Times of Malta

General, sporting, and business news for Malta and the surrounding region
  1. Transcripts of a number of Libyans claiming they bought visas from an official in the Office of the Prime Minister were submitted in court on Monday. The transcripts, along with a hefty document detailing how the alleged racket was conducted, were submitted in court by Ivan Grech Mintoff as evidence to back claims of high-level corruption.  The document contains assertions and testimony on the alleged illicit sale of Schengen visas at the Maltese Consulate in Tripoli and in the issuance of Humanitarian Medical Visas by OPM official Neville Gafà. “If the allegations are correct, then corrupt officials have issued up to 88,000 Schengen Visas and an unknown number of Medical Visas, permitting an inflow in to the European Union of persons that could be potential security threats and/or illegal migrants,” Mr Grech Mintoff’s dossier reads. The documents also claim that there were indications that medical visas which should have been issued for free, were instead sold. The scheme, the documents claim, could have netted the persons involved millions of euros. Mr Grech Mintoff also uploaded a copy of the documents to the Alleanza Bidla website.  New ‘witnesses’ The documents claims that...
  2. The end of an era. Simon Rattle leaves the Berlin Philharmonic to become music director of the London Symphony Orchestra. In this documentary by Eric Schulz, both conductor and musicians of the orchestra take stock: What has 16 years of partnership between one of the greatest orchestras and the great charismatic conductor meant?
  3. A Swedish scout spied on their World Cup rivals South Korea using a high-tech telescope from a house overlooking their training ground, prompting an official apology from Sweden’s head coach. South Korea’s manager has now come up with an ingenious way of throwing any further spies off the scent, swapping his players’ training jersey numbers because “it's very difficult for westerners to distinguish between Asians.” “We switched [jerseys] around because we didn’t want to show everything and to try to confuse them,” Shin Tae-yong added.The South Korean manager's somewhat amusing explanation for the training ground ruse came as he shrugged off talk about Sweden's pre-game tactics being unsporting. "All coaches probably feel their opponents are always spying on them. I think it's perfectly natural that we all try to get as much information on each other as we can,” he told a press conference on Sunday. Sweden and South Korea will face each other in their opening World Cup fixture on Monday at 2pm.
  4. The Minguet Quartet from Germany will perform a concert of works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler and Johannes Brahms at St George’s Basilica, Victoria, tomorrow at 8pm. The concert forms part of the Victoria International Arts festival, which runs until July 9. All the concerts, sponsored by the Gozo Cultural Support Programme of Arts Council Malta, start at 8pm and admission is free. For more information, visit https://www.viaf.org.mt/programme .
  5. The Attorney General has quashed hopes by pro-life groups that amendments to IVF laws before parliament can be blocked on constitutional grounds. In an opinion made public through a statement by the Health Ministry, the Attorney General informed the government that he saw "no legal basis" to argue that the amendments, which would introduce embryo freezing into Malta, were unconstitutional. By introducing the law, Health Minister Chris Fearne would not be breaking the law or violating the terms of his appointment, he added.   The Attorney General noted that citizens could contest laws’ constitutionality by filing a case before the constitutional court. Mr Fearne had sought the Attorney General’s advice after he received a letter from President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca on Sunday, passing on concerns aired by pro-life groups in a meeting they held with President Coleiro Preca on Sunday morning. The Life Network Foundation, Gift of Life Foundation and Malta Unborn Child Movement says they have “grave concerns” about the amendments before parliament and sought the President’s intervention, in a last-ditch attempt to block the changes. President Coleiro Preca told the groups that...
  6. Restaurants are playing an increasingly important role in the food culture of North Americans. In the United States, food prepared outside the home represents more than 50 per cent of the food dollar, or more than $800 billion a year. Canadians spend $80 billion annually in restaurants, spending almost 30 per cent of their food dollars in restaurants. They also buy a lot of prepared food for consumption at home. But the rate of growth in restaurant spending is greater than it is for stores. This spending has an impact on the food market in a variety of ways. Most importantly, however, restaurants are changing how we think about food and what we choose to eat. Restaurants make choices for consumers. They choose menu items and they decide how to prepare those items. Grocery stores want to give consumers as much choice and variety as possible, but this causes issues for restaurants. In a grocery store, for example, there may be many choices of eggs (white, brown, different sizes, organic, high Omega-3, free-run, free-range and cage-free), breakfast sausages (beef, pork, turkey, enhanced-animal welfare, reduced antibiotic use, low sodium, mild or spicy) and English muffins (regular,...
