Liz Hurley's Bill Clinton denial, storms, Sochi and women MPs in press
- 6 February 2014
Images of Liz Hurley at a fancy dress party with former American President Bill Clinton appear on many front pages.
Picture editors dug out the nine-year-old photos after the actress denied the pair had an affair during the Democrat's time in the White House.
The Daily Star notes her "fury" at the "ludicrously silly" and "totally untrue" claims, made by her ex-boyfriend Tom Sizemore, which led her to threaten legal action against the website that published the tape of the Saving Private Ryan actor's interview.
It doesn't stop some tabloids having fun with their headlines. The Daily Mirror and Sun both rework the ex-Commander in Chief's infamous denial of an affair with intern Monica Lewinski to have Hurley saying: "I did not have sexual relations with that man."
The Mirror profiles the "tough guy actor" who made the claims, including his efforts to kick a drug habit on reality TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew, while columnist Alison Phillips accepts Hurley's statement that she had no affair but - pointing out Clinton's "incredible charisma" adds: "If she had, who could blame her?"
Trouble on the tracks
Most papers carry powerful picture spreads illustrating how storms lashed much of the UK on Wednesday. Much attention is focused on the coastal section of the London-to-Penzance railway line at Dawlish, Devon, where the tracks were left "hanging in mid-air", as the Times's front page points out.
"Welcome to the English Riviera," says the Guardian, alongside another photograph of the mangled tracks. Other papers, such as the Daily Telegraph, feature the striking image of the church at Porthleven, in Cornwall, which was engulfed by waves.
The cartoonists indulge in dark humour, with the Daily Telegraph's Matt offering a new twist on a perennial winter transport story by picturing a man on a Dawlish platform reading a sign that says: "Trains cancelled - wrong sort of seaweed." Paul Thomas, in the Daily Express, has a mum reading Thomas the Tank Engine to her son at bedtime. The story goes: "'Glug, glug, glug,' said Thomas, as he pulled into Dawlish."
Meanwhile, the Times's Simon de Bruxelles captures the drama in Somerset, where police flying helicopters over the rain-soaked Levels "used megaphones to warn residents to evacuate their homes" as a reservoir threatened to flood them. And the Mirror has more bad news, as it points out a "new deluge" is to hit next week.
The continued outcry at a perceived lack of action by the Environment Agency prompted David Cameron to "take charge" of the flood response, ordering the quango to abandon its opposition to river dredging, says the Independent, which notes the prime minister's promise to spend an extra £100m on flood defences this year.
"If they have to double it or treble it, they should," says the Sun. "We must not be exposed to that next winter."
The continuing bad weather causes cartoonist Mac, in the Daily Mail, to picture a couple looking out of their window at bent trees, with the husband remarking: "They're saying it's the worst weather since the Great Storm of January 2014."
Prime Minister's Questions saw the birth of a new concept, according to the Independent's Donald MacIntyre: the photographic ambush. It involved six women squeezing onto Labour's front bench, opposite an all-male government line-up, and left Cameron "bruised by the battle of the sexes," according to the sketchwriter.
"Mili and his fillies," is how the Sun sums up Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband's surprise attack over the lack of women in the Conservative Party. The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts described the atmosphere as "like the opening day of the Debenhams sales combined with a St Trinian's lacrosse match".
Ann Treneman, in the Times, notes Mr Miliband's mocking that "they did not let women in the Bullingdon Club either" - a reference to the exclusive dining club Mr Cameron joined at Oxford University. Comparing the government front bench to a sports team, she says: "I could almost see the rugby players looking at each other furtively, wondering who had been in charge of token women placement that day."
Summing up the performance, the Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon said: "Baying delightedly, Labour MPs (66% of whom are men) pointed at Tory MPs (84% of whom are men). And so it was that the public gallery was treated to the spectacle of a party dominated by men mocking a party even more dominated by men."
The Sun stands up for the PM, saying in its leader column: "Do female floating voters pick parties based on how many senior women they have? For both genders, the economy is the clincher. And there, there's no contest."
Ready or not?
As events get under way at the Winter Olympics, controversy over host country Russia's "anti-gay" and blasphemy laws continues.
The Guardian reports that 200 prominent international authors have joined forces to condemn the restrictions on freedom of expression they say are the result of the legislation.
Inside, Russian Booker prize winner Lyudmila Ulitskaya writes about the "increasing sense of nationalism" which saw a TV station closed for asking a question about casualties at the Siege of Leningrad. "What is happening feels like an unwritten chapter from Orwell: we are right, we are always right, we are right in everything, and whoever questions the correctness of this is cursed," she says.
Meanwhile, the Guardian's Owen Gibson, in the Games' host city of Sochi, hears critics questioning whether the costs - said to be around £31bn - have spiralled out of control. Ben Hoyle, writing in the Times, finds much "left undone", with complaints from visitors including "hotels that were incomplete, taps flowing dirty water and pavements missing manhole covers".
In the Independent, Robin Scott-Elliot - who describes a Briton shown to his room to find workmen putting the finishing touches to it - wonders if Putin should ask for his money back.
On a happier note, no Winter Olympics coverage would be complete without reliving Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's gold medal-winning ice dance to Ravel's Bolero in 1984. And the Sun's Dan Wootton has an exclusive interview with the pair, who reveal they plan to perform the routine once more before retiring.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail previews the "craziest Olympics ever", featuring: "Bizarre outfits, no snow and Vanessa Mae on skis."
Making people click
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Guardian: Netflix to spend $3bn on TV and film content in 2014
Metro: Video: Little girl's adorable reaction to feeling rain on her face for the first time