Times of Malta

Encouraging volumes across local equity market
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The MSE Equity Price Index slipped by a further 0.13% to 4,320.052 points on Tuesday as the drops in six equities slightly outweighed the gains in another six shares. Meanwhile, Grand Harbour Marina, MaltaPost and PG closed the day unchanged. Trading activity remained elevated as a total of €0.48 million worth of shares changed hands. Most of today’s trading activity took place in the equity of GO plc with almost €0.19 million worth changing hands in this equity alone. The share price went down by 0.6% to the €3.44 level on volumes totalling 54,005 shares. Among the large caps, RS2 Software plc retreated to the €1.16 level (-2.5%) across 29,962 shares whilst four deals totalling 10,072 shares forced the equity of HSBC Bank Malta plc 1.2% lower back to the €1.71 level. Malita Investments plc also shed 1.2% to the €0.83 level albeit on just 4,000 shares. Low volumes were also transacted in the equity of Trident Estates plc as the share price moved below the €1.50 level for the first time since commencing trading on 31 January 2018 to the €1.49 level on a total of 3,748 shares. Tomorrow, the company is due to publish its 2017/18 financial results. FIMBank plc plunged 4.5% to the...

Swedish brochure tells people what to do in case of war
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Sweden is distributing a booklet to some 4.8 million households telling them what to do in the event of a crisis - including war. The 20-page brochure If Crisis Or War Comes is an updated version of a Cold War-era civil emergency advice leaflet. It is about getting the country "better prepared" if public services have been debilitated by accidents, severe weather, IT attacks or "in the worst-case scenario, war," the Civil Contingencies Agency said. The brochure is a reflection of Stockholm's concerns over a worsened security situation in the Baltic Sea region over the past few years. Russia has increased military operations there since it annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. "It is important in the light of the deterioration in the security situation in the rest of the world," the agency said. According to the brochure, Sweden's population, which totals 10 million, has a duty to act if the country is threatened. "If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up," according to the pamphlet that will be distributed during the May 28-June 3 Emergency Preparedness Week. "All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false." It includes...

Hawaii volcano eruption driving away millions in tourism dollars
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Cruise ships have canceled stops on Hawaii's Big Island. Hotel rooms will sit vacant this summer despite price cuts. And guest house owners and tour guides that depend on the 2 million visitors each year to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are wondering how long their families will go without any income. Tourism authorities say summer bookings for hotels on Hawaii's Big Island have fallen almost 50 per cent since the Kilauea volcano began spewing lava and toxic gases on May 3. The closure of the park, the state's top tourist destination, alone is costing the island $166 million, the National Park Service said on Monday. The lost revenue rises to $222 million when some 2,000 jobs indirectly impacted by park tourists are included, according to a park service report.  Tourism is the Big Island's largest industry, and by far, biggest employer, providing more than 30 per cent of private sector jobs in 2017, according to the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Erik Storm's EcoGuides business, which conducts tours of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, ground to a halt a month ago when volcanic conditions made it too dangerous to visit lava areas. "We have a family to support so we hope that the...

Facebook's Zuckerberg faces EU Parliament grilling
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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will meet with leaders of the European Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about how the data of millions of Facebook users ended up in the hands of a political consultancy. The meeting comes three days before tough new European Union rules on data protection take effect. Companies will be subject to fines of up to 4 per cent of global turnover for breaching them. Facebook has come under scrutiny from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic after it emerged that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy that worked on US President Donald Trump's campaign, improperly acquired the data of 87 million users, including up to 2.7 million in the EU. Zuckerberg has apologised for the leak in testimony to the US Congress, but questions remain over how the company's data policies let the leak happen. Zuckerberg will stress Facebook's commitment to Europe, where it will employ 10,000 people by the end of the year, according to pre-released remarks. "I believe deeply in what we're doing. And when we address these challenges, I know we'll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force...

German economy still booming but has lost some momentum - Bundesbank
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Growth in the German economy, Europe's biggest, remains robust but the underlying momentum has likely weakened and the risk of a global trade war remains, the Bundesbank said on Tuesday in a regular monthly economic report. Much of the first-quarter dip in growth was due to exceptional factors so a rebound is still likely, even if the overall growth momentum has also softened somewhat, the Bundesbank said. "We expected that the boom in Germany will continue," the Bundesbank said. "However, the underlying economic momentum may have weakened earlier than expected to an expansion rate only slightly above potential growth. "This would suggest that already high capacity utilisation will rise more slowly in the future," it said, adding that industry's order book was solid, even if its output failed to live up to expectations in the first quarter. German growth halved to 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, its lowest reading in six quarters, raising concern that Europe's engine of growth was losing momentum and suggesting that the eurozone's five-year expansion may have peaked. The slowdown comes at a sensitive time for the European Central Bank, which is debating whether to end a €2.55...

