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Newspaper review: US spy row pressure on ministers

Papers

The Guardian talks of ministers coming under mounting pressure to explain whether they authorised GCHQ to gather intelligence on British citizens from the world's biggest internet companies.

The former Tory home affairs spokesman, David Davis, tells the paper it's perfectly reasonable to ask the Foreign Secretary, William Hague: "Did you, or did you not" authorise the intercepts?

The Times and the Independent also lead on the story. The Times says MPs from all three main parties are demanding that the home secretary appear in the Commons on Monday to explain how much ministers knew - and how many British citizens could be affected.

The Independent believes the number could run in to thousands. "Everybody is entitled to privacy," says an editorial in the Daily Mirror, "unless they are identified as a national security threat."

According to the Times there are calls for a ban on sales of British teargas to Turkey, where the paper says it has been used on peaceful protesters.

It says questions are being raised about the role of the British government in facilitating the supply of crowd control equipment to the country, where the government faces criticism for its heavy-handed response.

Private practice

David Cameron is to reshuffle his cabinet in five weeks' time, the Sun says it can reveal. A new chief whip is apparently top of the list for the shake-up, with the ex-defence secretary, Liam Fox, or former energy minister John Hayes tipped to take over.

Appointing Dr Fox, the paper says, would allow Mr Cameron to build bridges with the Tory right, who are "seething over Europe and gay marriage".

The Daily Express sees figures published yesterday showing a boom in exports to non-EU countries as proof that Britain doesn't need the EU.

Sales of British goods to the world's fast-growing countries rocketed by more than 11% last year, it says, while exports to the 26 European Union countries fell by 1.5%. "Our escape from its clutches," says the Express, "is only a matter of time."

The lead in the Daily Telegraph claims that middle-class professionals typically pay more than £200,000 toward Britain's welfare benefits bill in the course of their working lives.

It says that's roughly double the amount they also contribute towards the National Health Service.

According to the Daily Mail, a private surgery run by doctors from Poland is attracting thousands of patients who've "given up on the NHS".

The paper says the modern, spotless clinic in west London is open seven days a week, usually till 23:00, and charges £70 a visit.

Benefits 'blizzard'

Over in the Independent it's claimed that vulnerable people are being "driven to despair" by Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms - and that the number of people seeking urgent advice about benefits problems is soaring.

The paper says it's been given figures showing a surge in people contacting Citizens Advice asking for help to navigate a "blizzard" of benefits changes in England and Wales.

And the CAB tells the paper that too many people are having their benefits stopped "because they don't understand what is required of them".

The Sun talks of a "furore" over a visit by David Cameron yesterday to the annual meeting of the "top secret" Bilderberg Group, taking place at Watford in Hertfordshire.

The paper says Downing Street refused to discuss the prime minister's presence at what it calls the "clandestine meeting" - despite a long-standing pledge of transparency.

Other politicians at the three-day meeting, it says, include Chancellor George Osborne, the veteran cabinet minister Ken Clarke and the shadow chancellor Ed Balls. The Daily Mail calls it "shadowy" - and quotes Downing Street saying it's acting with "unprecedented openness" by confirming his attendance.

Plight of the hungry

"Pay your dues now" says an editorial in the Daily Mirror. Its order is aimed at Vodafone, which it was revealed yesterday paid no corporation tax despite a turnover of £5bn and operating profits of £294m.

The paper says the company should pay its taxes like its 19 million UK customers have to. The Guardian points out that the company paid £2.6bn of tax in other countries and distributed £4.8bn to shareholders.

The Daily Mirror interviews a 10-year-old boy who has just returned from Malawi, where he befriended a boy his own age who never gets enough to eat.

When Ayrton Cable, from Twickenham in south-west London, got back home to Britain, he headed straight over to see his grandad to ask him what he was going to do about it - his grandad being the Business Secretary, Vince Cable.

Mr Cable apparently promised his grandson he'd asked David Cameron to raise the plight of the hungry at next week's G8 meeting of world leaders.

'Photo-bombed'

According to the Daily Telegraph, almost half of British men still have a hoard of music cassettes or records from their youth - despite no longer having the equipment to play them.

And 40% still have a library of films on VHS or Betamax tapes despite upgrading to DVD, Blu-ray and streaming via the internet. The same is true of old photos and slides and, in a survey, two thirds said they'd like to transfer all this old material to up-to-date formats - but lacked time and know-how.

There are pictures galore of the Queen paying the BBC a visit yesterday as she opened the BBC's rebuilt central London headquarters - just a couple of streets away from the hospital where the Duke of Edinburgh will spend the next fortnight.

"The Queen keeps calm and carries on," says the Daily Telegraph, "as the Duke has an operation."

Similar sentiments appear in the Sun, which says it's typical of the Queen, the embodiment of the British stiff upper lip.

The Daily Mirror says she "put John Humphrys in his place" when he asked after the health of the Duke of Edinburgh - and calls it "broadcasting gold".

Several of the front pages show the moment she walked towards the glass separating the BBC's News Channel studio from the newsroom as the presenters swivelled round in their chairs to see her.

"She's behind you" says the caption in the Telegraph. Paul Harris in the Daily Mail calls it a surreal moment in broadcasting history in which the Queen "photo-bombed" a news bulletin.

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