The following are the top stories in the national and international press today.

Times of Malta says a Swedish national yesterday turned up at a police station asking to be arrested and deported – even though he had committed no crime – and then ended up in custody after allegedly assaulting two officers. In another story, it says the Foundation for Medical Services had freed Swedish construction company Skanska from any future liability over the Mater Dei Hospital building in exchange for Skanska dropping more than €23 million in claims.

The Malta Independent says the European Commission is still hunting for the most suitable person to head its representation in Malta a year after Martin Bugelli relinquished the post. In another story it says Mount Carmel Hospital’s management is stemming the financial losses which had exceeded €8 million by the time Labour was elected to government two years ago.

In-Nazzjon says Judge Philip Sciberras, who is leading the inquiry into the weak concrete at Mater Dei Hospital, has a conflict of interest as he is the father of Alex Sciberras, the board secretary of the Foundation for Medical Services.

L-Orizzont says that the rubbish dumb the Nationalist government had proposed for Zonqor would have been able to take up to 425 tonnes of rubbish in an hour.

International news

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President François Hollande have forged a pact to integrate the eurozone without reopening the EU’s treaties, in what The Guardian sees as “a blow” to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s referendum campaign”. The Franco-German accord, disclosed by Le Monde newspaper, calls for eurozone reforms in four areas “developed in the framework of the current treaties in the years ahead”. The proposals are to be put to an EU summit in Brussels next month, where Cameron is also to unveil his shopping list of changes needed if he is to win support for keeping Britain in the EU.

Meanwhile, The Times says Cameron has met European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker to discuss reforming the EU and changing the UK’s relationship with it. The British prime minister has pledge to hold a referendum by the end next year on staying in or leaving the EU.

Focus reports Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey have agreed to set up a joint centre for border police and customs control as part of their efforts to tackle irregular immigration, organised crime and terrorism. Turkey currently shelters about two million refugees, mostly from its neighbouring conflict-torn Syria. Thousands of them illegally attempt to cross Turkey’s borders with Bulgaria and Greece and seek refuge in the European Union.

According to the Times of India, the deadly wave of extreme temperatures in India, which has already claimed the lives of 539 people, looks set to continue this week. The authorities have promised financial compensation to some of the victims’ families. The dead include mostly construction workers, the elderly or the homeless. Temperatures veered from 43.5oC in Delhi to 48oC in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

VOA News says severe weather in the southwest of the United States and northern Mexico have left at least 19 people and caused widespread destruction. A tornado destroyed homes, flung cars like matchsticks and ripped an infant from its mother’s arms. In Texas, three people are known to have died and 12 others were reported missing after the vacation home they were staying in was swept away by rushing floodwaters.

Expressen reports Nordic air force exercises got underway in Sweden’s sub-Arctic north on Monday. According to the Swedish armed forces, the war games – involving 115 fighter planes and 3,600 troops from nine countries – are being held under the auspices of Nordic military cooperation between non-aligned Sweden and Finland and their NATO neighbour Norway.

Meanwhile, the Russian military has begun a massive exercise involving some 250 aircraft and their defence systems. Channel News Asia says 12,000 soldiers are taking part in the four-day drill aimed at checking the combat readiness of the Russian military.

According to The New York Times, Cleveland has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over what federal authorities said was “a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force”. The settlement, which could be announced as early as today, comes days after a judge declared a Cleveland police officer not guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a car’s two unarmed occupants, both of them black. The verdict prompted a day and night of protests and reignited discussions about how police officers treat the city’s Afro-American residents.

The Irish vote in favour of gay marriage constitutes “a defeat” that highlights a gap between the Church and modern society, L’Osservatore Romano said yesterday. While neither the Pope nor the Vatican have reacted officially to Friday’s Irish referendum result, the Vatican daily spoke of “a challenge for the whole Church” and of “the distance, in some areas, between society and the Church”. The result of the Irish vote 62 per cent of votes in favour and 38 per cent against gay marriage in a country where, until 1993, being homosexual was a crime.

Once tainted by scandal and intrigue, the Vatican bank has managed to increase its profits by more than 20 times since embarking on a comprehensive drive for transparency and accountability ordered by Pope Francis. Avvenire says the bank announced on Monday that it earned €69.3 million in 2014 – up from €2.9 million the previous year. Profits plummeted in 2013 as a result of a dramatic dip in the value of the bank’s gold reserves, two substantial write-offs and the cost of employing a team of forensic accountants to review the murkiest corners of its finances.

Pope Francis has told the Argentinean newspaper La Voz del Pueblo that he has not watched television for 25 years, simply deciding “it was not for me”. To find out whether his team, San Lorenzo, win or lose, he has to ask the Swiss Guards, who draw up a table of results for him each week. The Pope also revealed that he reads only one newspaper – the Italian left-of-centre daily La Repubblica. Asked what he most missed about his old life, he cited the freedom to walk out into the streets and go to a pizzeria.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s brother, Kim Jong-chol, did not show up on a flight manifest after attending two Eric Clapton concerts in London last week, The Korea Times reports. The English language newspaper published in South Korea reports. Kim Jong-chol, 34, not been seen publicly since he showed up at the concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday and Thursday, surrounded by bodyguards.

Metro reports Sotheby’s London office will on Thursday auction a lock of hair of Wolfgand Amadeus Mozart and another lock of Ludwig van Beethoven. According to experts, Mozart’s lock could be sold for about €17,000, while that of Beethoven should not exceed €2,900. The two exhibits come from private collections. In 2002, another strand of Mozart hair sold for €54,000, much higher than the starting bid.

Men value intelligence in women far above large breasts and long legs, a Cambridge evolutionary biologist has claimed. The Daily Telegraph says Professor David Bainbridge, of the University of Cambridge said that intelligence is by far the most attractive quality for men looking for a long term partner because it demonstrates that his chosen partner is likely to be a responsible parent. It also suggests she was brought by intelligent parents and so was likely to be well fed and looked after in childhood, and so healthier.


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