

Seventeen judges on the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that keeping DNA samples and fingerprints was in violation of people's right to a private life - a protection under the Human Rights Convention, which Britain has signed.

Britain cannot appeal the ruling.

- AP

Thai king doesn't deliver his speech

BANGKOK, Thailand - King Bhumibol Adulyadej did not appear yesterday to deliver his traditional birthday address, which was scheduled at a highly charged political moment when many of his subjects were waiting for his calming words.

In broadcast remarks, Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn said the king, who turns 81 today, was receiving medical attention for a throat infection.

The king's address was to have come as the first passenger flights left Suvarnabhumi International Airport after a weeklong occupation by protesters who have been agitating for six months to topple the government.

They dispersed Wednesday after the Constitutional Court disbanded the governing party for electoral fraud and brought down the government.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Cruise ship leaks in the Antarctic

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A cruise ship carrying 122 people was taking on water after running aground yesterday in the Antarctic, but was in no danger of sinking, the Argentine Navy said.

The Panamanian-flagged Ushuaia - with 89 passengers and 33 Argentine crew - sent out an alarm around midday after it suffered two cracks and started leaking fuel and taking on water, the navy said in a statement.

Adm. Daniel Alberto Martin told television station Todo Noticias that the passengers were of "various nationalities" and that all were in good health. Another passenger ship in the area was helping the Ushuaia, which is named after the Tierra del Fuego port where the ship is based.

The ship was stuck near Wilhelmina Bay, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Saudi Arabia deployed

100,000 security personnel to keep order as Muslim pilgrims flooded into the holy city of Mecca in preparation for the annual hajj, beginning tomorrow. Nearly three million pilgrims from around the world are expected this year.

Masked Serbian police officers

scoured the Belgrade home of Ratko Mladic's son and four other sites in the capital yesterday in an intensified hunt for the fugitive genocide suspect.

Zimbabwe declared

a national emergency over a cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health-care system, and state media reported the government was seeking international help. The United Nations said the number of suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe since August has climbed above 12,600, with 570 deaths.