Academics should feel empowered to speak fearlessly, President insists
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Maltese academics should feel empowered to speak boldly and fearlessly, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca told a seminar on Tuesday. The seminar by the Faculty for Social Wellbeing discussed the theme 'Talking about the silence: Should academics position themselves on controversial issues?' President Coleiro Preca said the freedom for academics to express themselves  was an essential factor to create, sustain, and encourage a free civil society. Academics must be able to safeguard respectful and dignified spaces, in which frank discussions can take place, she said.  "It is so important for our society, that you, as academics, are bold, share your knowledge, and speak up for what you believe in. "Your ability, to exercise your academic freedom, is the closest we can get, as a nation, to break down the monopolies of power, privilege, party politics, and misinformation which so often constrain us." She stressed the need to stand up for the truth even though the truth was sometimes inconvenient, especially for people in positions of power. "Truth has never been so important in our world, as it is now, when false news, misinformation, and uncertainty have become the order of the...

Over 40,000 visit Picasso and Miró exhibition
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The exhibition of Picasso&Miro has been a huge success in Malta with over 40,000 visitors in just over a month. Picasso and Miró. The Flesh and the Spirit offers the first international presentation of 144 works by these two great 20th-century artists. Organised by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with the Office of the President of Malta and Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, the exhibition contributes to the image of Valletta as European Cultural Capital 2018 from a scientific, educational and recreational perspective. The Flesh and the Spirit is part of the cultural event “Picasso-Mediterranean”, led by the Musée national Picasso-Paris. Around 60 cultural institutions from across Europe have joined forces for this initiative, notably the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Fondation Van Gogh in Arles, the Musées de Marseilles, the Paris Opéra, the Museo Capodimonte in Naples, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Contemporanea in Roma and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Together they will be aiming to pay tribute to Pablo Picasso, exploring his creations and the places that inspired him in order to offer a unique cultural experience that...

Third party issues holding up Gozo cruise terminal
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Third party issues were holding up the development of a yacht marina and cruise terminal at, according to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana, who - however - gave no details of what the issues were. She was asked in a parliament by MP Chris Said what had held up this project for five years. “Is the project going to go ahead, and is the call for expressions of interest still underway or has it been suspended,” he asked. “The ministry is following the process which needs to resolve issues between the bidder and third parties,” she replied. The ministry had issued the call for expressions of interest in June 2013, and did not specify where the terminal/marina would be, although Ħondoq Ir-Rummien was excluded. The project was then handed over to the Privatisation Unit which issued a request for proposals in October 2014, and when the call closed in October 2014, only one bid had been received. The broad objective was to accommodate mainly small to medium sized cruise ships and to have a marina for at least 300 berths, including about 30 berths for up to 35m yachts (or larger). Read: Gozo cruise liner terminal “at the opportune time” “These negotiations are deemed to be of a complex...

Did Italy's prime minister candidate inflate his international academic credentials?
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A little-known law professor, put forward by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League as their prime ministerial candidate, was accused on Tuesday of inflating his international academic credentials. 5-Star dismissed the suggestion, but the row added to doubts about whether Giuseppe Conte, a political novice, was the right person to head a planned coalition government that has spooked financial markets and the European Union. The League and 5-Star asked President Sergio Mattarella on Monday to appoint Conte to lead their mooted administration. Instead of endorsing their choice immediately, the head of state played for time, seeking further consultations. In the meantime, questions have been raised about various details put forward by Conte, who says he "perfected his judicial studies" at numerous foreign institutions, including Cambridge University, New York University and Paris's Sorbonne. The New York Times newspaper quoted an NYU spokeswoman as saying: "A person by that name does not show up in any of our records as either a student or faculty member." She added he might have attended one- or two-day programmes, for which there were no records. In one...

Taj Mahal turning yellow due to pollution
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India's Supreme Court has criticized the government for not doing enough to preserve the white marble Taj Mahal, which has been turning yellow and green due to pollution. See the video above. 

