Times of Malta

Travel chaos after power cut shuts down Atlanta airport

One of the heaviest travel weeks of the year began with the cancellation of hundreds of flights on Sunday at the world's busiest airport in Atlanta, where a power outage left passengers stranded in darkened terminals or in aircraft idling on tarmacs. The early afternoon outage paralysed operations at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through Sunday evening. Even though power was finally restored at close to midnight Sunday, the incident continued to wreak havoc on holiday travel plans for thousands of people hit by airline cancellations extending into Monday. Delta said it was cancelling about 300 flights on Monday, on top of the 900 Sunday cancellations as a result of the Atlanta outage. United Air Lines also warned on social media that travel on Monday may be affected. The incident led the Federal Aviation Administration to ground flights bound for Atlanta. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines were also among the major carriers that suspended operations at the airport on Sunday. Southwest canceled 70 departures on Sunday. All passengers had safely disembarked from aircraft by approximately 10pm, or nine hours after the outage began, Atlanta Mayor Kasim...

Developers back off

It is almost beyond belief that Sandro Chetcuti, the boss of the building contractors’ lobby that goes by the name of Malta Developers’ Association, wants his association to manage a register of developers, which, he says, is in the process of being finalised. If, by “managing” the register, he also means taking over the ways and means of ensuring that developers and contractors go by the book, he should be told to back off straightaway. The last thing the country needs right now is for the building developers and contractors to be allowed to self-regulate themselves. If they have not been able to bring wayward developers and contractors to order since the coming into force of their code of ethics seven years ago, there is no earthly reason why they should be trusted with managing the register. Mr Chetcuti may have all the good intentions in the world but in light of experience, which, in the most, has been far from favourable, few if any today would think it advisable for the industry to regulate itself. It would seem the register Mr Chetcuti is talking about is part of a plan that will see a new regulator amalgamating the work of a string of bodies operating in the industry,...

Dramatic scene as bus overturns in Attard

A public transport bus overturned at around 11.30pm, skidding to a halt and waking up neighbours - but there were no passengers on board and the driver was thankfully only slightly injured. Police said that the accident occurred on Mdina Road, Attard. No other vehicles were involved but the wreck took several hours to clear, according to eyewitnesses. Transport Malta said on Monday morning that the driver was treated for shock and that an internal investigation was launched immediately to identify the cause of the accident. "Over the last three years the number of accidents have shown a consistent year-on-year reduction. The company has, in fact, implemented various measures to this effect including, most importantly, a significant investment in the training programme for drivers. The company has also introduced a programme whereby it rewards drivers with a consistent, positive track record in safe driving by promoting these drivers to 'advanced drivers," it said.

Defunct tidal traffic system cost €500 a day

The tidal lane traffic system in Sir Paul Boffa Avenue in Paola which was dismantled recently cost taxpayers an average €500 a day during the 15 months for which it was in operation. The automated bollard system was removed in preparation for the start of works on the new multilevel intersection near the Addolorata Cemetery. Rolled out in May 2016 as a temporary measure to mitigate rush hour traffic in the southern part of the island, the tidal lane’s project cost was €235,000. The system was only operational until last August, when, for some reason, the bollards were replaced by plastic barriers operated manually. Read: Plastic barriers being used to run tidal traffic system A Transport Malta spokesman told the Times of Malta last October that in the coming weeks, the tidal lane system would be incorporated in the new traffic management arrangements required for the extensive Marsa junction project. At the time, works were also being carried out to downsize the roundabout near Corradino, at the upper end of Sir Paul Boffa Avenue. Transport Malta also pointed out that the use of the tidal lane system would be adjusted to cause minimum inconvenience for those using the road...

Announcements - 18 December, 2017

ABELA. On December 14, MIRIAM (Micky), née Wagner, aged 87, passed away peacefully at Mater Dei Hospital, comforted by the rites of Holy Church. She leaves to mourn her great loss her beloved husband Ronald, her children Jackie and her husband Philip Grima, and Richard and his wife Gabby, her dear grandchildren Nicholas, Emma, Julian and Sophie, her in-laws, nephews and nieces, carers and friends. The funeral cortège leaves Mater Dei Hospital tomorrow, Tuesday, December 19 at 8.15am for St Gregory’s parish church, Sliema, where Mass præsente cadavere will be said at 8.45am, followed by interment in the family grave at Santa Maria Addolorata Cem-etery. Memorial donations toId-Dar tal-Providenza, Siġġiewi, will be appreciated. Lord, grant her eternal rest. GALEA. On December 16 at Mater Dei Hospital, VICTOR, widower of Helen née Pace comforted by the rites of Holy Church, passed away peacefully at the age of 70. He leaves to mourn his great loss, his children Vincent and Christopher and his grandchildren Nicholas, Ella, Maia and Benjamin, his brothers and sisters, in-laws, nephews and nieces, other relatives and friends. The funeral cortège leaves Mater Dei Hospital, tomorrow,...