  7. Firefighters had to break the windows and run a hose through a car that was blocking a fire hydrant in New Jersey. The fire crew arrived on the scene of a house fire in Hamilton Township but found the car parked in front of the hydrant. A picture posted on the Hamilton Township Professional Firefighters' Facebook page showed they punched out the windows and threaded the hose through the car. They had the fire under control quickly and no-one was injured.
  8. If you ever wondered what's really wrong in the state of Malta, then look no further than Net News's reportage of Joseph Muscat's Sunday sermon about the "need" for more foreign workers.  In a nutshell, the Prime Minister made his argument why Malta needs to import more foreign nationals to cope with the growing economy. Cue: Net News echoes the Nationalist Party leader's increasingly warped xenophobic statements by inserting cutaways of boat migrants arriving in Malta. I will not bother you with the usual semantics but it's good to know the sheer double standards being played out at the altar of political rhetoric. Muscat says Malta needs more foreigners. He's probably right - the economy is still growing and the Maltese refuse to do certain jobs, especially in the services industry. But why do we need to import workers from non-EU states when the required workforce might actually be present in an open centre close to your office? Why isn't the government dipping into the rich well of refugees who have no choice but to work on the black market with atrocious conditions for greedy bosses who chomp on expensive cigars? The asylum seekers in Malta are not going anywhere anyway, so...
  9. Transport Ministry assurances that a “majority” of mature trees along the Attard – Rabat road will be retained when the road is widened have been dismissed by eNGO Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar. In a statement on Monday, FAA and its FAA Tree Group subsidiary noted that plans approved by the Planning Authority clearly showed that 79 per cent of the 586 trees in the area would be removed as part of the €55 million Central Link Project. It also brushed aside promises to “transplant” some of the trees, noting that “Aleppo Pines do not take to transplanting, and experience has shown that Malta lacks the maintenance ethos that such a long-term operation requires." On Saturday, Times of Malta revealed plans to remove up to 200 mature trees as part of the roadworks project. That prompted a ministry denial and assurance that a "majority" of trees would be kept.   Many of the trees destined for the chop are around 100 years old, and some could be much older. The trees form part of the Mdina skyline vista which as featured in films such as The Malta Story. “No civilised Western country would ever contemplate such destruction of national heritage and undermining of their tourism product – it...
  10. German authorities have detained the chief executive of Volkswagen's Audi division, Rupert Stadler, as part of a probe into the manipulation of emissions controls. The dpa news agency said Volkswagen confirmed reports that Mr Stadler was detained on Monday. Munich prosecutors searched Mr Stadler's private residence last week in their investigation of suspected fraud and indirect improprieties with documents. A total of 20 people are under suspicion in the probe. The probe of Mr Stadler focuses on cars sold in Europe that were believed to be equipped with software which turned emissions controls off during regular driving. Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the United States. Two managers are serving prison terms in the United States.
  11. A former Malta Independent journalist has been condemned to pay €2,000 by way of libel damages to Minister Konrad Mizzi over an article that was rendered defamatory after editorial alterations. Helena Grech, the former journalist, had penned the article originally titled “Co-founder of Mossack Fonseca says company did not know Konrad Mizzi was politician,” which title was subsequently changed to “Konrad Mizzi did not divulge he was a politician - co-founder of Mossack Fonseca.” In her opening statement, the journalist had declared that “Ramon Fonseca Mora, co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, said that at the time of providing Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi with his company’s services, he did not know that Dr Mizzi was a politician.” However, when the report was submitted for editing, an editor had subsequently changed both the title as well as the content of the article, publishing the edited version in April 2016 under the journalist’s name, a common practice in journalism. The opening paragraph, as published, had been changed to read that Konrad Mizzi “had not divulged that he was a politician when he solicited the services of Panamanian corporate service providers Mossack...
