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Press digest

The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press:

The Times and l-orizzont report on a visit which Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi made to Franco Debono at his home in Ghaxaq. Dr Debono missed two votes in Parliament on Monday. The Times says the persistent theory is that Dr Debono is angry that Speaker Louis Galea, who is a candidate on the same district, could return to the Cabinet after John Dalli leaves. It also says PN officials are trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

The Times gives prominence to concerns by Resources Minister George Pullicino on the slow pace of the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.

l-orizzont in another story says a recent security services tender issued by the Office of the Prime Minister was so undervalued that it could put jobs in jeopardy.

In-Nazzjon leads with the passing out parade of 53 AFM recruits. It also reports that local investment of €23m approved by Malta Enterprise will create 188 jobs.

The international press:

Ekstra Bladet reports that police, some with dogs, used truncheons and pepper spray to keep back the hundreds of campaigners who staged protests inside and outside the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. Around 240 people were arrested. Security has been increased for the arrival of world leaders for the closing days of the negotiations.

According to The International Herald Tribune, six rich countries - Australia, Britain, France, Japan, Norway and the United States - have pledged to slow deforestation, which scientists believe is a key contributor to rising global temperatures threatening the planet. They agreed to set up a €2.4 billion fund to fight deforestation,

Iran's Arabic-language satellite television, Al Alam, reports that Iran has successfully test-fired a long-range missile, which had a longer range than the Shahab missile, which could reach targets up to 2,000 km away, putting Israel and US bases in the Gulf within reach. Press TV, Iran's English-language television station, said the missile had hit its target.

Strasbourg's Metro says a Muslim man living in Switzerland has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights saying last month's referendum in Switzerland, which placed a ban on minaret construction in the country, violated the right to religious freedom. Some 57.5 percent of the country's citizens had approved the measure.

Time magazine has named Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke its 2009 Person of the Year. He was selected because he was "the most important player guiding the world's most important economy'', according to Time senior writer Michael Grunwald. "His creative leadership helped ensure that 2009 was a period of weak recovery rather than catastrophic depression."

Italian magazine Panorama magazine said today the Pope is poised to move his predecessor John Paul II a step closer to sainthood in the coming days by declaring the late pontiff "venerable". The decision would pave the way for the late Pope to be beatified at a ceremony planned for next October in Rome.

Two US studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine have found that radiation from computed tomographic (CT) scanners can cause cancer decades after patient exposure. CT scans use blasts of X-rays in a test that allows doctors to see a three-dimensional image of a targeted organ or tissue.

Ansa reports that Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is expected to leave hospital this afternnon after t was decided to keep him for another night after he complained of a bad headache and renewed neck pains. Last Sunday's attack in Milan Sunday left him with painful facial injuries.

Astronomers have discovered a new Earth-like planet that is larger than our own and may be more than half covered with water, according to a study published today in the science journal Nature. The so-called "super Earth" is about 42 light years away in another solar system and has a radius nearly 2.7 times larger than that of our planet.

Sky News reports two boys aged 10 have been charged with raping an eight-year-old girl following an incident in Hayes, west London, in October. Police officers were called in by the girl's family after she returned home and said she had been raped.

Zero Hora says a Chilean Olympic weightlifter unexpectedly gave birth to a baby boy while she was training in a Brazilian gym. Elizabeth Poblete, 22, did not know she was pregnant and called for a doctor when she felt unwell a week ago while hoisting weights in the gym in Sao Paulo. She then gave premature birth to the baby, who was doing well and whom she named Eric Jose after she got over her shock.

The New York Times reports the hat and shoes worn by Michael Jackson in a television special to mark his 30th anniversary as a solo artist, have sold at auction in London for €25,600. Jackson's performance, filmed over two nights in September 2001, was watched by a record-breaking 44 million people when it aired two months later.

O Globo reports that a two-year-old Brazilian boy who had 50 needles deliberately inserted inside his neck, torso and legs, was the victim of a black magic ritual performed by his stepfather. Police say the stepfather, who broke down and confessed after being arrested, did to get back at his wife. The toddler remained in intensive care. One needle perforated a lung, and he was weak.

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