Times of Malta

General, sporting, and business news for Malta and the surrounding region
  1. Weapons are pouring into Libya in violation of an arms embargo and despite commitments made by world powers, the UN's mission in Libya has said as Germany expressed concern about reports of infringements. World leaders met in Berlin last weekend and committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya and to upholding the 2011 UN Security Council weapons embargo as part of a broader plan to end the country's conflict. They also agreed to a permanent ceasefire and steps to dismantle numerous militias and armed groups, as well as a political process under the auspices of the UN. The UN mission in Libya, UNSMIL, said in a statement late Saturday it "deeply regrets the continued blatant violations of the arms embargo in Libya". "Over the last 10 days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters," it added. On Sunday, Germany's foreign ministry expressed support for the UNSMIL statement, along with concern about "a series of unconfirmed but credible reports of embargo violations on both sides". Libya has been mired in...
  2. President George Vella is attending the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. A special tent will be erected above the Gate of Death of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. The ceremony is being held on Monday. President Vella left Malta for Poland on Sunday. The victims killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 40% of whom were Poles, included Jews, gypsies and prisoners from 20 countries. More than 50 heads of state and world leaders are attending the ceremony. Malta’s delegation will also include Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo. In Poland, President Vella will have meetings with Krakov archbishop Marek Jedraszewski and mayor Jacek Majchrowski. He will also address students at the Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe. He will also meet senior officials from the university. While the President is in Poland, Dolores Cristina is acting president.
  3. Can we hope that the ‘old’ Abela was just using Labour-speak to bolster the myth of party unity and success? Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

    In the 2007 blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Davy Jones’s crew is damned to gradually transform into fish-like monsters because Jones breaks his vow and ignores his appointed task. Only when he is replaced by Will Turner do his crew become human again, with pieces of stinking fish flesh dropping off them as they stumble out of their nightmare at the end of the film. This scene came to mind last week as Robert Abela and his cabinet colleagues took one unprecedented step after another to turn the governance of this country back to normality. What struck me most was not the resignation/firing of the police commissioner, or even the forced resignation of former Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana. More indicative of the true intentions of the Abela government were the summary dismissals (sorry, resignations) of ex-OPM gollum Neville Gafa, Ministry of Education troll Anthony Degiovanni and Panama Papers star Adrian Hillman. Their blustering outrage is a classic example of an appalling sense of entitlement. They could not believe that the party was over, that they were being pulled off the body politic they had been allowed to feast on simply by virtue of their personal...
  4. The Sliema front towards Gżira in the 1920s.

    This introduces the second part of this mini-series of images that recall the Sliema that is no more. Some of the major changes occurred within living memory, others predate that. The major differences are to be found in the way Sliema expanded horizontally – it now is practically joined at the hip with Gżira, San Ġwann and St Julian’s – vast swathes of agricultural land once separated the four localities: islands in a sea of fields. [attach id=826251 size="medium" align="right" type="image"]Aerial view of Sliema, 1940s.[/attach] And the vertical thrust is no less notable. Gene­rally nothing more ambitious than three or four storeys once dared raise its head. That is, up to the building of the Hotel Preluna in 1969, when a shocked and scandalised population first witnessed a 13-floor mammoth. A skyscraper in Sliema! Today almost nothing of the old urban fabric survives on the extensive waterfront. The hinterland too is suffering ‘development’, but this satire on progress still occasionally meets some resistance. What changed equally radically is the way of life. Sliema originally welcomed a homogeneous sector of humanity – the Sliemiżi, with distinct characteristics – more...
  5. A woman buys medicine from a pharmacy in Wuhan.

    China expanded drastic travel restrictions Sunday to contain an epidemic that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000, as the US, France and Japan prepared to evacuate their citizens from a quarantined city at the outbreak's epicentre. China has locked down the hard-hit province of Hubei in the country's centre in an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people in a bid to slow the spread of the respiratory virus. Its ability to spread appears to be "getting stronger" though it is "not as powerful as SARS", top Chinese health officials said at a press conference. The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Outside the epicentre, Shandong province and four cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Tianjin - announced bans on long-distance buses entering or leaving, a move that will affect millions of people travelling over the Lunar New Year holiday. The populous southern province of Guangdong, Jiangxi in the centre, and three cities made it mandatory for residents to wear face masks in...
  6. Man. City midfielder Bernardo Silva hits at goal against Fulham.

