Iceland (Reuters) – A volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has thrown up a 6 km (3.7 mile) high cloud of ash and disrupted air traffic in northern Europe, has grown more intense, an expert said on Thursday.
The eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier — 10 times more powerful than another one nearby last month — showed no sign of abating after more than 24 hours of activity, University of Iceland volcanologist Armannn Hoskuldsson said.
"It’s becoming more intense, but there will be no lava — this is purely an explosive eruption," he told Reuters.

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Israel might be preparing a military strike against Syria by accusing Damascus of supplying Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon with long-range Scud missiles, the Syrian government said on Thursday.
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday accused Syria of sending Hezbollah long-range Scuds. The United States said on Wednesday it was "increasingly concerned" about the transfer of more sophisticated weaponry to the Syrian and Iranian-backed Islamist group that fought a war with Israel in 2006.
"Israel aims from this to raise tension further in the region and to create an atmosphere for probable Israeli aggression," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The Syrian Arab Republic denies these fabrications."
Hezbollah hit Israel with shorter range rockets during the 2006 war as at that time it lacked a longer-ranger missile capability.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Scuds were smuggled to Hezbollah in the past two months.

Vatican (Reuters) – Pope Benedict said on Thursday the sexual abuse scandal shaking Roman Catholicism showed the Church needed to do penance for its sins, in a rare public reference by the pope to pedophilia in the priesthood.

China – earthquake death toll at 617

U.S. leads bid to phase out whale hunting: report


(Reuters) – Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc laid out a plan on Wednesday to repay creditors a portion of some $1 trillion in expected claims, under a proposal that could resolve the largest U.S. bankruptcy in history.