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

Times of Malta says one-in-five low income families did not benefit from a special allowance after they failed to uphold their part of the deal, such as sending children to school. In another story, it says Air Malta has ordered an internal probe after a flight to Manchester last Friday returned to base, with the captain informing those on board the aircraft it had to go back to pick up two stranded passengers.

The Malta Independent says Sliema residents have been implored to be on the lookout in their locality and to pass on any information about suspicious happenings, after a spate of thefts and burglaries in the area.

L-Orizzont says the Malta Union of Teachers has called for an investigation to establish whether the current contract for State school transport was done in an appropriate manner given that it was signed before the last general election and tied the hands of the Education Directorate for seven years.

In-Nazzjon said Nationalist councillors in Santa Venera were kept out of a meeting they requested to discuss the disagreements between the mayor and residents of Triq il-Fawwara.

International news

“The European Union must urgently deal with the illegal human trafficking,” Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman of the UN Supreme Commissariat for Refugees, has told Bulgaria’s Radio Focus. He said human traffickers had become more unscrupulous and had expanded their business without respecting human life. He urged investments in better conditions for receiving newly-arrived refugees and to provide them with faster access to shelter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed other European Union nations to do more to share the burden of this year’s influx of migrants. Deutsche Welle reports Merkel said the migrant crisis presented Germany with a major challenge which would not be resolved anytime soon, and urged citizens to show flexibility and patience. Germany has taken more asylum-seekers than any other EU country.

The European Union is considering a proposal that would see a fund created to pay African countries to take back migrants who fail to obtain asylum in Europe. Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn has told the Wall Street Journal that there were discussions between European Commission officials about offering of a “substantial” fund – potentially €1 billion – to African officials when they meet at the EU-Africa summit to be held in Malta in November. He did not elaborate on where or when these discussions took place.

The World Post reports Greece’s coast guard had rescued about 2,500 people in 70 operations off its eastern islands between Friday and Monday. Greece has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants this year, the vast majority from Syria and Afghanistan, reaching its eastern Aegean islands from the nearby Turkish coast. Meanwhile, Greek police fired a stun grenade at Syrian and Afghan refugees protesting on the border with Macedonia.

Ekstra Bladet says a law aimed at discouraging refugees from settling in Denmark comes into effect today, while most politicians agree more needs to be done to integrate immigrants. The legislation inflicts a cut of 45 per cent in the benefits given to new arrivals. Single adults will now be given the equivalent of a student grant – €800 per month, down from €1,500.

Börzen Zeitung reports inflation in the 19-country eurozone was unchanged at 0.2 per cent in August, slightly higher than analysts expected. Official data showed the consumer price rise rate is still below that hoped for by the European Central Bank after its unprecedented economic stimulus programme.

The New York Times says satellite images release by the UN have confirmed irreparable damage by ISIS to the Temple of Bel in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra. UNESCO has called the destruction of the site a war crime. For ISIS, any pagan artifacts are an affront to its interpretation of Islam and must be destroyed.

Kyiv Post reports a policeman has been killed and over 100 injured, some seriously, in violent protests outside Ukraine’s parliament. Clashes between nationalists and riot police erupted after MPs gave initial backing to reforms for more autonomy in the rebel-held east. There were also angry scenes inside the parliament.

USA Today says the man who admitted killing three people at two suburban Kansas City Jewish sites gave jurors a Nazi salute after they convicted him of murder and other charges for the shootings, which he said would allow him to “die a martyr”. It took the jury of seven men and five women just over two hours to find Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. guilty of one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder and assault and weapons charges.

Yanked from a bog in eastern Russia more than 100 years ago, a wooden statue was revealed to be more than 11,000 years old – 1,500 years older than previously thought – and is now officially the oldest wooden sculpture in the world. Depicting a man, the statue boasts a series of strange inscriptions, possibly ancient coding about the universe. Speaking to The Siberian Times, Thomas Terberger, an academic at the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony, said the carbon dating was likely to redefine the study of ancient civilizations.

A study in the journal PNAS reveals that about 90 per cent of seabirds have eaten plastic and are likely to retain some in their gut. The new analysis shows oceans are now filled with plastic and it is “virtually certain” that any dead seabird found in 2050 “will have a bit of plastic in its stomach”.

The Egyptian Gazette announces that Sheikh Mahmoud Maghazi, a Muslim cleric in Egypt, has been suspended because, instead of saying “prayer is better than sleep” during the dawn prayer, he allegedly said “Prayer is better than Facebook”. The case has attracted attention amid a crackdown on free speech across the country.

Not getting enough sleep dramatically increases the chances of catching a cold. A study, the findings of which appear in the latest online edition of the journal Sleep, found that people who sleep six hours or less a night are four times more susceptible to colds than those who spend more than seven hours in slumber land. Scientists found that those who slept for less than five hours a night were 4.5 times more likely to start sneezing.


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