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Feed Provided By Times Of Malta - News



200 stranded in Malta as Easyjet cancels Milan flight - Italian media

Some 200 people were left stranded in Malta after their Easyjet flight to Milan was cancelled without explanation last night, an Italian news site has claimed.  The would-be passengers were left high and dry by the low-cost airline, Corriere Della Sera reported, with an airport announcement simply telling them there would be no alternative offered.  Easyjet representatives told protesting passengers that their flight had never left Milan's Malpensa airport and that there was nothing they could do about it. "Please make your own travel arrangements," passengers were reportedly told. Many of those stranded were teenagers who had come to Malta to study English.  ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:46:00 +0200

Cat found skinned alive in Mdina

A cat has been found skinned alive in Mdina, the parliamentary secretariat for Animal Rights said in a statement deploring the crime.  The violent crime appears to have taken place two days ago, with the case referred to the Animal Welfare Directorate this morning. Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri expressed revulsion at the "criminal act" and said there was full cooperation with the police to ensure the perpetrator was brought to justice.  READ: Animal cruelty is slowly declining, says animal welfare commissioner Under local laws, anyone found guilty of animal cruelty can face fines up to €80,000 as well as jail time, following updated legislation passed in 2014.  Anyone with information about the case can contact the Animal Welfare Directorate, even anonymously, on 1717.  ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:07:00 +0200

FIAU: Onus is on police to probe money laundering

It is up to the police to decide how to proceed once reports detailing suspicions of money laundering were sent to them by the FIAU, a spokesman for the government’s anti-money laundering agency told this paper. In an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta last week, former FIAU investigator and police inspector Jonathan Ferris said the police went against normal procedures by not even registering the Panama Papers reports submitted by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. “If they are not registered, it is like they do not exist,” Mr Ferris said. The police have denied Mr Ferris’ claim but refused a request by this paper to be given the registration numbers of the FIAU reports. The FIAU’s spokesman was asked if the agency was surprised that the Police Commissioner concluded there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity by Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, and by Konrad Mizzi, a Cabinet minister. According to the FIAU’s 2016 annual report, 39 reports were sent to the police for further investigation on suspicions of money laundering and terrorist financing. Two of those reports last year concluded there was scope for further investigation into... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:01:01 +0200

Eight dead as dozens found crammed in Texas trailer

Eight people were found dead on Sunday inside a sweltering tractor trailer parked at a Walmart store in San Antonio, Texas, and authorities said they were the victims of "ruthless" human traffickers. Another 30 people, many in critical condition and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion, were with the bodies in the trailer, which lacked air conditioning or a water supply, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. The truck's driver was arrested and will be charged, said Richard Durbin, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, and prosecutors will work to identify others responsible. The bodies were discovered after officials were led to the trailer by a man who had approached a Walmart employee and asked for water. "All were victims of ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo," Durbin said. "These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus (37.8 Celsius) degree heat," he said. San Antonio is about 240 km from the border with Mexico. Temperatures in the area held above 37.8 Celsius until 6 pm local time yesterday and were expected to soar into the high... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 16:58:00 +0200

Delia wants the PN to have two general secretaries instead of one

The Nationalist Party should have two general secretaries rather than one, with both precluded from running for political office, Adrian Delia has said.  Dr Delia, a lawyer who is running to be elected PN leader, said that he envisioned having a general secretary focused on political affairs and another on administrative matters.  He argued that the PN's internal structures had to be shaken up to keep up with the times, noting that while the creation of policy fora and focus groups were steps in the right direction, "they have not had the desired result."  READ: Said promises PN councillors a 'stronger voice' "We must create permanent structures within the PN which spread horizontally to include all of the party's various branches," he said.  Candidate grilling Dr Delia also said he would ensure that anyone wishing to run for office on a PN ticket would first be grilled by the party's general council, with candidates then whittled down by a candidate committee, which would in turn pass on its recommendations to the party executive.  The leadership candidate also reached out to PN local councillors, saying that he would ensure they got more help from the party by ensuring that... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 16:39:00 +0200

Child abusers should be listed on a centralised register - Church commission head

Sexual offenders could be slipping through the net in the absence of a centralised register accessible by different entities, the head of the Church’s Safeguarding Commission has warned. Andrew Azzopardi told The Sunday Times of Malta that the only way for an offender to end up on the official register, which bars them from working with children, was for victims to brave court proceedings – something most were reluctant to do. Even once this was done, it was at the magistrate’s discretion to decide whether or not to add offenders to the list.  “The problem is that we have victims who don’t want to go to the police and don’t want the matter to end up in court. In fact, most of those who come forward to us don’t want to go to court,” Mr Azzopardi said. READ: 24 new complaints of abuse submitted to Church commission Victims, he added, were reluctant to go through legal proceedings as they often wound up in the news. “Even if the names are left out it can become quite obvious who the case concerns and this is very discouraging for victims who are considering speaking out,” he said.  Mr Azzopardi explained that the commission, which investigates claims of alleged abuse and neglect by... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 15:35:02 +0200

