Times of Malta

General, sporting, and business news for Malta and the surrounding region
  1. Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar is paid €34,504 in her role as Commissioner for Simplification of Bureaucracy within the Office of the Prime Minister, the prime minister said in reply to a parliamentary question. She also has expense allowance equivalent to 25% of the maximum of salary scale 7 of the civil service.  Labour MP Alex Muscat serves as a Secretariat Officer in the Office of the Prime minister on salary scale six with an allowance in lieu of overtime at 20% of scale 7and a car allowance of €1,854. Dr Muscat was replying to questions by Godfrey Farrugia (PD). Dr Farrugia asked questions about several MPs, including himself. Dr Muscat confirmed to Dr Farrugia himself that he has no contract or employment nor does he provide a service to the Office of the Prime Minister. 
  2. A 55-year-old man from Birzebbuga was seriously injured on Thursday afternoon when he fell a height of one storey while working in a factory. The police said the accident occurred in Sir Paul Boffa Avenue, Paola.
  3. Foreign workers have rated Malta as one of the best countries in the world for good work-life balance. Photo: Jonathan Borg

    For foreign workers, Malta is one of the best countries in the world for a good work-life balance, says an international survey. Newly published rankings from the InterNations Expat Insider survey of more than 12,500 respondents living in 188 countries placed Malta among the top 10, with nearly three-quarters of respondents reporting satisfaction with their work-life balance. Around two-thirds said that they were satisfied with their working hours in Malta, an average of 43.9 hours per week and one of the longest working weeks in the top 10. The survey found that around three-quarters of expats in Malta work full-time, which is the second smallest share out of the top 10 countries after New Zealand. One Croatian expat said they liked the “opportunity to work and earn well”, which seemed to be true for the majority of those living in Malta, as more than half said their disposable household income was more than enough to cover everything they need. The other countries making up the top 10 for work-life balance were Denmark, Bahrain, Norway, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Sweden, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Oman. On a global scale, expats working full-time spend an average of...
  4. The government has spent €31,980 on 3,100 rosary beads which were blessed by the Pope for distribution among elderly people, Family Affairs Minister Michael Falzon told Karol Aquilina (PN) in reply to a parliamentary question.  The minister said the Secretariat for the Elderly and the Welfare Committee have so far handed out 2067 rosaries in nine homes for the elderly and an an extra 1,033 are being held in storage. 
  5. New EU data protection rules strengthening citizens' rights and simplifying rules for companies in the digital age will take effect on Friday. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adopted in April 2016, will apply fully as of Friday. The rules aim to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world, while creating a clearer and more consistent framework for businesses. New rights for citizens:• a citizen has to give their "clear and affirmative consent" for their data to be processed;• the right to receive clear and understandable information about who is processing the data, what data and why;• the right to be forgotten: a citizen can ask for his/her data to be deleted;• the right to transfer data to another service provider (e.g. when switching from one social network to another);• the right to know when data has been hacked. Wider scope and more efficient enforcement The new rules apply to all companies operating in the EU, even if these companies are based outside of the EU. Furthermore, it will be possible to impose corrective measures, such as warnings and orders, or fines on firms that are breaking the new rules. The...
  6. Speaker Anġlu Farrugia has introduced a dress code in parliament after complaints about Democratic Party MP Godfey Farrugia who turned up in a polo shirt for last Tueday's sitting. Dr Farrugia said in a ruling that following complaints from the public, he was introducing a basic dress code for Members of Parliament, in order to protect "the dignity of Parliament and MPs." He said that MPs will henceforth be required to wear a jacket, although not necessarily a tie, in the Chamber. Women have to observe a similar standard of dress. In delivering his ruling, Dr Farrugia quoted Erskine May, the parliamentary rule book of the House of Commons, which, although it does not mandate a specific dress code, requires parliamentarians to dress appropriately. In a Facebook post before the ruling, Dr Farrugia said it was honesty which made a man, not his jacket and those who wore T-shirts were not inferior. He said he was proud to be a worker and son of a worker. 
  7. Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson talked international relations and rude poetry with a hoax caller who pretended to be the Armenian prime minister in a new gaffe by one of Britain's most prominent politicians. In the 18-minute call, Johnson discussed relations with Russia, the Iran nuclear deal and the Syrian war, according to audio of the call uploaded on YouTube and shared on the Twitter pages of Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus. Britain's foreign office confirmed that Johnson had been hoaxed and said the perpetrator was "childish", while a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said an investigation was under way "to make sure this doesn't happen again". "This shouldn't have happened," the spokeswoman said. The caller, impersonating Armenia's new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, said he was going to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, and asked Johnson's advice for dealing with him. "I hope he will not poison me with Novichok," the prankster joked, referring to a nerve agent used in the March attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, for which Britain has blamed Russia. Johnson can be heard chuckling on the other end of the line. Later in the call,...