Malta Independent

Updated - Caruana Galizia murder: 'Criminal bomb attack intended to kill' - Europol expert
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A Europol expert today testified that the explosion that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia was clearly intended to kill the driver and anyone else in the car.“It is criminal bomb attack. We can clearly exclude every type of suicidal or accidental explosion. Device design and placement was clearly to kill the driver and anyone else in the vehicle,” Mario Schwartz said.He was testifying in the compilation of evidence in the case against three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia on 16 October. George Degiorgio 55, unemployed, who lives in St Paul's Bay, known as Ic-Ciniz, Alfred Degiorgio, 53, unemployed, who lives in St Paul's Bay, known as il-Fulu and Vincent Muscat, 55, unemployed, who lives in Msida, known as il-Kohhu, are charged with the murder.Earlier in the sitting, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit today allowed two FBI agents to testify in the compilation of evidence, despite objections by the defence.The agents, Richard Fennern and William Shute, took the stand. They are specialists in historical cell site analysis.“Essentially what we do is take records generated by cell phone usage, we combine those records with the list of locations of the cellular towers and the combination of the two allow us to create a mapped image of where a cell phone call was made,” Shute said, adding he has been with the FBI for 20 years and conducting historical cell site analysis for 18.Shute had set up the CAST Cellular analysis survey team and had been participating in court proceedings since 2005.Police lead prosecutor Inspector Keith Arnaud asked the agents to explain their report.Agent Fennern said they were notified of the case on 16 October last year and on the 18 they came to Malta to start the investigations.He explained that typically, cell sites have three equal sectors covering 120 degrees each. If the bomb had been detonated by a cellular component, he could help identify the device which did so.The agents met with the Inspector and the cellular service providers as a first step. They identified 53 different Vodafone devices used between 2.58 and 3.03pm on the Vodafone network.They then asked which of these devices were used again. From that information, one of the 53 was never used again.Every device has an IMSI – an international mobile subscriber identifier – it identifies the phone within the cellular network. “It’s a unique number, it identifies one specific card.”The 16 October activity was an incoming text message from 99684366 at 2.58pm, he explained.The position of the text message was consistent with the area of the explosion. The text message was decoded and it showed that the mobile phone number 99684366 sent a text message to 99683752 at 2.58pm and that message was "#REL1=ON".The agents explained that phone 99684366 and the corresponding SIM card was placed in a device, which was utilised to top up the phone, rendering it active. Around 3pm on 16 October there were texts from 99684366 to 99683752. At 2.19pm there was an outgoing call, followed by two top up texts, in turn followed by a confirmation of the top up.Agent Fennern said they concluded that the numbers 99684366 and 99683752 were those utilised to detonate the device. One was the telephone that sent the text message and the receiving number was a GSM module.The mobile’s position was consistent with being at sea, whilst the GSM module was in Bidnija. “It is our belief that there was another device that sent a message to notify the person at sea to send the text message that detonated the bomb,” Fennern said.The numbers consistent with being in the areas involved with the detonation only communicated with one another and 99088823, he added.“It is our opinion that numbers ending 8820, 8824 and 8823 were involved in the placing and detonation of the device, the bomb to which the GSM module was attached to," Fennern said.The agent is showing the court diagrams of the cell tower coverage and how he triangulated the position of the mobile numbers. The agents ended their testimony and cross-examination will be done in another sitting.Europol explosives specialist testifiesNext on the witness stand was a Croatian explosives expert from Europol, who said his assistance was called for by the Maltese authorities on 14 November. “We had a joint meeting with police investigators, AFM representatives and the lead magistrate in the case. Magistrate Anthony Vella appointed me as a court expert,” he said.The Croation said he had 24 years of experience as a policeman and 22 years in explosive device specialisation. He has been with Europol since 2014.He carried out post-blast examination of the vehicle and on debris collected from the scene. “I just want to clarify that I was not involved in the crime scene investigation… we were involved almost a month after the event,” he said.He said the main characteristic of the vehicle incident was that it was highly damaged by fire and the majority of the potential evidence was destroyed.Explosive located underneath the driver's seat“The damage was caused by a chemical explosion, not a fuel-air explosion… according to the findings, the explosion clearly took place inside the vehicle. Precisely, the explosive charge at the time of the explosion was located on the floorboard under the driver’s seat,” he said.Regarding the type of explosive used, he said, it was high explosive, causing “high blast shockwave and high blast overpressure in the surroundings, which had a high shattering effect. It is typical of a military explosive, such as TNT or hexogen.”The expert said that between 300g and 400g of TNT equivalent explosive was used. “If it was TNT mixed with ammonium nitrate the explosive would be heavier,” he said.The expert said the likelihood of death was almost 100% from the placement of the bomb. He could neither confirm nor exclude the possibility of other incendiary charges being used.Bomb device crafted to direct blast upwardsGiving a detailed description of the explosive device, the Europol expert said three types of metal fragments were found.The bomb had a 5mm metal plate as a base and no top plate. This was probably intended to direct the blast towards the target, who was sitting just above the bomb.“A thick metal bar went around the edge of the metal plate and this showed evidence of welding and grinding or sanding of the face, itself an indication that it was made specifically for this device,” he added.Bars were screwed into the base and metal bolts were found on the scene, which were assessed as being part of the improvised explosives device (IED). “They had brass insert nuts attached to the bottom.”The expert said that parts of a plastic box were also found, likely to have held the activation system, or less likely the explosive charge.“On the outer part of the device was an electronic relay – an on/off switch – controlled by a GSM module. We haven’t found an exact match with the type or model of the GSM module and a number of electronic parts could not be identified due to the blast destruction,” he said.Ball bearings added to misleadThree ball bearings were also found on the crime scene but the expert believes they were not intended to intensify the fragmentation of the device but added to mislead the investigation.“This has happened in some bomb attacks. The device was an improvised explosive device, not ready to use device, like military ordinance. It was clearly designed and constructed by the bomb maker from various regularly available material or some restricted companies.” The expert concluded that the explosion was clearly intended to kill the driver and anyone else in the car. “It is criminal bomb attack. We can clearly exclude every type of suicidal or accidental explosion. Device design and placement was clearly to kill the driver and anyone else in the vehicle.”Defence objects to speech by Jason Azzopardi in ParliamentA lawyer for one of the men accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia has asked the court to protect his client's rights after PN MP Jason Azzopardi, who is also parte civile lawyer, used parliamentary privilege to speak on matters linked to the caseLawyer Martin Fenech has requested the protection of the court after allegations made by Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi, which he said could "impinge on his client's rights".Fenech was referring to a parliamentary speech, Azzopardi delivered last month in which he alleged that a police officer informed the accused of the massive security operation last December in which they were arrested."It's not fair that a criminal case is heard in Parliament so that he uses parliamentary privilege and nobody can speak to him. I'm not going into the merits of what he said, but I cannot rebut them due to parliamentary privilege," Fenech told the court this morning.Fenech requested the protection of the court as he objected strongly to the fact that the MP, who is also a parte civile lawyer for the Caruana Galizia family, used parliamentary privilege to list facts of the case at the expense of the rights of the accused.Azzopardi replied that in his speech, he had emphasised more than three times the presumption of innocence of the accused. "It was a political argument and not a legal one and the things said were confirmed in the acts of the case. That an MP speaks in parliament is not an abuse but a right and a duty," he said.The court will decree in chambers on the requests.Mobile data to be usedMeanwhile, in a separate case, Judge Anna Felice this morning turned down the application filed by the accused for an interim measure so that the mobile phone data related to the case will not be used.The accused argued that the data was collected under a law, which had been repealed at EU level. However, the judge turned down the request.But during the compilation of evidence, lawyer William Cuschieri told the court that his client - Alfred Degiorgio - had made two requests for interim measures to the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction, both of which have been declined but which will be appealed. Apart from the use of mobile phone data, the second interim measure rejected by the constitutional court was a request not to have FBI officials testify before the court.Cuschieri asked Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit not to proceed to hear the testimony of the FBI witnesses until the constitutional cases are definitively decided.Should this not be accepted, he argued, the court would be breaching his client's right to a fair hearing.However, assistant attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia said the time had come for the court to put an end to this abuse of procedure."This is a systematic attempt to always, on the eve of the sitting, raise an obstacle. This sitting has been fixed for two months why file last Thursday?"Prosecution accuses defence of delaying tacticsGalea Farrugia accused the defence of drawing out the proceedings.After Judge Anna Felice's decree this morning, Degiorgio did not give leave of appeal, pointed, the prosecutor said.The request for a constitutional reference is frivolous and vexatious as this court was not one of judgment but one entrusted with the collection of evidence, he insisted.The lawyers for the Caruana Galizia family also objected to the defence's attempts to protract the case.Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, appearing for the family, pointed out that the defence had an ordinary remedy, which it chose to ignore and instead immediately filed constitutional proceedings.The defence could have filed an appeal and a stay of execution to the decrees handed down by judges Schembri Orland and Felice but it did not, she said, describing the requests as "completely frivolous and vexatious."Comodini Cachia said the FBI testimony would not create irreparable prejudice, defined as "damage which cannot be addressed by a final remedy".   