  12. The Croatian group Klapa Saint Mihovil will give two performances today in Valletta, at St George’s Square at 6pm and at The Gut in Strait Street at 8pm. The 45-minute concerts, entitled Faith, Love and Homeland, will consist of 15 traditional Croatian ‘Klapa’ songs celebrating notions of love, wine, homeland and sea. ‘Klapa’ is Croatian for ‘a group of friends’ and is a form of traditional a cappella singing, typically performed in streets and squares in Croatia. In 2012, it was recognised as a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Klapa Saint Mihovil group, set up in 2009, forms part of Croatia’s national police force. The concerts will take place today at 6pm at St George’s Square, Valletta, and at 8pm at The Gut in Strait Street. They are organised by the Croatian Embassy to Malta and the Valletta 2018 Foundation, with the support of Valletta Boutique Living. For more information, visit http://valletta2018.org .
  13. The EU needed to adopt a paradigm shift solution to the migration issue, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday, insisting previous ‘solutions’ had been unsuccessful. Addressing a meeting of the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee, ahead of the upcoming EU summit later this month, Dr Muscat said that the union had “been there, done that” on many of the proposals to the migration issue. “We do not want to repeat past initiatives. This would be going full circle,” he said. Although he did not pronounce himself on what sort of solution he was hoping for, Dr Muscat said direct action in third countries had proven somewhat successful. Highlighting EU efforts in frontier countries such as Chad and Niger, Dr Muscat said the efforts in “hot spot countries” had come at the same time as the central Mediterranean route saw a 78 per cent drop in migrant arrivals. He also hinted at potential lobbying for a review of definitions of asylum seekers and economic migrants and the way these people were processed. Rumblings of an overhaul to the Dublin Regulations - the EU’s rules which lay out how countries process migrant arrivals - were not likely, Dr Muscat said, insisting he did not...
  14. To mark the summer solstice, Heritage Malta will once again be organising guided tours of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd June at sunrise, when the sun can be seen rising in particular alignment with these sites. In addition, those present will also have the opportunity to visit the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park’s Visitor Centre. On the first day of each season the sun rises in a particular alignment with these prehistoric buildings and although it is not known for certain whether these orientations were intentional, they are so systematic that this is very probable. In prehistoric agricultural societies, observation of the motion of the stars, the moon and sun could have been related to the changing seasons and times of planting and harvesting crops. The summer solstice sunrise can be witnessed from either Ħaġar Qim or from Mnajdra Temples. To ensure that all visitors get to observe the rising sun, only a limited number of tickets are available for this event.Tickets for Ħaġar Qim are sold out while only limited places are available for Mnajdra Temples. Tickets are available from all Heritage Malta sites and museums and online,...
  15. The President’s Trust has invested more than €600,000 into six innovative projects to help vulnerable young people facing social exclusion or at risk of poverty, figures released on its third anniversary show. This amount goes over and above the €4.5 million being pumped into The Emanuele Cancer Research Foundation, Malta’s first cancer research entity announced in November, which is a collaboration with the University of Malta, and the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro, Internazionale.One of the projects, carried out in partnership with the Blossom Foundation, has allowed 220 children at St Paul’s Bay primary to receive counselling services. The project has proven to be such a success that apart from continuing to offer this service to the St Paul’s Bay primary, the Trust has also been asked to extend the service to the Naxxar Middle School.Another project, which has grown from the Trust’s partnership with St Jean Antide Foundation is Y-Assist, which focuses on providing semi-independent, supported accommodation to help young pregnant women and mothers aged 18 to 24 regain charge of their lives, with the technical expertise of the UK Life Charity.Spark, meanwhile is the fruit of a...