Watch: Landslides kill dozens in storm-hit Philippines

At least 26 people are dead and several missing in an island province in central Philippines after tropical storm Kai-tak brought heavy rains that triggered landslides, local authorities and media say. Floods across the country's central region left another three dead and many injured or missing. Witnesses told Reuters on Monday the storm is subsiding but some areas are still without power or water and broken bridges have paralysed transportation. Amateur video shows streets submerged by floods and villagers cruising through towns by boat. The storm cut power across most of the region, grounding flights and stranding more than 15,000 holiday-makers. Officials say tens of thousands more were forced to flee to evacuation shelters.

Today's front pages: December 18, 2017

The defunct traffic tidal system cost €500 a day, according to the Times of Malta, which also reported that the Prime Minister had sent a warning to the Air Malta pilots over the current stalemate. In-Nazzjon quotes PN leader Adrian Delia saying that the country deserves a strong Opposition during his weekly Sunday meeting. The Malta Independent has a story on the repurcussions of the migrant crossing tragedy in October 2013, with Italian prosecutors saying they would seek manslaughter charges in connection with the death of two officers. It also reports on the difficulties faced by victims of domestic violence who can not afford the 'skyrocketing' rents which would allow them to escape from their abusive situation. Three stories on the front page of L-Orizzont, which reports on the peak activity at Malta International Airport in the run-up to Christmas, as well as a promise by the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that there would be 'good news' this week. Its main story deals with the threefold increase in sexually-transmitted diseases.

Short memory

I admire Eddy Privitera who has no fear in writing that whatever he believes is also better for the Labour Party, of which he is a staunch and loyal supporter. I have always acted more or less like him and I never hesitated to declare my steadfastness for the Nationalist Party. I am against anybody who fears showing his colours, so to speak. When writing about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s most cruel murder in recent times he mentions, quite in depth, and in the limited space he had available, about the horrific adjectives Caruana Galizia used against those she disliked. To say the truth, I also think that Caruana Galizia went to extremes, many a time. However, had it not been for her nobody would have a clue on the corrupt goings-on. I am sure that Privitera remembers the late Lino Cassar, editor of Ix-Xewka.Beginning from the then Prime Minister George Borg Olivier to the least PN supporter they would be mutilated as in an abattoir where pigs and other stock were butchered. Had one to weigh all that was said by Cassar and Caruana Galizia, I am sure Cassar’s Xewka would be much heavier. I will borrow Privitera’s letter title: the other side of the coin.

George Cassar

More about George Cassar of Victoria who lived at Fontana and passed away on October 21. He was also a member of the Gozo Football Association Appeals Board together with the later Marċell Mizzi LP and the Gozo serving magistrate who in their time served and decided issues and disputes and appeals by the Gozitan football clubs. This was an independent board selected by the GFA with the approval of the Gozitan football clubs. I offer my condolences to his wife Maria and children.

The Cannabis Bill

Some time in February, it is expected that the Bill permitting the medicinal use of cannabis shall become law. I am following the parliamentary debate with attention, and wish to contribute a suggestion. The main worry about making drugs available is the possible misuse which even such regulated availability may produce. One cannot imagine that it would be the liberal prescription by medical doctors which provides the greatest risk: that, indeed, must be discounted.  I believe that the main risk lies in the actual presence of cannabis within a household. I therefore encourage the Ministry of Health to educate potential ‘consumers’, especially if they are parents, to keep the substance away from children and adolescents, and to refrain from disclosing to vulnerable members of the family the fact that they have been prescribed the drug.

Malta Independent

PN declines to provide specifics on large donations presented by Arrigo and Puli

The Nationalist Party has declined to provide further details of the donations the party received following last week’s fund-raising marathon. Eyebrows were raised after Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo and Secretary General Clyde Puli presented €141,806 and €56,000 respectively at the marathon.Large donations from businessmen and industry leaders to both major political parties remains an open secret in Malta and runs the high risk of influencing the decision-making or public tender processes, especially considering the db Group saga that hit the Nationalist Party earlier this year.The PN currently finds itself in court under suspicion of breaching the Party Financing Law after Silvio Debono of the db Group claimed he gave donations to the PN that far exceeded the €25,000 limit allowed by the law. The PN say that the €70,000 quoted by db Group as donations were in fact transactions of a commercial nature between the influential businessman and the PN’s media entity Media.Link. Both failed to divulge details of the commercial transactions, with Joseph Muscat alleging that the PN had issued fraudulent invoices.Arrigo and Puli were sent questions asking for the total amount raised at every fund-raising event that contributed to the total figure; a list of the donors who gave more than €50, and the total amount each one of these donors gave; whether any companies or business people donated and the respective figure; and the largest amount donated. A PN spokesperson told The Malta Independent on Sunday: “Fund-raising is an essential part of the operations of every political party in Malta. I can assure you that the funds raised by the Nationalist Party are being collected according to the Party Financing Law.“The Nationalist Party is extremely pleased with the €620,319 that was raised last Sunday.”Arrigo was also quick to insist that the money was raised through fund-raising events held over the previous six months, and questioned journalists’ ‘bad intentions’ by pursuing the matter further.Media.Link director Pierre Portelli, who personally presented €18,000 at the event, was sent similar questions; however, the details of the donations were not forthcoming."All donations received by the PN during the fund-raising marathon are covered by the appropriate receipt as dictated by the Party Financing Law. The donations are handed straight to the financial controller and the treasurer of the party for them to manage the funds as per their remit,” Portelli said.Also contacted, Puli largely echoed Arrigo’s and Portelli’s comments. New leadership was ‘in a panic’ to raise fundsSources speaking to this newspaper yesterday revealed that the PN’s new leadership ‘was in a panic’ to raise funds last weekend, given that not a single fund-raiser had been held after the election given the turmoil the party found itself in, reeling as it was from a crushing electoral defeat and the resignation of the party’s leader and top brass.Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that the party had urgent financial commitments to meet.The same sources expressed disappointment that a number of Nationalist MPs “had not contributed a single cent” toward the party’s fund-raising efforts.On the bright side, they did note that in a number of localities donations to the party had surged significantly. In Marsa and Zurrieq, donations were seen to have tripled. In Marsa in particular, PN leader Adrian Delia’s recent visit to the town and his knocking on the door of the police station only to find it closed in the middle of the day had gone down particularly well. Party Financing Law: what needs to be declaredThe Party Financing Law, proposed and enacted by the current government, stipulates that no party is allowed to receive donations by the same person/entity exceeding €25,000 in any given financial year. The law also obliges political parties to publish, through the Electoral Commission, the names and the total amount donated from individuals whose donations have exceeded €7,000, and donations received from corporate entities.For those who have donated between €50 and €700, the party is required to keep a list of these individuals but is under no obligation to publish them; it is not obliged to keep a record of those who donate less than €50.

