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

The Times like most other newspaper, reports on the front page that former police inspector David Gatt was denied bail yesterday. It also reports how a government report complaints of delays for assistance to children by the child development assessment unit.

The Malta Independent says gas distributors will go on strike today.

In-Nazzjon reports that the Mayor of Mosta yesterday ordered employees to tear out and burn an article carried in the locality’s magazine. It was written by the deputy mayor. It also reports how an Arab man caused a disturbance on an Air Malta aircraft while it taxied at Heathrow yesterday.

l-orizzont also leads with the gas distributors’ strike. It also reports that foot and mouth disease has developed in children, but there is no cause for alarm since the disease is not serious.

The overseas press

Le Soir says the EU has described as “unacceptable” the severe disruption experienced by thousands of people in northern Europe to travel in the current wintry conditions. European transport commissioner Siim Kallas urged airports to "get serious" about planning, and labelled them a "weak link" in the infrastructure. He said he was to consider legislation to ensure that the airports have the equipment needed. But Europe's airport operators hit back at claims they had not done enough to prepare for the severe weather.

The International Herald Tribune reports Northern Europe's big freeze wreaked more havoc yesterday as some airports failed to cope with the snow and retailers struggled to make up lost sales in the few shopping days left before Christmas. More planes got off the ground than on Monday, but for thousands of travellers hoping to get home or away for Christmas, delays and cancellations were widespread. Eurocontrol, which oversees air traffic control across 38 countries, said it expected more services to operate after about 3,000 flights across Europe were cancelled on Monday and 1,000 on Tuesday.

The New York Times says the UN has warned of the risk of civil war in the Ivory Coast. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was illegally trying to expel the UN's peacekeeping force after it recognised Alassane Ouattara as victor. He accused him of recruiting Liberian mercenaries and was trying to blockage the UN peacekeeping mission.

According to The Washington Times, US senators have accused the Scottish government of releasing the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing for political and commercial reasons. The Scottish authority said they freed Abdel Baset Ali al-al-Megrahi from prison in August last year because he had cancer.

The BBC says Britain and Russia have each expelled one of the other’s diplomats over accusations of spying. The Foreign Office in London confirmed that earlier this month, it had order a Russian embassy official to leave. Six days later, Russian demanded the removal of a British diplomat.

The Washington Post reports that the US Senate has voted to end debate on President Obama’s strategic arms treaty with Russia and move on to final approval of the accord later this week. The treaty would cut strategic nuclear weapons over the next seven years.

The Catholic Church has denied that the Pope had suggested condoms could be used to avoid pregnancy. Avvenire quotes the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith saying some commentators had misunderstood and misrepresented the Pope’s remarks in a book-length interview released last month entitled “Light of the World”. The Vatican statement reaffirmed that the Church considered prostitution “gravely immoral”.

L’Equipe says the world footballers' union believes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be held in the winter instead of summer. With Gulf summer temperatures hitting 50 degrees Celsius, FIFPro has said it was pleased Fifa was open to changing the tournament's timing to address the issue of heat. The president of world football's governing body, Sepp Blatter, backed a possible switch to January 2022.

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