'Boom time' and fireworks on front pages

Fireworks explode over Westminster

Few of New Year's Day's newspapers can resist showing off some fireworks on their front pages and the Sun's "Boom Time!" headline describes David Cameron's suggestion that the UK can return to prosperity.

Inside, it declares "What a funderful world!" against a picture spread of the world's biggest pyrotechnic displays.

"Happy chew year" is how the Daily Star sums up celebrations in London, where thousands of people lining the banks of the Thames were able to "see, smell and even taste the celebrations" thanks to clouds of fruity mist and banana-flavoured confetti.

"Forget Big Ben and Auld Lang Syne," says the Independent, as it rounds up other nations' new year customs. They include writing a wish on paper, burning it and drinking it in champagne at 12.01am (Russia), banging pots and pans (New Zealand) and smashing old crockery against friends' front doors (Denmark).

And the Guardian examines the new rules and bylaws coming into power with the dawn of 2014.

It says use of car headlights during daylight is now mandatory in Switzerland, which is holding a competition to find a new national anthem, Botswana has banned commercial hunting, and the Boy Scouts of America has lifted a ban on openly gay members.

Reason to be cheerful?

Several papers find cause for cautious optimism, including the Daily Telegraph which sees a steady economic recovery for European countries outside the eurozone.

"Our economy is likely to outperform our neighbours in 2014. We also have a stake in America's leadership and Asia's success... On balance we can safely feel cheerful," it says.

Mr Cameron, writing in the Times, is in bullish mood. "2014 is when we start to turn Britain into the flagship post-Great Recession success story. A country that is on the rise," he says. However, the paper's editorial points out that the prime minister must convince people "all parts of the nation" will benefit from any recovery.

The Daily Mirror presses the point more strongly in its leader column, saying: "There will be no economic recovery worth the name unless living standards improve for hardworking Britons who deserve a decent day's pay for a decent day's toil."

While the Daily Star makes mention of the growing economy and falling unemployment, its "reasons to be cheerful" focus in the main on sport - the Winter Olympics, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and World Cup - and the forthcoming series of Big Brother.

Reason to be fearful?

The Star has "reasons to be fearful", however. "The invasion has started," it says, referring to the relaxation of visa restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants at the turn of the year and suggesting police have warned of a "mass crimewave".

The Daily Express is in Jilava, Romania, from where it predicts a "stampede of eastern Europeans coming [to the UK] for benefits and jobs". It gives space to Eurosceptic Conservative MP Peter Bone who, referring to pressure on schools, hospitals and housing, says: "An influx of new immigrants will make the situation intolerable."

And the Daily Telegraph says the rule change will open the door to hundreds of thousands of people from poor, non-EU countries to find jobs in Britain. It says that Romania and Bulgaria offer passports to descendants of their nations born in Moldova and Macedonia, as well as some Serbs, Ukrainians and Turks.

For economist David Blanchflower, writing in the Mirror, the "anti-foreigner spin is vile and without merit". He says: "UKIP and the Tories have both disgracefully been trying to scare people that millions are going to come from these two countries in search of benefits. None of the evidence points to a flood of either benefits or job seekers."

And the Times says British firms are recruiting thousands of Romanian workers to plug gaps in the highly skilled jobs market and fill posts spurned by Britons. It examines adverts offering a "passport to prosperity" for Romanian workers through jobs for carpenters, hospitality workers and even topless dancers, and says that while many are at minimum wage level, it still adds up to seven times the equivalent at home.

With one eye on England's failure in the Ashes, Telegraph cartoonist Matt sketches an airport arrival desk, with a border guard shouting: "Come to the front of the queue if you can play cricket."

Icy passage

The saga of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, the research ship marooned in Antarctic ice, is providing plenty for the papers to get their teeth into.

"Ice ship: Now the rescue team needs to be rescued," is how the Daily Mirror describes the latest development, involving a Chinese icebreaker becoming stuck within sight of the ship which has been stuck since Christmas Eve.

One of four journalists on board the Shokalskiy, Alok Jha, writes in the Guardian about how the collective scientists, reporters and tourists went out onto the ice, "formed a chain at one side, linked arms and proceeded to stomp, in formation, across the snow, compressing the powder under their feet". This, he explained, was how to make a helipad in Antarctica.

The passengers apparently sang songs, including a festive Auld Lang Syne, as they tramped down the snow in preparation for a rescue helicopter to land.

In the Daily Mail, James Delingpole enjoys the "exquisitely ironic saga of the eco-campaigners trying to highlight global warming and melting ice caps being trapped".

Window shopping

As football's January transfer window slides open, the sports pages are abuzz with predictions about who might be on the move.

The Guardian sets out what it says are Europe's "top 20 targets" - headed by Gonzalo Higuain, who's reported to be a £45m target for Chelsea.

But the Telegraph reckons the manager at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho, might not have much of a transfer budget at all after Chelsea recorded a £50m loss in the last year.

The Portuguese might even have to sell some of his players before he can buy, suggests the Times.

Meanwhile, the Sun reckons it would take £120m to prize star striker Luis Suarez from Liverpool. The paper says former Anfield legend Ian Rush "let slip" that the Uruguayan has a release clause allowing him to leave should another club bid that sum, if Liverpool don't qualify for the Champions League.

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