EFL: Students from major markets decline as Malta attracts more from Morocco, Japan, Brazil
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Students coming to Malta to learn English as a foreign language are increasingly hailing from countries which previously did not turn to the island as its destination of choice.That being said, students coming from the more traditional markets such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Libya are now on the decline.The information came to light through survey commissioned to Deloitte, a major corporate services firm, by Feltom – the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta.The year under review was 2017, with some changes being observed that depart from what has traditionally been seen on the island.The industry of teaching English as a foreign language remains important for Malta which sees thousands of students flock to the island to learn English in a hot and sunny holiday destination.Arguably, the industry was seen as being more essential when Malta’s tourism market and economy in general was less diversified than it is today.The analysis took the top 25 source markets for Malta and observed the changes from 2016 to 2017.When comparing the market share from each source market between the two years, it was found that the Swedish students spent 55 per cent less weeks on the island in 2017 when compared with 2016. With regard Dutch students, they spent 15 per cent less weeks over the same period. A decline of 17 per cent was registered for Austrian students, with Spain and Germany also registering a decline of 12 and eight per cent respectively.Libyan students spent 55 per cent less weeks on the island last year, however the instability within the region is likely the dominant factor.Conversely, Malta has seen an increase in less traditional markets. Student weeks spent in Malta by Brazilian students increased by 52 per cent between 2017 and 2016. Japanese students registered an increase of 17 per cent, South Korean students also spent more time on the island with the increase calculated to be 17 per cent. Russian students also registered an increase at nine per cent, as well as Poland at 20 per cent, China at 55 per cent, Venezuela at 15 per cent and Ukraine at 13 per cent.The most surprising increase in weeks spent by students learning English in Malta was from Morocco, which registered an increase of 152 per cent and Iran at 91 per cent.The Italian and Swiss markets saw an increase in weeks spent by 18 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.Overall, student weeks increased by 6.6 per cent as a result of shorter stays, “in line with overall tourism trends but also resulting from a shift in the student mix with junior students accounting for 52 per cent of total arrivals, say the Deloitte report.A pattern has been observed with the more junior students, the shorter the stays.The number of student weeks spent in Malta by non EU countries increased by 13.7 per cent and accounted for 48 per cent of the total student weeks spent in 2017.  Deloitte reported that strong growth has been observed in accommodation revenue “which essentially reflects the overall increase in accommodation prices across the island”.The survey found that revenue from this sector in 2017 increased by 4.9 per cent when compared to the previous year. This revenue growth was mainly driven by volume rather than spending as the average turnover per student week declined by 1.7 per cent. 

