Press digest

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

The Sunday Times features a day in the life of  Lawerence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat. It also reports that the EU is expected to take action over discriminatory bus fares for non-residents in Malta.

MaltaToday discusses the political risks of the presidential pardon granted to George Farrugia in the oil procurement scandal. It also says the PL continues to lead the PN by 10 points in opinion surveys.

It-Torca says computers were reformatted after the oil procurement scandal.  It also asks what links there are with a contractor who was awarded 27 contracts in a year by the government. The contractor was involved in the recording of comments made by GWU General Secretary Tony Zarb.

KullHadd says the PN is in electoral panic after a u-turn on reimbursement for medicines.

Illum reports that a cleaning services contractor was awarded a contract in Castille at the same time when the recording featuring Tony Zarb was made. It also says that a jury verdict in a drugs case, handed down two weeks ago, is under scrutiny.  

Il-Mument under the heading ‘Thank You Gonzi’ focuses on the funds allocated to Malta by the EU.

The overseas press

China Central TV reports China's 1.3 billion people have ushered in the lunar Year of the Snake on Sunday, kicking off a week of festivities known as the Spring Festival. Fireworks erupted across China Saturday, as the loud and colourful explosions are believed to scare off evil spirits and entice the god of wealth to people's doorsteps for the New Year. Hundreds of millions of migrant workers have made the trek home for the celebrations.

CNN says a major snowstorm in the northeastern United States has left several people killed, over half a million people without power, thousands of flights disrupted and brought transportation to a halt. From the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, the northeast United States was left covered in up to 90 cm of snow. A boy in Massachusetts died after inhaling carbon monoxide from an exhaust pipe that had been blocked by the snow.

El Pais leads with the news that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has released a decade of his tax returns in an effort to subdue reports he and other conservative politicians received secret cash payments. His ruling People's Party (PP) on Friday also released four years of financial records in a bid to put the matter to rest. However, the opposition Socialists said the published accounts and records did not explain the documents that reported the payments.

ZDF announces German Education Minister Annette Schavan has resigned after a university decided to withdraw her doctorate, finding that she plagiarised parts of her thesis. The review was undertaken after an anonymous blogger last year raised allegations of plagiarism, which the minister denies.

Pravda reports prominent Russian opposition leader and activist Sergei Udaltsov has been placed under house arrest for two months. He was accused of plotting mass disorder during anti-government protests in May last year. He is banned from using most forms of communication, including Internet, telephone and mail. The judge ruled that he may only speak to his family, his lawyers and investigators.

Deccan Herald says news of the execution of a Kashmiri man found guilty of helping plan the 2001 attack on India's Parliament led to thousands taking to the streets in anti-India protests. Afzal Guru was executed in New Delhi's Tihar Jail early Saturday morning. Kashmir's government in the Pakistan-controlled region announced three days of mourning,

Al Gumhuria reports a Cairo court has ordered YouTube be banned in Egypt for 30 days for carrying an anti-Islam film that denigrated Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The film sparked demonstrations last September that spread to more than 20 countries, including Egypt.

Al Sumaria says a rocket attack on a refugee camp for Iranian exiles next to Baghdad’s international airport has six people and wounded some 40 mothers. Condemning the attack, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Iraqi officials to investigate and bring the attackers to justice. He said the government is responsible for the safety of the camp’s 3,100 residents. The government has asked the international community to speed up the resettlement of the refugees.

According to Dhaka Courier, rescuers have recovered more bodies after a ferry reportedly carrying up to 100 passengers capsized on a river in central Bangladesh, raising the death toll to 14. Dozens of passengers were rescued or swam to shore after the ferry went down on Friday. The death toll is expected to rise as some passengers are still reported missing.

The Irish Times reports over 100,000 people took to the streets across Ireland to protest against spending cuts brought about by the banking crisis. The unions have vowed that the campaign against the debt burden would continue until the European authorities fully honoured the agreement reached last July to separate bank debt from sovereign debt.

The Mail on Sunday reports that the police in London have started an investigation after a baby was attacked in its home by a fox. The boy had a finger bitten off after being dragged from his cot by the animal. The four-week-old baby had his finger reattached by surgeons and is recovering well.

Globo reports Rio de Janiero’s famous carnival has got underway with the oldest street parade in Brazil marking the start of five days of celebrations. An estimated 1.5 million revellers took part and there were reports of people passing out as they danced the samba in intense heat.

According to the BBC, more than 30 million people are expected to take a dip at the confluence of India's Ganges and Yamuna rivers today to mark the main bathing day at the Kumbh Mela festival. This is the most auspicious of six bathing days at the event, billed as the biggest human gathering on Earth. Hindus believe a festival dip at Sangam - where the rivers meet - will cleanse sins and help bring salvation.

Football: Mail & Guardian reports Mali finished third in the Africa Cup of Nations for the second year running after beating Ghana 3-1 in Port Elizabeth. The final takes place in Johannesburg later today pitting underdogs Burkina Faso against Nigeria






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