  8. Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Jaylen Brown added 17 points, Al Horford had 15 points and 12 boards and both Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart scored 13 for Boston. The Celtics have earned all three of their wins this series at home, where they are 10-0 in the playoffs. "When we're sometimes on the road, it's just different in the playoffs," Horford said. "You get on the road and you're just out there against everybody else. Here, I just think that our guys just feel comfortable and good. It's a credit to the atmosphere that's here. It's just a lot of fun to play in right now." LeBron James finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, though he committed six turnovers. Kevin Love had 14 points and seven boards for the Cavaliers, who had evened the series with a 111-102 win in Game 4 on Monday. James and Love were the only two Cleveland players to score in double figures. "Defensively, holding this (Boston) team to 36 percent (shooting) from the field was a good job," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
  9. The Republic of Ireland is holding a referendum on Friday that could dramatically change its stance on abortion. Here’s a rundown of what is happening, when and why. What is Ireland voting on? The referendum is about taking action that would result in the repeal of article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution (commonly referred to as the 8th amendment), allowing the Irish government to change the law on abortion, which is currently illegal unless a woman’s life is at substantial risk. Voting yes would repeal the amendment, while voting no would keep it in place. What is the 8th amendment? The eighth amendment was passed by referendum in 1983. It says that “the state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right”. It is commonly viewed to equate the life of a pregnant woman with the foetus, making abortion unavailable in almost all circumstances. It is also seen as affecting maternal healthcare because a woman loses her right to refuse consent to medical treatment in pregnancy. Why does Ireland have this clause in...
  10. Lewis Hamilton is playing catch-up in Monaco after Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo completed a practice double at the principality. Ricciardo was fastest in the opening running on Thursday before setting a record-breaking lap later in the day to cement Red Bull's status at the pre-race favourites. The Australian finished both sessions ahead of his team-mate Max Verstappen, with Sebastian Vettel third in the order for Ferrari. Hamilton, who holds a 17-point championship lead over Vettel ahead of Sunday's race, was fourth for Mercedes, more than half a second adrift of Ricciardo's blistering time of one minute and 11.841 seconds. The champion arrived here fearing he would be off the pace of both Red Bull and Ferrari at the slow-speed circuit in which his Mercedes team have struggled at in recent years. And the 33-year-old British driver will have work to do if he wants to challenge at the sharp end of the grid come qualifying on Saturday. Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was sixth in the order to emphasise the team's sluggish pace, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Ferrari. Ferrari notoriously keep a little in reserve in practice and Vettel was 0.572 seconds adrift of Ricciardo's best...
  11. The MSE Equity Price Index moved higher for the first time in four days on Thursday as it advanced by 0.13% to 4,324.876 points. Five equities performed positively, four trended lower whilst GO, Plaza and Farsons closed the day unchanged. Malta International Airport plc added 0.4% to regain its all-time high of €5.00 on activity of 6,800 shares. Today, MIA announced that it finalised a new collective agreement for all employee grades within the company. The collective agreement provides for year-on-year increases in salaries as well as increased flexibilities for more efficient operations and attainment of the company’s strategic goals. Malta Properties Company plc gained a further 2.8% to a fifteen-month high of €0.55 on ten deals totalling 70,768 shares. Last week, the company expressed its interest in acquiring a major stake in SmartCity (Malta) Limited. MPC’s AGM will be held on 13 June. Within the same sector, Tigne’ Mall plc regained the €0.98 level (+2.1%) across 64,000 shares. The equity is still trading with the entitlement to a final net dividend of €0.012875 per share. RS2 Software plc surged 4.5% to the €1.15 level albeit on shallow volumes. Medserv plc gained 1.8%...
  12. A South Carolina woman is not happy that a grocery store censored her honours graduate son's cake, which was supposed to include the Latin phrase "Summa Cum Laude". Cara Koscinski told The Washington Post a cake online from Publix was supposed to say "Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018''. She said the online message box did not like the word "cum", the Latin word for "with". The computer marked it as a naughty word and substituted three hyphens. Ms Koscinski said she then filled in a box for special instructions, explaining the Latin word and placed the $70 order. Another family member picked up the cake, not knowing what it was supposed to say. It came with the hyphens. She said the store gave her a refund and a gift card when she complained.
  13. A man who allegedly raped a young Frenchwoman in Paceville on Wednesday was remanded in custody following his arraignment on Thursday. Eyob Melake Ecobagaber, a 27-year old Eritrean national having no fixed address in Malta, was arrested after police were alerted by an anonymous phone call that a woman was in distress in the vicinity of the former Axis discotheque. Policemen found the woman crying. The man, later identified by the victim as the alleged culprit, attempted to run off but was captured and arrested. The woman told the police that she had bitten her aggressor and scratched him as she tried to ward off the attack. She was injured in the assault and eventually taken to hospital for treatment. Her alleged aggressor, bearing scratches on his face, was marched to court where he pleaded not guilty to having raped the woman, held her against her will and caused her slight injuries. He was also charged with being a recidivist and with having committed the alleged crime during the operative period of a suspended sentence handed down just days ago. No request for bail was made at this stage of the proceedings and duty magistrate Charmaine Galea remanded the arrested man in...
