Ukraine

The Telegraph reports that Ukraine ‘destroys parts of convoy of Russian military vehicles’

There was growing concern over the Ukraine crisis on Friday night after Kiev claimed to have destroyed parts of a column of Russian military vehicles, with Nato accusing Moscow of launching an “incursion”.

Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, told David Cameron, the Prime Minister, that government artillery had destroyed a “considerable part” of a small military convoy that entered the country. The Telegraph witnessed a convoy of Russian armoured vehicles and military trucks crossing the border on Thursday night, but it was not clear whether it was the same convoy Ukraine claimed to have attacked.

Russia’s government denied its forces had crossed into Ukraine, calling the Ukrainian report “some kind of fantasy”.

The Guardian also reports on this news.

Iraq

In the Telegraph, Douglas Carswell MP writes on the Iraq crisis: We need a foreign policy strategy

This time last year, Britain was about to bomb Syria. Had the House of Commons not made it clear there was no majority for military action, we would have subjected the Assad regime to aerial attack.

One year on it looks as if Assad could be, if not exactly an ally, at least someone with whom we share an even more repulsive foe: the militants of the self-declared Islamic State. Can you imagine if we had removed one of its greatest opponents?

This all underlines the importance of having a foreign policy strategy, and not making things up on the hoof. We need to think through the implications of what we do.

Beyond the need for immediate humanitarian help, we need a sense of what is happening in the Middle East, how we might be able to influence the shape of things to come – and if so, how.

The Guardian reports from Brussels: EU backs supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Iraq

The EU has backed the supply of arms to Kurdish fighters to help fend off the threat of Islamic extremists in Iraq but insisted that such deliveries should be approved by the new government in Baghdad.

An emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels issued a statement on Iraq calling the country an “important partner in need of strong support” and called for urgent investigations into “atrocities and abuses of basic human rights which could be considered crimes against humanity”.

The EU foreign affairs council welcomed US support to Baghdad and Kurdistan in the fight against the Islamic State (Isis) movement. It added that “the council also welcomes the decision by individual member states to respond positively to the call by the Kurdish regional authorities to provide urgently military material”.

Taxes

Ros Altmann’s views are reported in the Telegraph: Give middle-class families a tax break, government adviser urges

Millions of middle-class workers and pensioners are being hit by “draconian and penal” taxes that discourage them from earning more, a government adviser has warned.

Ros Altmann, the recently appointed business champion for older workers, said people who did not consider themselves “remotely wealthy” were increasingly being hit by inheritance tax, the 40p rate and higher levels of stamp duty.

She said the Government was “punishing people for being prudent”. The pensions expert urged ministers to “give them a break” and reward them for working hard.

NHS

The Guardian reports on a poll that claims half of voters are happy to pay more tax to fund NHS

Almost half of voters say they would be happy to pay more income tax as long as the money went directly to the NHS, which is facing a £30bn gap in its finances by 2020.

Polling firm ComRes found that 49% of people would be prepared to pay more tax to help fund the health service, one in three (33%) people said they would not be ready to do so, and 18% did not know either way.

However, if only the views of those who expressed an opinion are considered, as many as 60% of people are willing to pay more tax to help the NHS providing its wide range of services; 40% are not.

Of course, we know what happens to tax takes that are supposed to be mandated… National Insurance was meant to pay for the NHS and benefits, and Car Tax was meant to pay for roads…

On a different tack, the Express reports that Rip-off parking fees ‘are leaving hospital staff out of pocket’.

Last night it emerged Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has axed parking concessions, leaving some staff £330 worse off. Bosses said budget cuts meant the trust “can no longer justify supporting a parking subsidy”, staff were told on Thursday.

Staff working more than 22½ hours a week will be charged £330 for an annual parking pass. Those working 22½ hours or less will be charged £260. A trust spokesman said: “We have to review every element of how we spend our budget and sadly can no longer justify supporting a parking subsidy.”

The Daily Express crusade to axe the unfair rip-off charges has seen our office flooded with coupons signed by readers who want the problem addressed. Meanwhile, 3,000 have joined the campaign by registering on our website.

Industry

The Guardian reports Glasgow’s last shipyard Ferguson Shipbuilders set to close.

Scotland’s remaining shipbuilding industry was dealt a severe blow on Friday when the country’s last commercial shipyard went into administration with the loss of about 70 jobs on the river Clyde.

After more than a century in business, staff at Ferguson Shipbuilders arrived for work at Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, in the morning to be told most of the 77-strong workforce were being made redundant with immediate effect.

A handful of workers were retained to finish existing work and maintain the yard. The company has called in KPMG as administrators after it could no longer withstand cashflow problems and a failure to secure new orders.

Gaza

The Independent reports on The Gaza rift: ‘The sense is that Americans are disgusted with Netanyahu’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has denied reports of a crisis in US-Israeli relations over the Gaza war, after the state department confirmed a new policy of placing weapons shipments to the Jewish state under closer scrutiny due to concern over the large number of Palestinian civilian fatalities.

