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Malta - aktuelle News & Infos

Macron announces minimum wage hike after weeks of protests

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 21:39

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners, offering concessions after weeks of often violent protests that have challenged his authority. In his first national address following two weekends of the worst unrest in France in years, Macron sought to restore calm after accusations that his political methods and economic policies were fracturing the country. "We want a France where one can live in dignity through one's work and on this we have gone too slowly," Macron said on primetime television. "I ask the government and parliament to do what is necessary." The president's address came 48 hours after protesters fought street battles with riot police in Paris, hurling missiles, torching cars and looting shops. Macron faces a delicate task: he needs to persuade the middle class and blue-collar workers that he hears their anger over a squeeze on household spending, without being exposed to charges of caving in to street politics. He said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries increase by 100 euros a month from 2019 without extra costs to employers. Pensioners earning less than 2,000 euros would see...

EU rules out reworking Brexit deal, prepares for no-deal

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 20:42

EU leaders will not renegotiate Britain's Brexit deal, including the Irish border "backstop", Donald Tusk said on Monday after Prime Minister Theresa May put off a parliamentary vote on a package that was facing heavy defeat. EU officials said European Council President Tusk could meet May as early as Tuesday to prepare talks on Brexit during a regular Brussels summit which May will attend on Thursday and Friday. Tusk said he had scheduled a meeting of the other 27 leaders on Brexit, to be held at some point during the summit. "We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop," he said on Twitter after May said she would go back to European neighbours to seek new reassurances about the insurance clause which would bind Britain into a customs union with the EU in order to avoid a "hard" EU border for troubled Northern Ireland. Read: Chaos as Theresa May withdraws parliamentary Brexit vote May's domestic critics want a time limit on the backstop, but Dublin and its EU allies insist that it must be able to be used until some better way is found to avoid customs checks on the EU-UK land border while letting Britain escape EU rules. EU officials said it was almost...

Diabetic children do not need LSAs - association president

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 20:17

The president of the Malta Diabetes Association has called for ending the assignment of a learning support assistant to primary and secondary students needing to receive insulin injections during school hours. Chris Delicata said in Parliament on Monday that diabetic children were perfectly capable of administering their own medicine, and did not suffer from any learning disabilities as a result of their condition.  His call was backed by Opposition MP Claudette Buttigieg who described the practice as a waste of resources which could be better deployed elsewhere. However, the need for schools to have properly staffed and up-to-date clinics ready to respond to health emergencies was emphasised. Mr Delicata also said a national diabetes screening programme, similar to that already introduced for breast and colon cancer, was necessary to ensure that as many cases of diabetes as possible were prevented.He expressed his organisation’s satisfaction at the fact that a Working Group on Diabetes had been established within the House for the second legislature running. He also commented positively on various initiatives adopted by the Government while pointing out where improvements were...

Incinerator site: minister still open to alternatives

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 19:25

Magħtab is the "preferred site" for the planned €150 million waste-to-energy plant but alternatives could still be considered, environment minister José Herrera told Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday.  The minister said Magħtab presented logistical advantages due to its proximity to the existing landfill. Answering questions from Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar, he said the government was open to alternatives, but pointed out that the Opposition had yet to suggest any other options.  Dr Herrera stressed that Malta could not afford another landfilling site as large as that at Magħtab and Għallis, which covers approximately the same area as Valletta. Going for full recycling would have been the ideal solution, but placing such a burden on the country at this stage would have been unrealistic, he said. Responding to queries from Opposition MPs Dr Cutajar and Godfrey Farrugia about the choice of Magħtab as a preferred site, he said a technical report on the project, commissioned from SLR Consulting Limited, was publicly available online. However, a report drawn up by the EU’s Joint Assistance to Support Programmes in European Regions (JASPERS) body could not be published...

Unregistered voluntary groups continue to pose risks - NAO

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 18:38

The Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations still does not have adequate information about unregistered groups, raising risks about operations and activities beyond its regulatory ability, according to a National Audit Office report.The report, published Monday, found that there were 1,300 enrolled voluntary organisations as of August this year, but an uncertain number of groups that remained unregistered.The lack of clear information hindered the Commissioner’s "planning capabilities and risk assessments", the audit office said.The report follows legislative changes in November extending the Commissioner’s remit, streamlining enforcement mechanisms and obliging all voluntary organisations to register.The NAO warned that the Commissioner was also facing a lack of information over financing, with many government ministries not informing the office when they issued public grants to voluntary organisations, and obligatory reporting requirements over fundraising left unenforced since 2012. Read: NGO sector ‘vulnerable to money laundering’It found an “environment of significantly high non-compliance” over the timely submission of annual returns but added that the Office of the...

