The Telegraph leads with “Greece averts bankruptcy and softens austerity in last-ditch deal”
Greece has secured a four-month reprieve from Eurozone creditors at a last-ditch summit in Brussels, heading off imminent default and a traumatic rupture of monetary union. The interim accord gives Greece breathing room to flesh out its economic agenda and reform plans, and effectively scraps the draconian fiscal targets imposed by the EU-IMF Troika.
The Syriza government in Athens gains bridging finance to avert a crunch as budget coffers run dry and capital flight reaches €1bn a day. Greek officials confessed privately that the country is on the brink of insolvency. It was likely to exhaust its limit on emergency liquidity from the European Central Bank as soon as Tuesday, risking a run on the banking system and a financial collapse.
Newspapers and Advertisers
The Telegraph swipes back at The Guardian with “Guardian changed Iraq article to avoid offending Apple”
The Guardian is facing questions over its relationship with advertisers after allegations that it changed a news article amid concerns about offending Apple. The media organisation has criticised The Telegraph for failing to observe the “Chinese wall” between advertising and editorial coverage, a claim The Telegraph strongly denies.
However, The Telegraph can disclose that in July last year Apple bought wraparound advertising on The Guardian’s website and stipulated that the advertising should not be placed next to negative news. A Guardian insider said that the headline of an article about Iraq on The Guardian’s website was changed amid concerns about offending Apple, and the article was later removed from the home page entirely.
Dan Hodges in the Telegraph has the arrogance to say “There is an old political saying that asserts ‘the voter is always right’. They’re not”
Yesterday an amazing thing happened. Ed Miliband met a person who didn’t agree with him. Peter Baldwin, a BAE systems technician from Lancashire, did not greet Labour’s leader with the words: “My generation is falling into a black hole”. Nor did he ask: “Is anything going to make life better for me and my family?”
According to Ed, that’s how people normally speak to him. In neat sound bites he can conveniently slip into his conference speeches.
Peter, in contrast, was a bit off message. Quite a long way off message, actually. “At this moment in time I don’t feel like voting Labour”, he said. Gesturing towards his colleagues, he fumed: “They’re all leaning towards Ukip. Now, the question on everybody’s mind is the referendum”. To which Ed responded politely and patiently, and explained how Peter needn’t worry because Labour would be plenty tough on the immigrants.
But if you look at the video carefully, you can what Ed is really thinking. “Oh God. He’s ‘The Voter’.”
The Independent has a different tack with “David Cameron: Labour and SNP coalition an ‘ultimate nightmare scenario’”
Britain could be left with the “ultimate nightmare scenario” of Labour and the SNP in power at Westminster after May’s general election, David Cameron has warned.
The Prime Minister said a partnership between Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon would be a “unique unprecedented coalition” that would bring together “the people who would break up our country and the people who would bankrupt our country”.
He issued the warning as he addressed the Scottish Conservative conference in Edinburgh.
Russia and NATO
The Guardian reports words of a NATO General: “Russian expansionism may pose existential threat”
Russian expansionist ambitions could quickly become “an obvious existential threat to our whole being”, the most senior British military officer in Nato has said in a strongly worded speech.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, appointed last year as Nato’s deputy commander of forces in Europe, said the alliance needed to develop both fast-reacting conventional forces and capacities to counter Russian efforts at coercion and propaganda, as seen in Ukraine.
Talking of “an era of constant competition with Russia”, Bradshaw told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute that Nato had to maintain a cohesive system of deterrence on its eastern borders, something that would require help from the EU.
Also in The Independent.
The Guardian reports that “UK police launch hunt for London schoolgirls feared to have fled to Syria”
British counter-terrorism police have launched an international hunt to find three London schoolgirls feared to be making their way towards Islamic State (Isis) territory in Syria after fleeing the UK.
The girls, named as Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unidentified 15-year-old girl, slipped out of their homes in east London last Tuesday and caught a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, from where they are thought to be travelling to the Syrian border.
In the first public appeal of its kind, Scotland Yard counter-terrorism detectives pleaded for information about the whereabouts of the girls and urged them to return home to their “devastated” families.
The Guardian claims that “George Osborne says HSBC tax evasion prosecutions not his job”
George Osborne has washed his hands of responsibility for prosecutions against people who evaded tax through HSBC Switzerland, as the government came under pressure to justify immunity deals given to those who confess to serious tax fraud.
