A mammoth cloud of volcanic ash stretching 1,250 miles across the North Atlantic is forcing most flights between North America and Europe to divert into a sky-high traffic jam, Irish and European air authorities said Friday.
Forecasters warned that the rapidly spreading cloud of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano was projected to reach southern Greenland and the northwest tip of Spain today. The obstacle was already forcing about 600 daily flights operated by more than 40 airlines to carry extra fuel, because the diversions were lengthening flights by up to two hours.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said its trans-Atlantic flights were traveling 90 minutes to two hours longer on average. Delta Air Lines Inc. said its approximately 20 to 25 trans-Atlantic flights daily were arriving 30 minutes to an hour late.
Nuclear agency set to focus on Israel
Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented scrutiny next month, with a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency tentatively set to focus on the topic for the first time, according to documents shared Friday with the Associated Press. The provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting lists "Israeli nuclear capabilities" as the eighth item — the first time the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence. The agenda can still undergo changes or be struck if the U.S. and other Israeli allies mount strong opposition.
Russia says it has freed tanker pirates
The pirates seized by a Russian warship off the coast of Somalia have been released because of "imperfections" in international law, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a claim that sparked skepticism — and even suspicion the pirates might have been killed. Authorities initially said the pirates would be brought to Russia to face criminal charges for hijacking the oil tanker Moscow University. Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Kuznetsov declined to elaborate on the purported legal flaws that led to the release. Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the Russian online Marine Bulletin, said the announcement strained credulity. "If the pirates really were let go, it should have been done in the presence of journalists," he said.
India moves to cap nuclear liability
India's government sent parliament legislation on Friday to make nuclear reactor operators solely liable for accidents and to cap compensation claims. The proposals would help the entry of U.S. companies like General Electric. The Congress party-led ruling coalition's main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Communist members walked out to protest the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill. The proposals impose a $110 million limit on compensation companies operating reactors in India must pay, and exclude suppliers of equipment. Overall liability can reach about $450 million, with the additional amount borne by the government.
Thailand: New violence erupted in Bangkok, the Thai capital, Friday night, killing a policeman and causing other casualties, and likely jeopardizing what had seemed like progress to resolving a two-month standoff between the government and protesters who are seeking new elections.
Britain: Bosnian Serb war criminal Radislav Krstic, who is serving time for his role in the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, was assaulted by fellow inmates Friday at a high-security prison in northern England and had to be hospitalized, officials said.
Nepal: Maoists ended their strike on Friday after crippling the nation for six days, but failed to achieve their goal of making the prime minister and his coalition government step down.