Ukraine

This makes the headlines in all the broadsheets. The Telegraph headlines are Russia launches ‘armed invasion’ as Obama warns Moscow of ‘costs’ of intervention and they report:

Russian troops and gunmen in unmarked uniforms fan out across Crimea, seizing   two airports in an apparent bid to assert dominance over the region. Earlier a Ukrainian official told a Crimean television channel that 13 planes   had landed at a military air base near Simferopol in Crimea, carrying nearly   2,000 suspected troops.

President Barack Obama plunged into the crisis in Ukraine last night, warning   Russia there would be “costs for any military intervention” and that “any   violation of Ukrainian sovereignty would be deeply destabilising”.

“Any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty would be deeply destabilising, which   is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe. It would represent   profound interference in the affairs of the Ukrainian people and a violation   of international law,” President Obama said last night.

The Guardian piece Russian ‘invasion’ of Crimea fuels fear of Ukraine conflict reports:

Russia and the west are on a collision course over Crimea after Moscow was accused of orchestrating a “military invasion and occupation” of the peninsula, as groups of apparently pro-Russian armed men seized control of two airports. Russian troop movements were reported across the territory.

One Ukrainian official claimed late on Friday that 2,000 Russian troops had arrived in Crimea during the course of the day, in 13 Russian aircraft.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, addressed the nation and accused Russia of carrying out a similar strategy to 2008, when it in effect annexed two Georgian territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “They are trying to provoke a military conflict and are creating a scenario identical to the Abkhaz one, when having provoked a conflict, they annexed territory,” he said.

The  Independent reports Ukraine latest – The invasion begins: armed Russian-speaking gunmen with Crimea in their grip as Barack Obama warns Moscow. The Mirror also has a rare real news item on it.

NHS

After the furore with the plans to sell our supposedly anonymised data to insurance companies, The Telegraph reports that Jeremy Hunt will legally bar the NHS from selling patient data for commercial use:

The NHS will be legally barred from selling personal medical records for   insurance and commercial purposes in a new drive to protect patient privacy,   the Health Secretary will announce next week.

Jeremy Hunt will unveil new laws to ensure that medical records can only be   released when there is a “clear health benefit” rather than for “purely   commercial” use by insurers and other companies.

Still seems to have left  himself a loophole to do it anyway. The Guardian also reports on it as does the Daily Mail. The Independent have an utterly different take on  the same issue with:  NHS chief Sir David Nicholson’s experimentations with Twitter cause upset again as he posts a spoof video comparing one of his top officials to Hitler.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports on a Three-week wait to see your doctor: Millions of patients are denied a prompt appointment to see their GP. The bullet  points are:

  • Daily Mail survey shows one in three  cannot get a same-day appointment
  • One in five fail to get a consultation  within seven days
  • Royal College of GPs say patient safety  could be compromised
  • Experts say GPs are ‘struggling’ in the  face of an ageing population
  • Patient group says urgent action needed  to prevent extra pressure on A&E
  • New guidelines will urge GPs to offer  phone consultations
  • Survey asked 11,019 adults how long they  waited when they last saw a GP

Labour, Harman and  Hewitt

They are coming in for a pasting from most corners. The Telegraph has  two leaders  on the topic, one from ex-Labour man Dan Hodges: NCCL paedophilia scandal: Patricia Hewitt’s apology blows Harriet Harman’s last defence out of the water.  He  says:

Just what do Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey think they’re doing? Yesterday I wrote a piece questioning their former NCCL colleague Patricia Hewitt, and the way she had failed to respond to the evidence of links between that organisation and PIE, the front organisation for a group of 1970s child abusers. “Unless there is some practical personal reason none of us are aware of for Hewitt not facing her accusers, she’s left her former colleagues, and her former party, swinging in the wind,” I wrote.

Well, late yesterday – and to her credit – Hewitt responded to those accusations with a concise and no-nonsense apology. “NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’,” she said. “As general secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.”

That statement has two immediate consequences. First, it brings closure on the issue for Patricia Hewitt. And secondly it makes Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey’s current stance totally untenable.

Toby Young wades in from the right with: Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey will have to resign showing an NCCL press release from 1976:

Harman Hewitt  Paedo

Harman and Dromey’s handling of this scandal has been an object lesson in how not to do it. If Harman had taken the opportunity to apologise when she was interviewed on Newsnight on Monday, this story would have gone away by now. Instead, the nation woke up to the headline on the front page of The Sun on Friday morning: <Sun headline: Labour Chiefs: It’s OK to have sex with 10 year  olds>

The Guardian runs with Patricia Hewitt backed NCCL policy of lowering age of consent and The Independent has a similar story.