Naked Pyramid stunt outrages Egyptian authorities

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 17:46

Egyptian authorities are trying to verify whether a video of a couple clambering naked to the top of the pyramid in Giza is authentic. Egyptian antiquities minister Khaled al-Anani, quoted by Al-Ahram newspaper, said they were checking whether the video was real, and would prosecute any officials found to be negligent. Scaling the pyramids was "strictly forbidden", he added, calling the images a "violation of public morality". The three-minute video was posted to YouTube by the Danish photographer, Andreas Hvid, who said that he and a friend climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza at the end of November. “Fearing to be spotted by the many guards, I did not film the several hours of sneaking around at the Giza Plateau, which lead up to the climb,” he wrote. The photographer also posted an image of the couple lying naked on top of each other in broad daylight – but he told a Danish paper that they only posed for the photo and did not actually have sex. The image and video have deeply offended people in the Muslim country, as well as overseas, since they were posted.

No change in current relationship with Huawei, government says

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 17:45

The government is not reviewing agreements it has with technology giant Huawei despite recent issues involving the company founder’s daughter and international concerns over threats to national security. In July, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the China-based telecommunication giant for the introduction of 5G technology for Maltese businesses and citizens. Similar “strategic agreements” had already been signed in the past. In recent weeks, the company has made headlines all over the world after its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Canada and is now facing extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. Apart from the CFO’s arrest, the tech giant has also been in the news in the past months after several countries – including the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand – expressed concerns about its 5G infrastructure, fearing this might put national security at risk. At the end of last month, New Zealand decided to ban the company’s 5G technology, following a similar decision by...

'I can't breathe': Saudi journalist Khashoggi's last words

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 15:59

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi repeatedly told his killers "I can't breathe" during his final moments in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, CNN reported on Monday. Quoting a source who said they had read the full translated transcript of an audio recording, CNN said that Khashoggi recognized one of the men, General Maher Mutreb, who told him: "You are coming back". Khashoggi replied: "You can't do that...people are waiting outside." His Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz waited for hours outside the consulate on Oct. 2 and, when he did not return, contacted Turkish authorities about his disappearance. There was no further dialogue in the relatively short transcript, prepared by Turkish authorities, CNN's source said. As people set upon Khashoggi, he started fighting for air, repeating, "I can't breathe" at least three times. The transcript then used singular words to describe the noises, including "scream", "gasping", "saw", and "cutting". Turkish sources told Reuters a bone saw was used to dismember the journalist. The transcript included no further mention of returning Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, and no indication that he had been drugged - as Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said in...

Do your homework before pressing charges, magistrate tells Gozo police

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 15:57

A magistrate’s court has complained that police in Gozo wasted its “precious time” in pressing charges against a man without first determining whether the alleged crime had taken place. Gordy Mercieca, from Kerċem, stood accused of filing a false report after he showed up at the Victoria police station in February and claimed that Josef Mizzi had tried to run him over. It later turned out that CCTV footage from the scene of the alleged incident did not back the claims. Only two witnesses testified in the proceedings, with Mr Mizzi himself being one of them. The prosecuting inspector did not testify, making it difficult for the court to understand what had prompted the police to press charges. On the basis of all evidence put forward, the court concluded that Mr Mercieca had indeed reported an incident which “in his view” had possibly taken place and did not set out with the intention of reporting something which had not occurred. The prosecution had failed to prove that the accused had intended to fabricate a story, the court declared, thereby acquitting him. However, the court did not stop there, going on to express concern over a growing practice whereby the police in Gozo...

Former chief justice flags concerns about magisterial inquiry system

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 15:25

Malta did not have a truly independent judicial investigation system, Chief Justice Emeritus Vincent De Gaetano said. “We have heard in recent months of people awaiting the outcome of this and that magisterial inquiry. In Malta, we have nothing comparable to the autonomous and functionally independent judicial investigations on the continent,” Dr De Gaetano told an event marking the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights last week. He noted that, according to the Criminal Code, an inquiry conducted by a magistrate was primarily intended to describe and preserve the material traces of an offence. Only exceptionally would a magistrate order that a person be arraigned and even in such cases, their decision could be changed by the Attorney General. The Attorney General, a member of the executive, was not bound to say publicly why he had decided so, Dr De Gaetano pointed out. The Attorney General would communicate his reasons to the President of Malta, who was not bound to go public either. Read: How would experts reform the constitution? “So, no possibility of judicial review of a decision not to prosecute, as you have in England and Wales, existed in Malta,”...