    Holders Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Fulham at the Etihad on Sunday. Tim Ream's sixth-minute red card gave the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box. Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva's smart turn and shot quickly doubled City's advantage. The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions' dominance. Pep Guardiola's men have now won 17 domestic cup ties in a row. The Catalan is relying on more cup success for silverware this season after conceding the Premier League title is beyond his side with Liverpool 16 points clear at the top of the table. Guardiola made eight changes to the team that won 1-0 at Sheffield United in midweek, but still named a strong side with both David and Bernardo Silva and Gundogan among those coming into the team. Fulham boss Scott Parker also rotated with his priority securing a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Any hope of an upset was quashed within minutes by a rash challenge from...
  7. Karl Micallef (top) heads the ball home against Swieqi United. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

    SWIEQI UNITED            1 Taliana 78 ĦAMRUN SPARTANS   3 Micallef 15, 62 Leone 90 Ħamrun Spartans broke little sweat to overcome the feeble challenge of Division One side Swieqi United to cruise into the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. Karl Micallef switched from his usual defensive duties to grab a well-taken brace before a late Nicola Leone goal all but sealed the tie in the Reds’ favour. Swieqi will feel disappointed with their performance as they seemed to show too much respect to their more-quoted opponents. In fact, after falling two goals behind they started to venture more forward and after pulling a goal back they created some anxious moments to the Spartans defence but it was too little too late as the Spartans went on to net a third ‘killer’ goal. The first half produced little emotions in terms of scoring opportunities as while the Spartans enjoyed long spells of possession they refused to press on the accelerator once they managed to take an early lead. In fact, Ħamrun could have taken the lead after five minutes when Jorge Ailton Soares was floored just inside the area by Marc Attard with referee Slobodan Petrovic pointing to the spot. Ailton Soares picked...
  8. Yue Bistro by MunchiesLabour Avenue,Naxxar2258 9888/9958 9888 Food: 7/10Service: 6/10Ambience: 8/10Value: 7/10Overall: 7/10 Malta’s culinary scene has been exploding in recent years. Such is the pace at which apartment buildings, cranes and piles of rubble have been springing up that I can barely keep track. If there’s one downside to all this unfettered growth (“Just ONE?” I hear you say), it’s that many new eateries tend to be located in modern buildings. This usually affords them little in the way of congruence with the surrounding milieu. Such settings typically offer even less of a match with the type of cuisine on offer. What a pleasure it was, then, to walk into Yue Bistro, which abuts the health club of the same name on the outskirts of Naxxar. Despite a somewhat random location and undeniably contemporary architecture, the interior design of this restaurant seems far from an afterthought. Divided in two, the light and airy windowed section skirts a classic bar. This is perfect for chatty lunchtime diners. And just to the right as you walk in, the bistro’s inner antechamber, with its sultry lighting, offers an altogether more subtle ambiance. Tunes at just the right...
  9. The area next to the law courts was always heaving with pedestrians. All photos by Guido Stilon

    Walking in the streets of Valletta in the 1950s, the sight of bombed-out buildings, remnants of homes, businesses and community spaces, were common well after the end of the war. But while some clung to the safe familiarity of the past, other were looking to the future, with the foundations of an independent Malta being laid day by day. [attach id=826515 size="medium" align="right" type="image"]Guido Stilon died aged 43.[/attach] This is the Valletta captured so prolifically and thoughtfully in the work of Guido Stilon. The Guido Stilon collection, which has been digitised by the Magna Żmien project, is a prolific archive that documents Malta between the 1950s and the mid-1970s. While Stilon never exhibited his work while he was alive, the composition, technique and diversity of his photographs reflect a man who felt a compulsive need to document what he was seeing. Stilon’s photography is the subject of the exhibition Malta in Transition, which will run at the Malta Postal Museum from February 11 to March 7. [attach id=826521 size="large" align="left" type="image"]Shot around 1961, this picture shows the courts of justice being built on the site of Auberge d’Auvergne, which had...
  10. Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday made the Netherlands' first government apology for the wartime persecution of Jews. "Now the last survivors are still with us, I apologise today in the name of the government for what the authorities did at that time," Rutte said. He was giving an address in Amsterdam in memory of victims of the Holocaust on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Only 38,000 of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands survived World War II, but no government apology has been offered for the role the authorities played. The question of an apology was raised in 2012 when Rutte was also prime minister, but he said not enough information was available about government action during the war and that there was "not broad enough support" for an official apology. In 2000, then prime minister Wim Kok apologised for the "icy welcome" Nazi camp survivors received on their return to the Netherlands, which the Nazis occupied from 1940-1945. "Our government institutions did not act as guardians of justice and security," Rutte said Sunday. "Too many civil servants carried out the orders of the occupiers. "The bitter...
  11. Inter's Lautaro Martinez (centre) is held off while arguing with referee Gianluca Manganiello.