Watch - Updated: €55 million road project in central Malta planned to be finished by 2020
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A €55 million project to upgrade the infrastructure in the centre of Malta between Mriehel Bypass and Saqqajja Hill, was announced this morning by Transport Minister Ian Borg, who said that the project should be concluded by 2020.The areas affected by the project will include Attard, Balzan and Birkirkara, along with travelling routes to Rabat and Zebbug, amongst others.Mdina Road will be widened to four lanes. Borg explained that the project, titled the 'Central Link Project', will include 7.4km of new lanes and 2km of bicycle lanes, would cut travel time by up to 50 per cent and lead to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 13.5 per cent.The project, of which the tender was published yesterday, also plans to create 19,300 m2 of new landscaped areas. Borg said that this new project will be beneficial to approximately 30,000 vehicles which use this route daily. In parliament yesterday, PN Deputy Leader David Agius appealed to the government not to construct the Attard bypass, stating that it will "ruin agricultural land and bring traffic closer to the residents."  He also expressed concern about car emissions. Agius said that the government "never undertook one study about the environmental impact of this road."However, responding to questions by the press, Borg said that studies have been carried out and that the chosen design is the one that is most viable when taking financial and environmental factors into considerations.    

Beware: Beached Portuguese man o' war colony at Wied l-Ghasri
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The Spot the Jellyfish citizen science campaign received an alert from Danica Bonello Spiteri about a beached Portuguese man o’ war colony (Physalia physalis) at Wied l-Ghasri in Gozo. According to Prof. Alan Deidun, coordinator of the same campaign, the species, which is not a true jellyfish but rather a siphonophore colony of four different types of polyps known as ‘zooids’, is only rarely observed within Maltese coastal waters, with the campaign recording it less than ten times since August 2009. Most of the previous sightings were made along the western and north-western shores of the islands. Prof. Deidun warns that the species inflicts very painful stings and the venom in detached tentacles and even in dead specimens (such as those which wash up on shore) can remain active for a few days and thus dead specimens should NOT BE TOUCHED. Applying vinegar or alcohol can actually intensify the pain sensation as it triggers the firing of further stinging cells. Best treatment would consist of the application of hot packs or hot water immersion, as specified within the MED-JELLYRISK sting treatment booklet currently available for free download on the Spot the Jellyfish website (http://193.188.45.233/jellyfish/docs/firstaid.pdf). The colony has an air-filled bladder called the marissa or sail through it manages to float. The species is commonly known as the Portuguese man-o-war by virtue of its resemblance to a 16th century vessel of Portuguese design, known as the caravel, which had triangular sails similar in outline to Physalia. Some polyps are specialised for capturing prey, others for feeding and others for reproduction, such that polyps are inter-dependent on each other. The species is native of tropical sub-tropical areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, occasionally being projected into the Mediterranean in spring by persistent westerly winds.Further information about the Portuguese man o’ war can be gleaned from: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/sertc/The Portuguese man.pdfThe Spot the Jellyfish campaign enjoys the support of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and of Nature Trust, Friends of the Earth, EkoSkola, the BlueFlag Malta programme andSharklab. The initiative follows a citizen science approach and relies on the collaboration of the general public, mariners, divers, and especially the younger generations through their teachers and parents, by recruiting their assistance in recording the presence and location of different jellyfish through the use of a dedicated colourful reporting leaflet. The leaflet is being widely distributed,and can be directly downloaded from www.ioikids.net/jellyfish, which is replete with snippets and anecdotes about different jellyfish species.With the support of MTA, large postershave furthermore been projected on seaside boards along major bays on both islands.

