Press digest

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

The Times reports how the Dean of the University of Engineering feels that it is time for the University stipends to go, arguing that the money could be better used elsewhere.

The Malta Independent says the European Commission and the European Parliament are discussing the disclosure of OLAF's Dalli report. It also says that 33 rulings mark Michael Frendo's term as Speaker.

In-Nazzjon says nomination of candidates for the general elections and council elections opens today.

l-orizzont continues to follow up its story that a garage was given to the head of PN security by encroachment.

The overseas press

O Globo reports 232 people, mostly students, have died in a fire that tore through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, as the air filled with deadly smoke and panicked party-goers stampeded toward the exits. Witnesses said that a flare or firework lit by band members might have started the fire.

Australia’s southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales are struggling with an unfolding weather disaster as flood waters force more evacuations and wild winds rip off roofs and cut power and phone lines. ABC says rivers throughout the region are still rising and three people are confirmed to have died so far. In Brisbane, the state capital, almost 5,000 homes and properties are at risk.

Ansa reports that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has caused outrage by defending wartime leader Benito Mussolini at an event commemorating victims of the Nazi holocaust. He said the Italian dictator’s alliance with Adolf Hitler was born out of fear and that Mussolini had done well in many other ways. Left-wing politicians described the comments “a disgrace”.

Iran and Argentina have reached agreement to establish an independent international commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Radio Liberty announces President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina said the “truth commission” would include foreign legal experts, none of them from Argentina or Iran, who would analyse evidence and make recommendations on how prosecution of the case should proceed. Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack and has refused to allow Iranian suspects, including current Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi, to be questioned.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has told CNN that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chances of retaining power were getting “smaller and smaller” every day. His remarks were seen as the most vocal Russian statement that Assad’s days could be numbered. But he reiterated calls for talks between the government and its foes and repeated Moscow’s position that Assad must not be pushed out by external forces.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has declared a 30-day state of emergency and a night-time curfew in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez – three cities along the Suez Canal that have seen deadly clashes in recent days. Al Jazeera  says at least seven people were killed in Port Said on Sunday during mass funerals for those who died in violence the day before.

The response to the conflict in Mali is high on the agenda during the African Union summit, which opened Sunday in Addis Ababa. VOA quotes AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma saying hope for the continent's future was pinned to its ability to maintain peace. Meanwhile, French and Malian troops are reported to have taken back Timbuktu and Gao as they drove Islamist rebels further into northern Mali.

The Globe and Mail reports outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sidestepped questions about whether she would run for president in 2016 in a CBS television interview done jointly with President Barack Obama, her rival in the 2008 race. Clinton, 65, denied there were any political tea leaves to read in the unusual joint interview for the CBS show 60 Minutes.

France 24 says some 400,000 of equal rights campaigners demonstrated in Paris in support of same-sex marriage and adoption rights for homosexual couples. The rally took place two days before parliament was due to discuss the Socialist government’s controversial marriage equality bill, which has sparked a nationwide debate and a major movement against it.

The Irish Times says more than 150 people picketed the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Dublin yesterday in protest at the Catholic Church's treatment of well-known Irish missionary Fr Tony Flannery. Last week Fr Flannery said he had been censored by the Vatican for his views on homosexuality and women priests, and called the Vatican's systems "unfair and unjust".

Leaders from the EU and Latin America have ended a two-day summit in Santiago with pledges of boosting bilateral trade. La Tercera reports that while few concrete details were released, the two economic blocs expressed a clear wish for stronger ties. The representatives from the 60 countries in attendance agreed to a stronger alliance which would support economic growth and job creation with an eye on sustainable development.

Domestic support for Turkey’s EU membership is losing its momentum, as two thirds of Turks say they’ve lost their appetite for the EU bid and believe Ankara should abandon its pursuit of full membership. Hurryiet quotes the results of a survey which showed that while one third of those surveyed agreed Turkey should persevere with the goal of becoming an EU member, two-thirds of the public lean closer to the view that Turkey should not become a full member.

The Independent reports that when he launched a white dove – the traditional symbol of peace – into the air in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict was probably not expecting that the effect would be immediate. And certainly he would not have expected the effect to be conflict. But that is exactly what happened in the Vatican square yesterday afternoon, as an angry seagull attacked the bird as the Pope looked on. The dove, released at the end of the Angelus prayer, managed to escape the seagull's clutches and flew away.




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