Watch: Gollum returns as Theresa May

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 15:24

Lord of the Rings character Gollum has made a somewhat unusual reappearance, moonlighting as UK Prime Minister Theresa May in a 180-second Brexit parody video. The video is the work of British actor Andy Serkis, who donned a blue blazer, wig and pearls as he transformed himself into a hybrid of Ms May and Gollum. As he sits hunched over a copy of the Brexit deal, the actor alternates between the scheming Gollum and his alter-ego Sméagol. “We takes back control,” Gollum hisses. “Money, borders…blue passportses!” Sméagol meekly tries to plead for a second referendum. “But they told us, precious, they hates the deal. All of them hates it. They wants a People’s Vote." But Gollum is not having it. “People’s Vote? Argh!” “They steal it from us. Curse them. We hates them." The video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube since Mr Serkis first released it on Sunday. The talented actor could not have timed his parody any better: his schizophrenic portrayal of the British prime minister appeared to reflect real-life happenings in Westminster on Monday, with May cancelling a planned parliamentary vote on Brexit to avoid a catastrophic defeat in the House of Commons.

Trump defends hush money payments as 'simple private transaction'

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 15:21

Donald Trump on Monday defended hush money payments reported by his former lawyer a day after Democrats said the US president could face impeachment and jail time if the transactions are proven to be campaign finance violations. Trump, in early morning tweets, said Democrats were wrongly targeting "a simple private transaction" after court filings last week drew renewed attention to six-figure payments by his personal lawyer to two women during the 2016 campaign so they would not discuss affairs with Trump. On Sunday, US Representative Jerrold Nadler, who will lead the Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives next month, said if the payments were found to violate campaign finance laws it would be an impeachable offense. His Democratic counterpart on the Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, said Trump could be indicted and could "face the real prospect of jail time." Under US law, campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign to influence an election, must be disclosed. Such payments are also limited to $2,700 per person. Trump earlier this year acknowledged repaying his former lawyer Michael Cohen for...

May is savaged at home after delaying Brexit vote

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 14:11

UK Prime Minister Theresa May drew widespread criticism on Monday after delaying a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal she appeared certain to lose heavily. The Opposition Labour Party said Britain now no longer had a functioning government. "The government has decided Theresa May's Brexit deal is so disastrous that it has taken the desperate step of delaying its own vote at the eleventh hour," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement. "We don't have a functioning government ... Labour's alternative plan for a jobs first deal must take centre stage in any future talks with Brussels." Scotland Chief Minister Nichola Sturgeon said the Brexit deal should have gone before parliament immediately so that it could be voted down.  The postponement, she said was "an act of pathetic cowardice by a government now collapsing under utter chaos".  The deputy leader of the DUP, the N.Ireland party propping up the conservative government, said he would not welcome a no-deal Brexit, but was not afraid of one.  The Northern Irish party said May needed to renegotiate her Brexit divorce, or be replaced by someone willing to change course. "What (the EU) need to be faced with is either...

Vegetable vendor accused of hold-up, kept behind bars

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 13:20

A former vegetable vendor was kept behind bars after pleading not guilty to an armed hold-up at a Sta Venera shop last Saturday. Themi Attard, 46 of Birżebbuġa, broke down in tears at the end of his arraignment, during which he was charged with having committed the aggravated theft, unlawfully held the store owner against his will, carried a firearm without a licence and caused wilful damage to third party property. The man, also charged as a recidivist, allegedly made off with some €500 in cash in the hold-up which took place at around 7pm. A request for bail was strongly objected to by the prosecution in view of the serious nature of the charges. “This was a case of theft aggravated by violence, where the man was allegedly armed,” Inspector Lydon Zammit stressed. Moreover, several civilians were still to testify including customers present during the hold-up and on two other occasions, earlier on that same day, when the suspect had allegedly visited the store to get an idea of the layout. “He knows where these people live,” the inspector insisted, adding that the man needed help to overcome his drug problem, having several times stopped short of entering a rehabilitation...

Brexit could be good news for Maltese translators

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 13:10

Maltese translators could benefit once the UK leaves the European Union as they, along with the Irish, are seen as the most proficient in the English language. Malta’s membership in the EU brought with it a new industry: translation of EU documents. Apart from the Maltese working in Brussels and Luxembourg, the sector now boasts several freelance companies employing hundreds of translation professionals on contract or freelance basis in Malta. The industry knows its genesis in the year 2000 when Malta negotiated the Maltese language’s status as an EU official language. The University of Malta opened a new post-graduate course for translators and interpreters, gradually producing new professionals in the field. The main institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg now employ up to 300 Maltese translators, legal revisers, proof-readers and assistants. Read: "We will not renegotiate" Brexit, EU executive tells Britain PN MEP candidate Peter Agius, the former head of the European Parliament’s office in Malta, recently paid a visit to one of the companies offering such services. He said Brexit may have a good effect on this industry. Once the UK is out of the EU, UK nationals would...