    Radja Nainggolan grabbed the equaliser in a 1-1 draw for Cagliari to dent the title ambitions of his parent club Inter, who struggled to a third consecutive stalemate on Sunday. Tensions reached boiling point in the San Siro as Inter's goal scorer Lautaro Martinez was sent off in injury time for arguing with the referee. The Argentinian risks a long suspension as he roared, kicked the ball and punched the plexiglass at the side of the pitch, after being dragged away by his teammates. Antonio Conte's second-placed Inter are now three points adrift of leaders Juventus, who travel to 13th-placed Napoli later on Sunday. The northeners can also be caught by Lazio, in third, who are three points behind before their derby clash against fifth-placed Roma. A win would see Simone Inzaghi's Lazio join Inter in the standings, with a game in hand to be played in February against Hellas Verona.  Martinez's frustration mirrored that of his team who have now been held to three consecutive 1-1 draws -- at home against Atalanta and Cagliari and at Lecce.  Inter have taken 11 points from the last seven games, not enough to keep pace with eight-time reigning champions Juventus.  Inter had gotten...
  12. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

    Thousands of people made the best use of a sunny Sunday and donned their t-shirts to take part in the 11th edition of the Solidarity Fun Run. Originally planned to be held in November, the run had been postponed because of bad weather. President George Vella led the walk from the University of Malta accompanied by PN deputy leader David Agius and several MPs from both sides of the house. Mrs Vella walked from Santa Venera while Prime Minister Robert Abela and Mrs Lydia Abela ran from Rabat. Many others walked from Paola. [attach id=826659 size="large" align="left" type="image"]Photo: Matthew Mirabelli[/attach] The four routes met in Blata l-Bajda and headed on to Valletta through Republic Street to St George’s Square. The President thanked the people for their generosity and participation. The 12th edition of the run is planned to be held in October.
  13. The publication of Minister Owen Bonnici eating at a KFC restaurant shows that the internet is a great place for those who like to gossip whereas the wife of Silvio Valletta (above) is a politician and, whatever a member of a politician’s close family does, may reflect badly on the politician.

    The right to privacy is a fundamental human right but it is not an absolute right. It is even less absolute when it comes to politicians. During the past few days or so, Malta has seen the right to privacy blatantly infringed in the case of one minister and legitimately encroached upon in the case of another. In an era where so many people act as their own publishers when they use the internet, what should they use as their guidelines when putting private information in the public domain? Just as importantly, when does the right to privacy take a back seat to the public right to know? On January 14, the MŻPN released a post accompanying a picture of Minister Owen Bonnici dining alone at a fast-food restaurant. On January 19, Times of Malta published a story about then-Minister Justyne Caruana’s husband going to a football match in the UK with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech and has since published another story detailing another football outing, this time to Kiev in May 2018. Let me start by stating that I am neither a friend – nor an enemy – of Minister Bonnici. I have only met him once in a professional capacity and again fleetingly on a few other occasions at events organised by...
  14. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has turned to a very Minnesota sport - curling - for backing in her bid for office.

    From axe-throwing to curling and the promise of a snowboarding trip, candidates dipped their toes into local sports in this week's offbeats from the White House campaign trail. Amy and curling Curling, a popular pastime in Minnesota and Wisconsin's sub-zero winters, is starting to stir passions in Iowa too, a key state in next month's Democratic primaries. Senator Elizabeth Warren may be able to count on support from US women's soccer legend Megan Rapinoe, but Amy Klobuchar enlisted a different sport star to endorse her candidacy: Phill Drobnick, coach of the US curling team and a 2018 Olympic gold medalist, was set to campaign for the Minnesota senator at the Des Moines curling club in Iowa on Friday.   Apple unplugged Senators forced to forego the campaign trail and attend the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump have been banned from taking any electronic devices into the Senate chamber, instead having to stow any tablets, cell phones or other portable devices in cubby holes outside.  That gave Democrat Cory Booker the chance to play on the fact that so many Apple devices were being left outside - in his own rack he left an actual apple on display. Obama scales Trump...
  15. Heiko Maas

    Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Sunday that Jews could leave Germany on a "massive" scale if urgent action was not taken to stem rising anti-Semitism. Writing in Der Spiegel weekly on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Maas said anti-Jewish insults and attacks, in real life and online, had become "a daily occurrence". Almost one in two Jews has considered leaving Germany, he said, a country that has long taken pains to confront its Nazi past. "We need to take urgent counter-measures to make sure that such thoughts do not turn into a bitter reality and lead to a massive departure of Jews from Germany," he wrote. The fight against anti-Semitism would be a priority when Germany takes over the rotating European Union presidency in July and the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body, in November, Maas vowed. Germany will push for tougher legal consequences for anti-Semitic acts, he said, and for more EU nations to make Holocaust denial a crime - currently illegal in over a dozen member states including Germany, Belgium and Italy. Berlin will also step up the battle against anti-Jewish hate speech...
  16. Photo: Neil Grech

