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

The Times says a Scottish commission report says Lockerbie convict Megrahi may be innocent.  It also says that Malta is fighting its corner on the EU Budget proposals.

The Malta Independent says a Swedish firm is eyeing Malta for the world's largest floating wind farm. It also says that shops may open on most public holidays.

In-Nazzjon says the government is spending more on social benefits.

l-orizzont , however, gives prominence to government spending cutbacks in the social sector, saying the most vulnerable have been hit.

The overseas press

Pope Benedict is in Cuba at the start of a three-day stay – the first papal visit to the island for 14 years. Grandma  says the pontiff, who was welcomed at the airport by President Raul Castro, said he had come as a pilgrim of charity, and would pray for peace, liberty and reconciliation. He also expressed sympathy with the "just aspirations" of all Cuban people. President Castro said socialist Cuba allowed full freedom of religion and stressed Cuba was determined to defend its independence in the face of the US embargo. The president later was in the front row as Benedict celebrated an open-air Mass for tens of thousands of people in Santiago's Revolution Square.

 AFP reports between 15 and 20 people were killed in clashes on Monday in Libya between Toubou tribesmen and residents of the southern city of Sabha. NTC member Mukhtar al-Jadal said that NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil had met representatives from the south in an effort to broker a solution. Toubou tribesmen have also been involved in deadly clashes with another tribe in the Saharan oasis of Kufra, where two ethnic groups are locked in a standoff over smuggling.  

Al Bawaba says UN and the Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, who is today expected in China after his visit to Moscow, has received the answer from the government of President Bashar al-Assad to his six-point plan for ending the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people since March last year. On the ground, neighborhoods of the rebel city of Homs, 150 km north of Damascus, continued to come under heavy bombings. Monday's violence claimed the lives of at least 61 people across the country, half of them in Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights

Mohammed Merah, who shot seven people in France before being killed after a 30-hour police siege, sent video footage of his attacks to Al Jazeera in Paris. The TV news network received a computer memory drive containing a montage of footage and sent the package on to police on Monday, a source close to the investigation told Reuters. Meanwhile Merah's father claimed that he would sue the French state over his son's death, claiming the police could have taken his son alive but "they preferred to kill him."

Le Parisien quotes President Nicolas Sarkozy saying on France Info radio that he would France would bar radical Muslim preachers from entering the country to participate in an Islamic conference next month as part of a crackdown after shootings by Mohammed Merah, described as “an al Qaeda-inspired gunman”. Sarkozy, who had announced plans to punish those viewing Islamist Web sites and going abroad for indoctrination, said he would block the entry of some imams invited to a congress organised by the Union of French Islamic Organisations, regarded as close to Egypt's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been interviewed by magistrates and subsequently charged over his alleged links to a prostitution ring. France 24 reports Strauss-Kahn admitted attending numerous sex parties, in what's become known as the "Carlton affair," after the hotel in which they allegedly took place. But he denied knowing that women there were prostitutes, or that they were procured with company funds. "Consorting with prostitutes" is legal in France.

In the UK, The Independent says the cash-for-access scandal has inflicted damage on the Conservative Party's standing with a new survey putting Labour in a double digit lead. The Daily Telegraph says Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced to admit that 15 donors who between them gave the Tory Party £25 million (€30 million) enjoyed secret dinners and lunches with him at Chequers and in Downing Street. According to Sky News, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also disclosed that he had lunch at his official residence with Lib Dem donors. 

The Jerusalem Post reports that from his cell in an Israeli prison, Marwan Barghouti, one of the Palestinians' most revered figures, has called for a new wave of civil resistance in their decades-long quest for statehood and for severing all ties with Israel. After Abbas's government scored a minor victory in persuading the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva to investigate Israel's settlement policy, Barghouti suggested the Palestinians should take their statehood case to the UN General Assembl.

As the EU and African Union congratulate officials in Senegal for a smooth run off presidential election, attention has turned to the country’s many economic challenges. President-elect Macky Sall, has told euronews he would audit the national finances to find out exactly what state the country was in. Sall, who beat long-term leader Abdoulaye Wade, campaigned against the billions of dollars spent on massive infrastructure venture, claiming they were “vanity projects”.

Austrian broadcaster ORF reports that an unemployed Austrian man has sawed off his left foot – apparently to avoid being found fit enough to go back to work. Police said the "desperate" 56-year-old man deliberately sliced it off above the ankle with a mechanical saw and threw it into an oven. He then called an ambulance. When police arrived, the man was still conscious but had lost a lot of blood.The man was flown to hospital in Graz, where he was said to be in a stable condition.



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