Watch: Chaos as Theresa May withdraws parliamentary Brexit vote

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 12:54

  Updated at 5.30pm British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday abruptly postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal on Monday, throwing Britain's plan to leave the European Union into chaos after admitting that she faced a rout. May's move on the eve of the scheduled parliamentary vote opens up an array of possible outcomes, ranging from a disorderly Brexit with no deal to another referendum on EU membership. May's own position could be in jeopardy, with calls from opposition parties for her to step aside. May said she still intended to put her deal to lawmakers. But she would first ask the EU for more "reassurances" over the main bone of contention: a "backstop" to ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland, which her critics say means Britain could end up indefinitely subject to EU rules after it leaves. Announcing the delay, May was laughed at by some lawmakers when she said there was broad support for the deal and that she had listened carefully to different views over it - the result of 18 months of tortuous negotiations. "If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin," May told parliament, adding that she was...

Court orders PSC to stop Gozo promotion exercise

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 12:16

The Public Service Commission has been dealt a blow by the Courts which ordered it to suspend a promotion and give a government employee access to information on job interviews after he claimed the exercise was vitiated. The commission is a constitutional organ responsible for staffing and discipline within the public service. Following a law suit against the PSC and the Gozo Ministry by Joseph Bajada, an engineer who felt aggrieved by a recent promotion exercise, Mr Justice Wenzu Mintoff ordered the PSC to freeze the exercise and to give Mr Bajada access to all the information required in order to defend his position. The issue goes back to last summer when the Gozo Ministry issued a call for the post of assistant director for public cleansing in Gozo. Despite the fact that he had been deputising for the post issued for promotion since 2006, Mr Bajada, an engineer by profession, placed second in the interview and was awarded two marks less than the applicant who placed first. Feeling aggrieved, Mr Bajada filed a complaint petition to the PSC, as required by law, challenging the promotion exercise. His petition was accepted and Mr Bajada was asked to produce his comments and...

US says March 1 'hard deadline' for trade deal with China

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 11:22

Unless US-China trade talks wrap up successfully by March 1, new tariffs will be imposed, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday, clarifying there is a "hard deadline" after a week of seeming confusion among President Donald Trump and his advisers. Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world's two largest economic powers over China's huge trade surplus with the United States and US claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology. "As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March," Lighthizer said on the CBS show "Face the Nation," referring to Trump's recent decision to delay new tariffs while talks proceed. "The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised," said Lighthizer, who has been tapped to lead the talks and appeared to tamp down expectations that the negotiation period could be extended. After a turbulent week in markets, investors "can be reassured that if there is a deal that can be made that will assure the protection of US technology...and get additional market access...the president...

UN members adopt global migration pact - Moroccan foreign minister

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 11:09

A majority of UN states adopted on Monday a non-binding global pact to better handle migrant flows, Morocco's foreign minister said, though fewer governments joined than had previously worked on the proposal. Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita announced the decision as host of the UN conference in Marrakesh. There was no formal vote. In July, all 193 UN members except the United States finalised the so-called Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to better handle migration. Since then, the text has come under fire from mostly right-wing European politicians who say it could increase immigration from African and Arab countries. At least six European Union members - mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe - have shunned the accord. It was not immediately clear how many countries were present in Marrakesh. The UN had put the number of governments registered late on Sunday at more than 150. The compact is a framework for cooperation and aims to reduce illegal migration, help integrate migrants and return them to their home countries. On Sunday Chile was the latest country to pull out, while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel saw the biggest party in his...

Ann Fenech wins two libel cases against the PL

Malta aktuelle Nachrichten - Mo, 12/10/2018 - 10:35

Former PN executive council president Ann Fenech won two libel suits she instituted against the prime minister and the president of the Labour Party after false claims made against her in statements by the party. The PL had claimed in March 2016, that Dr Fenech had received a million euros in consultancies under the Gonzi government, that she personally worked on the citizenship programme, and that she had companies in Panama. In the second case, a year later, the PL had claimed that Dr Fenech owned secret companies in Panama, a claim followed to by a billboard campaign.   The courts found all those statements to be false. Magistrate Francesco Depasquale noted that the PL targetted Dr Fenech personally and never referred to the fact that she was part of a legal firm. The funds mentioned in the statement had actually been paid to Fenech and Fenech Advocates, and work on the citizenship scheme and the opening of Panama companies was handled by Fenlex, another firm.  The author of the PL statements knew these facts, but chose to omit them in what appeared to be an effort to label Dr Fenech as having personally received €1m and that she worked on the citizenship schemes or opened...