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

The Times and the other newspapers give prominence to the new water and energy tariffs. It also reports that the Speaker twice had to use his casting vote in Parliament last night.

The Malta Independent discusses the new tariffs in the context of power consumption patterns. It also reports a Eurostat survey on the issues which most worry the people. Inflation tops the list in Malta, followed by immigration.

In-Nazzjon says power tariffs have been returned to last year's levels as a result of higher oil prices, but says government assistance is higher. It also reports the President's appeal for businesses to give generously for l-Istrina.

l-orizzont says the people will pay higher water and electricity tariffs in January in what the PL said was Gonzi's Christmas gift.

The international press

Ekstra Bladet reports the UN climate talks in Copenhagen resumed after a five-hour boycott by developing countries demanding rich countries raise their pledges for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen News quotes climate guru Al Gore warning that record melting of Polar and Himalayan ice could deprive more than a billion people of access to clean water. The former US vice-president cited new research showing the Arctic ice cap may have shrunk to record-low levels last year.

EU Observer says 5,000 EU civil servants attended a protest in Brussels yesterday over a 3.7 percent pay hike as trade unions warned they may shut down future events if they do not get their way. The dispute comes after a group of 15 member states blocked plans to award EU staff pay increases. Some politicians argue these should be put aside at a time when many EU citizens are struggling because of the financial crisis.

The man accused of attacking Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has apologised for the "superficial, cowardly and inconsiderate act". Massimo Tartaglia told Italian news agency Ansa he "acted alone (with no) form of militancy or political affiliation". Meanwhile, Berlusconi's doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, told reporters the premier may remain in hospital until Wednesday. "The situation is calm, but his condition requires close attention," Mr Zangrillo said, adding that the premier was unlikely to return to work for 10 days.

Adevarul reports Romanian President Traian Basescu has had his December 6 election victory confirmed. The recount of some 137,000 annulled votes was completed early yesterday, doing nothing to change the result, and his rival Mircea Geoana was quick to accept defeat and wish Basescu well.

Cumhurriyet says Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for national unity after a court banned the only Kurdish party in parliament. The ruling triggered a parliamentary boycott by Kurdish MPs who received a heroes' welcome when they visited Diyarbakir in the south-east of the country.

Gulf News reports Abu Dhabi's rescue of Dubai, by announcing a $10 billion bailout for the Gulf state yesterday, helped to boost share prices around the world. The Abu Dhabi boost would cover the immediate debts of Dubai World, the struggling state-owned conglomerate whose $60 billion liabilities triggered the current crisis. Of the sum, just over four billion dollars will go to Nakheel, part of the state-owned Dubai World group. Dubai World will use that to pay an Islamic bond, or sukuk, which was due yesterday.

In the UK, The Independent leads on the planned 12 days of Christmas strikes by British Airways cabin crew over jobs, pay and working conditions. It says the action would mean misery to more than two million passengers over the Christmas and New Year holiday periods and quotes senior managers calling it "a fight to the death". The Daily Mail quotes BA chief executive Willie Walsh as saying the airline will be "history" if the industrial action goes ahead.

Fox News reports a sheriff in Phoenix , Arizona, has ordered that Christmas music be played all day throughout his Maricopa County's jail system - despite several inmates filing lawsuits and grievances over being forced to listen to such festive fare.

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