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The week at a glance - September 9, 2018

Our pick of the week's best headlines, quotes and readers' comments

Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Dingli church bell restored

Campanologist – or professional bell ringer – Kenneth Cauchi and Dingli parish priest Fr Mark Mallia Pawley oversaw the installation of the newly restored bell at the village’s parish church dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady.

What made the headlines

Sightseeing bus firm blames Transport Malta: The company that operated the open-top bus involved in a fatal accident in Żurrieq last April blamed Transport Malta. A 62-year-old Belgian man and a 37-year-old Spanish woman died and 50 passengers were injured when the open-topped, double-decker bus hit the branches of an overhanging tree. In a judicial protest, City Sightseeing Malta Ltd accused Transport Malta of not abiding by its legal obligations to keep public roads safe. It said TM had failed to abide by a law stipulating it must conduct regular inspections on the licensed routes and ensure they were safe and free from obstacles, including trees.

The proposed 38-storey tower and 18-floor hotelThe proposed 38-storey tower and 18-floor hotel

PA recommends ap­proval of pro­ject at ITS site: The 38-storey tower and 18-floor hotel proposed by the db Group for the ex-Institute of Tour­ism Studies site at St George’s Bay were re­com­men­ded for approval, with a final decision due on September 20. Over 4,000 objections were submitted to the PA – the largest number for any planning application ever considered – over the visual impact, traffic, noise and dust during construction, overshadowing of nearby residences and the extension of intensive commercial activity from Paceville.

Maltese in Libya ask to be evacuated: Maltese nationals in Libya asked to be evacuated as clashes between militias in Tripoli intensified, according to government sources. Libya’s UN-backed government declared a state of emergency as militias from a city to the south of Tripoli attacked southern areas of the densely populated capital. The exact number of Maltese nationals in Libya could not be established.

Missing diver found dead: The body of missing diver Neil Zammit was found on Tuesday afternoon, bringing a tragic end to what diving enthusiasts described as a “nightmare”. Hunting and spearfishing were a passion for the 20-year-old, who came from a family of avid divers and spearfishers. The young man from Paola was last seen off the coast of Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq with a 38-year-old friend with whom he had gone diving.

Ħamrun residents ‘fed up’: Complaints about the state of lawlessness in parts of Ħamrun inhabited by foreigners prompted the local council to introduce tighter regulations on loitering and alcohol consumption. Mayor Christian Sammut announced the decision on Facebook, saying the large influx of foreigners in the locality was of “huge concern”. “Incidents of abuse and street fights have become an everyday occurrence. Residents are fed up,” he remarked. These concerns were raised a day after the police had to intervene in neighbouring Marsa, where a number of Syrians were involved in a free-for-all fight in Isouard Street.

‘Emergency measures’ to clear Gozo rubbish: “Emergency measures” could be taken by the government to clear Gozo’s streets of recyclable rubbish bags that have been piling up amid a dispute between local councils and a service provider, the Times of Malta was told. The Sunday Times of Malta reported last month that more than half of Gozo could soon end up in a mess without the proper collection of recyclable waste. Some local councils are refusing to pay an extra premium for a service provider to empty and clean the bring-in sites in their localities.

Church says authorities ‘showing disdain’ for planning processes: Widening Tal-Balal Road despite having no permit in hand is a sign of the “disdain” being shown by public authorities, which are “steamrolling” over planning processes, the Church Environment Commission warned in a submission made to the Planning Authority. The submission was made with respect to an application to sanction work to add two additional lanes to this arterial road between San Ġwann and Naxxar.

Non-EU-trained nurses to join hospital: A change in the law will see 70 non-EU-trained nurses added to the public health sector after they had to work as carers for months. The move comes amid repeated calls to address the nurse shortage at hospitals and clinics. Health Minister Chris Fearne told the Times of Malta a new legal notice will enable the Nursing and Midwifery Council to accept applicants irrespective of where they were trained. Asked why it had taken so long for the changes to be approved, even though the government long knew about staff shortages, Mr Fearne insisted the council was “autonomous” and it was only last month that its president approached the ministry requesting the change.

What trended

Access to medical data

Family doctors can now order tests for their patients online, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced this week.

The measure will speed up a laborious process and add an arguably long-overdue layer of digital record keeping to national health systems.

But it also raises some interesting questions about data privacy, as reader John pointed out.

“Today one can easily go get a second opinion from another doctor without necessarily advising (and risk offending) the first one. However, with the My Health system in place, it is likely that tests ordered by the ‘second’ one might result in some sort of notification being sent to the first one.”

The solution, he suggested, would be to allow patients to grant or deny specific doctors access to their medical data without the doctors themselves being informed.

Malta: ‘A pressure cooker’

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo cooked up quite the storm on Friday when he likened Malta to a “pressure cooker” facing a formidable trio of challenges in the shape of tourism, migration from North Africa and an influx of foreign workers.

That sizzler of a simile had some readers steaming – though not all for the same reasons.

“It is not at all possible to learn to live in a pressure cooker no matter how hard one tries,” noted Francis, who completed his metaphor wtih the following: “One must either get out of the pressure cooker, or else one must turn off the source of heat.”

To Sarah’s eyes, the problem was of the government’s own making: “Our country should not be encouraging polluting business sectors which require thousands of low-skilled workers, like the construction industry. The goal of our economy should be to improve our country, not make it impossible to live here.”

It is not at all possible to learn to live in a pressure cooker

If you thought that view was critical, Jason’s tongue-lashing was on an altogether other level: “First your party blinds us with the pepper spray of populism, then you come and play the part of the principled socialist you once were,” he raged at the minister. “You’re not only a hypocrite, but a sell-out and a disgrace to the core principles of socialism.”

Harsh words for the Education Minister and his ill-advised culinary turn of phrase. But as is often said in politics – if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

What they said

“Albert Marshall is one of the leading artists in the country. I know he was a bit offended with how things were being thrown at him in the papers and he might have overreacted.”

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici speaking to the Times of Malta about Arts Council chairman Albert Marshall’s threat to do his utmost to end Malta’s participation in the Venice Biennale. Mr Marshall was displeased with a report in the Times of Malta which stated he had vetoed the decision of an international evaluation panel tasked with picking the curatorial team for the Malta pavilion at the Biennale.

“The government has no plan and does not care about the well-being of the country; it only cares about elections and how best to manipulate the country to win elections.”

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia speaking at a party event in Sannat.

“While diplomats are evacuated by sea, thousands fleeing war and violence are deserted by the European Union again. Those who speak of human rights should act as well.”

Sea-Watch, the German sea rescue NGO,  criticising Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for a series of what it said were “hypocritical” tweets expressing concern about the situa­tion in Libya while still blocking migrant rescues by confiscating vessels and aircraft belonging to NGOs.

“It is time to have the political will to implement the changes necessary to make Independence Day our sole national day.”

Balzan Labour councillor Desmond Zammit Marmarà, writing in the Times of Malta, where he urged his party to accept Independence Day as Malta’s sole national day.

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