Felix Busuttil set to contest European Parliament election
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Dancer, choreographer and LGBT activist Felix Busuttil is considering throwing his name in as a candidate for the Labour Party in the European Parliament election, to be held next year.Pro-Labour newspaper l-orizzont said that when contacted, Busuttil admitted that he had spoken to the Prime Minister about the idea. He said that the candidacy will still need to be approved by the PL.Busuttil had addressed a Labour mass meeting before the election and had recently been the co-organiser of a concert in which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s favourite songs were performed.

Regularisation scheme attracts over 8,000 submissions - Planning Authority
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Over the past nineteen months, the Planning Authority has received over 8,000 submissions from owners who wish to regularise their non-sanctionable property. Of these, nearly 7,000 submissions got validated resulting in over €16 million revenue through this scheme alone. Back in August 2016, the Authority launched the regularisation scheme with the prime purpose of facilitating the sale of properties which were idle on the market due to irregularities that were not sanctionable. Regularisation can only be considered if a property is located entirely within the development boundaries and appears in the Authority’s aerial photos of 2016 – nothing after. The illegality cannot be creating an injury to amenity and the use of the building must be according to current policies. If one of these conditions cannot be satisfied, then the scheme cannot be applied. The applicable fee is calculated on the total and combined roofed over area of each floor of the property being regularised.  The majority of the monies collected from this scheme, up to 70%, are utilised in the restoration of properties that are scheduled or in urban conservation areas, through the Irrestawra Darek grant scheme. 20% is allocated towards the Development Planning Fund, to be utilised by localities in community improvement projects.

Opinion: Yes, let’s respect principles - Starting with the truth - Simon Busuttil
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In his opinion piece, ‘Let’s talk - but respect our principles’, (21 May), Chris Fearne slips at the very first hurdle. He fails to respect the basic principle of loyalty to the truth on what I said in Parliament. It’s a pretty basic principle. It’s not asking for much. Yet, he claims that in Parliament I said that “since neither God nor nature have granted a right to have children, then so be it”. In other words, couples with infertility problems should just lump it. This is ridiculously false misrepresentation of what I said in Parliament and Chris Fearne knows it very well because he was actually present when I spoke on the changes to the Embryo Protection Act. Instead, he relies on a deliberate distortion of what I said by the Labour Party and its media outfit. Chris Fearne also knows that last week, the Speaker gave a clear ruling on precisely this issue and agreed with me that my speech had been distorted, promptly asking One News to correct their false report. In his ruling, the Speaker quoted profusely from my speech in Parliament, concluding that I had clearly stated that I am in favour of IVF treatment for couples facing infertility problems. This is a far cry from the distorted picture of insensitivity painted by Chris Fearne and the Labour bandwagon.  But Fearne is so respectful of principles, that he deliberately ignored the Speaker’s ruling and misrepresented my words regardless. What I actually said in Parliament was that I strongly support IVF treatment for couples who cannot have children and that we should most definitely continue supporting them. After all, it was the former PN administration that introduced the existing IVF law in 2012 in the first place. This law was unanimously agreed in Parliament, including by the then Labour opposition. I too know many couples, including relatives and friends, who have been through IVF procedures and anyone who knows anything about me would also know that I would be the last to be insensitive towards them.In Parliament I explained why, despite supporting IVF treatment, I disagreed with two specific changes that the current Government wants to introduce in the law and this is why I will be voting against it. The first is embryo freezing, because it raises serious ethical problems for me. Moreover, we have invested in a reasonable alternative - known as oocyte vitrification or egg freezing - which does not present the ethical minefield of embryo freezing. If anything, therefore, we should invest even more in this alternative and become a leading country in this technology. The second is surrogacy, which I cannot support because it commodifies both women and children. Even ‘liberal’ countries like Sweden are in the process of banning surrogacy, both commercial and altruistic, because it exploits women. It beggars belief how, in Malta, a Government that proclaims itself as ‘feminist’ is set on introducing something that is strongly opposed by feminists the world over.   The IVF debate is indeed a very sensitive subject and the President of the Republic was right in calling for a respectful debate. As it happens, in my speech in Parliament, I also said that I was taken aback by Fearne’s insensitive description of an embryo as “you know, an embryo is just eight cells”. But I did not hesitate in adding that, even so, Fearne had declared that he still ‘respected’ the embryo. I did that because I do not need to distort his words to present my point of view. So it is truly a pity that, on such a sensitive subject, Chris Fearne is not able to rise above the political fray and respect the basic principle of loyalty to the truth of what a colleague said in Parliament. It begs the question, why does he need to twist my words to try and make a persuasive case for the changes that he wants to introduce in the law? If anything, that betrays a weakness on his part.We may well agree or disagree, at times fiercely, and that is understandable. But as a minimum, let’s respect each other’s views without distorting them.  Simon Busuttil is a Nationalist MP