  16. First lady Melania Trump has waded into the emotional controversy over policies enacted by her husband's administration that have increased the number of migrant children being separated from their parents. Ms Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the First Lady believes "we need to be a country that follows all laws", but also one "that governs with heart". She said that Ms Trump "hates to see children separated from their families" and hopes "both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform". Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. President Donald Trump has tried to blame Democrats, who hold no levers of power in the government, for the situation that has sparked fury and a national debate over the moral implications of his hard-line approach to immigration enforcement. "Nobody likes" breaking up families and "seeing babies ripped from their mothers' arms," said Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the president. The administration...
  17. The Kirby estate in Bermondsey, South London, has been covered in flags in preparation for England's debut in this World Cup The display of support for the English team has put a smile on many faces and has even got a reaction from three lions stars Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. The two players found the time to call organiser and resident Chris Dowse to thank him and the estate for their show of support. Dowse did not miss the opportunity to ask them to bring the cup home. The St George's flags are joined by flags from Colombia, Poland, Spain, Portugal and Morocco to represent the other nationalities living on the estate.  England's opening game sees them face Tunisia on Monday at 8pm.
  18. “Truth or dare?” What would you choose? A group of six teenagers huddled together one evening in a public garden are playing Spin the Bottle (without a bottle), but not one of them opts for ‘truth’. They all would rather face ‘dares’, even if it means, as in the case of Andrea taking off her bra, or in the case of Miguel, posting on Facebook that he’s gay. Then, suddenly they hear screeching of tyres: a young woman driving down the lane past the garden, skids, is thrown off her motorbike and lands close to them. The six teenagers end up at the police station, a report is filed and an investigation opened. Was it a mere incident? Not really, no. And one of the teenagers on site knows the truth. But will anyone dare try and dig deep to find out the truth? And what does the silent, observant gecko have to do with all of this? (Ri)ġenerazzjoni by Antoinette Borg, won the first prize in the Young Adult Literature Competition organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the National Book Council. This is Borg’s second Young Adult novel, following her prize-winning Fittixni, which shot straight up the bestseller list. Borg was described by veteran author Trevor Żahra as having “the rare quality...
  19. For the more daring entrepreneurs, the Libya of the 90s and early 2000s was a land of promise – a new frontier where the right connections and the nerves to stick it out meant big money. But when in 2011 freedom fighters did the previously unthinkable and brought an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign, the risks of staying in business rose. For some Maltese who decided to throw the dice and stick it out, the risks proved to be too much. One of those men, Simon Diacono, sat despondent at a table in St Julian’s earlier this month, shaking his head in disbelief. “For me the trouble started before the revolution and it kept getting worse. Now the bank is going to foreclose on my house. I could lose my home because of what happened down there,” he said. Leafing through notes and documents from his time working as a “supplier of things” in North Africa’s wild west, Mr Diacono says he worked with municipalities, the Libyan military and even the maniacal Gadaffis. He did anything from logistics to fitting out fire trucks or supplying air-conditioned tents for meetings in the Libyan Sahara. One deal, however, finally went wrong after Mr Diacono’s Libyan counterparts failed to hold up...
  20. A group of artists, inspired by Gozo’s beauty, have decided to ‘get on the same canvas’ to help the Inspire Foundation. The 12 artists, all connected to the sister island in some form, donated an original work of art, and proceeds from their sales will go towards Inspire Foundation’s disability services and programmes. The paintings are now being exhibited at the Banca Giuratale in Rabat, Gozo, and can be viewed and bought online through a visit to www.inspire.org.mt. The exhibition, entitled Love Gozo, features art by Pawl Carbonaro, Debbie Caruana Dingli, James Vella Clark, Rachel Galea, Celia Borg Cardona, Julian Calabrese, George Scicluna, Tonio Mallia, Henry Alamango, Galina Troizky, Marisa Attard and Mark Sagona. The exhibition will run until June 30 and is supported by the Malta Tourism Authority, the Ministry for Tourism, Mapfre MSV Life, the Gozo Culture and Information Office and the Ministry for Gozo. According to Inspire Foundation, the artists have come together to offer the public an experience of art which is guaranteed to make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most. “Inspire believes that everyone has a right to equality and inclusion. Our...
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