Truthout | News in Brief (5)

The New York Times and the Associated Press reported that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) will not seek re-election this year. Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats played a central role in securing House approval of the health care overhaul by pressuring President Obama to sign an executive order that no federal funds would be used to subsidize abortion procedures.

Democratic leaders fear his seat could become an opportunity for Republicans to gain ground in the House during the upcoming elections.


AP reported that North Korea denounced Obama’s nuclear policy as “hostile” Friday, and vowed to continue expanding its arsenal of atomic weapons.


The Guardian UK and the Independent UK reported that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called off his trip to Obama’s international nuclear weapons conference, to be held in Washington next week. Netanyahu will send his deputy, Dan Meridor, instead.

Officials in Netanyahu’s office said the decision was made after he learned that his country was likely to be pressured over its own presumed nuclear arsenal. Israel is widely thought to have a cache of nuclear weapons, but has refused to comment under the “ambiguity policy.” Israel has never signed the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty.


Reuters and the BBC reported Friday that Greece is being pressured to receive aid from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund in order to manage its worsening debt crisis.

Following the loss of investor confidence in the bond markets this week, which have increased Greece’s cost of borrowing, European markets are waiting to hear from Brussels on the terms of emergency loans for Greece.

EU officials agreed in principle at an EU summit last month to offer a financial safety net to Greece, but some countries, notably Germany, have shown reluctance to do so.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, has delayed its plan to join the single currency since admitting that, like Greece, it had lied about its 2009 deficit.


The Washington Independent reported that Massey Energy, the company that controls the mine where at least 25 West Virginia coal miners were killed in an explosion this week, has run up thousands of safety violations in its other mines.

According to a review of federal records, the Virginia-based coal giant also controls 41 other underground coal mines currently running in Appalachia, and has been cited for 2,074 safety violations since the start of the year. These include failing to maintain air quality detectors, not ensuring proper ventilation and allowing combustible material to accumulate.

At the site of this week’s explosion, investigators found 124 safety violation. Fifty of them were reported in March alone.


The Guardian UK reported that mainstream right-wing parties and neofascists are set to take over Hungary’s Parliament in elections this weekend. Jobbik, an extremist anti-Semitic and anti-gypsy movement, will win seats in Parliament for the first time and may come out as the second biggest party.

The largest number of seats are likely to be taken by the center-right Fidesz Party, led by Viktor Orban, which has a 60 percent approval rating in the opinion poll. If they win a two-thirds majority, they will be able to rewrite Hungary’s Constitution.

This comes at the same time as the anti-Islam Freedom Party in the Netherlands, led by Geert Wilders, has a 25 percent approval ratings in the polls; the National Front in France, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, sees a comeback in regional elections; and the anti-immigrant Northern League in Italy sees a resurgence of support.