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Press digest

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

The Times reports concerns by the University Ombudsman that the University’s recruitment process in not transparent. It also says young cancer patient Leah is facing her ‘last hope’ operation today.

The Malta Independent quotes the prime minister saying the future is bright, but the PN faces a daunting task to get re-elected. It also quotes Joseph Muscat saying the government’s credibility in energy is crumbling.

In-Nazzjon says the PN was always the party which created jobs.

L-orizzont quotes the prime minister saying Malta has a jungle in IVF and cohabitation laws.

The overseas press

Kathimerini reports that as some 13,000 demonstrators marched onto the Greek parliament, lawmakers approved the country's 2013 budget which includes some €12 billion in pensions, wages and spending and raises taxes in a bid to prevent the country from going bankrupt.  The budget passed by 167 votes to 128. The lawmakers were responding to international lenders who have required the measures in order for them to release some €31.5 billion in aid to Greece. Without the new loan, Greece would start running out of money on Friday. Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet today, just hours after the vote in Athens. The Greek economy is expected to shrink next year by 4.5 per cent and public debt is likely to rise to 189 per cent of GDP, almost double Greece's national output. This year, public debt stood at 175 per cent.

The Washington Post says the CIA, the FBI and the White House are all facing questions in the wake of the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus over an extra-marital affair.  

In London, The Independent says there are calls for more heads to roll at the top of the BBC, after the British state-run broadcaster's director-general George Entwistle resigned after the corporation's flagship news programme, Newsnight, aired mistaken allegations of child sex abuse against a former leading politician. The Daily Telegraph reports that Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, is under pressure after approving a £1.32m severance package for Entwistle which the i newspaper labeled “a reward to failure”.

RTV Slovenija quotes exit polls showing former Prime Minister Borut Pahor scoring a surprise winning margin in the first round in Slovenia's presidential election. Incumbent President Danilo Türk trails ahead of the runoff on December 2. Pahor, a Social Democrat, won about 43 percent of the votes and President Danilo Türk, an independent, received 37 percent. The conservative ruling Democratic Party's runner Milan Zver was third, with just over 20 percent.

The Jerusalem Post says Israel was ready to escalate attacks on the Gaza Strip after a spate of rocket attacks by Hamas, triggering Israeli air strikes that killed four Palestinian civilians as a surge in cross-border violence entered its second day. A missile strike wounded four Israeli troops on jeep patrol along the Gaza boundary on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ha’aretz quotes Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak warning that the Israeli military would take “tougher action” in response to any new fire from Syria into Israeli terriroty. He was speaking after Israeli troops fired warning shots into Syria following a stray mortar round from fighting between Syrian troops and rebels hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, highlighting international fears that Syria's civil war could ignite regional conflict.

al bawaba says Syrian opposition factions have forged a new coalition, led by Muslim cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, to oust President Bashar Assad. His deputies are the US-backed Riad Seif and female figure Suhair al-Atassi. The Syrian National Council The council had come under intense Arab and Western pressure to accept the unity plan drawn up by Seif after mounting criticism that the SNC was ineffective against Assad and his forces.

Al Ayyam reports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced Russian experts would join a team of Swiss and French investigators in exhuming the remains of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The new probe comes after a Swiss lab discovered traces of a deadly radioactive isotope on clothes said to be Mr Arafat’s, sparking new accusations he was poisoned.

Sirasa TV says Sri Lanka’s main opposition party has described the deaths of 27 inmates after a prison riot as a “cold-blooded massacre” and demanded a parliamentary investigation into the incident.  Authorities have said the prisoners died in a shootout when prisoners attacked a search team that went into the Welikada Prison facility in Colombo looking for narcotics and communication devices.

Ansa reports Some 200 people were evacuated in parts of Tuscany as heavy rains over the weekend left 70 percent of the city of Venice underwater. Sea levels peaked at 1.5 metres above normal levels before receding slightly. In the province Massa Carrara, 230 millimeters (9 inches) of rainfall was recorded in just four hours.

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