Education

The Telegraph has a piece on  School admissions saying: up to 12 pupils compete for each place:

Tens of thousands of pupils face missing out on their favoured secondary   school after the most sought-after institutions were flooded with as many as 12 applications for each place.  One in seven children in England – around 76,000 – are likely to be forced to   accept second, third or even fourth-choice schools amid mounting competition   between pupils.

Demand for places is most fierce at an elite band of grammar schools and   state-funded academies which often draw applications from families living several miles away. Figures obtained by the Telegraph show that more than 10 pupils were chasing   each place at some schools, rising as high as 12 in one case.

UKIP

Most of the papers report Nigel Farage’s keynote speech at the Spring Conference: The Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Express, Daily Mail. The Telegraph quotes  this element of Mr Farage’s speech:

“It’s ordinary folk, it’s ordinary families that are paying the financial price. But what about the social price of this? The fact that in scores of our cities and market towns, this country in a short space of time has frankly become unrecognisable. Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more. This is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”

The full speech has not been loaded to Youtube yet, but there are some clips on the UKIP website homepage, but even the BBC reports  on the speech – ominously, comments have been closed (and invisible) as they seem to have been mostly pro-UKIP’s position on immigration.

Immigration

And while we are on that topic, Daily Express columnist Douglas Murray exclaims: 

SCAREMONGERING! That was the accusation from certain quarters when this paper warned about further relaxing of EU border controls. “Scare tactics” they said, over warnings that lax border controls would mean an increase in the thousands of Eastern Europeans already coming to this country.

“What happened to your migration wave?” they taunted in the first days of January when the whole of Romania and Bulgaria did not move to the UK in two days (as if anyone ever claimed they would). How they sneered.

And yet the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are in. And once again it is those who have warned of an increase in the number of immigrants who have been proved right and the sneering mass-immigration lobby who have been proved wrong.

The Poor

The Guardian has an answer as to why the some of the poor are poor: England’s poorest spend £13bn on gambling machines:

More than £13bn was gambled on high-speed, high-stakes gambling machines by the poorest quarter of England’s population – double the amount staked in the richest areas, according to a study obtained by the Guardian.

The report, to be released next week in parliament, reveals that in the 55 most deprived boroughs of the country – overwhelmingly concentrated in northern cities and urban London – high streets were lined with 2,691 betting shops in which £13bn was gambled or staked on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) by punters, and £470m of that lost, last year.

By comparison, there were 1,258 bookmakers in shopping centres in the 115 richest districts, containing the same population – mainly in rural areas and urban commuter belts – where players staked £6.5bn, losing £231m, in the same 12 months.

Climate

Quite amazingly, The Independent reports that Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore tells US Senate there is “no proof” humans cause climate change.

The Canadian ecologist told US lawmakers there is “little correlation” to support a “direct causal relationship” between CO2 emissions and rising global temperatures.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” he told a US Senate Committee “If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

He also criticised the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for claiming “it is extremely likely” that human activity is the “dominant cause” for global warning, noting that “extremely likely” is not a scientific term.

Music to our ears.

The Burqa

No, it’s not a UKIPper  being reported, it’s  a Tory. The Daily Express reports that Tory MP Philip Hollobone urges ban of full-face Muslim veils in public.

Philip Hollobone was putting forward a Bill seeking to prohibit the wearing of face coverings, in particular the Muslim veil and balaclavas. Presenting his Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill, the Kettering MP expressed regret that his campaign had “come to this”.

Speaking during the bill’s second reading, he said: “But there’s growing concern amongst my constituents and across the country about the increasing number of people who are going about in public places covering their faces and this is causing alarm and distress to many people.”

2014 Budget

The Mirror reckons it knows what is in Osborne’s 2014 Budget:

Expect to see measures taken to increase exports and to secure more business  investment. Don’t expect to see any deviation from the overall strategy of austerity  though, with cutting the budget deficit still Osborne’s primary goal.

In terms of tax the Chancellor already announced his intention to raise the  standard personal allowance to £10,000, an increase for basic rate  taxpayers. This increase is slated to go ahead in April 2014. There have been calls for changes to National Insurance, while business  chiefs have been vocal on the need to combat the problem of youth  unemployment.

The recent floods are sure to feature high on the agenda, with an increase in  the money put aside for defences expected.

 

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