The 90-year-old woman from Mġarr who can't stop reading

Liberata Vella is a 90-year-old mother of eight from Mġarr who always was, and still is, an avid reader. Graziella Chetcuti finds out more about her life. I gaze at the old woman in front of me as she sits in her back garden overlooking Manikata valley, the afternoon sun bouncing off her white hair and white glasses to match. Liberata Vella, a 90-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, has lived, suffered, loved and grieved. But, as her name suggests, she embodies a free and joyful spirit. She is certainly not the kind of person you’d pity over what you imagined were old bones and feeble limbs. Rather, she is the type that inspires you with her strength and resilience. Liberata was born into a farming fami­ly in Mġarr, the third oldest of eight children, of whom only three are still going strong. Her childhood memories are vivid and include being surrounded by pigs, sheep and donkeys. Her fondest recollections, however, are of a more rarefied type. She rolls the years back gently to primary school: “I used to love reading books while grazing sheep. God forbid I missed one day of school. I cried my heart out whenever I did,” she recalls as time melts away like ice in... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 13:53:00 +0200

Driver arrested after eight found dead in truck in Walmart car park

The driver has been arrested after eight people were found dead in a tractor trailer outside a Walmart store in what police called a horrific human trafficking case. Several other people, possibly dozens, were found in the truck, which did not have a working air conditioning system despite blistering temperatures, and were taken to hospitals. The driver had been arrested but his identity was not released. A person from the truck approached a Walmart employee in a car park and asked for water late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said police in San Antonio, where temperatures on Saturday reached 38C. The employee gave the person the water and then called police, and when officers arrived found the eight people dead in the back of the trailer, police Chief William McManus said. Investigators checked store surveillance video, which showed vehicles had arrived and picked up other people from the tractor trailer. "We're looking at a human trafficking crime this evening," Mr McManus said. He called the case "a horrific tragedy". The US Department of Homeland Security was involved in the investigation into what happened. The National Weather Service's local office said the... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 13:18:00 +0200

Foundation CEO ‘vanishes’ for two months to work on Fearne's campaigns

The government’s Foundation for Medical Services has been managed on “auto-pilot” since last May, as its CEO, Carmen Ciantar, has not returned to the office since the general election was announced, top officials have told this newspaper. According to the officials, both Ms Ciantar – who was given a €100,000 package directly by Health Minister Chris Fearne – and her personal secretary, Stephanie Dimech, have been working full-time on Mr Fearne’s political campaigns. “We have not seen Carmen [Ciantar] since last May. No one even bothered to tell us what was going on, and we found out from Facebook that our boss was leading Mr Fearne’s campaign,” a senior FMS official said. “We have reported this to the ministry, but no one told us anything,” another official said. This newspaper is informed that Ms Ciantar was acting as coordinator for the personal campaign of Mr Fearne in the two districts he contested. Following the general election, Ms Ciantar switched to running Mr Fearne’s successful bid for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. Messages posted on Ms Ciantar’s personal Facebook page by Labour supporters congratulated her for the “campaign she led” on behalf of Mr... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 12:54:03 +0200

Back on his feet after 12 years of being bedbound

A horrible accident took away Jesmond Casha’S mobility and dignity, leaving him bedbound for 12 years. Sarah Carabott met the resilient man at his workplace after he managed to get back on his feet – literally and metaphorically. Nearly four months since his recruitment, Jesmond Casha has been “doing quite well”. It is hard to imagine that this 44-year-old father of three was just a few months ago stuck in bed. “When you lose 12 years of your life, you want to work all the time. Getting back to work is part of the process of recovery, and it is slowly helping me regain my dignity,” he told this newspaper, sitting just outside his office at Express Trailers in Luqa. Mr Casha, a former manager at the Freeport, was first injured in 1995, when he slipped and fell. An iron rod penetrated his back, breaking six vertebrae. He recovered after four operations, but a decade later, he was again seriously injured in a traffic accident. “I broke the same six vertebrae, and spent 12 years staring at the ceiling,” he said. Mr Casha was left paraplegic. He spent his days on a bed in a room on the second floor and would only be taken out of the house through the balcony door when he had a... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 11:55:00 +0200

