'Holiday chaos', Google scrutiny, Le Tour de Yorkshire and George Osborne's sums

  • 4 July 2014
Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri Image copyright Reuters

With warnings of a "credible" terrorist threat leading the US to urge tighter security at airports worldwide, the papers consider the source of the danger.

The Daily Express describes a hunt for Saudi-born Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who it describes as a "plane bomber". The Times calls al-Asiri the "chemistry student whose ambition is to blow up the West" and lists the methods behind his previous plots, including sending explosive printer cartridges by mail, placing explosives in a would-be bomber's underpants and also inside his brother's anal cavity.

The Daily Mail's profile of the 32-year-old explains that he "turned his own brother into a bomb" by implanting metal-free explosives into his body for an assassination attempt on a Saudi Arabian prince.

"Although the device went off as planned, Abdullah succeeded in killing only himself and not his target," it reports.

The Daily Telegraph's Con Coughlin describes al-Asiri - a leading figure in the Yemeni-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular - as a "genius". He writes: "His latest technique is to use an explosive known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which has no odour, and therefore foils sniffer dogs and X-ray machines."


Lengthy delays?

Image copyright PA

The papers are in no doubt as to what the threat means for most Britons. "Holiday chaos" lies in store, according to the Mail, while the Telegraph says "invasive physical checks and lengthy delays" will greet passengers checking in at airports. The i, meanwhile, quotes Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggesting that the extra checks are likely to be permanent.

Times cartoonist Peter Brookes imagines the consequences for travellers to the States. Noting the date - 4 July, US Independence Day - he depicts the Statue of Liberty being rather too enthusiastically frisked by three airport security officers.

While accepting that some inconvenience is likely, the Daily Mirror insists that major disruption is not acceptable. "Foiling terror attacks should not mean lengthy delays if airport bosses employ enough staff to carry out more thorough checks," it argues. Richard Littlejohn, in the Mail, wonders whether the "security blitz" is necessary, before concluding: "Bombs or no bombs, every time our daily lives are disrupted it's another small victory for the terrorists."

However, in spelling out what the measures mean for travellers in the Independent, Simon Calder writes that the rules on what can be taken in cabin baggage have not changed, that early evidence suggests delays will be minor and that the heightened security will "probably not" be permanent.


Google bamboozled?

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Google is under scrutiny in Friday's papers, with the Guardian reporting that media organisations - including the BBC - have accused the internet search engine of a "clumsy" approach to obeying Europe's new "right to be forgotten". The paper spells out the many thousands of requests for removal of links by country, with more than 14,000 in France and nearly 8,500 from the UK.

And some papers report theories that there might be something more to the technology giant's approach to the rules, which allow people to request that "irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate" material be hidden from search results. "Is Google censoring just to save money?" asks the Daily Mail, saying some had accused the firm of "taking an over-zealous approach... because it was 'cheaper just to say yes' to all demands".

The Independent quotes a European Commission spokesman suggesting that Google might be misinterpreting the ruling "by deleting links to apparently harmless news articles in a bid to whip up anger against 'censorship'". The paper goes over the stories from its own website that have been affected. Google has insisted it looks at each request on merit.

The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh attacks the law as "another chilling blow to free speech". Noting that it only applies to searches in Europe, he says people across the continent will be barred from "knowing the truth about someone who might be a threat to them" while the rest of the world will get the information at the touch of a button.

And in the Daily Mirror, media law consultant David Banks complains: "You cannot rewrite history. But now thanks to the EU, you can have a good go at hiding it." However, he has an easy tip for finding any missing material: "Just go to Google.com (linked from the bottom-right of Google home pages) and you'll get the US version. Thanks to America's First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech you will still get undoctored search results."

Meanwhile, the Express points out that celebrities including singers Sir Paul McCartney, Lily Allen and Katherine Jenkins have had their homes "wiped" from Google's online mapping service Street View. The firm points out that it provides tools allowing subjects to request blurring of "any image that features the user, their family, their car or their home".


Allez ey-up

Image copyright Getty Images

"A reet grand tour," is how the Daily Mirror sums up Yorkshire folk's enthusiasm for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. Saturday's event is previewed by most of the papers, with the Daily Star issuing the rallying call: "On your Tyke."

Image copyright Reuters

Pictures of cafes given red and white-spotted King of the Mountains-style makeovers, sheep with their fleece sprayed in the yellow of the leader's jersey and roadside models of Paris's Eiffel Tower appear in many papers.

"Three million spectators are expected to brave the showers and line the route of the two Yorkshire stages over the weekend," reports the Times. The Telegraph reckons: "Yorkshire embraces Tour de Dales but South gives a Gallic shrug." Residents in Cambridge, which will host the start of stage three, have reportedly been complaining about road closures and losing trade.

Not so in God's Own Country, it seems. "Yorkshire folk cash in on t'Tour," says the Daily Mail, predicting a £100m boost to the economy and suggesting some of the "notoriously thrifty" locals are renting out homes along the route for as much as £10,000.

Even cricket clubs are getting in on the act, according to the Financial Times: "Stumps are being uprooted to make way for tent pegs as village clubs try to cash in on [the] bonanza."

However, according to the Guardian, "the cyclists are here but it's slow going at the hotels". It says one booking website was still offering rooms at 37 hotels, 35 guest houses and 20 B&Bs within nine miles of the race start in Leeds as of Thursday night and quotes campsite owners suggesting the expected demand had not materialised.


Sum formidable opponent

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Political correspondents are well used to politicians evading questions but there are raised eyebrows in the press at Chancellor George Osborne ducking a quiz on his times tables from a seven-year-old during a TV interview.

"You might assume the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a head for numbers," says the Daily Mail. "But he apparently met his match in seven-year-old Sam Raddings, who asked him: 'What's 7x8?'"

Times sketchwriter Ann Treneman captured the response: "The chancellor pointed his finger at Samuel. 'I'm not going to get into a whole string of those!' he cried... George now announced another fiscal rule. 'I've made it a rule in life not to answer a load of maths questions!' he announced... I can just see him telling [Chief Secretary to the Treasury] Danny Alexander: 'Don't ask me about the deficit! I don't do maths questions! You know that'."

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell re-imagines quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as a competition to be chancellor. Asked the multiplication sum, his version of Mr Osborne chooses "none of your business" over the correct answer and alternatives including "you tell me".

The Mirror's headline reads simply: "Sum mothers do 'ave 'em..."

However, if the papers are a little uneasy about the chancellor's maths, they are equally concerned about the shadow business secretary's geography. The Daily Mail recalls Labour wooing "Worcester woman" but notes that Chuka Umunna told the local radio station this week: "I doubt most people on the streets in Hereford and Wichita know what a local enterprise partnership is about."

"What's in a name? Well, only about 4,400 miles," says the Independent's Andy McSmith. According to the Sun, "it was particularly embarrassing for Mr Umunna as his first official visit in his frontbench role was to a factory - in Worcester".


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