The papers: Iraq, the NHS and Murray and the labradoodle

Once again, it's Iraq - its conflict, the Britons fighting there and the implications for UK security - which is the prevailing topic for our national newspapers.

The Independent devotes six pages to the conflict, which it calls "the great unravelling" of a country.

The paper says that Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned against US intervention in Iraq.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Ayatollah Khamenei's intervention could scupper the hopes of those who hoped for a US-Iranian raprochement

"US officials suspect that Iran wants to use its co-operation in political changes in Baghdad to extract concessions in negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme," the paper notes.

The ayatollah's view on US intervention certainly seems to merge with the mood of the American public, the paper reports.

It says "most Americans would rather forget where Iraq was on the map".

In an opinion piece in the Indy, Robert Fisk says oil politics has hidden who has been playing a leading role in the various waves of conflict in Iraq.

"There's been a stubborn refusal to accept that the revolt in Iraq has been going on for years - and that behind it all lies Saudi Arabia," he writes.

The Daily Telegraph says that MI6 and the CIA were alerted that the Isis insurgent group were planning a major assault on Iraqi government-held cities in the north of the country, but they "failed to act on it".

The paper says "there is a widespread sense in Iraq that Britain and America were so disillusioned by their failures in the [Iraq] war that they lowered their presence in the region."

Elsewhere, the Telegraph reports on potential links between the three Cardiff-based Britons whose presence among Isis militants was highlighted in a propaganda video shot by the group, and two other men from the same part of the Welsh capital, who are in prison for planning to blow up London's Stock Exchange.

The Daily Mail hypothesises that the Cardiff men may have been "radicalised" by attending a mosque in the city where a visiting Saudi Arabian cleric preached.

The man, Mohammed al-Arifi, has "called for a jihad in Syria" the paper says.

The Daily Express quotes a trustee at the mosque - the Al Manar Centre - who says "we're against going to Syria for the armed struggle and have spelt this out." He says the internet may have influenced the young men to join insurgent forces.

The Guardian says the former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox says the UK's spy agencies could be given more power.

Dr Fox comments: "If required, it is the first duty of the state to protect its citizens.

"The whole area of intercept needs to be looked at.

"We have got to have a real debate... between the libertarians who say the state mustn't get too powerful and pretty much the rest of us who say the state must protect itself."


'Fragmented NHS'

There is a "care crisis" within the NHS which can only be fixed by an urgent injection of £2bn, the Times reports in its lead story.

The figure comes from the British Medical Association which warns that without it there will be "longer waiting times and staff cuts as hospitals slide into the red," the paper says.

The doctors' union tell the paper "there is no vast pot of wasted billions in the NHS" and after £20bn in cuts over the past four years the service cannot cope with Britain's ageing population and the service needs more money in the next autumn mini-budget.

BMA head Dr Mark Porter told the Times that it was "economic illiteracy" to expect the NHS to improve without extra resources.

"The national health service is by objective measurement the most effective health service on the planet," he argues.

The Independent reports that "senior Liberal Democrats" have taken up cudgels within the coalition in support of the BMA's call.

A source within the government told the paper: "If there is chaos within the NHS four months before the election, we... can be put under huge pressure by NHS managers who realise they have leverage over us.

"If we act now, we can look proactive. It will even see the electorate agree with us about something."

Elsewhere, the paper notes a BMA claim that political parties use healthcare "to score points over the dispatch box" rather than "protect and improve" the service.

It says a poll shows that 66% of people asked would "like the NHS taken out of the hands of politicians".

The Daily Mirror goes into attack mode over the Health and Social Care Act - the legislation that opened parts of the NHS to private sector involvement.

It says the BMA reckon that 95% of senior doctors think the legislation - which the Mirror calls a "flagship Tory policy" - has not improved patient care, with GPs finding it harder to refer patients for treatment in a "fragmented" NHS.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham tells the paper that the act has turned the NHS into "the world's biggest quango".


Brandy

It's that man again! It's fair to say that a couple of months ago few British newspaper readers would be familiar with the former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker, but now his name is everywhere.

As the leading candidate to succeed Jose Manual Barroso as European Commission president, his credentials - and David Cameron's seeming impotence at stopping his rise to power - are much discussed.

As the Daily Mirror tells it, Mr Cameron's "bid to thwart new EU boss is left in tatters" in an "EUmiliation" for the prime minister.

The Daily Express says the seemingly unstoppable rise of Mr Juncker, who is seen as a keen "federalist" in European matters - is "a slap in the face for all voters".

Its leader comment adds: "Across Europe there is a clear wish to turn back the powers of the European face, something that was obvious through the support of eurosceptic parties in the recent European elections."

The attempt to "rubberstamp" Mr Juncker into the union's top job "highlights how divorced from reality EU officials have become".

The Guardian leads with the words of work secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who warns that the appointment of Mr Juncker in the face of British opposition would leave the chances of Britain remaining in the EU "very bleak".

The Times says European leaders are planning on "saving Private Cameron" by offering him a package of reforms to the EU as a "consolation" for having lost his bid to block the Luxembourger's ascendancy.

The Daily Telegraph says that Mr Cameron's position in Europe was left isolated because he had been "privately assured" by German and Italian leaders that they supported the British view, but then decided to endorse Mr Juncker.

The paper's leader column says if the PM's last ditch attempts to stop the appointment fail, it "will be a slight to the country."

"If Britain cannot stop a man who few think is any good from taking over the helm of Europe's bureaucracy, what hope what realistic chance is there of renegotiating this country's position in the EU," it asks.

Mr Juncker may have one Fleet Street ally though: in the Independent, columnist Matthew Norman says "right-leaning tabloids claimed over the weekend that the Luxembourger is a curmudgeonly heavy drinker and smoker who takes a drop of brandy for breakfast.

"What's wrong with any of that? Sounds reassuringly Churchillian to me."


Fox population

Wimbledon begins today, and before Andy Murray picks up a racket in anger, the papers go in for a stat attack on the British public's annual tennis love-in.

The Sun tells us that 54,250 tennis balls will have to be collected by the 250 ball boys and girls on duty; 38,500 spectators are in the grounds at peak capacity and 8,615 punnets of strawberries and 14,400 glasses of Pimm's will be demolished by said tennis-lovers.

It also records two things that may enhance the public's support for our defending champion.

It reports that Murray spotted and rescued a stray labradoodle when he was practising for his first round match against Belgium's David Goffin, telephoning the dog's delighted owner.

Image copyright AP
Image caption A labradoodle - similar to the one detained by Andy Murray this weekend

The Sun also says Murray has found time to guest edit The Beano this week, and stars in the comic alongside Dennis the Menace who is given some lessons on how to "menace" on court.

Hopefully, Murray will not fall foul of Wimbledon's crackdown on players who are not whiter-than-white.

The Times reports that rules will be tightened at this year's championship to ensure the follow the dress code which allows no more than a "1cm coloured trim" . The paper notes the ruling extends to undergarments.

The Daily Star says the crackdown has been extended to fans who will be warned that "annoying behaviour, using abusive language or removing items of clothing" could lead to their ejection.

It quotes "manners guru" William Hanson as saying the notices are "a sorry sign of the times".

Rather poor manners have already been displayed by some of SW19s four-legged residents, the Independent reports.

The paper says some of Wimbledon's extensive fox population have taken to raiding the tents of spectators queueing overnight to get into the site.

"We got no sleep at all," keen fan Gary Ascott, told the paper. He has been camping on the pavement outside the ground since Saturday.

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