The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press:

The Sunday Times says the referendum is too close to call, although the yes camp appears to be ahead.

The Malta Independent says the cohabitation law is to exclude separated persons. It also quotes Joseph Muscat saying the choice in the referendum is between tolerance and intolerance.

MaltaToday also carries a survey saying the yes camp has slipped ahead, one week before the referendum. It also reports that the PN and the church are expected to mobilize the elderly in nursing homes to vote.

It-Torca in a front-page editorial comment says with regard to divorce that the people should break the chain of fear.  It also alleges that a priest made a sexual advance against a boy in the south of Malta.

KullHadd says Finance Minister Tonio Fenech should resign.

Il-Mument says the choice should be in favour of marriage. It also quotes Labour MP Adrian Vassallo saying Evarist Bartolo has a conflict of interest as head of the PL media and a leader of the Divorce Movement.

Illum’s front page is about what went on at a reception during the Eurovision Song Contest.

The overseas press

As the Spanish electorate votes in regional elections, Iberosphere reports that thousands of young protesters remained camped out in squares across the country, protesting at the government's economic policies and high youth unemployment rate. Despite a ban by the electoral commission some 30,000 people have occupied the central square in Madrid and similar protests were being held in many other cities. The governing Socialists are expected to suffer major losses.

New Straits Times says 16 people, almost all of them children, have been killed by landslides which hit an orphanage near the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Rescuers managed to save nine other people. A total of 20 children and five adult carers were taking part in an event in a tent at the orphanage, located on a slope, when it was hit by two landslides within seconds of each other.

Al Jazeera reports that at least 11 mourners have been killed and 27 wounded in Syrian’s third largest city of Homs after security forces opened fire on a massive funeral procession. Human rights activists are quoted as saying that more than 40,000 people gathered for the funerals of protesters killed in the city on Friday and were walking back from the cemetery when they were fired on without warning.

Avvenire says the 12 astronauts circling the Earth received a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday in the first-ever papal call to space. The pope addressed the crews of the linked space shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station from the Vatican. The historic communication – which the pontiff said was “extraordinary” – took place a couple of hours after the shuttle astronauts finished inspecting a small gash in Endeavour's belly to ensure their safety when returning to Earth. It is the next-to-last flight in NASA's 30-year shuttle programme.

Morgunbladid quotes Iceland’s met office confirming that the Grimsvotn volcano has erupted – the first since 2004. Scientists have been expecting a new eruption but said it should not lead to the air travel chaos caused in April 2010 by ash from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.

Asia Observer says the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea have begun a trilateral summit in Tokyo expected to focus on Japan's nuclear crisis triggered by last March's earthquake and tsunami. Nuclear safety, co-operation in disaster preparedness and food safety are expected to top the agenda at the Tokyo summit, along with trade issues.

Berliner Zeitung says German energy companies have warned consumers that they might face power shortages in the coming weeks, as only four of the country's 17 nuclear power plants were now providing electricity to the national grid. As of yesterday, a nuclear plant in the north-west became the fifth station to close its doors for three weeks of routine maintenance and safety checks, meaning that 13 of the country's power plants were out of commission in response to the problems at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

Kjiv Post reports that a weather forecaster for Ukrainian state radio has caused something of a storm herself by veering from meteorological to political observations. Lyudmila Savchenko was taken off the air after telling listeners that the warm spring days and blooming flowers were Ukrainians' compensation "for the disorder, lawlessness and injustice that are taking place in our country". She also suggested authorities felt disdain for the Ukrainian people. However, Ms Savchenko's boss agreed with her, and has decided not to fire her for the outburst.

Human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a boost in international support in Burma. In a Deutsche Welle debate, she has asserted that more needed to be done to achieve political change in the country.

Sudan Tribune says that the northern Sudanese Army has taken control of Abyei, a contested oil-rich region on the border with South Sudan, due to become independent in July. Abyei is still claimed by both sides – a dispute seen as a possible trigger for a new north-south civil war.

Los Angeles Times reports that a woman who tried to sell a rare hunk of moon rock for €1.2 million was detained when the prospective customer she met in turned out to be an undercover Nasa investigator. It is illegal to sell moon rocks, which are considered national treasures. The grey rocks, which were gifted to each US state and 136 countries by then-President Richard Nixon, can sell for millions of dollars on the black market.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us