The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press:
The Times reports that the prime minister yesterday dismissed reports that he will step down. It also reports how 14 members of a gang involved in a sex spree were convicted yesterday.
The Malta Independent also reports yesterday’s comments by the prime minister. It also highlights comments by Joseph Muscat that the private sector was more important than ever for the economy.
In-Nazzjon leads with comments by the prime minister that the PN is the agent of change. It also reports that the prices of 14 medicines have been reduced.
l-orizzont reports how a model was ordered to pay €16,000 for breach of contract and how 14 were convicted of defiling 16 girls.
The overseas press
Le Monde reports France would shut down its embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in 20 countries on Friday out of fear of violent protests triggered by Wednesday's publication of controversial cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The cartoons in the paper are spread over two inside pages and the back page. Two depict Islam's prophet in compromising positions. 0:00:00|0:00:00
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also told French radio RTL that a planned weekend demonstration against the “Innocence of Muslims”, the anti-Islamic video produced in the United States, would not be allowed to take place. So far, the amateur film has sparked demonstrations in around 20 countries and caused at least 28 deaths, including that of the US ambassador to Libya.
New York Daily News reports that one of the actors who appeared in the anti-Islamic video, is suing the film maker for fraud and slander. Cindy Lee Garcia is also asking the judge in California to force the video-sharing website You Tube to remove the film. She said filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula duped the crew into thinking they were appearing in an adventure film set in ancient Egypt and changed movie into “filth” with dubbed-in dialogue. She says internet death threats have forced her and her family into hiding.
Al Ayyam quotes officials in the Gaza Strip saying an Israeli airstrike has killed two people and wounded another. Those killed were travelling in a car in the southern town of Raffa on the border with Egypt. Wednesday's attack was in response to mortar shells fired into Israel from Gaza earlier in the day. Israel holds Hamas responsible for rockets attacks launched from Gaza.
France 24 reports that the French edition of Closer has handed over topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge to William and Kate's representatives. A court on Tuesday demanded the magazine give up all forms of the photos yesterday. Meanwhile, Sweden's Se och Hoer published the pictures in a three-page spread while Se og Hoer in Denmark will put a 16-page supplement on sale today. The images have already been widely published in France, Italy, Ireland and on the internet. A French court has banned future publication inside France.
The Washington Times says that in a closed-door meeting at the White House, President Obama has expressed his admiration for Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s courage, determination and personal sacrifice in fighting for democracy and human rights in her country. The meeting visit followed a ceremony on Capitol Hill during which she was presented with the country’s highest civilian honour, the Congressional gold medal, four years after she was awarded it while under house arrest in Burma.
Radio Imedi reports that President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia has suspended the country's entire prison staff, amid protests over video footage showing guards beating inmates and sexually assaulting one with a broom in a prison in the capital Tbilisi. The scandal has prompted the resignation of the minister responsible for prisons and comes less than two weeks before government elections.
USA Today reports that a US government inquiry has uncovered serious failures in a sting operation that led gun runners smuggle weapons to Mexico in the hope of flushing out high-ranking Mexican criminals. Officials lost about 2,000 guns, some of which ended up in the hands of criminals.
Mother Jones reveals that Arctic sea ice, a key indicator of climate change, melted to its lowest level on record this year before beginning its autumnal freeze. According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, the extent of ice probably hit its low point on September 16, when it covered 3.42 million square kilometres of the Arctic Ocean, the smallest amount since satellite records began 33 years ago.
The North Bay Nugget says a United States federal court jury has awarded $7.2 million (€5.5 million) in damages to a man who developed a lung disease from flavoured microwave popcorn. Jurors agreed with the claims by Wayne Watson that the popcorn manufacturer and the supermarket chain that sold it were negligent by not warning on labels that the butter flavouring diacetyl was dangerous. Mr Watson, 59, was diagnosed with the disease in 2007 after years of inhaling the smell of artificial butter on the popcorn he said he ate daily.
A British soldier who has given birth in Afghanistan says she did not know she was pregnant. According to the Daily Mail, the woman, who is serving on the front line, gave birth on Tuesday at a NATO base, days after it came under attack from the Taliban. The baby was born five weeks premature. The mother and baby boy are in a stable condition and are waiting to fly home. The woman only discovered she was pregnant when she went to medics complaining of severe stomach pains and was told she was about to give birth. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was not military policy to allow service women to deploy on operations if they are pregnant.