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Germany passes immigration law

A fiercely debated immigration bill that would let German businesses recruit foreigners to fill a need for skilled workers squeezed through parliament by one vote Friday, handing an election-year victory to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The upper house, where Schroeder's government lacks a majority, unexpectedly approved the bill _ Germany's first comprehensive immigration law _ by a 35-34 vote.

"Germany needs this law," Schroeder said. As well as admitting refugees under tightened rules, "those that we need to maintain and increase our economic prosperity can come too.'

The law was drawn up after a government commission argued last year that Germany needs tens of thousands of migrants each year to supplement its aging, shrinking population. It is intended to help Germany avert a skills shortage in areas such as engineering and computing. But conservatives say it would expose the country to a flood of immigrants, worsening unemployment, already above 10 percent.

British woman wins right-to-die case

LONDON _ A paralyzed woman who wants doctors to remove the ventilator that keeps her alive has a right to die, a British judge ruled Friday.

The case was apparently the first in Britain in which a mentally competent patient had applied for the right to terminate life-sustaining treatment.

The woman, identified only as B, was paralyzed from the neck down when a blood vessel ruptured in her neck a year ago, and is unable to breathe unaided. She told the court she understood the implications and wanted to die.

Her doctors argued that it would be unethical to switch off the ventilator.

The judge ruled that B had the mental capacity to give or refuse consent to medical treatment, adding that for someone as severely disabled as the patient, "life in that condition may be worse than death."

In a statement, the woman said she was pleased with the judgment but upset she had been forced to take court action. She hasn't indicated when she will have the ventilator turned off.

Chinese police seal roads

SHANGHAI, China _ Authorities in northeast China moved to end days of labor protests by blocking roads with military police and offering to release detained labor leaders if demonstrators stay home. Only a handful of protesters made it through road blocks manned by soldiers to stand before city offices in Liaoyang, an industrial city in China's "rust belt" northeast, witnesses said.