'Pushy patients' and abortion pills - the papers

Two very different health stories stand out among a mixed bag of headlines on Saturday.

The head of "NHS rationing body" NICE tells the Daily Telegraph that British patients should follow the example of their US cousins and be more "pushy" about the medication they want from their GPs.

The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, has a warning about potentially dangerous abortion pills available to buy online - potentially by "desperate teen girls" - for just 78p.

Warnings abound elsewhere too - in the Financial Times, they relate to vulnerable emerging economies in the face of a currency shock, while for the Daily Express, it's the weather we should all be worrying about.

Saturday's i accuses David Cameron of "fiddling" figures which suggested most Britons were better off in 2013. Discussing that and other stories for the BBC News Channel paper review, James Miller, from the Sunday Post, said: "This is another dodgy data story. We've also had questions over crime stats this week and questions over health stats.

"So the government can sit and tell us everything is turning round, but if they also keep getting caught out with dodgy stats, it maybe explains why people are less inclined to believe the corner has been turned."

Louise Court, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, said "people still feel they're in a recession and they're still behaving that way".

And she added: "It's quite dangerous territory for the government to go out and bang the drum [like this]... they're asking people to take pot shots at them, aren't they?"

'Fast and loose'?

"Maybe the mountain air of Davos... gave David Cameron altitude sickness... Either that or his cynical distortion of statistics to create a big lie is utterly shameful." That's the Daily Mirror's take on figures released by the government, which the PM says show most people were better off in 2013. The paper says the statistics "play fast and loose with the truth".

The Guardian, more starkly, says it is "simply not true" that wages rose faster than inflation. "The government," its leader says, "is not pushing these claims because it wishes to win an intellectual argument but because it is trying to win a political one."

The Independent agrees. It says the figures "had been spun to Conservative-supporting newspapers - resulting in favourable, unquestioning headlines" and "withheld" from the rest of the press.

On the opposite side of the fence, the Daily Mail welcomes the news - and indeed the "good week" the coalition has had in general - but says Mr Cameron's "greatest challenge, with less than 16 months before polling day, is to surmount the negativity of the BBC and get the good news across to voters".

Far from trying to hard to sell it, though, the Daily Telegraph's Charles Moore warns: "It is essential - not least for their own good - that no smug smile returns to those smooth Conservative faces." He says a recovery may well be happening, but "voters will only believe it when they feel it" and "they do not feel it yet".

Finally, the Times' cartoon shows Mr Cameron banging a drum labelled "People better off in real terms". Below that, in small print, are the words "conditions apply".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption You two: David Cameron and Bono rub shoulders at the World Economic Forum in Davos

New Balls?

The shadow chancellor will pledge later to balance the UK's books and deliver a current budget surplus by 2020 if Labour wins the next election.

The Sun calls this "a major U-turn on cuts". Its leader goes on: "Now we know why Ed Balls has been so subdued. He's been quietly facing up to the realisation that if he can't beat George Osborne he'll have to join him." The paper says it welcomes Mr Balls' "arrival in the real world".

Labour has "hailed" it as "a significant toughening of the party's fiscal policy", says the Independent, while more personally, "it will be seen as Mr Balls' response to internal Labour sniping at his performance since the economy has returned to growth".

The Times says the move is Labour's attempt "to claw back economic credibility". But, its leader argues, Mr Balls' new focus on fixing the public finances is at odds with Ed Miliband's mission to remake British capitalism - for example, with his plan last week to "redraw the market for retail banking". It says there is "understandable concern" among British business - and those gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum - that the two men "do not speak on this question with one voice".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Seeing double: Almost every paper features the reunion of two of van Gogh's Sunflowers paintings for the first time in 65 years

'Sheepish president'

The papers have fun with the first meeting between Francois Hollande and Pope Francis in light of recent allegations about the French president's infidelity.

The Sun adds its own speech bubbles. "Is there any chance of forgiveness?" asks Mr Hollande. "Sorry, I can't perform miracles," replies His Holiness.

As the Daily Telegraph puts it: "The father of four who has never married met the leader of an institution for whom marriage and fidelity remain the bedrock of society."

"The somewhat sheepish French president", is how the Daily Mail describes him. The headline above reads: "Ah, Mr President, maybe we need to have a chat about sin."

From the Guardian's standpoint, the Pontiff's disapproval was clear. "Pope Francis likes to play the role of friendly grandfather.... but if it was a friendly face that Francois Hollande was counting on for his first, rather ill-timed trip to the Vatican, he will have been disappointed. The French president was met at the apostolic palace yesterday by a face that was more thunder than divine light."

Image copyright Other
Image caption "Parade of horrors": The Times thinks the Sochi Games have already "won gold for bad taste" thanks to the team outfits. These beauties belong to the USA and Norway

Currency concerns

"The salad days for the emerging markets is over," declares the Financial Times, after currencies slumped around the world, especially Latin America. Its editorial argues the devaluing may well be necessary, but there are "good and bad ways" to do it. "In the blue corner are reform-minded countries characterised by generally prudent policy making, such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru." But "in the red corner, stand more populist countries, such as Argentina and Venezuela, which squandered the past decade's boom and now face the consequences".

The Times agrees that "no government can wish away the laws of arithmetic" and Argentina's President Fernandez de Kirchner's "inflationary policies have squeezed living standards, undermined confidence in the currency and sparked a flight of capital out of the country".

In its analysis, the Guardian says the Argentina situation "can be read one of two ways. Either it is a sign that the financial crisis of 2008 has a sting in the tail. Or it is the start of a new one."

'Cricket shock'

There is much incredulity and some pleasure in the papers at England's first win during the cricket tour of Australia.

"This display goes to show what the team are capable of," says Dean Wilson, in the Daily Mirror, singling out Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler for most praise after the match.

"For captain Alastair Cook, who has been shell-shocked at times by events in this Ashes winter, the overriding emotion was deep relief," writes Jim Holden, in the Daily Express.

But the joy is rather more heavy with sarcasm in the Sun. "Only 86 days into England's cricket tour Down Under and we've already won our first match. Not one of those trivial over-hyped 'Tests' either. This was a full-blown fifth one-day international against a team containing quite a few top Australian players."

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