Ukraine Crisis

Dozens killed in Odessa fire as violence spreads to country’s south the Telegraph reports.

Dozens have died in a building fire in Ukraine after a clash between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters in the Black Sea port of Odessa.

Ukrainian authorities said 31 people died in the blaze at the city’s trade union building on Friday evening. Twenty-three of the victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning and eight died after leaping from upper storey windows to escape the flames, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The Guardian and The Independent also report.

The Telegraph also has a report Europe must increase defence spending in face of Russian aggression, warns Chuck Hagel, who is the USA’s Defence Secretary.

Editor’s Note: With RAF jets being deployed to the Baltic states, we have to hope that the Coalition does not get war fever into its veins and allow NATO to militarily take on Russia.

UKIP

Dan Hodges, the Telegraph’s tame socialist, continues his ranting attacks on our party with Jeremy Clarkson and ‘n****r’, Ukip and Romanians: is this really 2014?

It’s now just under a fortnight since Ukip launched their European election campaign. And in that time our carefully – some would say painfully – constructed consensus on what is acceptable discourse on the issue of race has been shattered. Smashed to dust in 11 days.

One of the arguments most often used over that period – during which there has been a ferocious debate about the racist nature of Ukip’s campaign – is that the word “racism” is actually used to stifle debate. It’s thrown presumptively in the face of anyone who dares to raise any legitimate issue, from increases in immigration to the nature of Britishness.

Mind you, the reader’s comments show almost outright rejection of his views.

Privacy

The Guardian continues with their privacy crusade: Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

“It’s no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.”

Islamic Schools

Islamist plot to infiltrate schools ‘widespread across UK’, heads warn says the Telegraph.

Schools across Britain are likely to have been targeted in an alleged Islamist plot to take over classrooms, head teachers have warned. The National Association of Head Teachers said it had found “concerted efforts” to infiltrate at least six schools in Birmingham.

But the union also said that the scandal had “connections” to other large cities. The Telegraph understands that there are growing concerns about the possible infiltration of schools in Bradford, Manchester and parts of east London.

The Daily Mail has a slightly different angle on this with: Teachers are ‘gagged over Islamist plot for schools’: Dozens ‘pushed out’ by an alleged religious takeover

Health

The Guardian also covers the topic of UK child death rate among worst in western Europe, say experts

The UK has one of the highest death rates in western Europe among children younger than five, according to an international study whose authors express surprise at the poor figures for a country with free universal healthcare…

“We were surprised by these findings because the UK has made so many significant advances in public health over the years,” said Dr Christopher Murray, the institute’s director and the study’s senior author.

“The higher than expected child death rates in the UK are a reminder to all of us that, even as we are seeing child mortality decline worldwide, countries need to examine what they are doing to make sure more children grow into adulthood.”

Is it anything to do with static budgets, mass population and birth rate increases perhaps, Dr Murray? The Independent also covers the story.

EU

The Guardian presents its own manifesto for a reformed Europe, from author Thomas Piketty.

The European Union is experiencing an existential crisis, as the European elections will soon brutally remind us. This mainly involves the eurozone countries, which are mired in a climate of distrust and a debt crisis that is very far from over: unemployment persists and deflation threatens. Nothing could be further from the truth than imagining that the worst is behind us.

This is why we welcome with great interest the proposals made at the end of 2013 by our German friends from the Glienicke group for strengthening the political and fiscal union of the eurozone countries….Through this manifesto, we would like to contribute to the debate on the democratic future of Europe and take the proposals of the Glienicke group still further.

It is time to recognise that Europe’s existing institutions are dysfunctional and need to be rebuilt. The central issue is simple: democracy and the public authorities must be enabled to regain control of and effectively regulate 21st century globalised financial capitalism.

Big Business

The Independent raises an important news item with an exclusive: Pfizer insider warns that its takeover of UK drugs giant could be ‘devastating’

The row over Pfizer’s £63 billion takeover bid for the British drugs company AstraZeneca intensified last night as the predator’s own former top scientist railed against the way the US firm’s takeovers destroy research teams and stop the creation of new medicines.

Dr John LaMattina’s concerns about the damage his former company’s takeover sprees were doing to medical laboratories around the world fuelled fresh condemnation of the Viagra maker’s assault on AstraZeneca, which employs 7,000 staff in the UK and is a key part of the life sciences industry.