    Upon its founding, ŻfinMalta, Malta’s national dance company,  promised to inject the local dance scene with innovation and creativity, with a focus on bringing a fresh perspective on contemporary dance to the general public. The company’s latest production, Rosemary Lee’s Threaded Fine, undoubtedly delivers on this promise. Dance aficionados will already be familiar with Rosemary Lee and her work. Known for her considerable range in dance productions, over the past three decades the choreographer, director and performer has created works that resonate with their target audience, and create a sense of intimacy and familiarity with the dance’s surroundings. In short, her work can only be described as profoundly human and intimate. It is this humanity and intimacy in Lee’s style which led ŻfinMalta to commission her for their latest project, in collaboration with the Valletta Cultural Agency. The brief for Threaded Fine was to create a large-scale, cross-generational piece which blurs the line between professional dancers and those of us who are less nimble on our feet. The result was the birth of a five-hour long performance, during which twenty-four performers will give...
  17. Maria Efimova launched the campaign two days ago.

    The Russian whistleblower who supplied information on Pilatus Bank to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has managed to raise nearly €6,000 so far in a crowdfunding campaign aimed at allowing her to apply for formal whistleblower status in Malta.   Maria Efimova wants to testify in the money laundering investigation of Pilatus Bank and to cover the cost of getting documents in her possession forensically checked to prove they are authentic. She started a fundraising campaign on the GoGetFunding website two days ago aimed at raising €15,000. “For the last two years my family was struggling, fighting extradition requests from Maltese police, that is why I cannot afford legal fees myself,” she says on the page appealing for financial support. “Recent changes in Maltese government and Maltese police may help the truth to come out. I believe it is time to bring the Egrant story to an end.” The former Pilatus Bank employee claimed to have supplied documents to Ms Caruana Galizia allegedly connecting the former prime minister’s wife Michelle Muscat to an offshore company called Egrant. Joseph Muscat denied the connection and a magisterial inquiry failed to find proof of it,...
  18. Nissan and Uber have signed a deal to support the introduction of 2,000 all-electric Nissan LEAFs for drivers who use the Uber app. The fleet of 40kWh Nissan LEAFs, which can travel up to 168 miles on a single charge and are manufactured in Sunderland, will be offered to drivers as part of Uber’s Clean Air Plan. Nissan will provide Uber with a dedicated EV education programme, transaction price and marketing plan to drive uptake of the zero emission vehicles. This deal will help to deliver Uber’s vision for every car on the app in the capital – around 45,000 drivers – to be fully electric from 2025. Launched in January 2019, Uber’s Clean Air Plan aims to tackle air pollution by helping drivers upgrade to an electric vehicle through the introduction of a Clean Air Fee - 15p a mile is added on to all London journeys which will help drivers with the cost of adopting an electric vehicle. In the first year, Uber has raised more than £80m to support drivers transitioning to electric vehicles, with more than £200m expected to be raised over the next few years. Through the Clean Air Plan, drivers will on average save £4,500, depending on the miles they’ve driven, off the cost of...
  19. Lisa Marie Bezzina poses with her coach Ivan Rozhnov in Seville.

    Lisa Marie Bezzina has bettered her own national record in the half marathon in Sevilla on Sunday morning. Bezzina, a double gold medallist for Malta at the Montenegro GSSE last June, was at her best in the Sevilla Half Marathon when she managed to complete the distance in a time of one hour 17 minutes and seven seconds Her performance was a significant improvement on her previous national mark she had set in Pisa last month when she had finished the race in one hour 17 minutes and 40 seconds. She placed second in her age group. “I’m really happy with my performance,” Bezzins said. “Surely, this result would not have been achieved without the person who is always behind me and believes in me, my coach Ivan Rozhnov, for his good guidance. “I would like to thank also the Maltese Olympic Committee, MAAA president Edwin Attard, Sport Malta and to my family who always give me a lot of support.”
  20. Raoul Lay conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra during Vienna Forever in 2019. Photo: Ken Scicluna

    The Sunday Times catches up with Raoul Lay, artistic director of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, prior to the MPO’s upcoming concert: Strauss Composer & Conductor at the Astra Theatre in Gozo. You often refer to Richard Strauss as the ‘ultimate Romantic composer’. Can you delve further into this?  Two great artists deserve the title of the ‘ultimate Romantic composer’: Strauss and Mahler. Yet, while the second died in 1911, the first continued his oeuvre until 1949. Moreover, we can observe that, although both were deeply influenced by Wagner, their own vision of musical expressivity is quite different: Mahler pushes Romanticism towards modernity, whereas Strauss maintained in his large-sized orchestration a joy and an ingenuity similar to the initial romantic period. In addition, Strauss received acclaim from the Parisian composers like Debussy as his musical prowess, although technically Wagnerian, was tinged with delicate impressionism. This is why, both from an historical and stylistic point of view, Strauss can be defined as the ‘ultimate Romantic’. The concert is aptly titled Strauss Composer & Conductor. How do you describe your affinity with such an important figure –...
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