TMIS Editorial - Pilatus Bank: Malta’s media freedom SLAPPed in the face

When Pilatus Bank in mid-October threatened this publishing house with the prospect of multi-million euro lawsuits in the United States and the United Kingdom over its reportage, this media house was faced with a dilemma.  On the one hand, the legal advice was that Pilatus did not have a leg to stand on and that the case is certainly a winnable one, albeit in a foreign land – the UK and USA jurisdiction having been chosen specifically, discarding Maltese jurisdiction. On the other hand, this publishing house had to consider that the costs associated with fighting such a case instituted in the courts of the United States and the United Kingdom would be financially crippling for a business such as ours.Given the necessity of engaging British barristers to defend our cause, and ultimately the right to publish without inhibition, the case in the UK courts alone could easily run into the region of hundreds of thousands of euros depending on how long and extensive it becomes to reaffirm the fundamental human right of press freedom.This is a classic example of what is known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) – lawsuits intended solely to censor, intimidate, and silence critics such as the media by burdening them with an excessively costly legal defence until they abandon their criticism. The aim of such lawsuits is not necessarily to secure a legal victory, but, rather, to prevent the media from exercising its right and sacrosanct duty to inform the public about matters of public interest.The bank had been the subject of a number of FIAU reports and other Panama scandals, allegations that served as the catalyst behind the calling of the 3 June snap general election.As such, this is a classic case of the media’s right and duty to inform the public about matters of public interest if there ever was one. But not only was the bank seeking to silence the media from here on in, it also demanded full retractions, apologies and the wiping of articles from our website.This publishing house has never buckled under threat of lawsuits, we have always faced our day in court and many more times than not we have been absolved of libel claims. This case, however, was different.Were this publishing house to go under, given the sheer weight of the cost of legal proceedings, the dozens of people that this company employs would quickly find themselves queuing for unemployment benefits and searching the classified sections of other newspapers. This is a responsibility that we take most seriously.Moreover, should the SLAPP prove effective, the country would have lost one of its only truly independent voices. This is another responsibility that we take very seriously.So, once all was weighed in the balance, which has been done over the last two months in close consultation with our lawyers, the decision to remove some of our online content was taken. We did not capitulate immediately and this is as far as we are prepared to go and against our better judgement due to the above explained overriding considerations. We stand by what we have written.And although certain stories have been removed from our online presence, they remain forever in the public record, at the National Library, for starters, where every newspaper is required at law to send three copies of every issue published, and where they are freely accessible to the public. These cannot be retracted and they are there forever.As far as Pilatus is concerned, we have published factual evidence, we have not published conjecture. We have published interviews with the whistle-blower herself. We have published extracts of FIAU reports that are now the subject of magisterial inquiries. This publishing house has also handed documents in our possession over to the inquiring magistrate.This is another unfortunate case in which money talks. Similar tactics were employed against Daphne Caruana Galizia who, before her assassination, faced 19 simultaneous lawsuits filed against her in one fell swoop and financially crippling pre-emptive garnishee orders.These are all shades of the same technique aimed at silencing the media.This is not only about the threats made by Pilatus against this publishing house and the publishers of the country’s other two independent English language newspapers. It is about stopping such abusive practices once and for all.This latest affront to the media is far from over. Several magisterial inquiries are currently underway and MEP David Casa is pushing the issue further. He has asked the European Commission to investigate the bank’s SLAPP, which he has labelled as abusive and tantamount to harassment of media houses, arguing that the practice of intimidating media houses with multi-million euro lawsuits in jurisdictions outside the EU is unacceptable and requires an EU response.And in so saying he has hit one of the nails squarely in its head: a bank unwilling to face Maltese justice for offences it alleges were committed in Maltese jurisdiction – and instead resorts to SLAPP lawsuits in other jurisdictions with the sole intention of gagging the media and to erase elements of this country’s historical record – should not be welcome in a supposedly democratic country such as ours in the first place.

