The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press.
The Times reports how Air Malta plans to halve its losses. It also says that Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando wants details of the Cohabitation bill with a view of collaborating with the government. Prominence is also given to the way how little Ella won a legal battle to stay in Malta.
The Malta Independent says ‘liberated’ JPO says he should have resigned earlier.
l-orizzont says John Dalli has handed the police the names of people in the PN who are allegedly involved in hacking of his e-mail account.
In-Nazzjon quotes a statement by the Office of the President that the majority in Parliament should be determined in Parliament.
The overseas press
As the US begun mourning the 12 people killed in a shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises”, Denver police said the alleged gunman would appear in court on Monday. Voice of America reports that among the victims was a three-month-old baby; 59 other cinemagoers were wounded. Witnesses said a man wearing a gas mask and body armour threw tear gas canisters at them and then fired on the crowd. Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes, said to be armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two pistols, was arrested outside the cinema. He is a former PhD student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus. In a statement, the school said he had been in the process of withdrawing from the programme. In New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the suspect had dyed his hair red and told police he was “the Joker”, Batman's infamous nemesis.
CNN says President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney put political campaigning aside following the tragedy. The president ordered American flags be flown at half-mast for six days to honour the victims. He reflected on an act of violence which he described as "evil and senseless beyond reason".
Variety reports Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan grieved over what he described as the "senseless tragedy", calling it "unbearably savage". Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nolan, who cancelled the French premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Paris hours after the shootings, said the killings violated the "innocent" place he calls his "home" – the cinema. British-American Nolan is director of the Batman trilogy that started with “Batman Begins” in 2005 and continued with “The Dark Knight” in 2008.
The Journal says Holmes’ mother is reported to have said that the police had arrested “the right person”. Police and SWAT teams have been searching Holmes’ apartment after said he had left explosives there. FBI agents and police said later that the apartment was booby-trapped with explosives. Five surrounding buildings were evacuated as the authorities investigated how to safely defuse the bomb.
The New York Times reports that China and Russia joined other members of the UN Security Council and voted in favour of extending the UN’s military observer mission in Syria by 30 days, although violence on the ground continued to prevent the observers from fulfilling their mandate. The 300-strong UN observer mission, originally deployed to Syria in May, has the task of documenting the violence in Syria in order to determine whether or not rebel and government forces are implementing Kofi Annan's peace plan.
al bawaba says troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad launched a major offensive against rebels on Friday, re-taking the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Midan. Rebel fighters also clashed with government troops in Syria's second city, Aleppo. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the fiercest fighting in the city so far. The observatory reported that at least 300 people were killed in clashes on Thursday, calling it the worst day of violence since the uprising began in March of 2011.
The violent escalation in Syria comes after rebels assassinated multiple top-ranking officials tasked with putting down the uprising. RTV reports the government announced on Friday that General Hisham Ikhtiyar died from wounds suffered in Wednesday's bomb attack. Former Defense Minister General Doaud Rajha, Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, and General Hassan Turkmani, responsible for defeating the rebels, were also killed in that bombing.
El Pais says eurozone finance minister have unanimously approved €100 billion in aid for Spain's ailing banking sector. But the aid package did little to smooth over market fears that the country was heading toward a full-blown bailout. Spanish budget minister Cristobal Montoro warned that Spain's recession was expected to continue through 2013, with the economy shrinking 1.5 percent this year and 0.5 percent next year.
Meanwhile, Adnkronos reports that the Italian Parliament gave its final approval to the European Stability Mechanism, the euro-region’s permanent bailout fund, completing Italy's approval of two key parts of the bloc's new crisis arsenal. The lower house of parliament, or Chamber of Deputies, voted 325-53 in favour of the bill ratifying the ESM. The Senate passed the bill on July 12. The €500 billion ESM still requires German ratification before it can take effect.
The Age says voters in the state seat of Melbourne have been converging on polling booths in a key by-election tipped to be won by the Greens. The poll is expected to be a closely-fought contest between Greens candidate Cathy Oke and Labour's Jennifer Kanis. If the Greens win the prized seat, held by Labour for more than a century, it would be their first in the Victorian Lower House.
El Universal reports that a bus has veered off a bridge and plunged into a ravine in western Mexico, killing at least 26 people and injuring 27 others, 18 of them seriously. Three children and the driver were among the dead. Although the cause of the accident remained unclear, police suspected the driver may have been speeding or fallen asleep at the wheel.
A team of global scientists have unveiled a roadmap to finding a cure for AIDS, saying the prospects were realistic. The Lancet says this was the first time scientists have come up with a coordinated plan to tackle AIDS since the disease was discovered 31 years ago. Some 34 million people around the world are HIV positive. According to the latest reports, AIDS-related deaths worldwide fell to 1.7 million last year from some 1.8 million in 2010.
The Olympic torch arrived in London by Royal Navy helicopter yesterday to spend the night in the Tower of London – one of Britain's most secure sites ahead of its week-long journey around the capital, culminating in the lighting of the cauldron at the main next Friday. The Daily Telegraph says significant numbers were expected to turn out to see the flame during its tour around London, which would take in palaces, religious, political and royal landmarks.