More than a week after the scandal first broke, the chancellor said the allegations against HSBC and its clients were very serious but such decisions were a matter for the prosecuting authorities – a principle that has been “one of the bulwarks of freedom in this country for hundreds of years”.
“I don’t think it would be right – and actually when you pause to think about it I think most people would agree – I don’t think it would be right for a chancellor of the exchequer to direct prosecutions against individuals or individual companies,” he told an audience at the Tate on the Southbank in London.
Venezuela and Socialism
The Independent tells us about: “Corruption, falling oil prices and talk of a coup: The end of Chavez’s socialist dream in Venezuela” (Ed: That’s socialism for you)
It is two years since Hugo Chavez’s death but to his followers it feels like a lifetime. Venezuela is collapsing amid falling oil prices, rampant corruption, political oppression – and dark rumours of an imminent coup
The government says the body of Hugo Chavez is where it should be, encased in the black marble tomb set in the courtyard of a small military fort overlooking Caracas under the guard of four Hussars and touched by the hands of a constant stream of pilgrims. But then it says a lot of things. Such as claiming that the United States backed a recent plot to bomb the presidential palace. And how in Venezuela all is well.
India and Foreign Aid
India has unveiled a massive military spending plan that will see it splash out more than £10billion on a fleet of new warships and submarines. The country, which has received £1.6billion in aid from Britain in the past eight years, will bolster its navy by building seven frigates at a cost of £5.2billion. A further £5.2billion will be spent on six nuclear-powered submarines. The defence plans follow the successful launch of a rocket capable of manned space flight at an estimated cost of £250million.
Britain is stopping its handouts, totalling around £210million this year, from the end of this December. But many more millions will head towards Delhi in the form of private sector expertise and technical assistance.
More on Rotherham
Rotherham Council spent £2million on a ‘personal vanity project’ to bring Dolly Parton to the town – at the same time as child sex grooming by mainly Pakistani men was being ignored.
Roger Stone, its council leader at the time, is a lifelong fan of the country singer and persuaded her to set up a children’s reading project.
She visited the town amid great fanfare in 2007 to launch the scheme, which now looks likely to close. The project aimed to attract support from businesses to pay for every child under five to receive a book every month but the council struggled to find sponsors.
Conservatives and… UKIP Policies
The Express reports that “David Cameron pledges support for grammar schools”
Visiting a state school in Hove, East Sussex, on Tuesday the Prime Minister declared his “strong support” for the right of all “good schools” to expand, adding: “And that should include grammar schools.” His remarks contrasted with his claim in the early years of his Tory leadership that a pledge to build more grammar schools “would be an electoral albatross”.
Many Tories believe a return to academic selection would be a battering ram for breaking down class barriers, giving youngsters from under-privileged backgrounds a real chance to get on the ladder to career success. Despite Mr Cameron’s more positive tone towards grammars, official Tory policy has not changed at all – existing grammar schools can admit more pupils but new ones cannot be opened.
The Express claims that “British savers are being ‘conned’ out of billions by fund managers according to experts”
One expert said savers were losing around £3billion every five years. Under the practice known as “closet tracking”, which may soon be investigated by the City regulator, investors pay extra fees on an Isa and pensions after being told fund managers will generate higher returns by picking the best shares.
In reality, some simply monitor and mirror the FTSE share index – a task that can be done by a “dumb machine”. Indeed many investors prefer “tracker funds” which use computer software rather than human expertise” for a fraction of the costs. Over a 30-year period, investors using a ropey fund manager can be short-changed by as much as £50,000 spent in pointless fees.
The Financial Conduct Authority yesterday said it was gathering evidence on the practice and could launch a full-scale inquiry later in the year.
The Mirror reports that “Fatcat bosses of HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and RBS to pocket £25m in cash and perks”
Fatcat bosses at Britain’s Big Four banks are set to share a £25million payday. The heads of HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland have been awarded bumper packages for last year, figures are expected to reveal. The mega rewards come despite banks being mired in scandal or owing billions to the taxpayer.
HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver could pocket £7.4million in cash and perks. The payout comes after the bank’s private Swiss arm was accused of helping more than a thousand wealthy clients evade UK tax. Analysts reckon HSBC, also rocked by money laundering and exchange rate rigging scandals, will reveal annual profits of around £13.6billion for last year.