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Press digest

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

The Times reports how Angela Merkel yesterday praised Malta’s economy. It also reports Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi saying that the government’s actions on electricity would cut tariffs.

The Malta Independent reports how Labour yesterday proposed an Energy Ministry. It also says that the prime minister is cautiously optimistic of Germany’s support for a better financial package for Malta in EU Budget talks.

In-Nazzjon quotes Angela Merkel saying Malta is an excellent example for Europe.

l-orizzont quotes a statement by the Malta Employers’ Association that Labour’s power tariffs plans are credible and doable.

The overseas press

Libya's oil ministry has reached agreement with the country's army chief and defense and interior ministries to secure exporting terminals. Oil Minister Abdelbari Al-Arusi told Reuters the army had sent a force to the port of Zueitina after several protests have caused shipping disruptions. He said oil exports from the eastern Zueitina terminal should resume in coming days.

AFP announces that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas exiled chief Khaled Meshaal have held began talks in Cairo to discuss the implementation of a unity agreement reached in April 2011 which was aimed at ending years of infighting between their rival factions. On their visit to Cairo, the two leaders also held separate meetings with Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The Obama administration has publicly expressed concern about the impact of a UK referendum on its future relationship with the EU. The BBC quotes Philip Gordon, a senior official in the US State Department, saying it was in America's interests to see a "strong British voice within the EU". The comments come as David Cameron prepares to make a major speech later this month on future European policy.

ABC says firefighters around Australia are racing to bring a number of blazes under control before an expected rise in temperatures and wind speeds. Record temperatures earlier this week sparked massive bushfires across large parts of south-eastern Australia, with homes destroyed in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. More than 100 separate fires burning across New South Wales, with 300,000 hectares of land destroyed so far.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has ruled that the postponement of President Hugo Chavez's inauguration for a new term in office is legal. Globovision quotes Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales saying it would be "absurd" to consider Chavez's treatment in Cuba as “an unauthorised absence”. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles accepted the ruling as binding.

As much as half of all the food produced in the world – two billion tonnes’ worth – ends up being thrown away. The Irish Independent quotes a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which claims that the waste is caused by poor infrastructure and storage facilities, over-strict sell-by dates, "get-one-free" offers, and consumer fussiness. Vast quantities of water are also wasted in global food production. The report has called on governments, development agencies and organisations like the UN to work together to help change people's mindsets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, supermarkets and consumers.

Al Arabiya says Syrian opposition fighters Wednesday released 48 Iranians captured in August in exchange for the freeing of at least 2,130 detainees held by President Bashar Assad's government, in the largest prisoner swap of the country's civil war, officials said. Meanwhile, Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and Arab League, denounced the peace plan Assad unveiled this week as sectarian and one-sided, offering little hope that a diplomatic solution to the country's violence will be found any time soon.

The New York Times reports that some 60 people were injured when a commuter ferry hit a dock in New York’s financial district. A corner of the ferry was ripped open, and passengers fell on each other, screaming and crying. Passengers aboard the Seastreak Wall Street ferry said scores of people who had been waiting to disembark were hurled to the deck by the impact. Meanwhile, the Fire Department of New York said seven people were hurt, three of them seriously, when a crane collapsed at a construction site in the city's Queens borough.

The City of Boston declared a public health emergency as the city and country deal with a historic outbreak of the flu. Daily News says the influenza-ravaged city has seen about 700 confirmed cases of the virus since October, the unofficial start of the flu season, compared to 70 confirmed cases last year. This year’s common strain, H3N2, one of the worst in 10 years, has so far killed four Boston residents, all elderly. The virus has already been reported in 41 states, 29 of which are reporting high or severe levels.

Indianapolis Star reports that four sisters who claimed their breast cancer was caused by a drug their mother took during pregnancy in the 1950s have reached a settlement with Eli Lilly and Co. in the first of scores of similar claims around the US to go to trial. Neither Eli Lilly nor lawyers for the women would disclose the financial terms of the settlement. A total of 51 women filed lawsuits in Boston against more than a dozen companies that made or marketed a synthetic estrogen known as DES or diethylstilbestrol, which was prescribed to millions of pregnant women over three decades to prevent miscarriages, premature births and other problems.

Two British people suspected of masterminding a smuggling ring involving over a ton of Chinese garlic are wanted by Swedish police. Aftonbladet says the men first shipped the garlic to Norway by boat, where it entered the country duty-free since it was considered to be in transit. They then drove it across the Swedish border, avoiding customs checks and €10m in Swedish import duties.

L’Equipe reports FIFA has extended worldwide the life bans of 41 South Korean players after a 2011 domestic league match-fixing scandal. Twenty-one other players, who admitted their part in scandal and expressed "grave regret", will be allowed to return to the sport after a probation period of between two and five years and after performing between 200 and 500 hours of football-related community service, including coaching youth and disabled players. In 2011 some 50 players and coaches from six K-League sides, along with 11 criminal gang members, were charged with taking money to rig 15 games in 2010. Two players and a former coach took their own lives in the ensuing scandal.

 

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