The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press.
The Times, In-Nazzjon and The Malta Independent report how Valletta was yesterday declared European Cultural Capital 2018.
The Times also quotes Dr Frank Porteli insisting that his deal with the government for the transfer of St Philip’s Hospital is valid. l-orizzont says the government is under pressure to scrap the deal with Dr Portelli. It asks what is going to happen to the hospital's debts.
The Malta Independent says Franco Debono called the Lawrence Gonzi ‘Malta Hitler’ in his blog, but later removed his comment.
The overseas press
Deutsche Welle says there has been a mixed reaction in Europe over the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the European Union with the Nobel Peace Prize. Some regarded the prize as an incentive to continue their work in difficult times while others ridiculed the award committee's choice. Commission President José Manuel Barroso called it "great honour for the EU and all of Europe's 500 million citizens”. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy expressed pride that the EU's efforts for keeping the peace in Europe had been rewarded. Deeply touched, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, called Europe a "unique project" that replaced war with peace and hatred with solidarity.
Not all reaction was favourable, however. In Norway, 87 per cent of those interviewed by Aftenposten have criticised the decision. The leader of the youth branch of the Labour Party, Lars Erik Pedersen, said the award was the “ego of Jagland e Lundestad” – the two main members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee who had already come under attack when they awarded the prize to President Obama in 2009 and three women rights activists in 2011. Pedersen has asked Jagland to resign.
Metro says British euro-skeptics in the European Parliament mocked the award. Martin Callanen, chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, called it “a belated April Fool's prank”, stating ironically: "Presumably, the prize is meant to honour the peace and harmony on the streets of Athens and Madrid." Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party pointed out the EU had created immense enmities between northern and southern European states over the past two years.
Pravda quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying in a televised statement that a Syrian passenger airlcraft impounded by Turkey on suspicion of transporting Russian military cargo illicitly to Syria was carrying only electronic components for a radar station, and that such equipment fell within the bounds of international agreements. He said the Russian company that sent it to Syria would demand that Turkey return it. The Syrian Airbus A320 was intercepted by Turkish fighter jets on its way from Moscow to Damascus on Wednesday and forced to land in Ankara. Turkey’s Prime Minister said that it was carrying ammunition and military equipment for the Syrian Defence Ministry.
Colorado police have confirmed that a shot was been fired through the window of US President Barack Obama's election campaign office. Police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez told The Denver Post that people were inside the office when the shooting happened on Friday afternoon. No one was injured in the attack but a large panel of glass was left shattered at the office.
The Washington Times says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has accused Vice-President Joe Biden of making misleading statements on last month's Libya consulate attack. In Thursday's TV debate with Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, Biden said "we weren't told" about requests for extra security in the country. Romney said that "directly contradicted the sworn testimony of state department officials". A day earlier, a congressional panel heard there had been repeated requests to the state department for beefed-up security at the diplomatic compound.
Al Ahram reports opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have clashed in Cairo in the first street violence between rival factions since the Islamist leader took office last June. At least 100 people were hurt in the Tahrir Square violence as Islamists and their opponents threw stones, bottles and petrol bombs, while others fought hand-to-hand. Buses thought to belong to Morsi's former party, the Muslim Brotherhood, were also set on fire.
According to Dawn, Pakistani officials have arrested four other people in connection with the Taliban shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. Officials say around 200 people had been detained in recent days, including the bus driver and a school watchman, but most have been released. The fresh arrests came after schools, offices and mosques across Pakistan held prayers for Malala's recovery.
El Tiempo reports President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia has apologised to indigenous leaders n the Amazon region for the death and devastation caused by the rush a century ago to harvest latex from rubber trees. He asked for forgiveness for the killing of about 80,000 indigenous people and the destruction of many communities.
O Globo says doctors in Argentina have carried out an abortion on a woman rescued from a prostitution ring, following a Supreme Court ruling to allow the termination to go ahead. The case led to days of protests in the predominantly Catholic country, where abortion is illegal except in rape cases or to protect a woman's health.
The BBC has announced two independent inquiries into allegations that one of its former star presenters, Jimmy Sevile sexually abused large numbers of under-age girls over a period of decades and sometimes on BBC premises. The first inquiry will focus on why a BBC news programme shelved a BBC investigation into Sevile who died last year. The i newspaper reports the police were pursuing 340 lines of inquiry and 12 claims could result in an enormous legal bill for the BBC.According to The Guardian, the Department of Health could be also sued over claims Savile abused patients when he was a volunteer at Broadmoor hospital in the 1970s and 1980s.
Los Angeles Times reports a 23-year-old US woman has been sentenced to 99 years in prison after pleading guilty to beating her toddler and gluing the child’s hands to a wall. Elizabeth Escalona attacked two-year-old Jocelyn Cedillo because of potty training problems. She kicked Jocelyn in the stomach and hit her with a jug in September 2011 and also glued Jocelyn’s hands to the wall with Super Glue. Jocelyn suffered bleeding in her brain, multiple bruises and was in a coma for a couple of days.