Israeli officials, speaking to the liberal Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, confirmed that delivery of a consignment of Hellfire missiles, which are fitted to helicopters, has been blocked by the US since late last month as part of the American decision to impose limits on the transfer of weaponry that could be used in Gaza. The suspension, the first of its kind in more than three decades, was first reported in an article in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

MoD Procurement

The Independent reports on an Uproar as MoD brings in US giants to manage military procurement.

Unions and industry insiders are up in arms because two US engineering companies have been asked to oversee the way in which the Ministry of Defence runs the £14bn arm that buys military kit.

The Independent can reveal that San Francisco-based Bechtel and Denver’s CH2M Hill have bagged the programme management contracts for the Bristol-based Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). This agency buys and looks after everything from forklift trucks to Astute class submarines, but is being overhauled by the Government so as to get better value for the taxpayer.

The companies were told earlier this week that they had won the contracts to transform the way in which these crucial items are bought, in what are known as managed service provider (MSP) roles.

Ebola

The Independent reports on the Ebola outbreak: No accurate death toll as crisis runs out of control, warn doctors

The Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa could last another six months, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Friday, and a medical worker acknowledged that the true death toll is unknown.

Tarnue Karbbar, who works for the aid group Plan International in northern Liberia, said response teams simply were not able to document all of the cases. Many of the sick were being hidden at home by their relatives, too fearful of going to an Ebola treatment centre.

Also in The Guardian and The Mirror.

Immigration

The Express has an EXCLUSIVE: How 50 migrants a day try to sneak into ‘El Dorado’ Britain.

Official figures show almost 20,000 migrants were seized while attempting to enter the UK illegally last year. That is up more than 60 per cent on the year before. Thousands more are likely to have escaped detection and entered the country. Figures obtained by the Daily Express show 11,731 “clandestine passengers” were seized in 2012/13. In the 12 months to May this year the number leapt to 19,003, equivalent to 52 a day.

Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe said: “Whether we like it or not these figures represent the tip of the iceberg. We know thousands more have slipped through the net and are today resident in Britain, vulnerable, dispossessed, and prey to criminals.  People traffickers feed desperate people across the globe the Dick Whittington line that the streets of the UK are paved with gold.  The Government should send out a clear, robust and determined message that anyone not lawfully permitted to be in the UK will be arrested and immediately deported to their country of origin.”

Unemployment

The Express reports on a Job help plea for over-50s as unemployment rate fails to fall among older people.

Ros Altmann, Older Workers Champion for the Government, produced the figures from her analysis of the latest job statistics. Unemployment for those aged 16 to 49 has fallen by 19 per cent or 390,000 since 2010, from 2.1 million to 1.71 million. But the number aged 50 to 64 seeking work fell by just 5.3 per cent, or 19,000, to 350,000.

Dr Altmann said: “Under the Coalition government, rising numbers of older people are remaining in work. “But unemployment among those aged 50 to 64 has fallen much more slowly than for younger workers. Employers and recruitment agencies are often focused on hiring young people. However, older jobseekers have excellent experience. I hope to be able to identify any significant barriers and help more over-50s stay in or return to work if they wish to.”

Demographics

The Mail reports that How Muhammad is now the most popular name for baby boys in England and Wales… but it doesn’t top official list because there are so many ways to spell it.

The most popular boys’ name in England and Wales last year was Muhammad, according to an ONS poll released earlier today. The research officially lists Oliver as the most popular boys name, with 6,949 counts, but the way the names are organised means each different spelling of Muhammad is listed separately.

When all the variations are added together, including Muhammad, Mohammed and Mohammad, the name comes out top with 7,445 counts. Oliver replaced Harry as the second most popular name given to baby boys, while George jumped up to tenth place…Multi-cultural London and the West Midlands contained the most babies named Muhammad, while Oliver came out top in the South East, South West and Wales.

Religion

The Mail reports that Travelodge removes the Bible from every room: No one had complained… but chain ‘doesn’t want to discriminate’

One of Britain’s biggest hotel chains has removed Bibles from its rooms to avoid upsetting non-Christians. The decision by Travelodge has been condemned as ‘tragic and bizarre’ by the Church of England, which says Bibles in hotel rooms are important to provide hope, comfort and inspiration to travellers. But the chain, which runs 500 hotels, said the country was becoming increasingly multicultural and it had taken the action for ‘diversity reasons’.

It said the policy was implemented ‘in order not to discriminate against any religion’ – despite having had no complaints from guests. Bibles were taken away at the same time as a refurbishment of its rooms, removing drawers where they were kept.

UKIP

The Mirror reports: Nigel Farage says he WILL stand in South Thanet for the General Election

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has confirmed he wants to stand in the South Thanet seat in next year’s general election. Mr Farage said he had “thrown my hat in the ring”, ending months of speculation that he was lining up the Kent constituency as his target for the 2015 contest.

In his column in The Independent Mr Farage insisted it was not a certainty that he would be selected by the local party but added: “I think I stand a good chance of winning”. Mr Farage was born in Kent and has represented the area in the European Parliament since 1999. The Tory incumbent Laura Sandys won the South Thanet seat with a majority of 7,617 in 2010 but is standing down at the general election.

The original report in The Independent is here.

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