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Press digest

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

The Times reports how Fitch ratings agency, said Malta is facing most severe ageing costs. It also reports how the PL said yesterday that the police should question Austin Gatt on kickbacks allegedly paid the oil purchases, and the minister's reaction. The newspaper carries a picture of an EasyJet plane which made an emergency landing yesterday.

The Malta Independent also carries the Fitch story on its front page.

In-Nazzjon quotes the prime minister saying a PN government will continue to create jobs in the coming five years. He said 25,000 new jobs will have to be created over the next term to maintain economic momentum.

l-orizzont reports that the government has awarded more oil contracts to Trafigura despite the alleged payment of kickbacks. It also reports how an EasyJet plane made an emergency landing after engine failure yesterday.

The overseas press

Tribune de Genève quotes an International Labour Organisation study which shows some 28 million people had lost their jobs since the outbreak of the protracted financial crisis five years ago and 39 million people have given up their search for employment because of dim prospects. Almost 75 million young people between 15 and 24 years of age were currently not able to earn a living. The ILO has called on policy makers to reverse this development.

The international child protection organisation Plan International says women and girls have been the hardest hit by the global recession. ABC reports that according to a report published today, the global financial crisis sent female infant mortality rates soaring and saw a drop in life expectancy. The researchers say young women were also taken out of primary school at higher rates than young men.

Presseurop says eurozone finance ministers have elected Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands the new chairman of the eurogroup. Being the only candidate, the 46-year-old Social Democrat n managed to convince France with his plans for the job. Paris has demanded an open debate about how to get the 17-member single-currency area out of a spiral of austerity and recession.

The Washington Times quotes President Obama telling Americans they must make “hard choices” to reduce the cost of health care and the size of the country’s financial deficit. But he said every citizen deserved a basic measure of security and dignity. Speaking in his inaugural address at the US Capitol, President Obama promised to respond to the “threat of climate change”. And he declared that a decade of war was ending, the nation’s economy was recovering and “America’s possibilities are limitless”.

France 24 says French and Malian armoured columns have moved into the central Mali towns of Diabaly and Douentza – days after al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels encamped there melted into the bush to avoid air strikes. Paris called the advance a success in its campaign to oust Islamist fighters from Mali’s vast desert where they have held sway for 10 months, raising fears the area could become a launchpad for international attacks.

Le Matin reports Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal saying 37 foreign hostages were killed during the four-day-long standoff with Islamist militants at the Ein Amenas gas plant with five foreigners still missing. One Algerian also lost his life, bringing the hostage death toll to 38. He said the kidnappers came from Egypt, Canada, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, adding that 29 kidnappers were killed and three captured alive.

The Daily Telegraph leads with Prince Harry's admission that he killed Taliban fighters while serving in Afghanistan. He flew scores of missions in an Apache attack helicopter over the southern Helmand Province during the 20-week posting. Prince Harry spoke to reporters on three occasions during his time in Afghanistan under an agreement which only allowed the interviews to be released once he left the war zone.

At least 30 people have been killed in Syria, as Russia prepares to evacuate over 100 of its own from the country. The Syrian state SANA news agency has confirmed the blast in Salmiyeh. Another powerful blast was also reported in Damascus. The reports come as Russia said it was sending two planes to Lebanon to evacuate more than 100 Russians out of Syria. The United Nations says it will conduct a major humanitarian operation in the country, with about four million Syrians in urgent need of aid.

Metro announces the death of film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner. He was 77. In a film career which spanned more than 50 years, he made more than 30 films including the blockbuster “Death Wish” series, starring Charles Bronson as a vigilante out to avenge family murders. He later reinvented himself as a restaurant critic, for The Sunday Times.

Listening to your favourite classical music while exercising could have a positive impact on your workout. Classic FM says neuroscientist Jack Lewis has found that classical music lowered heart rates, blood pressure, and perceptions of exertion in moderate intensity running tests. Despite Beethoven's music often sounding stormy or dramatic, Lewis recommends the finale of his Symphony No. 4 for anyone hitting the treadmill. In fact, classical music was found to lower the body's levels of hydrocortisone, a hormone associated with stress

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