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USA UK and Malta News
04/05/2012 - 00:01

Malta news: Debates on Opposition’s

Malta news: Debates on Opposition’s - New US ambassador presents credentials - Debates on Opposition’s motions: House Business Committee agrees on dates - European climate change to hit Mediterranean, Scandinavia hardest.

Malta news: Debates on Opposition’s
New US ambassador presents credentials
The new US Ambassador to Malta, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, presented her diplomatic credentials to President George Abela yesterday morning, using the Maltese language to do so. “I am greatly honoured to present to you my credentials. I look forward to my new post in Malta,” Ms Abercrombie-Winstanley told Dr Abela, who thanked her for using the Maltese language. Ms Abercrombie-Winstanley, who hails from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, succeeds Douglas Kmiec, who stepped down last year after a report by the US State Department faulted the devout Catholic for spending too much time on faith-based activities while in office. The embassy has been headed by the chargé d’affaires since, with Arnold Haskins Campbell succeeding Richard Mills to the post last February. While the US ambassador to Malta is typically someone who had backed the US President during the previous electoral campaign – Prof. Kmiec, for instance, had endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 despite his affiliation to the Republican Party – Ms Abercrombie-Winstanley is a career diplomat who joined the Foreign Service in 1985. She had studied both Arabic and Hebrew, and was involved in Middle Eastern issues for much of her career. Her first posting was in Baghdad – during the Iran-Iraq war – whereas her most recent position was deputy coordinator for counterterrorism. The ambassador was Consul General in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah when militants affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked the consulate with explosives and machine guns in December 2004, killing nine people. She is the recipient of the State Department’s Senior Performance Pay, Meritorious Honor and Superior Honor awards for “acts of courage” during the attack. She was confirmed by the US Senate on 29 March, and was sworn in as ambassador on 18 April at the State Department in Washington D.C. The gospel choir she is a member of – the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Men and Women of the Gospel choir – performed at the ceremony, turning what is typically a staid ceremony into an unusually lively affair.(independent.com.mt) Diplomacy is an environment where people have the art of passing vipers for chocoltas boxes.

Debates on Opposition’s motions: House Business Committee agrees on dates
The House Business Committee has agreed on the dates for the parliamentary debates on the Opposition’s justice and home affairs motion, and the motion calling for the resignation of Richard Cachia Caruana. Speaker Michael Frendo announced the dates during yesterday evening’s House Business Committee meeting, which went on to discuss other matters soon after the meeting began. Last week, the prime minister brushed aside demands from MP Franco Debono for parliament to hear the Opposition’s motion on justice and home affairs before a crucial and possibly all-determining vote on the Budget Measures Implementation Bill by having scheduled the latter for 9 May. Dr Frendo confirmed yesterday that the Budget Measures Implementation Bill will be discussed and voted upon on 9 May. As for the Opposition’s motions, Dr Frendo said the House Business Committee agreed that the debate on the motion of no-confidence against Home would start on 23 May and end on 30 May, with a vote in the evening. There could be morning and evening sessions, depending on the number of speakers. Parliament’s Foreign and European Affairs Committee will start debating the second motion – against Malta’s EU ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana – on 14 May, with a vote being taken in the plenary on 18 June (tentative). PL deputy leader Anġlu Farrugia said that in reaching an agreement with the government, the Opposition chose to act responsibly in the country’s best interest. Common sense should prevail in the most important institution, he said.(independent.com.mt) The opposition in parliament is a significant voice.

European climate change to hit Mediterranean, Scandinavia hardest
Global warming in Europe this century will mostly affect Scandinavia and the Mediterranean basin, the European Environment Agency warned today. "The highest warming is projected over the eastern Scandinavia, and southern and south-eastern Europe," experts at the agency said in comment accompanying a series of maps posted on the agency's website. Europe will be on average 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer between 2021 and 2050 than the 1960-1990 reference period, the agency said. Interestingly, there are great differences between summer and winter – the maps show the winters will see the greatest change in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, while the biggest temperature increases in the summer will be around the Mediterranean. It will also be drier in the Med. While a few degrees increase may not seem significant, it is important to note that these are average annual temperatures, potentially masking large extremes. For example, during the period 2021 – 2050 summer in some parts of the Mediterranean is expected to be up to 2.5° C warmer than 1961-1990. Higher temperatures lead to an increase in number of heat waves and droughts, which have great impact on water supply, agriculture production and human health. Higher temperatures and dwindling rainfall "will have significant effects on agriculture and tourism industries, especially in the Mediterranean area," the agency said. "Agriculture is extremely water-intensive in some Mediterranean countries, accounting for up to 80 percent of water use," it noted.(timesofmalta.com) This is still a significant change in temperatures.

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