Israel detains Hamas members in wave of arrests after stabbing

The Israeli military has carried out a wave of West Bank arrests following a deadly stabbing attack against an Israeli family. Forces arrested 29 people, including nine members of the Hamas militant group, forces said. A 20-year-old Palestinian assailant infiltrated the settlement of Halamish late on Friday surprising a family during their Sabbath dinner. He stabbed to death Yosef Salomon and his adult children, Chaya and Elad. A neighbour, an off-duty soldier, heard the screams, rushed to the home and opened fire, wounding the attacker. Israel fortified its troops in the West Bank and placed forces on high alert after the attack. It followed a day with some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian clashes in years, which erupted over tensions at the Holy Land's most contested shrine. Israel has installed new security cameras at the entrance to the shrine as it considers an "alternative" to the metal detectors which sparked a weekend of violence. Israel set up the new security measures last week after Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. It says they are a necessary measure to prevent more attacks but Muslims allege Israel is trying to expand its... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 11:52:00 +0200

Government should explain why it agreed to pay more for hospital beds - Busuttil

The government should explain why it had agreed to pay €15million more for hospital beds than it cost the government last year to run three hospitals, outgoing Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said today. Speaking during a brief phone interview on the Nationalist Party’s Radio 101, Dr Busuttil said new details of the government’s deal were embarrassing. The Sunday Times of Malta today reported how VGH is to be paid €188,000 a day, or nearly €70 million a year, to provide beds to the government at the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s hospitals, €15million more than the €55million it cost the government to run the three facilities today. “Details of the mess the government was concocting before the election are starting to come out,” Dr Busuttil said, adding that he expected Health Minister Chris Fearne to explain the situation to tax payers. Healthcare should be free and effective and it was the government’s responsibility to ensure nothing jeopardised this, he said. The full agreement with VGH was leaked to The Sunday Times of Malta after a heavily redacted copy was tabled in Parliament. The blacked-out sections concealed what Mr Fearne had said were commercially sensitive... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:56:00 +0200

Roads to be Budget focus – Joseph Muscat

Improving the road infrastructure will be the main focus of the government’s first Budget after the election, the Prime Minister said. The Budget will lay out government’s plan to set up a new agency tasked to build, improve and maintain roads, in what Joseph Muscat described as “a game-changer”. Speaking on One Radio this morning, Dr Muscat said the agency would be set up at the start of next year and will be responsible for government’s ambitious target to resurface or redo all roads in seven years. He said the Budget would be one of continuation in the same vein as the budgets of the past four years. It would start implementing the electoral manifesto and roads would be a priority, he added. Over recent days Transport Minister Ian Borg earmarked several roads that will be redone over the coming months, however, the Prime Minister said this was only a small part of the wider picture. “From next year we will embark on a capacity building exercise because we want to go for a game-changer. We will create a new structure to build and manage our roads, including repairs,” Dr Muscat said. Without giving further details, he said preparatory meetings were underway to set up “a serious... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:39:00 +0200

Donald Trump says he has 'complete power' to pardon amid Russia probes

Donald Trump has said he has "complete power" to issue pardons, an assertion that comes amid investigations into Russian interference in last year's presidential election. The subject of pardons is one of many topics that appears to be occupying the president's mind. In a flurry of 10 tweets, Mr Trump commented about pardons, former presidential rival Hillary Clinton, his eldest son Donald Jr, health care, the USS Gerald Ford, the attorney general and other issues. Mr Trump wrote in one of his 10 messages: "While all agree the US President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS." The Washington Post has reported that Mr Trump has inquired about his authority to pardon aides, relatives or even himself in connection with the widening investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether any Trump associates were involved. One of Mr Trump's lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said the president has not discussed the issue of pardons with his outside legal team. Speaking to reporters at the site of the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, he said that Mr Trump's private legal team is "not researching it because... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:18:00 +0200

PN in uncharted territory

Keith Micallef asked three political observers about the Nationalist Party’s leadership election and what the PN must do to get back into office. ‘Common cause crucial to regaining lost ground’ Having three out of four candidates from outside the parliamentary group is a first for Maltese politics, former Nationalist Cabinet minister Michael Falzon points out. One of them, Adrian Delia, is a complete outsider, having never militated within the PN ranks. “This reflects the general sentiment within the PN grass roots about the need for a fresh start and could be the reason why complete outsiders are having a shot at the leadership, thinking they might fit the bill. On the other hand, those already involved in the party have a better understanding of what lies in store,” Mr Falzon says. Mr Falzon believes that the new leader must have a broad appeal to the various sections of the electorate and the biggest challenge is to find a common cause which unites them. “In the past, it was the EU membership bid or the leader’s personality itself. Though nowadays this task seems to have become harder, it is still possible. “At one stage, people will get tired of the Labour Party, and the... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:10:04 +0200