‘Why should we have informed PD if they showed us no loyalty?’– Clyde Puli says of PN-PD breakup

Nationalist Party Sectary General Clyde Puli deemed it unnecessary to consult with, or even to have informed, Forza Nazzjonali coalition partner Partit Demokratiku of the party’s decision to dissolve the uneasy partnership between the two parties that was entered into before the general election.Contacted yesterday, Puli told this newspaper, “Why should PD have been informed about the end of the coalition when they have shown us no loyalty whatsoever.”Instead, Puli said the party deemed it more appropriate to notify PD in the formal manner through the presentation of a motion, which Puli himself did at Dar Centrali on Friday evening.The motion, moved by Puli and seconded by all members of the party’s administration, refers to the agreement that had been reached between the PN and PD through which they presented a common list of candidates for the general election. The PN executive then unanimously approved the coalition’s dissolution.Although the co-creator of the Forza Nazzjonali coalition, former PN leader Simon Busuttil, was not present for Friday’s vote, Puli insisted that the majority of the executive had attended: “A normal number was present and unfortunately Simon Busuttil was not present at the time of the vote.” Contacted yesterday, Busuttil refrained from commenting on the PN’s move taken under the new leadership of Adrian Delia.It is known that a number of leading Nationalist politicians had been uneasy with the coalition. Both Chris Said and Francis Zammit Dimech had confirmed to this newsroom that before the June general election, they had both been presented with a fait accompli, and that Busuttil had held no discussions with the party about the prospect of a coalition with PD.Moreover Puli said that even though the election had been lost, the party maintained the political will to continue working with PD, giving the party’s former leader Marlene Farrugia not just a platform in the general election race but after that as well. Nevertheless, when the PN leadership campaign began, Farrugia’s scathing comments on then leadership hopeful Adrian Delia showed she had no loyalty to the coalition, Puli explained. In fact, Farrugia had gone as far as saying that she did not recognise Adrian Delia as the new PN leader. “One day they’re sitting next to us at a press conference, the next day they’re speaking against us, there’s just no loyalty. After all, the Nationalist Party ended up losing two seats to them, which were mostly Nationalist votes, because we had allowed them to share a platform with us in the run-up to the general election,” Puli stated. “We lost valid PN candidates, especially in the Seventh District, who did not garner enough votes because of this coalition.”The coalition, Puli pointed out, was established in the hope of winning enough votes to secure a parliamentary majority: “The results weren’t what we wished for but we still wanted to cooperate with the PD. However, now it’s time for the PN to pursue its own agenda.” Puli assured that, this way, everyone can freely say what they want to say and pursue their own aims, clarifying that any future collaboration with PD will be on a case-by case basis.Delia was never part of the Forza Nazzjonali – Marlene FarrugiaNationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was never part of the Forza Nazzjonali, former PD leader and MP Marlene Farrugia said yesterday in a biting criticism of the motion to dissolve the coalition: “Delia PN is shrinking and haemorrhaging by the hour”. “Forza Nazzjonali lives on” Farrugia stated, stressing that the Forza Nazzjonali is a mind-set, which is “thriving and growing by the day”. Dr Farrugia continued to call for unity, claiming that a strong and credible Opposition is needed to preserve democracy in our country, and to eventually form a government to replace Joseph Muscat’s “corrupt regime”. "Forza Nazzjonali lives on. DeliaPN was never a part of it, but the PN was and is.”“I am legally PN. Politically PD. Historically Forza Nazzjonali. And I cannot be dissolved. Not by a DeliaPN executive at any rate," she said.Meanwhile, current PD leader Anthony Buttigieg also posted a Facebook status in reaction to the PN’s public announcement that the coalition has been broken up, stating that, “The PN has admitted to the public something that, in practice, has been the case since the election.” On the other hand, Buttigieg said that, “Marlene and Godfrey Farrugia have been cold-shouldered in Parliament by the rest of the Opposition despite their efforts to work closely with the PN.“Partit Demokratiku, recognised as a distinct Democratic Opposition in Parliament by the Speaker, will work on a case-by-case basis in Parliament whenever it is in the genuine interest of the people of Malta and Gozo, and shall continue to prove the desperate need for the Third Party in our country,” the PD said on Friday.

