Press digest

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

The Times reports that police interviews have yielded no leads in investigations into a drugs probe in a PL club. The interviews followed a tape recording revealed last week where the allegations are mentioned by Toni Abela.

The Malta Independent says the PM was optimistic of PN’s chances to win the general election. It also quotes Joseph Muscat saying Labour would open a new chapter in Malta’s history.

In-Nazzjon quotes the prime minister saying Malta has been changed in a country that is stronger and more European.

l-orizzont under a large picture of the PL mass meeting, says the PL is promising positive and clean politics.

The overseas press

More than 50,000 people packed St Peter’s Square on Sunday for Pope Benedict’s next-to-last weekly blessing, as new evidence of his declining physical condition emerges. Peter Seewald, a German journalist who has interviewed Benedict on numerous occasions, told German magazine Focus, that when he last saw the pope 10 weeks ago, his hearing had deteriorated and he appeared to have gone blind in his left eye. “His body had become so thin that the tailors had difficulty in keeping up with newly fitted clothes. ... I'd never seen him so exhausted-looking, so worn down.”. Seewald quoted the pope as saying: “I'm an old man and the strength is ebbing. I think what I've done is enough.”

El Pais says thousands of demonstrators have marched through the streets of 16 Spanish cities to protest against plans to part-privatise the public health care system. It was the third "white tide" demonstration in Madrid, named after the colour of the medical scrubs many protesters wear. But it was the first time cities other than the capital took part, including Barcelona, Cuenca, Murcia, Pamplona, Toledo and Zaragoza.

Tripoli Herald says the head of Libya’s National Congress has called for renewed efforts to deal with the “chaos and corruption” in Libyan society. In a speech in Benghazi marking the second anniversary of the start of the anti-Gaddafi uprising, Mohamed el-Magariaf stressed the need for reconciliation and said Libya wanted to assure its international partners that the country would not become an incubator of terrorism.

Al Ahram reports thousands of Egyptian football supporters staged a day of civil disobedience in Port Said in a continuing protest over death sentences handed out to 21 people after a mass soccer riot in the city at the beginning of the month. President Morsi had already declared a state of emergency after the riot which left 70 people dead.

Financial Mirror says the presidential election in Cyprus will go to a second round next Sunday after frontrunner Nicos Anastasiades fell short of the 50 per cent needed for an outright majority. With all the votes counted, Anastasiades, a conservative, secured 45.46 per cent, well ahead of his nearest rival, Stavros Malas, on 26.91 per cent. Anastasiades and Malas, backed by the left-wing Akel party, will now contest the run-off vote.

Teleamazonas TV reports President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has declared victory in the country’s presidential election after exit polls gave him 61 per cent of the votes – well ahead of 21 per cent for his nearest rival, Guillermo Lasso. This is the third term for the 49-year-old socialist US-trained economist, who is widely credited with bringing political stability to a nation that suffered decades of protests and coups.

RIA Novosti quotes Russian scientists saying fragments from a meteorite have been found in Russia's Urals region where it struck on Friday, injuring some 1,200 people. Viktor Grohovsky, of the Urals Federal University, told Russian media that the material contained about 10 per cent iron. Russian scientists sais the meteor weighed about 10 tonnes before it entered the Earth's atmosphere, travelling at some 30km per second, before breaking apart 30-50km above ground.

USA Today says more than 35,000 people from more than 30 states marched past the White House on Sunday to urge President Obama to reject a controversial pipeline and take other steps to fight climate change. The environmental activist group,, described the 1,000-mile Keystone XL pipeline – that would carry tar sands from Canada through several US states – as "one of the largest carbon bombs in history".

According to Johannesburg’s City Press, the discovery of a bloodied cricket bat has reportedly been described by the police as "the central piece of evidence", forming a "rock solid" case that Oscar Pistorius murdered his model girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day. The bat is being tested by forensic scientists. A post mortem examination on the body of the 29-year-old model revealed that, as well as bullet wounds to the head, arm, hand and hip, she suffered a fractured skull. Pistorius, 26, faces a bail hearing tomorrow.

Sky News says fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood has called on the Duchess of Cambridge to stop buying so many different outfits and instead make more of an effort to be environmentally friendly by re-wearing what she has. Before her London Fashion Week showcase at the Saatchi Gallery, Dame Vivienne said that when Kate goes to so much effort to find an outfit that looks good, she should wear it more often, and in doing so set a good example. The designer, who believes in quality over quantity, disapproves of Kate's expansive wardrobe.

Globalpost reports millions of blackbirds and European starlings have descended on a small Kentucky city in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, "The Birds". David Chiles, president of the Little River Audubon Society, said the fact that migratory flocks are roosting in the city rather than flying further south is tied to climate warming. Although the birds have not turned on humans as in the classic 1963 Hitchcock movie featuring vicious attacks on people in a small northern California town, the city has taken defensive measures.



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