Monday, April 19, 2010

FP morning post 4/19

Tensions flare as volcano crisis continues

Top news: As Europe's volcano-caused travel crisis entered its fifth day, airlines have begun lashing out at European aviation authorities. "The decision that Europe has made is with no risk assessment, no consultation, no co-ordination, no leadership,"said Giovanni Bisignani of the International Air Transport Association.

While a few European airports have reopened, the major hubs at Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Madrid remain closed and only about 30 percent of the normal numbers of European flights will operate today.

Several European airlines sent up test flights without passengers over the weekend, reporting no damage to the planes, which flew at a lower altitude than normal. European transport ministers will meet today to discuss coordination for reopening airspace, but with few guidelines in place for this type of situation, the way forward remains somewhat unclear.

"It is clear that this is not sustainable. We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates," said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended the flight ban, saying, "I think the first thing we have got to say is the safety of air passengers is of paramount importance." Britain is planning to send warships to pick up stranded travelers on the continent.

Washington: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says a leaked memo by him raising questions about the administration's Iran policy was mischaracterized by the media.

  • The death toll from last week's earthquake in Western China is nearing 2,000.
  • Thousands of supporters of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev are rallying in Southern Kyrgyzstan.
  • Leaders of Thailand's red-shirt protest movement who are wanted by police say they were turn themselves in.
Middle East
  • Iraqi election officials say votes from Baghdad will be recounted after a complaint from incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
  • Iran says it has begun work on a new uranium enrichment plan.
  • In an interview, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reaffirmed the necessity of a Palestinian state.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is hosting a meeting of his ALBA alliance of Latin American countries on the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's independence.
  • Cuban authorities are cracking down on the dissident group, Ladies in White.
  • A Brazilian judge gave the go-ahead to a controversial hydroelectric dam project
  • Sudan has delayed the release of results from last week's national elections.
  • At a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence, President Robert Mugabe called for an "environment of tolerance," but also said he would press forward with his controversial "indigenization" program.
  • Leaked video showing police killings have prompted public outrage in Nigeria.


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