The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press:
The Sunday Times says insurance firms are in a row with cancer experts on drugs. It also carries an interview with Joseph Muscat, who says Labour will consider land reclamation projects.
The Malta Independent says both the government and the opposition do not plan to raise the retirement age. It also says Cabinet members of the short lived Labour government have been granted a full pension.
MaltaToday says PN voters’ support for Franco Debono has dropped to 4%. It also says that Labour has gained 4% since May.
Illum reports that the political crisis delayed talks between the government and the Fireworks Association.
Il-Mument quotes a European Commission report describes progress in education in Malta as ‘extraordinary’.
It-Torca says unidentified persons are making inspections of single mothers’ homes to investigate alleged benefits fraud.
KullHadd says many people are still being treated in the corridors of the Emergency Department at Mater Dei Hospital. It also carries pictures comparing the artist’s impression of the Corporate Village with the state of the site now.
The overseas press
Libya’s interim government has ordered soldiers to use all necessary force to end nearly a week of fighting between rival militias in the west and south of the country. Al Jazeera reports at least 14 people have died in the clashes as old grievances between Libyan tribes and cities resurfaced. The order to the soldiers was issued after the transitional ruler, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, appealed to Libyans in a televised speech to lay down their arms and unite before the country's election next month, when Libyans choose a 200-member assembly to form a government and oversee the writing of a new constitution. Dozens of Libyans held a protest on Wednesday in Benghazi, expressing dismay at the security situation and demanding to dissolve the militia groups and integrate them into the army.
Europe is in wait-and-see mode as Greeks head to the ballot boxes for a vote that is set to determine the future of their country in the eurozone. At stake today is whether Greeks believe they will have to carry on enduring austerity measures in return for EU-IMF cash or whether there is a chance to fundamentally rewrite the rules. EU Observer says parties espousing either side of the argument were almost neck-and-neck at the latest official polls. The leading centre-right New Democracy Party, headed by Antonis Samaras, says it will seek concessions on the tough conditions attached to the latest €130 billion bailout but will essentially stick with the programme demanded by Greece's creditors. But the radical left party Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, has promised to scrap the programme entirely. He says he will replace it with a national plan to achieve a balanced budget that would focus on raising taxes, rather than cuts.
Suddeutsche Zeitung reports German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Greece it could renegotiate its bailout. In a video conference call setting the groundwork to next week’s G20 meeting of leading economies in Mexico, she said Athens would not be allowed to dodge its austerity agreement. European leaders fear the poll, a re-run of a vote held six weeks ago that failed to return a government, could see Greece crash out of the single currency if anti-austerity party Syriza wins. Merkel and other key EU figures pledged to take the “necessary action” needed to secure global economic stability. Analysts have wanred that a Greek exit from the eurozone was becoming more likely regardless of the outcome of the tomorrow’s poll.
Bloomberg says the Greek poll is viewed as such a potential flashpoint in the eurozone’s future, the German Chancellor, French President Francois Hollande and Italian premier Mario Monti are expected to delay their travel to Los Cabos until Monday to be in place to deal with the immediate aftermath of the results. Merkel said: “We will have to speak to any government. I can only warn everyone against leaving the currency union. The internal cohesion of the euro zone would be in danger.” Central banks, including the Bank of England, Bank of Japan and US Federal Reserve, are expected to launch emergency support measures to cushion the blow of an implosion in the eurozone.
France 24 reports that the leader of the UN observers in Syria has announced the mission has suspended patrols because escalating violence. Major General Robert Mood said the violence was limiting the observers’ ability to verify what was going on.
The People’s Daily says China sent its first woman into orbit on Saturday after a spacecraft carrying 33-year-old fighter pilot Liu Yang and three other astronauts blasted off from the remote Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern Gobi Desert, carrying with it the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft and the three astronauts, including 33-year-old female fighter pilot Liu Yang. The astronauts would attempt a critical space docking in the latest challenge for the country’s ambitious space programme.
Al Ahram reports Egypt’s biggest political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has denounced the dissolution of parliament by the ruling military council as unlawful. Reacting to the confirmation of the dissolution, the Brotherhood said that the council had no such right under the constitution. On Thursday, Egypt’s highest court ruled that recent parliamentary elections were illegitimate and should be re-run.
Al Bawaba says the Muslim Brotherhood reaction came as Egyptians went to the polls on the first day of a two-day run-off election to choose their first freely elected president. Mohammed Mursi, head of the Brotherhood's political wing, is up against Ahmed Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. The ruling generals have vowed to hand over power to the winner by June 30.
Novy Cas reports an off duty policeman in Slovakia has killed three people and wounded two more in a shooting. The officer drove to a house occupied by a Roma family and opened fire. The police have not said whether the motive for the attack was racial.
The daily Teheran newspaper Iran reports that 75 children under the age of 10, got married last year in the Iranian capital. Official figures also reveal that there were also 3,929 children between 10 and 14 years and 19,237 youngsters between 14 and 19 years. According to Islamic Sharia law, in force in Iran after the Islamic revolution of 1979, girls can marry at the age of nine years, while males at 15. Young people in Iran are the majority of the country; according to recent estimates, 40 million Iranians are under 40 years.