Malta Gaming Authority to launch unified self-exclusion system for its remote gaming licensees
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Following the recent upgrade of the unified self-exclusion system for land-based operators, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) said today it is set to embark on another ambitious project which will lead to the implementation of a unified self-exclusion system for all its Remote Gaming licensees.Today, remote gaming operators licensed by the MGA are already obliged to offer self-exclusion tools to their players; however, there is no unified system in place, and an excluded player can seek the services of different operators, while being excluded from some others. In a statement, the authority said it is conscious that this is a gap in the protection offered within its regulated environment and is committed to working towards a system which will give the possibility to players to self-exclude across all licenced gaming channels, be it land-based or remote. “The protection of players is at the heart of the MGA’s regulatory agenda, and this project further underlines our resolve to ensure that players have the necessary tools to engage in gaming services responsibly. Over the years we have witnessed efforts from gaming operators to implement various responsible gaming measures, and thus we strongly believe that the unified self-exclusion system will be well received by the industry and consumers alike,” said Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer at the MGA.In addition, the Authority will also be evaluating the possibility of opening up the system for subscription on a voluntary basis to operators licensed in other jurisdictions; always ensuring a robust protection of data, in line with the GDPR.  The MGA is conscious that the implementation of such a system requires careful and considered analysis in order to ascertain that the solution design will meet the intended objectives. To this end, the Authority shall assess the suitability of a range of technical solutions for such a system over the coming weeks, including the possibility of leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). Such technology has the potential to provide an ideal platform for this system due to its inherent characteristics of immutability and decentralisation. The authority said it will proceed to announce its considerations for public consultation, followed by a call for requests for the technical development and implementation of the solution.

Populists' pick to be Italian premier scorns bureaucracy
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Giuseppe Conte, a bureaucracy-allergic law professor, is hardly a household name in Italy. Yet the 53-year-old academic is the candidate two rival political leaders have chosen to head what they hope will be the country's first populist government.Say the name "Conte" and the one who comes to the mind of many ordinary Italians is Antonio Conte, the former coach of the Azzurri, Italy's national soccer team. The front page of Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera carried an editorial cartoon Monday playing on the possible premier's lack of a comparable profile."For sure, if he were the ex-trainer of the Azzurri, he'd also have some international experience," the cartoon read along with a caricature of a puzzled-looking Italian President Sergio Mattarella,Conte also has international experience, but it's academic, not political. His resume lists brief periods of study or research at Yale, Cambridge and the Sorbonne, as well as teaching positions at public, private and Catholic universities in Italy.Until 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini announced him as their pick to take the helm of Italy's next government, the accomplishment of Conte's most Italians might remember hearing about was a kind of "MeToo" achievement.An expert in civil and commercial law, Conte has served on a government administrative justice council. In that role, he presided over a commission that ousted a public administration official who had demanded that female students in his law course for aspiring magistrates wear mini-skirts to class.The professor's background features aspects that could please both Di Maio's 5-Star Movement's base, which includes many disgruntled former supporters of the center-left Democrats, as well as Salvini's right-wing constituency.Dear to the hearts of both Salvini and Di Maio, who rail against the strangling effect of the often byzantine bureaucratic rules Italian businesses and citizens must follow, Conte has declared that given the opportunity, he would slash hundreds of such "useless laws."When, a few days before the election, the 5-Star Movement presented Conte as the ideal person to be minister for public administration, the professor said the laws needing elimination number "many more than the 400 ones indicated by Luigi Di Maio."Conte is "an expert of simplification, de-bureaucratization and streamlining the administrative machine, that's what so many businesses want," Salvini said Monday night.Conte also has pushed for stronger safeguards against corruption, which often finds fertile ground among those trying to circumvent government bureaucracy.What Salvini might have had to swallow for the price of putting his League in power is Conte's past political affinity for the left."In the past, I voted for the left. Today, I think that the ideological schemes of the 20th century are no longer adequate," Conte said earlier this year, when Di Maio was touting him for a Cabinet post. "I believe it's more important to evaluate how a political force works, in terms of its positions on its respect for rights and fundamental liberties. And on its ability to elaborate programs useful for citizens."In a recent TV program, he put it more succinctly: "My heart has traditionally beat toward the left."Conte isn't a member of Parliament, but that's not a requirement to be premier. Matteo Renzi, a former Florence mayor, served nearly three years as premier as leader of the Democratic Party and without holding elected office.Earlier in the haggling between Di Maio and Salvini to cobble together a governing coalition, each man boasted the right to be premier.Di Maio heads Parliament's largest party after the Movement captured some 32 percent of the votes cast in the March 4 parliamentary election.  Salvini's League was the biggest vote-getter in a center-right coalition that together clinched 37 percent.But after shedding his campaign coalition partners, which included former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right party, Salvini alone commands far fewer seats in Parliament than rival Di Maio.Each eventually agreed to "take a step aside" and quit demanding the premiership for himself. But with Di Maio aware he would lose his party's base if he agreed to a deal that would put the 5-Stars in government for the first time but without a loyal cheerleader as premier, the choice of Conte made sense.Born in Volturara Appula, a town of 467 residents near Foggia, in the region of Puglia, Conte is the son of a retired city hall office worker and an elementary school teacher.His southern roots might please the electorate that helped propel the 5-Stars into power. The Movement's popularity has soared in the south, where its campaign pledge for a guaranteed basic monthly income of 780 euros (then some $950) resonated in a region where youth unemployment tops 50 percent.Despite his lack of name recognition, Conte has a reputation for being a dapper dresser. When he appeared with Di Maio before the election, Conte was turned out in a three-piece suit with his tie tucked under a button-down gilet and a handkerchief neatly poking out of a breast pocket.

