Truthout | News in Brief (8)

The New York Times reported a second day of flight cancellations across Europe Friday as a high-altitude plume of volcanic ash spread across northern and central Europe, closing down airports and disrupting thousands of flights. The cloud settled over the area following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland Thursday.

Global Post reported that this may delay Sunday’s funeral for Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, according to officials. President Barack Obama and dozens of other world leaders are set to attend the funeral, to be held in Krakow. The Krakow airport is one of two still open in Poland.

The Guardian UK reported that Britain’s grocery stores could risk running short of perishable goods. The continuing ban on air travel within the United Kingdom has brought its main perishable air freight handling center to a standstill.

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Reuters and the BBC reported that the Thai prime minister has put his army chief in charge of security operations, as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters camped out in central Bangkok.

“Many operations have failed because there has been a congregation of many people, which presents obstacles and limitations to work of security forces,” said Army chief General Anupong Paochinda. “Sometimes we have to be patient and sometimes we have to accept the impact of security operations.”

Operations by Thai police earlier in the day failed to arrest the leaders of the “red-shirts,” who are calling for the prime minister to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

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McClatchy Newspapers reported the results of a new UN report condemning Pakistani officials for failing to protect ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto or properly investigate her death. The report says the former military regime, led by General Pervez Musharraf, knew of several threats on her life shortly before her assassination, and “severely hampered” the investigation into her death.

The report casts doubt on the official Pakistani finding that Bhutto was killed on the order of Baitullah Mehsud, the deceased leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Global Post reported that a suicide bomber killed 10 people inside the emergency ward of a hospital in southwest Pakistan Friday. Among the dead were a TV journalist and a member of parliament from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

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The New York Times reported Friday a directive issued by President Obama to grant hospital visiting rights to same-sex partners. Obama ordered his health secretary to issue the new rules in a memorandum Thursday evening, which will make it easier for gay men and women to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.

The rule will affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid. Obama has also said he plans to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which bars openly gay people from entering the military.