9 year old becomes youngest swimmer to finish 6km Filfla to Malta challenge

 - Men - Sep 15 SHARE ON:
9 year old becomes youngest swimmer to finish 6km Filfla to Malta challenge

Zac Bugeja, a 9-year-old boy, jumped into the waters between Filfla and Malta along 59 other swimmers to complete the 6km stretch. 

Completing the swim in two hours and 24 minutes, this was the first time Zach attempted such a massive distance. However, he informed Times of Malta that this is the best swim he’s done so far. 

The event was the second edition of the Ocean Festival, whose aim is to create a community of swimmers to challenge themselves and raise awareness about protecting Malta’s seas. 

Zac began overcoming swimming challenges last year after he completed 2.3 kilometres from Gerbulin to Slugs Bay in Mellieha and back in just one hour and 28 seconds. 

Zac was inspired and coached by record breaking swimmer Neil Agius. Training three to four times a week, he faced wavy waters and fried-egg jellyfish along the way. But he did so with courage and a massive smile!

As for his mentor and inspiration, Neil Agius went on to make an appearance for a presentation Zac held at San Anton School in 2021. In May of this year, Neil’s ‘Wave of Change’ Malta also collaborated with the school to raise awareness about the cause and inspire the future generation. 


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Eiffel Tower to shut off lights earlier due to energy crisis – Malta to follow suit

 - Culture - Sep 15 SHARE ON:
Eiffel Tower to shut off lights earlier due to energy crisis - Malta to follow suit

The lights on the Eiffel Tower will now start being shut off earlier than usual in order to preserve power amid Europe’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s.

According to a Tuesday announcement by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, this is part of the larger plan to save at least 10% of the city’s energy consumption in the winter months. 

While municipal buildings will go dark at 10pm, the monument will shut off lights at 11:45pm. Roughly 4% of the tower’s annual energy expenditures stem from lighting it up at night. 

Countries like Malta are also set to follow suit through similar initiatives. It was announced late last month that decorative facade lighting on public buildings and monuments will be switched off late at night. 

Public sector offices, excluding hospitals, are also to keep air conditioning at a minimum of 24 degrees Celsius in cooling mode and 21 degrees Celsius or lower in heating mode. 

Throughout the summer, Malta saw a record breaking demand in energy as heatwaves battered the island. Although Malta does not import gas directly from Russia, the price of electricity bought from mainland Europe through the interconnection shot up. 

Many Maltese have not felt the impacts of these costs because the government has been subsidising energy and fuel through an outlay which is expected to surpass the €200 million safety net set up by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana. 

The energy crisis is one of the many impacts the sanctions on Russia have brought as it initiated its invasion of Ukraine. Despite supporting the invaded country, many of these countries relied on Russian energy exports and now wish to slowly phase out this dependency. 


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MHRA warn that Valletta is becoming too loud and is not fitting as a high-end destination

 - News - Sep 15 SHARE ON:

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) has stated that noise pollution has become a big problem in the capital city and is one of the main reasons why the city is not fitting as a high-end destination yet.

The MHRA had this to say: “Whereas MHRA supports the concept of having commercial activity in Valletta, the way it is currently being carried out is causing a lot of damage to the tourism activity residing in Valletta due to loud noise being allowed till the early hours of night,”

The association also claimed that the style of entertainment being currently promoted under the watch of Mayor Alfred Zammit  “contradicts efforts in positioning Valletta as a high-end destination, as agreed to by all tourism stakeholders through the National Tourism policy.”

According to feedback received, noise pollution is the worst during the weekends due to the chaotic loud amplified music one can find in the streets of Valletta.

The MHRA have now appealed to the government to take action and to suspend and revaluate the current legal notice (LN 161 & 163) in order to promote entertainment with conditions fitting of a high-end destination.

This follows various complaints by residents, Facebook posts by former MPs – including Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo – and even videos attempting to show the reality of the 1am curfew for music in bars within the capital city.



Fibromyalgia and M/E activist shares how much medication she takes in order to function

 - News - Sep 15 SHARE ON:

Ruth Debono, a fibromyalgia and M/E activist, took to Facebook to share the amount of medication she has to take in order to function and live as close to a normal life as possible. In the post, she urges the government to help out people with this condition more and not treat it like an invisible disability anymore.

In the post, Debono shared a picture of around 15 medications she takes in order to help her live. The picture also did not include certain sleep medications, heat balms and various other medications needed. She revealed that the price for all this medication is €150, as only three intense medications are given by the government; Amitriptyline, Pragiola and Tramadol. These medications can’t be taken by just anyone as they have very dangerous side-effects.

This issue has been long ongoing as countless Fibromyalgia sufferers have been calling on the government to help them out more financially and recognise their condition as a disability with medications that can be very expensive for certain people.

Debono, who is also the CEO of the ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia Alliance, spoke about what is needed from the government – saying “What we need is financial aid: disability benefits, therapy long term, home help, vouchers for food allergies, vouchers for treatments like acupuncture, pool therapy, physiotherapy etc.”

Earlier this week and following Pride Week, PN MP Alex Borg also called on the government to take action on this issue as he questioned the government’s health budget priorities, as he saw that the main priority was that of sex reassignment surgery for trans people being made free of charge. He stated that he agrees with  the government’s priority of free sex reassignment surgery but stressed that helping out people suffering from these invisible disabilities such as fibromyalgia should take priority.

Borg’s statements were met with some criticism by LGBTIQ+ activists and Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg, who pointed out that free gender reassignment therapy would not come at the expense of making such medication also free.


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