PN does not want Jerma to remain in a derelict state, but has no opinion on way forward

While the PN wants something to be done about the site of the former Jerma Palace hotel in Marsascala and does not want it to remain abandoned given the terrible state it is in, it has no clear opinion as to how it should be developed, be it a public garden or a hotel.PN Spokesperson for Planning Ryan Callus told this newsroom that the party never discussed the different possible options, given that it is private property, but took the position that it cannot remain in its present state. “Although it is private property, we cannot accept having buildings in such a prime position left abandoned in a dilapidated state. It harms the area and is an inconvenience for residents. If it is turned into a flourishing hotel or public open space, which would require expropriation is another question. What is for sure is that we are against it remaining abandoned,” he saidRecently a vote was taken by the local council on what the mayor called ‘the principle of the development’, which saw six councillors vote in favour, one against and one abstained. The interesting part however, is that the PN had councillors on both sides of the fence; PN councillor Charlot Cassar voted against, one voted in favour and a third, who was abroad at the time of the vote, is said to be in favour. Cassar has expressed his disappointment that his fellow PN councillors were in favour of the project.Cassar has been pushing for the site to be turned into a public open space. He had put forward such a recommendation before the council, but lost the vote four to three. He then took the matter to the Consultative Council of the South, recommending that government purchase the land and turn it into such a space. Cassar was the PN’s representative in that situation. Explaining that situation, Ryan Callus, said it was solely Charlot Cassar’s initiative “but the PN never objected to it”.Ryan Callus was asked whether there was any PN directive in place regarding the vote, given the split on the issue within the council; in response he said that in most cases regarding planning issues, the party leaves councillors at liberty to reflect the aspirations of their locality, given that the councillors would know more about their locality’s needs. The big question – what is to become of the Jerma Hotel site? – has been a topic of debate for many years. More recently, three towers, the tallest being 44 floors, were proposed. This was later changed, and the council was presented with two options one of which would have had a 28-storey tower. Now however, plans seem to have changed again.The newest proposal is for a 13-storey building housing a hotel, reducing the height to seven storeys for apartments. The total developable area stands at 61,100 square metres; however, the proposal would have a building footprint of 7,000sqm. The proposal does not seem to have been submitted to the Planning Authority so far.Marsascala Mayor Mario Calleja told The Malta Independent yesterday that the vote was on the principle of the development. “If they change something we will go against, we only agreed on the principle.” He said that from the information they were given, the plans include a lot of public space, and that public dominium was looked after. “From a developable footprint of 18,000 sq.m. they are only building 7,000 sq.m.” He said that 60 per cent of the site would be a hotel, and 40 per cent would be residential apartments.Last November, this newsroom published images showing the state of the current site. These photos, taken by former Malta Union of Teachers president Kevin Bonello, showed the sorry state of the property. Bonello told this newsroom that the buildings, which are in a perilous state, are easily accessible to the public, with concrete slabs that are supposed to bar the gates being placed so far apart that it is easy to pass between them. He had said that the level of garbage inside the old hotel seems to have increased over the past weeks and months. Bonello said there were signs of recent bonfires and there were other people on the site while he was there, which showed that people still entered the dilapidated complex. 

Daphne's murder: European Commissioner backs call for UN representative to protect journalists

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans this week said he is backing the #ProtectJournalists campaign initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for the creation of a United Nations Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists.Timmermans’ statement of support comes in the wake of an appeal by RSF to European governments and institutions to do more to protect journalists after the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October.Timmermans informed RSF in a letter, "I am pleased to tell you that I support the #ProtectJournalists campaign and would welcome the creation of a UN Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists."RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire commented, "We are very grateful to Frans Timmermans for his support for the protection of journalists. More than 60 journalists have lost their lives in 2017 alone. It is time to put an end to these abuses, which seriously violate the right of millions of citizens around the world to be informed."Earlier, on 19 September, French President Emmanuel Macron also voiced support for the #ProtectJournalists campaign in an address to the UN General Assembly on 19 September. Dozens of other governments around the world, from Afghanistan to Spain, and from Sweden to Uruguay, are calling for the creation of such a position.Launched by RSF in 2015, the #ProtectJournalists campaign is supported by more than 130 media outlets, NGOs and labour unions.Earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders Board Member Professor Roy Greenslade said in an address at the British Journalism Award: “I just want to finish with a word about the killing of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. You know that she died when her car was bombed on 16 October and are probably aware that three men have since been charged with her murder, while seven more are on bail.“But Reporters Without Borders maintains that an independent, international inquiry should be held into Daphne’s death. Her sons, who spoke to our board recently, have good reason to suspect that there is a political aspect to the murder because Daphne was investigating corruption at the highest levels of the Maltese government. They have called for the senior investigator to be replaced. We sincerely hope everyone here will support our call for an investigation into the callous, premeditated murder of a fine journalist.”

Atkinson earns Saints shocking late win over champions, Floriana fall short after Super Cup success