The week at a glance

Police arrest 15 in Marsa drugs raid Heavily-armed police officers in bullet-proof vests raided the New Tiger Bar in Marsa on Wednesday and arrested at least 15 people after finding a full-scale cannabis operation. Several units from the Rapid Intervention Unit and officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the Drug Squad swooped on the bar and a block of apartments. Sniffer dogs were also used during the operation as armed policemen were posted in strategic spots on rooftops. What made the headlines Absenteeism cut by half in inner harbour schools: Absenteeism in schools within the inner harbour region has been cut by more than half. This figure emerges from the number of citations issued to parents of truant children over the past three scholastic years. San Ġorġ Preca College, in Ħamrun, has seen a 60 per cent drop in the number of fines handed out. The college encompasses several primary and secondary schools in the inner harbour area, including in Valletta, Floriana, Pietà, Marsa and Paola. NAO criticises land deals: The Auditor General cri­ticised two government property deals conducted under the outgoing Nationalist government on March 5, 2013, pointing to a... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 09:11:01 +0200

Revealed: VGH to be paid €188,000 a day to provide hospital beds for government

Updated at 11.40am - Adds Health Ministry statement VGH will be paid €188,000 a day, or nearly €70 million a year, to provide beds to the government at the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s hospitals, this newspaper can reveal. The full agreement was leaked to The Sunday Times of Malta after a heavily redacted copy was tabled in Parliament last October following intense pressure by the Opposition. The blacked-out sections concealed what Health Minister Chris Fearne said were commercially sensitive clauses. Under the agreement signed by former health minister Konrad Mizzi, Vitals Global Healthcare – a company with no previous record in the provision of health services anywhere – was awarded the management of three State hospitals for 30 years. The government bound itself to purchasing the service of at least 712 beds a day from VGH, according to the leaked copy of the agreement. In return, the government will be paying the company €68.5 million a year. Even if the government does not need all these beds – something remote, according to VGH sources – it is still bound to paying the €188,000 daily. The agreement also provides for the possibility that the government will want to... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 08:12:03 +0200

An exclusively over-55 bikini contest in China

An exclusive bikini contest open only to those aged 55 and above, the 'Grandbikini' event, has been held in China. More than 400 people showed off their figure at a local water park in Tianjin, including a handful of men eager to pose. The contest, in its third year running, is organised by a senior citizens' committee to promote health and wellness. A panel of judges rate participants on criteria including stage presence, smiles and gestures. The oldest participant was Ma Jing, an 88-year old cancer survivor, who took part in her blue bikini. "I'm very honoured. If I can take part in a bikini contest at this age, for me it means I'm mentally happy and physically healthy," she said. By the time the event wound down, the jury handed out more than 100 awards. But for many, it was more about confidence, encouraging a positive attitude towards growing older, and perhaps trying to prove that age is just a number. ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 07:36:00 +0200

70 artists voice serious concerns on V18 foundation

Seventy artists, including several high-profile figures, have written to the Valletta 2018 Foundation board flagging up serious issues in the running of the European Capital of Culture initiative six months before its start. In an open letter, a copy of which was sent to The Sunday Times of Malta, the 70 signatories denounce the “erosion of rigour, autonomy and accountability” in the governance of the foundation and the creation of a “climate of insecurity” among its participants. (The open letter, including the whole list of signatories, can be read in the pdf link below.) They also claim that the foundation’s top-down approach and politically appointed leadership has effectively silenced key cultural stakeholders and discouraged “dialogue, openness and critical thinking”. Among the high-profile signatories are writers Immanuel Mifsud, Trevor Żahra and Alex Vella Gera, actors Pia Zammit and Jo Caruana, curator Raphael Vella, theatre director Christopher Gatt, Science in the City director Edward Duca, artist Austin Camilleri and photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, alongside dozens of others. Artists who spoke to this newspaper said the signatories were not an established group with... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 07:13:04 +0200

Today's front pages

The following are the top stories in national newspapers today. The Sunday Times of Malta says 70 artists, including several high-profile figures, have written to the Valletta 2018 Foundation board flagging up serious issues in the running of the European Capital of Culture initiative six months before its start. In another story, the newspaper says VGH will be paid €188,000 a day, or nearly €70 million a year, to provide beds to the government at the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s hospitals. The Malta Independent speaks to restaurateur Julian Sammut who says that growing competition, increasing rents, a severe lack of entry level staff and the personal greed of many operators are forcing many in the business to either abuse the system or lose money and face failure. MaltaToday says a promise of sale agreement between SmartCity Malta and Ricasoli Properties has already been signed for the sale of land to be developed into the luxury apartments, despite changes to the SmartCity masterplan not yet having been voted upon by Maltese MPs. Kullħadd says Nationalist MP Jean Pierre Debono was willing to give up his Parliamentary seat for PN leadership contestant Adrian Delia if his... ... Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 07:11:00 +0200








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