'Feeble' EU and UK 'hypocrisy' over Russia, and Commonwealth Games in press

After the US accused Russia of "creating the conditions" that allowed Ukrainian rebels to shoot down flight MH17, the papers focus on relations between Europe's leaders and Moscow.

The Sun is leading the charge to condemn a "feeble EU", arguing that its response to "Russian-backed thugs blowing 298 innocent people out of the sky" amounted to drawing up "a little list" of "cronies" to target for possible sanctions.

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Image caption About 50% the gas Russia supplies to western Europe flows through Ukraine

Daily Telegraph cartoonist Adams has a similar interpretation, picturing the German chancellor and French president vowing to "send a very clear signal" before each waving a white flag. "We in the West are in danger of writing another chapter in this sorry tale of appeasement, by once more talking tough while acting soft," warns the paper's editorial.

The Daily Mail uses graphics to illustrate why European leaders have acted with what its writer Simon Heffer describes as "selfish cowardice", summing up the value of Russia's trade with France, Germany, Italy, Holland and the UK in figures. "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin supplies oil and gas to most of Europe. If he reacted to sanctions by turning off the taps, economic recovery would be under threat across the continent," it points out.

"That's the fear haunting policymakers as they contemplate how to respond to the shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine," agrees the Guardian's Larry Elliot. "Every global downturn since 1973 has been associated with a sharp rise in the price of energy."

However, the Independent's Hamish McRae suggests that - given Western nations are seeking ever more diverse energy sources - Russia needs the West at least as much as vice-versa. "More than 80% of its foreign exchange earnings come from pumping or digging stuff out of the ground. Oil and gas account for two-thirds of its exports," he points out.


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As the Times reports, the British prime minister's calls for France to halt its deal to supply aircraft carriers to Russia have not gone down well in Paris. It quotes the leader of President Francois Hollande's Socialist party grumbling: "When you see how many [Russian] oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own back yard."

Adding to the accusations of "double standards", says the Independent, is evidence from MPs who say at least 251 export licences for the sale of controlled goods - ranging from sniper rifles to night sights - remain in place. "The value of licences rocketed by more than half in the past year from £86m to £131.5m," it says.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says Mr Cameron is under pressure to hand back £160,000 the Conservative party received from the wife of a close ally of President Putin in exchange for a game of tennis with the PM and London Mayor Boris Johnson. If he "possessed an ounce of morality", he'd return the cash, argues the Daily Mirror.

Cartoonists offer their take on London's stance. The Guardian's Steve Bell pictures Mr Cameron wearing a shirt bearing the slogan "Londongrad welcomes responsible oligarchs", while ordering Messrs Hollande and Putin out of the country. Meanwhile, under the title "sanctions start to bite", his Times counterpart Peter Brookes depicts the PM in a dinner suit, telling reporters: "From now on I will only be eating Bulgarian caviar."

Alluding to Mr Cameron's announcement of an inquiry into the 2006 death of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned by radioactive tea given to him - the Daily Mirror suggests - at Mr Putin's behest, Independent cartoonist Dave Brown pictures Mr Cameron in a radiation suit pouring a cup for the Russian president.

Class action

The Guardian's lead report sets out planned government reforms in light of a report that found an "intolerant and aggressive" Islamist ethos in some Birmingham schools. The paper says the situation - dubbed the "Trojan horse" plot - was "brought about by governors intent on promoting an ultra-conservative version of their faith".

Meanwhile, the Telegraph sets out some of the beliefs that were propagated, such as that women "must serve men", that homosexuals were "animals" and that the murder of soldier Lee Rigby at the hands of extremists was "staged".

The Times tells the story of one headteacher who almost immediately after his appointment "ran into problems when he refused to give a teaching job to the cousin of the chairman of governors" and then "endured a 10-month campaign of intimidation and bullying" because he tried to oppose a hardline approach. And the Daily Mail hears from a teaching assistant who "tore up a gagging order" to reveal how "music and dancing were banned as un-Islamic" at the school where she taught.

"Perhaps the most shocking element is the way the schools were able to get away with this for years right under the noses of the authorities," says the Daily Star's editorial. The Daily Mirror reports Labour's complaints that it was a "chaotic, deregulated, fractured education policy" that increased the threat of radicalisation in schools.

However, the Telegraph's Andrew Gilligan credits Conservative former Education Secretary Michael Gove's "unusual commitment" with tackling the problem. He says the report rubbishes claims of "Islamophobia", adding: "For years, wrongdoers who happen not to be white have cried racism to avoid being held to account. Now, as [this] report makes clear, the race card is bankrupt, no longer recognised."

Political games?

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As Glasgow prepares for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, the Scotsman reports a pledge from First Minister Alex Salmond to ensure a "politics-free" festival of sport.

The Financial Times isn't convinced, however. It reports that, on the eve of the opening ceremony, UK Chancellor George Osborne promised £24m of funding for the host city's life science, business and arts sectors. And it notes also that immediately after making his "no politics" pledge, Mr Salmond "promised that Scotland's sporting teams would 'flourish' outside the UK".

Fraser Nelson writes in the Telegraph that while the first minister's SNP may hope sporting achievements at the Games help the "drumbeat of Scottish nationalism" to grow louder, Mr Salmond "shouldn't bank on gold". Pointing out that many of Scotland's best medal hopes train in England, he writes: "Scotland's achievements have been far greater because of the ability to pool resources (and sovereignty) with England. The Saltires fly higher, and more proudly, because of what we have achieved together."

And the Daily Mirror argues: "What a pity if by the next Games the Scots were as foreign to England, Wales and Northern Ireland as Cameroon or Canada. Scottish separatist Alex Salmond will be in for a nasty shock if the Games pull people together instead of divorcing nations."

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Away from the politics, there is no small measure of enthusiasm in the press. "Come on 'Wealth Games," says the Sun. It offers a quick guide to the likely stars, previous "history makers" and the baton relay in the run-up to events. Meanwhile, the Daily Star runs through the event in numbers, including the 840 shuttlecocks to be used in the badminton, 2,000 cast and crew required to stage the opening ceremony and 84,000 condoms available to competitors in the athletes village.

The Guardian reckons Glasgow will have a ball. "With Scotland's weather set fair, it will take more than the ritual cursing about VIP lanes on the Clydeside expressway or the fuss about the Scottish team's lurid turquoise and fuchsia uniforms to stop the Commonwealth Games party that starts tonight," it says.

And the Times tries a Scottish accent in its editorial in urging: "Gaun Yersel, Glesca!" While acknowledging putting on a great Games may be more difficult task than London's in staging the Olympics, it enjoys the prospect of seeing the world's best sprinters and distance runners, being spared the "preposterous vanity of the International Olympic Committee", and having no pointless "fitba". "There will be rugby sevens. New Zealand will win that, and Glasgow will win every time," it adds.

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