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

The Times says the government is considering limited bird trapping. All trapping was banned last year.

The Malta Independent quotes the MGRM saying that anything less than a civil union is not acceptable.

l-orizzont carries an interview with the wife of Elton Cini who was electrocuted while doing voluntary work in a convent.

In-Nazzjon says 420 persons with disabilities benefited from the ME2 work experience project.

The overseas press

The London 2012 Paralympics have started with an opening ceremony that paid tribute to host Britain's achievements in understanding the universe – and its rainy weather. Sky News reports the Olympic Stadium was filled with colourful, massive umbrellas, while Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous living scientist, urged the 62,000-strong crowd to look to the stars for inspiration. After a joyous athletes' parade, the Queen declared the Games open, followed by a salvo of fireworks from the stadium roof. The opening heralds 11 days of competition for athletes with disabilities. British Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the games would change people’s perception around the world and inspire a new generation.

The Pentagon says it is studying a controversial new book about the kidnapping of Osama bin Laden. Virginia Globe says the book, written by a former US navy seal who took part in the operation last year, contradicts the official version of events. According to the book, bin Laden was unarmed when Navy Seals found him in the raid on his Pakistan compound last year. It also describes bin Laden being shot in the head as he looked out from his bedroom door.

The New York Times reports that hurricane Isaac, which has been battering the US Gold Coast, has been downgraded to a tropical storm. In New Orleans, where flood defences have so far held, a curfew has been imposed as a precaution. It was expected to soak Louisiana for another day with forecasters warning that the weakened storm was still a threat to life and property.

USA Today reports that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as criticised President Obama on jibs and defence policy. In a campaign speech to the nation’s veterans, Romney told the American Legion Convention in Indianapolis that Obama had failed them at home and abroad. He promised that as president, he would get America to work again.

President Bashar al-Assad has rejected talk of a Western-imposed buffer zone on Syrian territory as unrealistic and insisted that the situation in his country was "better", though more time was needed to win the conflict against rebels trying to overthrow him. In an hour-long recorded interview broadcast on Syria's Addounia TV, insisted that the fight to put down rebels was going well but needed time because of foreign plots against Syria.

Turkey, which has floated the idea of the safe zone to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting has intensified, said it would press ahead with its call for the UN to set it up. The Daily Star quotes Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying he would pursue the issue at today’s meeting of the Security Council. More than 80,000 Syrians have been given shelter in Turkey, which is now scrambling to build new refugee camps.

Moscow Times says the Russian Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the violence in Syria, and insisted the recent "crimes" in the Middle East country, including a reported massacre and terrorist bombings, be investigated by representatives of the UN and the Arab League. In a statement it reiterated its stance that there was no alternative to Kofi Annan's peace plan and the Geneva agreements.

AFP reports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday slammed the wide international participation at a Non-Aligned summit in Tehran as a "stain on humanity" following Iran's denial of Israel's right to exist. He said in a statement, so many in the international community appeared to have learned nothing.

VOA reports that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered some strong messages to Iran’s leadership on Wednesday, He told Iranian leaders that their anti-Israel comments were "offensive and inflammatory" and urged the Islamic Republic to use its influence constructively in the Syrian crisis. Ban, in Tehran for the Non-Aligned summit that opens later today, also told Iran’s leaders they must take concrete steps to prove to the world that their nuclear programme was or peaceful purposes.

The Egyptian has army announced that 11 militant terrorists had been killed and 23 others arrested since its crackdown on the militant groups in Sinai Peninsula. Al Ahram quotes a statement from the Defence Ministry as saying that 11 vans and a large amount of weapons and ammunition had been confiscated. Egypt intensified its security operation to eliminate terrorists after 35 armed men attacked a checkpoint in southern Rafah earlier this month, killing 16 soldiers and injuring seven others.

A former Israeli official has denied allegations that Israel poisoned Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as French prosecutors begin investigating his possible murder. Dov Weisglass, then chief of staff to the Israeli prime minister when Arafat died in 2004, told Israeli Army Radio Galgalatz Israel had no interest in harming the Palestinian leader at the end of his political career.  He said Israel permitted Arafat to seek medical treatment in France so that it could not be accused of exacerbating his illness.

The Financial Times reports Barclays Bank is facing another investigation – this time by the Serious Fraud Office in Britain. The SFO is examining payments made by Barclays while it was raising funds from Middle East investors in 2008. More than three billion US dollars came from Qatar.

El Universal says that a Mexican judge has issued an arrest warrant for the former state governor. Tomas Yarrington, who was the governor of Mexico's Tamaulipas state from 1999 until 2005, is suspected of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from Mexican drug cartels.

O Globo says public workers in Brazil have accept a 15.8 per cent pay rise over three years and call off a strike that had been causing disruption across the country. However, federal police and tax inspectors, among others, rejected the deal. The agreement came at a critical time for President Dilma Rousseff, who is releasing the budget on Friday.


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