  14. Gżira United have completed their second major signing of the off-season when they secured the services of Thomas Veronese who put pen to paper on a three-year contract. The Maroons have been chasing the signature of the Italian wing back for several months and in fact they had made an approach for Veronese during the January transfer window when he was on the books of Mosta. Gżira had looked set to sign Veronese on transfer deadline day in January but the deal failed to materialise. But once the season came to an end, Gżira have immediately revived their interest in the player and took little time to wrap up a deal. Veronese is the second major signing for Gżira United who earlier this month brought in the services of Brazilian defender Rodolfo Soares, formerly of Hibernians.
  15. US President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site. Referring to a scheduled June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump said in a letter to the North Korean leader: "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting." (See the letter in full below) Trump called it "a missed opportunity" and said someday he still hoped to meet Kim. Earlier on Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the unprecedented summit with Trump next month and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary. In a statement released by North Korean media, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had called US Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comparing North Korea - a "nuclear weapons state" - to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development programme, only to be later killed by NATO-backed fighters. A small group of international media selected by North...
  16. An 84-year-old man was seriously injured on Thursday morning when he fell off a ladder at his home, the police said. The incident happened at about 10am in Nicolo Isouard Street, Mosta. A magisterial inquiry is under way.  
  17. Drink water and avoid sugary drinks to help prevent cancer, leading scientists have urged. The call comes as part of a string of recommendations on health and lifestyle choices, dubbed a "blueprint to beat cancer", published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). Preventing obesity forms a significant part of the advice, with being overweight likely to overtake smoking as the "number one risk factor for cancer" within decades, the organisation warned. There is now strong evidence excessive weight is the cause of at least 12 cancers, five more than when the last WCRF recommendations were published in 2007, the authors said. The findings of their third report, based on a comprehensive analysis of existing evidence, will be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria. For the first time, separate recommendations have been included on limiting consumption of soft drinks - urging people to "drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks" - and processed foods. People should reduce their consumption of fast food and those high in fat, starches and sugars to help control calorie intake, it states. The number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise by 58% to 24...
  18. Italy could trigger another sovereign debt crisis like Greece did in 2010 if the policies of the new Italian government, now being formed, focus only on more spending, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said in Brussels on Thursday. "If... it is just a question of spending and spending and borrowing and spending then unfortunately it will be a replay of Greece," he told reporters on entering a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels. Euro zone governments and financial markets have been alarmed at the impending arrival of a new coalition in Rome under Giuseppe Conte comprising two eurosceptic, anti-establishment parties, who won votes in a March election by calling for an easing of euro zone budget discipline and public debt rules.
  19. The Consumer and Competition Authority may soon be able to impose penalties, as experts conclude a rework of regulations in view of a court decision. “Basically, we looked at what process the authority goes through to impose the fines and we tweaked it to be able to do so without being in breach of any court judgments or anyone’s rights,” Helga Pizzuto, who chairs the authority, said.  The new system is expected to be operational “soon”, she added. The Authority effectively ended up toothless when in May 2016, a court ruled that certain provisions of the Competition Act were unconstitutional. The matter had been raised by the Federation of Real Estate Agents in response to a €1.2 million fine imposed on it by the competition tribunal. The court ruled that the Director-General of Competition could not decide cases of alleged breaches of rules and impose fines because only a proper court could guarantee a fair hearing. READ: Competition authority still in limbo 2 years after judgment rendered it toothless As a result, the authority refrained from imposing fines, even in cases where it found a breach of the law. The government told Times of Malta last December that amendments to...
  20. A British Army sergeant has been found guilty of attempting to murder his wife by tampering with her parachute and sabotaging a gas valve at their home. A jury of nine men and three women convicted 38-year-old Emile Cilliers, of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, of two attempted murder charges and a third count of damaging the gas fitting recklessly endangering life following a retrial at Winchester Crown Court. The defendant showed no emotion as he was convicted unanimously on the two counts of attempted murder and by a majority of 10 to two on the criminal damage charge. Victoria Cilliers, a highly-experienced parachuting instructor, suffered near-fatal injuries when both her main and reserve 'chutes failed when she took part in a jump at the Army Parachute Association at Netheravon, Wiltshire, on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. Mr Justice Sweeney thanked the jurors for fulfilling their duty "with distinction" and told them: "The burden now falls on me on what to do as far as this defendant is concerned; that too is a heavy burden." He continued: "It's an important part of any sentencing exercise where there is a victim or intended victim, as there plainly is in this...
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