I DO: They knew it was love
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Marouska and Josef knew that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together soon after they met for their first drink together. At first they started meeting each other as friends, but the more they got to know each other, the more their relationship grew in love and compassion. In fact, they were so sure about it that there was not an official proposal, as they knew that marriage was the next step in their relationship.The couple bought their first house together, two years into their relationship, in Attard, a village they both like, and decided to get married there. They chose the month of April for their wedding; they both love spring and April was the perfect month for them. Marouska and Josef got married on a Saturday morning it was a perfect, typical spring day, rained heavily in the morning but the sun was shining throughout the day. They knew that rain is very common in April, that is why they decided to give it a go and practise an old wives' tale tradition; the bride to be donated a turkey to the St Clara nuns convent so they pray for the sun to come out on the couple's wedding day, and it looks like it worked!Marouska and Josef wanted an elegant theme with a touch of yellow and green, they both agree that these colours are perfect for spring and they blended very well with the elegant decor of the reception venue. It was decorated with lovely green and yellow flowers, while the church was decorated with pure white flowers, all flowers where from Flower Arts. Everything looked perfect, just the way they wanted.Marouska walked down the aisle to Josef wearing a simple yet delicate dress, it had a big flowing silk skirt with a bustier of sparkles and Swarovski crystals, made exclusively for the bride, from Ivory & Co. To complement the dress she also had a headband full of beads and Swarovski crystals and a long plain veil.Josef's suit came from Charles & Ron.L.O.V.E by Nat King Cole is the song that they danced to for their first dance; they both like to dance especially Josef since he is a professional dancer. They had the time of their life dancing to a song that was so meaningful for them. They both agree that it was the perfect day of their lives and they would like to do it all over again as it was simply amazing, they said.The couple thanked their guests with a very meaningful souvenir, a small organza bag filled with sunflower seeds. It represents the symbol of love; one has to water it and take care of it for it to grow. They also gave a donation to the Hospice movement.After their wedding day, they went on a magical honeymoon to Singapore and Bali, with the help of Enrico Travel. They wanted a relaxed and stress-free holiday and it was pure bliss. Wedding Check listWedding Dress - Ivory & Co  2142 3858Flowers - Flower Arts  2125 0645Bridal hair - Hair & More by Bernice  7904 9605Make-up - Madame Reve by Anabel  9923 6136

TVM

Kunsill MFA: Ftehim finanzjarju ma’ Tom Saintfiet dwar it-tmiem tal-kuntratt

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Ġurnalisti fosthom Maltin fi Brussell għal seminar dwar l-elezzjonijiet tal-Parlament Ewropew

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TMISSHIEX: Titfaċċa l-Portuguese man o’war f’Għawdex

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Iffirmat ftehim bejn Malta u l-Albanija għal aktar opportunitajiet ta’ negozju

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NewsBook

Saċerdot u Djakni Iraqini maqtula f’Mosul fit-triq tal-qdusija

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LIVE: X'kien fih l-SMS li attiva l-bomba li qatlet lil Daphne?

Newshour 22.05.18

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Mat-3,000 impjieg ma jimtlewx kull sena

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Filmat: Tajani jsostni l-ħtieġa li jinstabu l-mandanti tal-qtil ta' Daphne

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