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Press digest

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

The Times says that according to an EU survey, many Maltese are struggling to pay their bills. It also reports that the Chief Justice has been elected to serve on the European Court of Human Rights.

The Malta Independent says that according to Greenpeace, only a total ban would save bluefin tuna. It adds that the Maltese government is hotly contesting the recent incidents at sea.

MaltaToday speaks of ‘mutiny' at Mgarr marina, Gozo, where boat owners are complaining that the government is ignoring them as new ‘unreasonable' conditions are imposed following the privatisation of the berths.

In-Nazzjon features the graduation of recruits in the Police Force. It also says that 396 SMEs have received funds from the EU.

l-orizzont says that Malta is getting poorer, with 41 per cent struggling to make ends meet.

The overseas press:

ITAR-Tass reports Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Russia and Belarus were facing a "gas war" similar to Russia's 2009 conflict with Ukraine. At a meeting in Minsk, Lukashenko told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that he ordered that the flow of Russian gas to Europe via Belarus be stopped, saying Gazprom owes transit fees of €211 million for the first half of 2010. His move came after Gazprom cut gas deliveries to Belarus by 30 percent of the daily flow, up from an initial cut of 15 percent on Monday. The company has threatened to cut Belarus' supply by as much as 85 percent.

Meanwhile, EU Observer says the European Commission has warned Belarus not pass on the cut in its supplies to Europe, as Ukraine did during its dispute last year with Russia, leaving parts of Europe in the cold. It reassured Europeans that this was unlikely to happen, as the EU sources only a little over six percent of its gas from Belarus.

Expansión reports the Spanish parliament has ratified labour reforms designed to bring down high unemployment. Only members of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party voted in favour of the labour reforms. Members of the two biggest opposition parties abstained and eight deputies voted against. Spain's two main unions have called a general strike on September 29 in protest at the tough economic measures to cut the large budget deficit.

The Daily Express reports under British Chancellor George Osborne's budget - which will raise VAT to 20 per cent and cut welfare spending by €13.3 billion - scroungers get a kicking, public spending is slashed, pensioners and the low paid are protected but VAT was increased to 20 per cent. It reckons tax cuts would save middle-income earners €250 a year.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung and mass circulation daily, Bild, have both reported that the better-than-expected outlook for the German economy this year meant the government could sharply reduce its net borrowing costs for the current budget.

The British Medical Journal reports the results of a study which found that living close to a mobile phone mast does not increase the chance of a pregnant woman's baby developing cancer before he or she reaches the age of five. The study, by the Imperial College London, is the largest of its kind and was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme.

France 24 says a Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a Turkish military bus in Istanbul that killed five people and a dozen others injured. A Turkish official said 12 others were injured. Over the weekend, the PKK had threatened reprisals following a series of raids by the military against Kurdish rebel positions in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.

The Times reports one of two self portraits by French painter Edouard Manet has sold for a record price of more than £22,441,250 at auction - the highest price paid for a picture by the artist. The self portrait, painted between 1878 and 1879, was snapped up by an anonymous bidder at Sotheby's auction house in London.

The Jamaica Observer says reputed gang leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who eluded a bloody police offensive in his slum stronghold last month which resulted in 76 people being killed, has surrendered to authorities in Jamaica. He faces trial in New York on drug and arms trafficking charges.

The Irish Independent says a bank clerk took €200,000 from an Allied Irish Bank branch after his friend was taken hostage from their home in a tiger-kidnapping. The man was with his housemate in Dublin when an armed three-man gang burst into their home at gunpoint at about 1.30 a.m. Police said they were not alerted until the man turned up in north Dublin 12 hours later.

Le Parisien says a French appeals court has upheld the verdict of a lower court, refusing a widow the right to be artificially inseminated with the sperm of her late husband who died after losing the battle against cancer. The husband, who was already ill when the couple married, died three months after the wedding and now the widow wants to go ahead with the plans for artificial insemination, even after his death. Post-mortem fertilization is illegal in France. The woman said she would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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