ST ANDREWS     2HIBERNIANS       1St Andrews: M. Calleja Cremona, E. Beltre’, A. Borg, M. Miranda Gomez, T. Azian (J. Walker), M. Grima, J. Farrugia, M. Gauci, T. Grant, D. Jackson (K. Atkinson), K. Reid (A. Friggieri)sHibernians: A. Hogg, D. Vella (J. Bezzina), M. Kreuzriegler, R. Gomes, J. Lima, M. Dias, B. Kristensen, C. Failla (M.A. Filho), A. Agius, J. Mbong (J. Degabriele), M. SahanekReferee: M. SpiteriAsst.refs: C. Francalanza, T. Zammit4th official: J. UtuluScorers: C. Failla 43, M. Miranda Gomez 51, K. Atkinson 90+Yellow cards: E. Beltre’, C. Failla, T. AzianRed card: J. BezzinaPlayer of the match: M. Dias (Hibernians)TMI top 3: 1. M. Sahanek  2. M. Miranda Gomez  3. D. JacksonA moment of brilliance decided the game in dramatic fashion. Deep into five minutes of added time, substitute Kevaughn Atkinson unleashed a cracking shot from some 25 yards out that beat the stranded Hibernians’ keeper Andrew Hogg and give St Andrews an unexpected win and deepen the champions’ crisis of form.Hibernians needed to bounce back after defeats against Balzan in the league and against Floriana in the Super Cup final within a week.St Andrews, struggling without a win in their previous seven matches, could perhaps present the right opportunity.But the Saints played with belief and determination despite their slim total of two league wins before yesterday. St Andrews had not offered a huge amount by way of attacking threat but when they did venture forward Hibernians’ failure to kill things off meant nerves spread around.Hibernians created numerous chances throughout and should have won this game.Clayton Failla gave them the lead with a header, two minutes before the break, beating keeper Calleja Cremona off a Sahanek cross from the right.The champions had other half chances earlier, as they built up ominous momentum in the first half, with the St Andrews keeper footing out an inswinging Sahanek corner from the right, defender Beltre’ reaching on a Sahanek cross before Lima and Vella putting his header wide on a Lima cross.Beyond that, Hibernians displayed what has broadly been their problem of late, namely not taking any of the chances they create. They dominated the second half but looked lethargic at times and their attacks lacked the zip and guile to unsettle the well organised St Andrews defence.They even ended up with Johan Bezzina receiving his marching orders after exchanging insults with Saints’ team manager Alex Busuttill when the ball boy resisted to hand in the ball.Without Rodolfo Soares, but with Andrei Agius back from suspension, the Paolites’ four-man defence included Kreuzriegler and Dias as wide backs.Sahanek started instead of Bezzina in midfield and Joseph Mbong again preferred to Jorge Elias as the main striker.The Saints’ starting line-up showed a rift of changes following defeat against Tarxien Rainbows the previous week. Central defender Blagrove was suspended. Coach Michael Woods dropped Butler and Davis and exiled Friggieri, Atkinson and Walker to the bench.Their only half chance in the first half fell to Azian, just before Hibernians broke the deadlock, who skied the ball after presented with a good chance by Reid.Therafter it was back to absorbing the Hibernians pressure.St Andrews were given a little injection of hope after the break. Six minutes into the second half they drew level with a Misael Miranda Gomez low strike, after collecting Reid’s pass inside the Hibernians’ area.As time ticked on and Hibernians failed to find a second, it began to feel as if the Saints were holding on. Their goalkeeper Calleja Cremona stretched himself to turn Lima’s long-range drive into a corner on 65 minutes and then block Kreuzriegler’s effort nine minutes later. And when Lima just missed to put his head to a Dias cross, Hibernains dragged on with the expectation that a winner was just around the corner. Instead, they were left shocked by Atkinson’s stunning added-time strike.FLORIANA           0BIRKIRKARA       2Floriana: I. Akpan, E. Pepe (D. Grima), E. Ruiz, S. Pisani, C. Borg (L. Grech), M. Vella, J. Cabral, A. Cini, A. Oyama, M. Fontanella, E. MarcelinaBirkirkara: P. Schranz, C. Attard, N. Vukanac, L. Maia, K. Zammit, B. De Brito (R. Camenzuli), M. Andelkovic, R. Scicluna, J. Grech (L. Cremona), C. Goncalves, L. Montebello (A. Nilsson)Referee: G. TonnaAsst.refs: A. Camilleri, R. Aquilina4th official: I. BarbaraScorers: J. Grech 12, L. Montebello 17Yellow cards: K. Zammit, S. Pisani, N. Vukanac, C. Goncalves, C. AttardPlayer of the match: M. Vella (Floriana)TMI top 3: 1. M. Vella  2. L. Maia  3. M. AndelkovicAttendance: 716What had been a good year for Floriana, by their standards, ended in disappointment.Undone by Birkirkara’s two first-half goals, the Greens succumbed to their second defeat in their last three league matches and their efforts in the Super Cup triumph in midweek might have taken their toll yesterday.Two early goals, in quick succession, scored by Jake Grech and Luke Montebello, set the tone for this Birkirkara win at the start of the second round.Birkirkara went into the match on the back of two consecutive wins and two clean sheets against St Andrews and Hamrun Spartans, as they recovered from a poor start to the campaign.Yesterday, coach Paul Zammit gave starts to Jake Grech and Bruno De Brito, as Floriana, under coach Nicolas Chiesa, showed only one change from the match against Hibernians, with Arthur Oyama replacing Dylan Grima.Birkirkara started as if intent on proving their attacking capabilities and they made a convicning case. Their ruhlessness, gave them a double advantage before the match was even 20 minutes old.The first, after 12 minutes, came when Jake Grech raced in for De Brito’s low cross from the left and beat keeper Akpan.The Stripes made them two five minutes later. Luke Montebello swivelled and turned inside the Floriana area to avoid two opponents before shooting in past Akpan at the top corner.The goals infused Floriana with some anxiety and the Greens, seven points above their opponents at kick-off, did not produce much in the first half as they struggled in midfield.Birkirkara defended well, allowing the Greens, who could only threaten with a Fontanella shot that was well saved by goalkeepere Schranz, few clear opportunities.Floriana put in Leighton Grech for Borg at the start of the second half. They went close to pull one back after five minutes when a Vella powerful free kick thumped against the bar with the Birkirkara keeper probably putting a finger to the ball and then saving well on Oyama from the rebound.Floriana pushed for an opening. With Maurizio Vella’s growing influence, they dominated possession and the game seemed to distil into a single issue.On 68 minutes Vella unleashed another powerful shot from the edge of the area that rebounded off the post to the keeper’s right.But Floriana’s attacking play lacked its usual urgency and with Fontanella largely nullified by Maia and Vukanac, they could not find any rhythm against a solid Birkirkara rearguard, whose stifling tactics saw them hold good for three precious points that move them closer to the top half of the standings.

