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Press digest

Young Leah Xuereb and her family at yesterday's L-Istrina. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Young Leah Xuereb and her family at yesterday's L-Istrina. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The following are the top stories in the national and international news today.

All national newspapers today lead with the news of L-Istrina’s success yesterday. The national fund raising event has broken all time records collecting €3.3 million.

In another story, The Times says that 11 families are appealing a demolition judgement given a few weeks ago by the Court, which had ruled that properties built on third party land should be demolished.

The Independent quotes GRTU tourism section president Philip Fenech saying that this was a slow final weekend to Christmas for business with outside catering providers emerging as the winners.

L-Orizzont gives a curtain raiser on the PL’s general conference today which will elect a new deputy leader. It accuses Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of breaking a gentleman’s agreement to postpone the electoral campaign until January 7.

In-Nazzjon says that PL MPs Anglu Farrugia and Adrian Vassallo have no confidence in Opposition leader Joseph Muscat.

International news

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has issued a warning to the Tories to concentrate on fighting the "firestorm" in the eurozone rather than trying to re-negotiate Britain's membership of the European Union. As David Cameron prepares to deliver a keynote speech in the new year setting out his vision of Britain's future in the EU, the Liberal Democrat leader said the UK should have the confidence to take the lead in Europe. In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Clegg insisted that talk of a referendum was premature and amounted to no more than "political shadow boxing".

Al Ahram reports President Mohammed Morsi has signed into law Egypt's controversial new constitution and told the nation that the country has entered a new dawn. In his first public comments since voters approved the new controversial constitution, he said he would now take steps to move the economy forward and was considering a cabinet reshuffle to as part of his plan to attract investors. He said Egypt's economy faced "huge challenges" but had "great opportunities to grow”.  

According to The New York Times, a severe winter storm that whipped up tornadoes in the southern US has brought heavy snow to the Midwest and threatens disruption in the east. At least six people have been killed and authorities have told people to stay indoors rather than brave freezing temperatures and treacherous roads. A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi and Alabama after the storm cut down power lines.

Al Bayan says authorities in the United Arab Emirates have arrested several UAE and Saudi Arabian citizens suspected of planning terror attacks. Saudi Arabian authorities assisted with the arrests. Unlike many of its Arab neighbours, the UAE has been spared attacks by al Qaeda in the past. Earlier this year, authorities there detained around 60 Islamists who were thought to pose a threat to state security and have ties to foreign groups.

Mail & Guardian reports that the former South African President Nelson Mandela has been discharged after nearly three weeks in hospital. He was treated for gall stones and lung infection and will continue to receive treatment at home.

VOA News says doctors in Houston, Texas say former US President George H.W. Bush's condition has worsened and is in intensive care. The 88-year-old is in a hospital battling what doctors call a “stubborn fever” and is in “guarded” condition. The former president entered the hospital last month with a severe cough.

Straits Times reports that the female student who was gang-raped on a bus in India's capital Delhi has arrived in Singapore for further treatment. Officials say the 23-year-old victim – who remains on life support – would be treated at a specialised facility and may require an organ transplant. The attack earlier this month triggered violent public protests, which left one police officer dead. Six men have been arrested and two police officers have been suspended following the 16 December attack.

Ria Novosty says Russia’s upper parliament has unanimously approved a Bill that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children, in retaliation for a US law that punishes Russians accused of human rights violations. The Bill, which President Vladimir Putin has hinted he would sign, would also outlaw some US-funded non-governmental organisations and impose visa bans and asset freezes on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russian citizens.

The Wall Street Journal announces Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay about $1.1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit by US vehicle owners whose cars suddenly and unintentionally sped up. Owners of some 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles would be eligible for payments and safety updates that would vary depending on their vehicle and its age. The settlement is one of the largest in a lawsuit involving the automotive industry.

Teleamazonas reports that 13 people were killed and 37 others injured when a bus plunged into a ravine in a mountainous area of central Ecuador. Officials said brake failure was the likely cause. Road accidents are a serious problem in Ecuador: over the last four years, an average of about 4,800 people have died each year in road accidents in the Andean nation – or 13 people a day.

The Daily Mail announces the death of Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90. He was 83. Anderson also created Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and his puppet superheroes fired the imaginations of millions of young viewers in the 1960s and '70s. Thunderbirds, a science-fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad, ran from 1965 and was his most famous show.

A massive whale, some 18 meters long, beached itself on Wednesday morning in New York City, where, despite rescue efforts, it seemed to have little chance of survival. Experts said the ailing whale was a finback, the second biggest animal species in the world after blue whales. Mendy Garron, a regional specialist, told AFP the sea mammal was "really emaciated, not a good body condition at all". This assessment meant the whale was unlikely to get back to sea. Garron said rescue efforts were hampered by the incoming tide.

France 24 says a hapless Christmas-present thief in France's central Loire region spent the festive season behind bars after leaving his mobile phone at the scene of the crime and going to the police to report its loss. Unfortunately for him, his victims, a young couple, were at the same station reporting the theft. They had also given the police the vital piece of evidence – his mobile phone – and the thief was arrested on the spot. Happily for the couple and their children, all the presents were recovered and a family Christmas was saved from disaster.

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