The following are the top stories in the local and international press today:
The Times leads with a story saying that the 32-year-old DJ who died from swine flu last week had no other condition.
The Malta Independent says that the Animal Welfare Department has taken over animal ambulance service. In another story it says that Malaysian Christians can use the word Allah.
In-Nazzjon hails the start of the second decade of the 21st century and says that 30,000 government employees would be getting a substantial increase.
l-Orizzont says that higher water and electricity rates come into effect today. In another story it analyses the people's reaction to the A H1N1 vaccine.
The international press:
Press agencies report that revellers rang in the New Year across the globe with spectacular fireworks displays and massive parties hosted by world capitals against a backdrop of tightened security. More than 200,000 people lined the banks of the River Thames in London to watch fireworks explode out of the London Eye while some 80,000 people also turned out in Edinburgh for the annual Hogmanay outdoor street party, to watch fireworks by Edinburgh Castle. Earlier, more than 120,000 Russians crowded onto Moscow's Red Square to toast 2010 as President Dmitry Medvedev thanked his nation for bearing with the economic crisis. Partygoers in the South Pacific were the first to raise their glasses to 2010, leading the world into a new decade after one scarred by war, terror attacks, natural disaster and financial turmoil. New Year's Eve also presented the world with a Blue Moon, the name for a second full moon in one single month, for only the second time in nearly two decades.
Afghan Times says the Talibans have taken responsibility for two separate bombings in Afghanistan that killed 13 Westerners. A suicide attack at a CIA base left eight American civilians and one Afghan dead – the worst loss of life for the US in the country since October. And four Canadian soldiers and a journalist in their unit were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s south. Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old reporter with the Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan.
Dawn reports that the Pakistani police have arrested a senior Pakistani Taliban commander who led the militant group’s network in Punjab, a key province where violence has been increasing. Khalil Ullah was the mastermind behind a market bombing in the provincial capital of Lahore on December 7 that killed 49 people.
Choson Sinbo says North Korea has called for an end to hostile relations with the US and vowed to strive for a nuclear-free region. Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations". Both the N. Korea and the US agreed on the need to resume talks during Barack Obama's trip to Pyongyang in early December.
Helsingin Sanomat reports a gunman killed five people in a city near Helsinki. Before shooting himself, Ibrahim Shkupolli shot dead three men and a woman at a shopping centre in Espoo. Officers also found the body of a woman, understood to be the 43-year-old killer's partner, in a nearby flat.
Aftonbladet quotes Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, who today hands over the EU's rotating six-month presidency to Spain, saying all of his goals for the EU presidency had been achieved. These included securing the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, tackling the Baltic Sea's environmental problems, and bringing visa-free travel to certain Balkan states in Europe's borderless Schengen zone. Reinfeldt also takes credit for firming up the EU's position on climate change.
Le Monde says 76 journalists killed in 2009, an increase of 16 on 2008. Figures from the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders also show that more than 2,000 journalists were arrested, kidnapped, assaulted and/or censored. Acts of violence against bloggers was also on the rise. In nearly all of the cases, journalists were killed while reporting on violence or corruption in their own countries.
Baltic Times reports Lithuania has begun shutting down its main Soviet-era nuclear power plant. The EU deemed the plant, similar to that which caused the world's worst-ever nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, was too dangerous to operate.
Le Parisien reports that a 9th century Edgar Degas painting worth €30 million was stolen from a French museum. The colourful image of singers performing on a theatre stage – known either as "the chorus" or "the players" – was missing when staff opened up the Cantini Museum in the southern port city of Marseille. Suspicions were focussing on an intruder, a visitor to the exhibition or an inside job.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has turned to writing love songs as he recovers from an attack that left him with a broken nose and two broken teeth. Corriere della Serra reports there will soon be “a new record, the fourth, of the musical duo Berlusconi and (guitarist Mariano) Apicelli”. Berlusconi, who worked as a cruise ship singer in his youth, first collaborated with his Apicelli in 2003. La Stampa adds that eight of the 12 songs on the album were ready.