PN’s financial situation ‘stable’ but party has to work hard to meet obligations, Delia says

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia this morning said that the PN’s financial situation had gone from precarious to stable, but insisted that sacrifices would still have to be made to ensure that payments were made on time. Speaking in Balzan, Delia also said the PN would start giving an overview of its yearly finances, if anything as a sign of transparency towards all those who donated to the party.Delia said the party had been undergoing restructuring. This did not meant that all debts had been paid but that these debts had been rescheduled over a longer period of time. “In order to do this a number of party clubs were placed in a trust to make good for payments that the party had to make. We did this to ensure that the party’s position went from precarious to stable. But we still have to make sacrifices to make punctual payments on the obligations we have.”Delia said people often asked about the party’s financial situation, which largely remained a mystery. “Some information is commercially sensitive but we want to be able to give an overview our situation yearly. When people contribute and donate they have a right to see where and how the money is being spent.” The PN leader said the party had initially hoped to collect €400,000 in last week’s fundraising marathon but managed to collect more than €620,000. In an apparent dig at MPs who did not contribute to the marathon, Delia said: “Unfortunately we did not use all our resources. Not everyone worked to collect funds. In fact we probably used less than half of our resources. We have to find a way to bring everyone on board and take part.” The PN, he said, did not make money Labour style, by making arrangements, signing contracts and stealing public property.  Is the party united?Turning to claims of a divided party, Delia said: “Every leadership election causes friction and things do not change overnight. There will always be some who take longer than others to come round. We accept this because this is not a totalitarian party. But ultimately we have to present ourselves with one voice. The party, the seats we have in Parliament, are now our own but belong to those tens of thousands who voted for us. You have a duty to see that those who represent you [in Parliament] convey your message as well, not just theirs.”  PN-PD splitTurning to the announcement that the PN had dismantled the PN-PD Forza Nazzjonali alliance, Delia said the PN had decided that it was not a party that followed, or one that was devoid of ideas. “I had said in the summer that the PN had, somewhere along the way, stopped thinking. We do not have to be afraid, to follow and be reactive. We have to believe in ourselves and believe in what truly makes us the Nationalist Party. Let us not be ashamed of our past, of all that this party has done for this country. Let us be humble about our past mistakes and have the courage and confidence in what we can become for our country.”Delia said the PN can be strong even in Opposition, and it can still bring positive change for people.“Even in the country’s most difficult times we went to Parliament with solutions. Parliament is the place where we exercise our duties but the most important thing is our country,” he said, adding that there were around 100,000 who were struggling to make ends meet. “We want to show that were are capable of designing and building a better country. We will start doing this in next year’s European Parliament elections. We want to show that we are capable of setting the country’s agenda, and ultimately win back people’s trust and respect.”  Deputy LeadersEarlier, Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs David Agius said people had placed trust in the PN by donating such a sum during the marathon. In such terms the people had placed bigger trust in the PN than the PL, for the PN had raked in more money in donations, he argued. Referring to the PN-PD split, Agius said the time of “confusion” had ended and “now we are all under one banner, the flag of the Nationalist Party. We want to lead our own agenda. We will cooperate with others on a case by case basis and show them respect.”Deputy Leader for Party Affairs Robert Arrigo spoke of the trouble and obstacles the PN had found when collecting donations. “There is nothing to be ashamed of for collecting little amounts from so many people.”Arrigo said there were thousands of people who approached the party with donations, including people who voted Labour in the last election. Showering praise at leader Adrian Delia, Arrigo said the party was bigger than anyone and urged supporters to be loyal to the party, no matter who the leader was. “If there are some among you who are still skeptical about Delia do yourself a favour and come here and ask him, instead of putting up posts on Facebook. I did and I was happy with the replies, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be too.”  Labour Party statementIn a statement the Labour Party said Adrian Delia wanted to change the country, which had registered an economic growth rate of 7.2%, had the second lowest unemployment rate in the EU and was second best EU performed when it came to job creation. The PL said that first thing that Delia needed to fix was the confusion gripping his own party.  It said Delia had confirmed that his party was also experiencing confusion in its finances, with its leader now confirming that he had sold off party clubs, despite denying the fact some months ago.