Yesterday, ministers appeared to give the deal their blessing after Pfizer gave assurances that it would not pull the plug on AstraZeneca’s jobs and research plans.

China Property

The Telegraph’s economics expert, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, has been a siren voice warning of potential global economic  disasters in his columns, and now he has another one with Chinese anatomy of a property boom on its last legs.

So now we know what China’s biggest property developer really thinks about the Chinese housing boom. A leaked recording of dinner speech by Vanke Group’s vice-chairman Mao Daqing more or less confirms what the bears have been saying for months. It is a dangerous bubble, and already deflating.

Prices in Beijing and Shanghai have reached the same extremes seen in Tokyo just before the Nikkei boom turned to bust, when the (quite small) Imperial Palace grounds were in theory worth more than California, and the British Embassy grounds (legacy of a good bet in the 19th Century) were worth as much as Wales.

Northern Ireland

The Independent asks a question on the Gerry Adams arrest: Is it possible to have justice and peace?

The arrest of Gerry Adams illustrates one possible way of reaching back into the past, using the long arm of the law. It illustrates how tangled the issue of the past can become. For example, loyalist paramilitaries who cheer his detention have in recent years rioted when they themselves have faced sectarian murder charges… this is highly controversial territory politically, legally and emotionally. It is clear that many people differentiate between different types of perpetrators and different types of victims.

The Adams story is also covered in The Guardian, The Express and the Daily Mail, the latter also with this disturbing report: The secret royal pardons for IRA terrorists: MP attacks ‘cover-up’ after it’s revealed 365 people have been given amnesties in Northern Ireland since 1979.

Crime

The Independent also claims that Police are failing to record rape complaints as crimes.

Up to a third of all rape allegations made to police in some parts of London were never recorded as crimes at all last year, disturbing new figures reveal today.

Statistics released to The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show that in 2013, officers working for the Metropolitan Police classified 22 per cent of the 4,339 rape reports they received as either “crime-related incidents” or “no crimes”.

BBC

The Mail manages to find its own ‘real’ news item with: BBC admits one in eight staff are paid too much as wage bill for junior staff soars by £35MILLION in three years.

  • The Corporation has admitted overpaying one in eight of its employees

  • It has also allowed wage bill for junior staff to soar by £35m in three years

  • BBC has repeatedly boasted that it is cutting back on top-level salaries

  • But thousands of employees now earn more than their pay grade allows

Sex Discrimination

The Express reports on: RAF nurse wins £560k payout from Ministry of Defence in sex discrimination row.

The huge award to Group Captain Wendy Williams ­provoked outrage last night against the Ministry of Defence. The mother of hero Paratrooper Ben Parkinson – who was given £570,000 despite 37 life-changing injuries – told the Daily Express: “We don’t understand why wounded soldiers’ lives are seen as so much cheaper than everyone else’s.”

Group Captain Williams, 54, who helped treat injured personnel such as Lance Bombardier Parkinson, took the MoD to an employment tribunal after accusing the RAF of favouring men for promotion. She complained she was not selected for the position of Commodore in the Defence Medical Group because of her sex.

Politician’s Expenses

The Mirror rails at a Tory Lord, reporting that Lord Hanningfield claims he had to fiddle expenses to look after his CHICKENS.

Pilfering peer Lord Hanningfield faced new shame after trying to use his chickens as an excuse for diddling the taxpayer of thousand of pounds. The brazen baron has been called before the Privileges and Conduct Committee after being exposed by the Mirror over a “clock-in, clock-out” scam to claim his attendance allowance.

Sleaze watchdogs were said to be stunned when he attempted to justify his actions by saying he needed the cash to hire a man to look after his hens while he was in Westminster. Now the former jailbird is set to be kicked out of Parliament for a year and forced to repay the money we caught him fiddling.

Syria

The Mirror also manages to find its own ‘real’ news story with a video: British jihadists in Syria filmed carrying out executions and encouraging UK to help fund them.

Video footage has emerged that shows British fighters executing a prisoner in Syria believed to be an Assad loyalist. The unnamed men, dressed in balaclavas, say that the killing was revenge for the death of four rebels and rape of a woman. It was uncovered by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and is believed to have taken place near Raqqa, north Syria.

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