Dementia test, Clegg's 'hymn' to Britain, Malaysia plane search and two-week 'heatwave' in papers

A blood test developed by US scientists that could detect Alzheimer's disease up to three years before the onset of symptoms makes front page headlines in several of Monday's newspapers.

The findings by a Georgetown University team are published in the journal Nature Medicine and researchers believe it could be ready for use in clinical studies in as few as two years, reports the Times.

Alzheimer's and other forms of the dementia affect about 800,000 people in the UK and the prime minister has described the disease as "the key health challenge of this generation", the Daily Mail reminds its readers.

The Daily Telegraph, which leads with the story, says charities welcomed the findings but warned of ethical dilemmas ahead and said patients must be given a choice about whether they wanted to receive potentially devastating news about their future.

In an editorial, the Independent agrees that "one may wonder what good could come from confirmation of a condition for which there is no cure".

But it says dementia is one of the "most formidable health challenges" facing the world amid increasing lifespans and the test should be welcomed as "being able to identify, at an early stage, which of us will go down this path and could rapidly accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, leading to more effective therapies".

Clegg's 'hymn'

Nick Clegg's speech at the Lib Dem spring conference, in which he accused UKIP of promoting a "backwards looking politics" and made the case for UK membership of the EU, provokes much comment.

In a front page story, the Guardian reports that Mr Clegg enjoyed strong support at the conference but questions over his future remain and the party is focusing attention on possible successors despite his pledge to remain leader until at least 2020.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Solihull MP Lorley Burt - in a Nigel Farage mask - entertained the Lib Dem conference before Mr Clegg's speech

The events also inspire the cartoonists, with Brian Adcock in the Independent portraying the deputy prime minister riding away on the party's bird of liberty logo as a grinning UKIP leader Nigel Farage pulls the thread from the EU flag he is proudly holding aloft.

Adams in the Daily Telegraph has a dejected-looking Mr Clegg standing on a sagging trampoline holding an EU policy brief in his hands.

For the Daily Express, the speech - in which the deputy prime minister also listed the things that made him love Britain including queues, tea and human rights - was "cliche-ridden" and it criticises Mr Clegg for sneering "with typical metropolitan arrogance" at Eurosceptics.

The Daily Mail appears to be angered by what it describes as Mr Clegg's "phony love letter", asking in its editorial: "When it comes to policies, isn't it almost as if he is determined to prove he despises most voters?"

It is possible to retain the characteristics of Mr Clegg's "hymn of praise to Britain" while seeking reform of the EU, says the Daily Telegraph.

Peter Popham in the Independent says Mr Clegg's sentiments were "understandable" and he "made a good stab at keeping his end up" but he "has his work cut out convincing us that he is an ordinary British bloke".

In the Financial Times, political correspondent Kiran Stacey saw Mr Clegg's speech as an "unashamedly pro-EU pitch to voters" ahead of May's European elections.

But he cites research in a new book that suggests 30% of voters could be persuaded to back UKIP, with the bulk of future support coming from disenchanted former Labour voters, a finding that "will shock" those who have branded the party "the Conservatives in exile".

The "time has arrived to take UKIP seriously", the Times says in its leader, adding that its "appeal is that of an outsider, the party that dares to tell it like as it is". But it reckons as UKIP faces greater scrutiny its "pretence of superiority starts to fall to pieces".

FBI fears

The fate of the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday attracts coverage as ships continue to search the seas for wreckage of the plane.

The Guardian says the officials probing the case are considering all possible explanations. Two passengers boarded the flight using stolen passports and the Times says the involvement of the FBI and Interpol in the investigation raised fears of either a terrorist bombing or a botched hi-jacking.

The Independent focuses on Interpol's "stinging critique" of aircraft security following the revelation that more than a billion air journeys were taken last year without traveller details being checked against a stolen-passport database.

Its travel correspondent Simon Calder points out that identity misrepresentation is rife among air travellers - and the motive is often simply a way of saving money. The travellers on false passports, he suggests, may have been illegal economic migrants.

In an editorial, the Daily Mirror cautions against jumping to conclusions.

"Law-abiding travellers grow frustrated at security checks in British airports, and delays could be reduced if extra staff were employed to check passports and bags," it says.

But should terrorism be to blame for the disappearance of the flight it would underline that "vigilance is the best protection."

Flip-flop weather

Image copyright Reuters

Photographs from the warmest day of the year appear across the papers with the Daily Telegraph among those to contrast the sunny spring scenes in many parts of the country with the "torrents of winter".

Sunglasses and flip-flops replaced brollies and Wellington boots on Sunday as some parts of the country basked in cloudless skies and temperatures of up to 20.5 C (69F), says the Times.

The Daily Mail notes temperatures were hotter than both Madrid and Athens, adding "grateful Britons descended on the country's beaches, parks and open-air swimming pools to make the most of the sunshine".

Although it is forecast to be cooler on Monday, the Daily Mirror says on its front page that a "two-week heatwave" could then be on its way. "At long last spring has sprung", says the paper, explaining that temperatures of up to 15C - at least three degrees warmer than normal for the time of year - are expected.

However it adds that Britain's "crazy weather" may be set to make a U-turn later this month with another cold snap.

The Sun points out that March last year saw the country gripped by snow and ice.

Image copyright Reuters

Finally, the sighting of Prince Harry and his girlfriend Cressida Bonas at the England v Wales Six Nations match at Twickenham - the second time they have been seen in public in three days - prompts more speculation in the papers, with some wondering whether a royal engagement could be on the cards.

The Daily Telegraph reports the show of affection saw bookmakers slash the odds on an engagement announcement this year, while the Daily Star goes so far as calling a wedding date at Westminster Abbey on 27 September, 12 days after the prince turns 30.

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Times: Two centuries on, Caribbean leaders prepare to sue Britain

Guardian: Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 makes it clear: we need to rethink black boxes

Financial Times: The imperial presidency is quietly striking back

Telegraph: Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas: a hint of a royal engagement?

Daily Mirror: Ten key questions about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as search for missing passenger jet continues