If coalition were elected ‘the country would now be crying’ – Joseph Muscat in light of breakup

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning reacted to the dissolving of the coalition between the Nationalist Party (PN) and Democratic Party (PD), referring to it as an 'annulment'."Today we laugh (at the situation), but if the public had chosen to stop half way in the general elections, then today the country would be crying," he said. ('Stop half way' refers to one of the slogans the Labour Party was using during the last general elections, where they appealed to the public to not 'stop half way' and vote them into government again.)Muscat was talking at a political event in Mgarr this morning."How can you trust the country in the hands of a coalition of confusion that cannot even lead an opposition, let alone a government?" he asked.  He continued that this shows the "lack of ideas from the side of the opposition," and said that the opposition has had "four years of negativity and criticism.""This type of politics is not wanted by the people," he said. "Our appeal is to have an opposition which keeps us accountable, but is positive. " He then called the current opposition 'desperate'. Air Malta pilots will 'make or break' strategySpeaking about the Air Malta strategy earlier, the Prime Minister appealed to the pilots and their respective union, the airline pilotss association, to agree to the Air Malta strategy."The representatives of this category will make or break the strategy of Air Malta. It is in their hands," he said.He reinforced the idea of turning the national airline into the airline of the Mediterranean, emphasizing that it is a possible notion."If there is not an agreement with the pilots but there is an agreement with everyone else then it would be for nothing," he said. "Let us arrive at a conclusive agreement."The collective agreement, which has been under negotiation for many months, is valid for five years. Muscat reiterates his promise to resign if Egrant allegation proves to be trueAt the end of his address, Muscat reiterated that his 'promise still counts' if the Egrant allegation is proven to be true.Refering to a story published today by Illum, which reported that MEP Ana Gomes and the respective delegation were not passed on any documents by Russian Whistleblower Maria Efimova, Muscat repeated that the allegation is "a personal attack of the integrity on a person." "Shame on all those associated with this lie," he said.Last week, following Efimova's video conference meeting with MEP delegates, it was reported that she provided them with documents which allegedly back up the Egrant allegations."I want all the truth to come out, because I am proud of the work done by this government," he stated, going on to list work done by the government. PN statementReacting, the Nationalist Party said that had it not been for the work of its three MEPs, Malta would have been labelled as a ‘tax haven’ by the European Parliament.While Muscat boasted about the economy, it said, he did not say anything about the effect that such a label would have had on Malta. The PN insisted that from now on it would be leading its own agenda and said that this worried Joseph Muscat. 

Defiant Theresa May: UK 'proving doubters wrong' on Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday her government is "proving the doubters wrong" after European Union leaders agreed that Brexit negotiations can finally move on to their next phase in the new year.Leaders of the other 27 EU nations gave a boost to May on Friday when they agreed that the protracted talks over Britain's exit from the bloc can proceed to the issues of transition and future trade relations between the two sides.Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May declared that "the last 10 days have marked a watershed in our negotiations to leave the European Union." Striking a defiant note, she added that her Brexit plans won't be "derailed" by anti-Brexit campaigners."Amid all the noise, we are getting on with the job," she wrote. "In the face of those who want to talk Britain down, we are securing the best and most ambitious Brexit deal for our whole United Kingdom."May, who is already struggling to maintain her authority amid the fractious exit process, suffered a significant political defeat in Parliament on Wednesday when the House of Commons voted to give lawmakers the final say on any Brexit agreement.The prime minister said negotiations would now begin on an "implementation period" immediately after Britain formally leaves the bloc in March 2019 — but some of her Conservative party members have already signaled that they won't accept arrangements that closely resemble continued EU membership during the transition to a new relationship.With so little time before Britain's expected exit date, negotiators face a tight deadline to carve out a wide-ranging separation deal. A transition phase of about two years, aimed at easing Britain out of the EU and providing some certainty to business, is expected to be an early point of discussion.

Updated: Ghanaian accused of stabbing co-national in the head

A 19-year-old man from Ghana today pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm after a court heard how he allegedly stabbed another man in the head. The incident took place late on Saturday night in Naxxar. Nana Agyeman Maxwell was arraigned before Magistrate Audrey Demicoli on Sunday afternoon.A witness, Ognen Gurbach, from Macedonia, said he had witnessed the attack. The man said he was working at the Naxxar church when he heard two men arguing. The witness said the accused was holding a stick in one hand and a knife in the other. Gurbach said he tried to intervene but Maxwell attacked the other man, hitting him first with the stick and then striking him on the head with the knife. Maxwell then ran off, with the witness following. He was arrested some time later. The victim, Francis Opoku, 34, also from Ghana, appeared in court with stitches on his head. He said he had been warned by another flatmate that the accused wanted to harm him. Opuku said he and the accused had not spoken on Saturday but the two had an argument some weeks back, during which Opuku had slapped Maxwell. The police had been called in. The court appointed medical expert Mario Scerri to examine the victim’s medical file. The accused, who was represented by legal aid lawyer Francina Abela, did not request bail.  The case was adjourned until Tuesday. 


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