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Press digest

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

The Sunday Times says that Arriva has been given a harsh warning by Transport Malta, which has slammed its unacceptable public transport service.

The Malta Independent on Sunday says a new square on the site of the former police station in Valletta will be inaugurated on Wednesday. It will feature a large statue of La Valette.

MaltaToday says Tonio Fenech is making inroads in his bid to become PN deputy leader.

It-Torca says solar energy farms have been promised for years, but never materialised. It also says that a UK NGO is pressing for Tonio Borg's nomination to be rejected because of the treatment of Eritrean migrants who were repatriated from Malta.

Il-Mument reports that workers have been holding violent street protests in Europe, while in Malta, talks are held in a hotel.

Illum features reactions by friends of John Dalli to his arrest last week. It also carries a warning by former trade unionist Gejtu Vella on the PL's improved relations with the Malta Employers' Association.

KullHadd says Malta has the second highest electricity rates for industry in Europe. It also says the PN has not taken action against its EP candidate Vince Farrugia after damning evidence in court.

The overseas press

Israel bombed militant targets in Gaza for a fifth straight day this morning, launching aerial and naval attacks as its military prepared for a possible ground invasion. The naval attack came around 2.00 a.m. (Gaza Time) and the BBC reports one missile hit a media tower block in the centre of Gaza City, where Hamas TV station, al-Quds TV, was based. Six Palestinians were reportedly wounded. Israel says it still wants to hit hundreds of Gaza targets as it seeks to stop Hamas and other militant groups from firing rockets into Israel. Gaza militants on Saturday fired dozens of rockets into Israel, including one at Tel Aviv that was intercepted.

AFP reports six Palestinians were killed in new Israeli air strikes across Gaza on Saturday evening, raising the death toll from over 72 hours of raids to 47 – about half of them civilians, including 12 children. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with more than 180 airstrikes early Saturday, widening its assault on militant operations to include the prime minister’s headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnel. Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile battery system intercepted a rocket over Tel Aviv, with no casualties reported. The World Health Organisation says hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed with casualties and short on supplies.

Though Egypt saw "some indications" of a truce ahead, the Israeli government has denied rumours of the presence of an Israeli emissary in Cairo to sign a new cease fire. The report comes from a last-minute post on the website of Yediot Ahronoth. Earlier the same news page had reported that Hamas had set “an end to targeted homicides” as a condition to accepting a new truce.

In Cairo, Al Ahram quoted President Mohamed Morsi saying his government was in contact with Israelis and Palestinians and there were indications they could "soon" reach a truce. Arab ministers at an Arab League meeting in the Egytpian capital threw their support behind Morsi's efforts to achieve a ceasefire, and announced that a delegation of League ministers will visit Gaza in the next one or two days.

Le Proges Dimanche says a speeding train that crashed into a bus carrying Egyptian children to their kindergarten on Saturday killed 51 and prompted a wave of anger against a government under mounting pressure to rectify the former regime's legacy of neglect. The crash, which killed children between four and six years old and three adults, led to local protests and accusations from outraged Egyptians that President Morsi is failing to deliver on the demands of last year's uprising for basic rights, dignity and social justice. Transport Minister Rashad al-Metini and the chief of the Egyptian Railway Authority resigned following the tragedy.

Al Sumaria says seven people, including three Iranian pilgrims, were killed when an explosives-laden car detonated north of Baghdad. Some 30 other people were wounded in today’s blast in the town of Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The wounded were Shiite pilgrims from Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. The victims were travelling from a shrine in the northern city of Samarra to another in nearby Balad.

El Mundo reports Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy has rejected the proposal of the President of the Council of Europe, Van Rompuy, to cut the EU budget for 2014-2020 by €75 billion. Describing the proposal as "unacceptable", Rajoy added, he hoped another proposal was formulated that was “more reasonable this time".

Ireland’s  Sunday Independent says thousands of people have attended candlelit vigils in Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Killkenny and Carlow in memory of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old Indian dentist who died after being refused an abortion as she miscarried. The events across Ireland heard vociferous calls for changes to the state’s termination laws. At a rally outside the Dail in Dublin, participants held placards declaring “Never Again” while the crowds repeatedly chanted “shame” and “the world is watching”.

According to Le Journal du Dimanche, opponents of a Bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”. Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organised by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties. March organisers said marriage required "one dad and one mom for every child".

Spain’s meteorological agency has placed the southern region bordering the Mediterranean on alert due to torrential rain that has submerged the downtown area of the region’s capital city.
El Noticiero reports Malaga, on the Costa del Sol, has endured almost five inches of rain from midnight to midday on Saturday. Television footage showed torrents of water plunging rapidly downhill through streets and the city’s main shopping quarter chest-deep in muddy water with hours more heavy rain still expected to fall. The rain caused large traffic jams as tunnels and boulevards flooded. Local media reports said the coast had also been hit by a mini-tornado.

The Sunday Telegraph announces a star-studded gala performance will be performed this evening to celebrate the 60th anniversary of record-breaking stage show “The Mousetrap”. Agatha Christie's whodunnit – the world's longest-running stage production – has been given a cast overhaul for a one-off staged reading on Sunday to mark its milestone. The show, initially due to run for six weeks, will also mark its 25,000th performance. It has held its world record since 1958.

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