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George Vella Celebrates Last Freedom Day As President

George Vella Celebrates Last Freedom Day As President
Apr 1 2024 Share

President George Vella participated in his last wreath laying ceremony as president of Malta as his term comes to a close.

As the Armed Forces of Malta band played the Freedom anthem, President George Vella joined Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech for the ceremony.

Malta celebrates Freedom Day on the 31st of March, marking the anniversary of the withdrawal of British troops and the Royal Navy from the islands back in 1979.

George Vella will be succeeded by Myriam Spiteri Debono, who is set to be Malta’s third female president and the island’s first female Gozitan president.


Germany Kicks Off April With Cannabis Legalisation

Germany Kicks Off April With Cannabis Legalisation
Apr 1 2024 Share

Germany has implemented new cannabis laws allowing adults over 18 to possess 25 grams of dried cannabis and cultivate up to three plants at home.

This makes Germany one of the most liberal European countries regarding cannabis, alongside Malta and Luxembourg. The Netherlands, once known for its tolerance, has tightened regulations against cannabis tourism.

The law also permits the establishment of cannabis clubs to distribute limited amounts of cannabis per person per month starting July 1.

However, the planned sale via licensed shops faced EU opposition, prompting consideration of pilot programs in specific regions. Advocates argue legalisation will curb the black market, but health groups express concerns about increased youth usage and associated risks like psychosis and schizophrenia.

The government pledges awareness campaigns, support programs, and prohibits cannabis near schools.

Police express enforcement challenges, while retroactive amnesty for cannabis offences poses administrative burdens.

Conservative opposition threatens repeal, while liberals support legalisation as a means to curb the black market. Finance Minister Lindner asserts the law’s implementation will be orderly.


Instagram’s New ‘Blend’ Feature: Collaborative Reels Discovery

Instagram's New 'Blend' Feature: Collaborative Reels Discovery
Mar 31 2024 Share

In a bid to further innovate its Reels feature, Instagram is reportedly working on a new functionality called ‘Blend.’ This feature, if launched, would allow users and their friends to enjoy a personalized Reels feed, enhancing collaborative content discovery on the platform. While the feature is still in its internal testing phase, its potential to offer a unique user experience marks an interesting development in Instagram’s ongoing efforts to compete with platforms like TikTok.

The revelation about the ‘Blend’ feature came to light through reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, known for uncovering upcoming social media features ahead of their official release. According to Paluzzi’s findings, ‘Blend’ would create a private feed of Reels recommended specifically for two users, based on their shared Reels and individual interests. Much like Spotify’s collaborative playlist feature, ‘Blend’ aims to offer a shared experience tailored to the preferences of its users.

One of the key aspects highlighted in the leaked screenshot is the privacy of ‘Blend’ feeds, ensuring that the content remains exclusive to the participating users. Additionally, users would have the freedom to exit the ‘Blend’ at any time, providing them with full control over their viewing experience. While specific details about the feature’s functionality and update frequency remain undisclosed, its potential to foster shared content exploration is evident.

The introduction of ‘Blend’ signifies Instagram’s strategic move to leverage existing user behaviors, such as sharing Reels via direct messages, to enhance content discovery. By analyzing user interactions and preferences, Instagram aims to proactively recommend Reels that align with the interests of paired users. This collaborative approach not only promotes engagement but also serves as a mechanism to boost Reels’ visibility and watch time on the platform.

Should ‘Blend’ be officially released, it could offer Instagram Reels users a compelling and interactive feature that sets it apart from competitors like TikTok. While TikTok continues to dominate the short-form video market, Instagram’s pursuit of innovative features underscores its commitment to providing a diverse and engaging user experience. Despite the uncertainties surrounding its external launch, the potential of ‘Blend’ to enrich content exploration hints at a promising future for Instagram’s Reels platform.


Malta NGO’s Vigilance Leads to Swift Justice for Duck-Harassing Youths

Malta NGO's Vigilance Leads to Swift Justice for Duck-Harassing Youths
Mar 31 2024 Share

In a distressing incident of wildlife harassment, youths targeting ducks with stones in Valletta have been swiftly identified and summoned by the Malta Police, thanks to the vigilant efforts of a local NGO and concerned citizens.

The incident came to light when a member of the public witnessed the disturbing act and promptly alerted the authorities. The Malta Ranger Unit (MRU), operated by an independent NGO dedicated to environmental protection, was immediately informed of the situation.

Responding promptly, an MRU ranger in close proximity to the scene quickly relayed crucial information to the Valletta Police, including a detailed description of the offenders. Throughout the ordeal, the Rangers maintained constant communication with law enforcement, ensuring that the offenders’ whereabouts were continuously monitored.

Efforts bore fruit as three individuals, all successfully identified by MRU, were reported to the Environmental Protection Unit Police. Swift action was taken, and the offenders have been confirmed to be summoned to the police station for further proceedings.

Expressing gratitude for the swift response, the MRU extended thanks to the Police for their timely intervention. Such collaborative efforts between NGOs and law enforcement agencies are essential in safeguarding wildlife and preserving environmental integrity.

This incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by environmental conservationists in Malta. With over 300 reports of environmental illegalities monthly, the need for public support and cooperation is more critical than ever.

As an independent NGO (VO/2443), the MRU emphasizes the importance of community involvement in their operations. Contributions from concerned citizens are vital in enabling organizations like MRU to continue their vital work in protecting Malta’s natural heritage.

The MRU is committed to ensuring that such incidents are swiftly addressed and perpetrators held accountable. Through continued vigilance and collective action, the community can work together to safeguard the environment and protect wildlife for generations to come.